Citizens' Issues
'Your online timer' survey scam spreading rapidly on Twitter, warns Sophos

Once the application, 'Your online timer' is approved, users are taken to a website which claims it will find out the time spent to date on Twitter—and the page pops up a survey which earns the scammers money for each questionnaire completed

IT security & data protection firm, Sophos, has warned Twitter users to be cautious, following the discovery of new rogue applications designed to help scammers earn money by spreading links that point to online surveys.

Following attacks this weekend, which saw users spreading messages about a girl who killed herself and how addicted they were to Twitter, new messages are appearing on Twitter on Tuesday claiming to count how long users have been members of the social networking website, Sophos said in a release.

"Viral scams like these are commonly encountered on Facebook, but are now being spread by their creators onto Twitter too. It's possible that the people behind these attacks view Twitter users as a softer target, which might generate them more income," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.

According to Sophos, these offending tweets contain a variation on the following text, with the amount of time shown differing between users:

"I have spent 379 days, 9096 hours on Twitter. How much have you? Find out here: [LINK]"

The messages, posted by an application called "Your Online Timer", include a link, which-if clicked on by other Twitter users-will encourage them to authorise "Your Online Timer" to access and update their Twitter accounts. If the application is approved, users will be taken to a website, which claims it will find out the time spent to date on Twitter-and the page pops up a survey which earns the scammers money for each questionnaire completed. In addition, without explicit approval, the Twitter account of the victim is updated with a status update-spreading the link virally to other Twitter users.

"Social networks have a responsibility to protect their users from scams and spam-but ultimately it's down to the user to think very carefully before handing over the keys to their social network account to a complete unknown application," said Mr Cluley.

Affected users should revoke the application's access to their Twitter account immediately. This can be done by entering 'Settings-Connections' and revoking the rights to the relevant application.

"If the application's access to your account is not revoked, the scammers could use it to spread other messages-potentially including links to malicious websites, phishing or other spam campaigns. The last thing you want is for your Twitter followers to believe that you are being sloppy over your account's security, and potentially putting them at risk too," added Mr Cluley, who was voted as 'security blogger of the year' in 2009 and 2010 by readers of Computer Weekly.  

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CBI raids premises of ex-BMC chief in connection with Adarsh housing scam

The CBI alleged in its FIR said that Jairaj Phatak, during his tenure as BMC commissioner, had approved the height of the building to be increased from 97 metres to 107 metres. The plush housing society which was originally meant to be a six-storey structure was later extended to 31 floors without mandatory permission

Mumbai: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today carried out searches at the premises of senior IAS officer and former BMC commissioner Jairaj Phatak in three different cities in connection with the Adarsh housing scam, reports PTI.

The CBI teams swooped on his premises in the national capital and in Mumbai and Pune early this morning, a day after getting sanction from the Centre to prosecute Mr Phatak, a 1978 batch IAS officer.

The agency had registered a first information report (FIR) in the scam on 29th January. Mr Phatak, former commissioner of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, was named in the list of people awaiting sanction for prosecution as he was a joint secretary rank officer for which the agency needed the Centre's permission.

Mr Phatak's son Kanishka is among the 103 members who owned an apartment in Adarsh society in Mumbai's upmarket Colaba area.

"We got the sanction to prosecute him yesterday following which searches were conducted this morning at Pathak's residences in Mumbai, Pune and his official residence in Delhi," a senior CBI official said.

The CBI alleged in its FIR said that he, during his tenure as BMC commissioner, had approved the height of the building to be increased from 97 metres to 107 metres on 1 September 2007.

He was the head of the committee looking after high rise buildings in the megapolis and the agency alleged that he had not referred the height increase to other committee members.

Apart from Mr Phatak, the FIR includes former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan, retired army officials and bureaucrats, all of who have been charged with conspiracy and misuse of official powers.

The plush housing society, built on prime defence land, had been constructed in alleged violation of rules. The building was originally meant to be a six-storey structure to house Kargil war heroes and their kin but was later extended to 31 floors without mandatory permission.

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Experts say RBI may hike repo, reverse repo rates by 25 bps

Besides inflation, the RBI will also take into account the sluggish industrial performance and impact of political unrest in the West Asia and North African region on crude oil prices while reviewing its monetary policy

New Delhi: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) may go in for yet another hike of key interest rates by 25 basis points (bps) at its policy review on Thursday to prevent food inflation from spreading to the manufacturing sector, reports PTI quoting economists.

With inflation rising marginally to 8.31% in February, experts feel the RBI could announce 25 bps hike in its short-term lending (repo) and borrowing (reverse-repo) rates.

"RBI may raise key policy rates by 25 bps to arrest food inflation spreading to manufacturing sector," Crisil chief economist DK Joshi said.

Expressing similar views, ICRA economist Aditi Nayar said, "We continue to expect that the RBI may increase repo and reverse repo rates by 25 bps in the upcoming mid-quarter policy review."

Since March 2010, the central bank has raised repo and reverse-repo rates seven times to check inflation.

"The RBI will release its next Mid-Quarter Review of Monetary Policy 2010-11 at 12 noon on 17 March 2011," said a central bank release.

Inflation, which inched up from 8.23% in January to 8.31% in February, was much above the comfort level of 5%-6%.

During February, food inflation, which accounts for over 14% of overall wholesale price index (WPI) inflation, stood at 10.65% on a year-on-year basis.

Besides inflation, RBI will also take into account the sluggish industrial performance and impact of political unrest in the West Asia and North African region on crude oil prices while reviewing its monetary policy.

Industrial growth slowed to 3.7% in January this year, compared to 16.8% expansion in the year-ago period, dragged down by the poor performance of the manufacturing sector, particularly capital goods.

Since March 2010, central bank hiked repo rate by 175 basis points and reverse repo rate by 225 basis points.

In its last review of the monetary policy on 25 January 2011, RBI had hiked short-term lending and borrowing rates by 0.25% each.

The repo and reverse repo rates now stand at 6.5% and 5.5%, respectively.

In a tacit admission that the RBI is struggling to balance its dual objectives of taming inflation and encouraging growth, governor D Subbarao had recently said, "For inflation management we have to raise policy interest rates.

For protecting, promoting, and preserving recovery we need to keep interest rates low, so there is tension between raising policy interest rates and keeping them low."

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