The Month: Global snapshots Woman dies after taking pills from spam site; Swiss get tough on PC users

May 10, 2007

Canada A 57-year-old woman has died after taking pills purchased from a spam medication site. Marcia Bergeron was poisoned by anti-anxiety medication that was later found to contain traces of uranium, strontium, selenium and aluminium. The site she bought the drugs from used fake endorsements from medical agencies, according to Canadian newspaper reports.

UK Two Britons have been cautioned for using unsecured private WiFinetworks without permission. Concerned neighbours in Redditch,Worcestershire, contacted police after seeing a man using a laptopinside a car parked outside a house. He was arrested and cautioned. Awoman was arrested and cautioned in similar circumstances in the sametown earlier in the month.

Norway The Liberal Party has formalised a resolution to legalise thesharing of copyrighted material for personal use, becoming the firstmainstream European political party to take a pro-file-sharing stance.Scandinavian countries frequently lead opposition to copyright control -Sweden has the Pirate Party, which grew out of a protest at the closureof a file-sharing site.

Switzerland The government has launched harsh new anti-spam laws. Aswell as outlaw commercial spamming, they may affect legitimate PC users- failure to keep your machine clear of spam-sending bots is also seenas an offence. The law is intended to bring Swiss spam laws in line withother EU states, although 99 per cent of spam received by Swiss emailusers is sent from abroad.

US A survey has found that spam costs US companies more than $70billion (£35 billion) per year, equalling $713 (£356billion) per head in loss of productivity. The report by NucleusResearch found that despite improvements in both the levels of spamgetting through to inboxes and the resulting loss of productivity sincea study in 2004, two thirds of emails reaching US inboxes are stillspam.

Netherlands ABN Amro has compensated four customers after they fellvictim to a phishing attack. The attack used spyware to modify browsersettings, thus directing the victims to a spoofed website whenever theytried to access their accounts online. The Dutch bank refused todisclose how much money was taken, but temporarily suspended onlinetransfers to limit losses.

Pakistan Mobile operators have been flooded with calls after a prankmessage warned that a deadly virus was spreading via mobiles and hadkilled 20 people. Mosques in Karachi even made public announcementsabout the deadly virus. The scare later spread to Afghanistan, wherefears escalated until several government figures appeared on TV andappealed for calm.

Philippines A news service has discovered a fresh spam threat, trackbackspam. Filipino-hosted Newsbreak.com found more than 27,000 adult-contentlinks had been posted. Trackbacks allow blog authors to track traffic totheir postings. Spammers can abuse the technology to automaticallyconnect themselves to postings on legitimate blogs, in order tomisdirect surfers.

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