Friday, February 18, 2011

Alert: You have notifications pending - Facebook

I received an email recently which had the subject You have notifications pending which made me think, why can't Facebook leave me alone. I closed my account in every possible way and they still persist in bothering me.

The body of the message looked like a Facebook notification indicating there was a message for me and contained the following message.

You haven't been back to Facebook recently. You have received notifications while you were gone.
OK. As you can see I'm probably not the biggest fan of Facebook. If Facebook came out with a product which was low cost that I could pay for and put my privacy first and foremost I'd use them tomorrow. It's just when companies don't charge for their services they have to make money in ways which aren't always in the best interests of their users. Put simply, their users are not their customers. They are simply a means to an end and the real customers are the businesses which pay Facebook.

I've seen too many things with Facebook in terms of privacy and ownership of content which I don't agree with, which puts me off Facebook and thus when I receive an email to let me know I have a notification pending, it tends to ruffle my feathers.

I wanted to share that background as what I can now share is the email wasn't from Facebook at all. It was a pretty good phishing attempt designed to get me to provide my logon details for malicious intent. Whilst the links look like they are from Facebook, if you clicked on the links it would take you to a site with a Hungarian domain. Because I use Outlook I can hover over the link and see where the link will take me if I click on it. Some free email services such as Gmail don't let users see the information for the destination of the hyperlink. If you are using email in a mobile phone chances are you also won't know the destination of the hyperlink. One of the strengths of Outlook as an email client are the little extras like this which helps the user by providing often important hidden information.

Next time you think that social networking site the you've disconnected from is trying to get you to reconnect, pause for a moment, the email might not even be from the site at all. There is no doubt phishing attempts will become so good in the future that people will be easily tricked. Whilst I did realise this was a phishing attempt, my initial reaction and the reaction most people will follow through on was that it was an email from Facebook. Take care with any email you receive from any of the social networking sites. Because one in four internet users use Facebook this now makes Facebook an ideal phishing target.

Kelvin Eldridge


  1. "Because I use Outlook I can hover over the link and see where the link will take me if I click on it. Some free email services such as Gmail don't let users see the information for the destination of the hyperlink."

    When I hover over a link in Gmail (or any webpage for that matter), my browser displays the full URL in the status line. If I were to use Outlook or any other thick email client to check my Gmail, I would get a similar benefit.

  2. Hi. I just thought I would say that your posting struck a chord with me. I am of a similar opinion to you as well. I use Facebook mainly to keep up with my relatives in Western Australia. I am in England and am married to Karen, who just happens to come from Goole, which is about 15 miles from the real Doncaster, in Yorkshire. It's a small world.
    (I must get back to my real world problem - enabling database access to a Microsoft SQL Server instance from a Windows 7 prof. client from my C++ program.)

  3. Thank you to the anonymous commenter who corrected me. Hovering over a link does show the web address in the status bar area if the status bar is enabled. I find many people don't have the status bar displayed. Displaying the status bar will enable people to see the address for the link. The one advantage of Outlook is the link is shown as a texttip next to the hyperlink making it more obvious. But if people are aware they can check the status bar that is a good option too.

    I've also found with the iPhone that if you press and hold on the link you'll see another screen on the iPhone which shows most of the address at the top and this can be a handy way to check the link as well.


  4. Thanks for the comment Marcus. It is indeed a small world.



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