Pilgrim’s Picks for October 31st

Boo!

Yeah, I know, pretty lame. Consider that a warm-up for the deluge of kids that will be at your door tonight. ;-)

While you’re no doubt snacking on Halloween candy, here are some picks to digest:

Email Phishing Nets $10M from Grocery Store

I know that you’re a smart person. If you receive an email from PayPal or Bank of America, telling you they need you to verify your login details, you laugh, then hit delete. Right?

Not everyone is as smart as you, and in fact, there’s one person in particular that’s down about $10 million.

Techdirt is reporting an employee of Supervalu received email requests that appeared to be from two important suppliers; American Greetings and Frito-Lay. Both emails claimed that their bank account details had changed and that Supervalu would need to send funds to the new accounts. I’ll let Techdirt take it from here:

Google’s OpenSocial Provides API for Social Networks, Except Facebook

Just days after Google apparently lost the opportunity to buy into Facebook to Microsoft, the company is expected to reveal details of its social networking master plan on Thursday. OpenSocial is a new set of standard APIs that will allow application developers to more easily build apps for social networks.

Google goal is to help shape the standards used between developers and social networks. Likely the move came from being shutout from Facebook. Not only did Google not get a piece of the social network, but Facebook uses a proprietary API that requires developers build apps specifically for it–sounds much like cell phone companies, doesn’t it?

So, Google’s OpenSocial will focus on three standard APIs that that will act as a conduit to the core data of social networks:

Buy the Whole Car Online

Now there is almost nothing left that you can’t buy entirely online. Autonation is the first to offer this service for buying a car completely over the internet. They are piloting a program that lets customers buy their car online in the Atlanta market with 14 dealerships.

Starting out, you enter your ZIP code, then using drop-down menus you can select a specific vehicle make and model and other features of the car. That includes choosing the color and packages. If you have a trade-in you can also use the used vehicle calculator to get a price for your car. When you and the dealer agree on a price, that figure is subtracted from the purchase price of your new car.

Spammers Get Around Captchas

Talk about creative workarounds. Spammers have found a way to crack captchas so they can steal your email address. As if the vice of spamming isn’t bad enough, they are using a virtual stripper named Melissa to get real people to unwittingly participate in their evil craft.

They created a game that is delivered via malware that is installed on your computer. When you launch Internet Explorer you are introduced to a game. In the game players are shown captchas (text embedded in an image), which are intended to stop computers from signing up for accounts like free email addresses. Each time they fill one out then a virtual woman takes off more of her clothes. Then spammers get their way and you get more junk mail.

Facebook Rumors: SocialAds, Liars and Snooping

Just one week until the engraved-invitation-event (oh, if only I were one of the cool kids!) and Facebook rumors are flying at only about the same rate as usual. Not so good for Facebook: many of the stories aren’t so positive. Is the media darling falling on hard times?

Read/Write Web reports on the impending announcement, which will presumably be about SocialAds—and possibly about these SocialAds being “portable”:

The rumored technology would work like this: Facebook would place a cookie on your computer (the site already requires users to have cookies enabled to log in), every time you visit a third-party site that runs ads utilizing the “Social Ads” product, they would be targeted based on your social networking profile data. So, theoretically, if you’ve professed your love of Pepsi on your Facebook profile, you might see Pepsi ads while reading the news at MSN.

Internet Taxes Banned Until 2014

The internet tax freedom act has been extended another 7 years. It was down to the wire, but the vote was unanimous. The House passed the bill that the Senate passed last week. It passed 402-0. The current law was going to expire in two days. It’s expected that President Bush will sign it into law.

As stated in this post about the internet tax, the law prohibits state and local government from taxing internet access. It doesn’t address charging sales tax on the internet sales. States that already had Internet access taxes before the ban are Hawaii, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin (according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.)