Mozilla service week and Social engineering

This post would talk about Mozilla Service week and Social Engineering.

About couple of weeks back Mozilla Service week was held. As part of hours donated, I was supposed to talk to youngsters about Mozilla and share some of the finer points and do also some installations of the browser at 2-3 cyber-cafes I know around my area.

So while the college thing didn’t happen, I did however go to three cyber-cafes and saw and observed some very interesting things. While I’ll not be taking the names of the cyber-cafes it would be nice to know if people have had similar experiences around themselves.

First of all lemme give little background details about the cyber-cafes themselves. The typical cyber-cafe around here is something like 8-16 nodes (or sometime even less) charge around Rs. 15/ ~ Rs.40/- per hour or $0.30 ~ $0.80 hr./ The machines were typically P3-P4 based, around 256 MB RAM and running windows xp + IE 6 . Most of them were using the home unlimited plans in these environments.

While none of the cyber-cafe wallahs didn’t have any issue with me installing the software on their computers almost all the systems had two softwares which I found interesting.

a. There was a toolbar. Unlike the typical google/yahoo toolbar this I suspect these ones had spyware written all over it.

Asking the cyber-cafes wallah casually about the toolbar they mentioned that it was a toolbar that made them a little bit of money. Somehow I suspect that this has something to do with the IT Amendment Act 2008 which was passed around 10 months back without any discussion.

b. The second bit of software was a software which locks down the system. The name escapes me but its known in the technology circles. Even if you install some software, it would work this particular session, if you restart the system it would go back to the default state. Also the software works in stealth mode so as a user you wouldn’t know about it.

Even after installing them and coming back 2-3 days later they went back to only giving IE to their users. Most of these cyber-cafe owners want to short-change the customers as in use only 1 browsing window. If you try putting up 2-3 the system crashes and they have no problem with that. The only one system which the cyber-cafe owner has he would be downloading stuff for his own use or downloading something for somebody on commercial terms.

At the end was very disappointed to see this kind of things going on near my neighborhood 😦

3 thoughts on “Mozilla service week and Social engineering

  1. Hi Arun,
    I know what you are saying. But what were surprising that these were low-end cyber-cafes, not sif* or others high-brow . What’s worrying is that money as an incentive is working more than people’s privacy rights. Of course, most of the people are college-going students or working professionals who aren’t technologically aware of what’s happening around them. Its just sad to see the way the things are.

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