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Posts Tagged ‘E Mail Address’

Growing PayPal may one day overshadow eBay

While parent company struggles with change, payment service flourishes

Most people know eBay Inc. for its online marketplace, where deals abound on everything from gadgets to antique furniture. But soon, eBay’s biggest business will likely be PayPal, the online payments service that has been growing steadily even as the economy has stumbled.

EBay has spent much of the past two years trying to improve its faltering marketplace business, hoping to increase buyers’ trust and clean up the look of its Web site. In the meantime, PayPal has thrived as more consumers and merchants use it to send money online.

Its growth is expected to continue in spite of competition from Amazon.com Inc. and Google Inc., which have services that online retailers sometimes offer alongside PayPal.

PayPal bills itself as a shopper’s online wallet. Users set up accounts and link them to bank accounts and credit cards, making it easy to transfer cash into the account. Then users can make payments through PayPal using either their cash balances or the underlying credit card. PayPal users can also send cash to someone based on as little information as an e-mail address or cell phone number.

But unlike what happens with a credit or debit card online, PayPal doesn’t share your financial information with merchants. That brings peace of mind to people who might otherwise worry about shopping at a site they’ve never heard of.

PayPal, which began in 1998 as a way for people to beam cash from one Palm Pilot to another, was bought by eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002 and has been a steady performer. The service charges fees for certain transactions, and in the most recent quarter it reported $688 million in revenue, a 15 percent jump from last year. As of the end of September, 78 million people had active PayPal accounts, up from 65 million a year ago.

To try to maintain its advantage, this week PayPal opened its system to third-party developers, which will mean PayPal can be built in to all sorts of applications. For instance, an iPhone app could let consumers order a pizza and pay for it with PayPal.

PayPal has kept its big lead in online payments largely because people find it convenient, and because it’s hard to build a competing system. Shoppers and merchants both need to be using an online payment system for it to have any value. And every state and country has its own rules for e-commerce. PayPal has managed to navigate these waters — it accepts payment in 24 currencies — and analysts don’t yet see Checkout By Amazon or Google Checkout as much of a threat.

John Donahoe, eBay’s CEO, has said he expects PayPal to surpass the marketplaces business in revenue simply because PayPal targets all of e-commerce while eBay is one of many online sales sites.

“PayPal can go well beyond that in the next three to five years,” he said in an interview this week.

The company projects PayPal’s revenue will be between $4 billion and $5 billion in 2011. EBay’s forecast for the marketplaces business, which includes the main eBay.com Web site and other sites such as Shopping.com, calls for $5 billion to $7 billion in revenue that year.

Donahoe also thinks PayPal can eventually make more money than the marketplaces business, even though PayPal’s profit margins are lower.

PayPal’s opportunities figure to expand with its new move to open its platform to outside software developers. The process took two years, said PayPal’s president, Scott Thompson, largely because of the need to deal with banking regulations while keeping up the company’s fraud protections. But from here the open platform should incur few costs for PayPal, Janney Montgomery Scott analyst Shawn Milne said.

More than 1,000 entrepreneurs have been testing the system, known as PayPal X. Among them is Michael Ivey, the founder and CEO of Twitpay, a startup that lets people send money over short-messaging site Twitter.

When Twitpay started last year it used Amazon’s payments service to transfer funds. PayPal’s huge user base clinched the decision to make the change, he said.

Further growth — be it on cell phones or the Web — will have restrictions, though. While PayPal boasts that more 3 million online retailers accept it for transactions (not counting merchants on eBay who accept PayPal), many vendors offer it alongside services from Google, Amazon and others, to give shoppers as many choices as possible. As PayPal shows up on more Web sites, these rivals could, too.

And because of PayPal’s size, any hiccups can have big ramifications. In August, a series of breakdowns made the service unable to process any transactions worldwide for several hours.

But Thompson is confident. He credits the fact that the service saves people time by making it easier to shop online. “The world needs what we do,” he said.

Fake Facebook e-mail contains Trojan

A new variant of the Bredolab Trojan horse is attached to a fake “Facebook Password Reset Confirmation” e-mail, security firm MX Labs is reporting. Some users are receiving the e-mail from “The Facebook Team,” according to the security firm. The sende…

Bulk SMS Gateway Server Hosting And API Application

How to send a free message to USA cell phone? Try SMS Everywhere, it is a free sms messenger for T-mobile, Sprint, and Nextel. If you’re looking for a sms gateway api for bulk sms messaging, create your own messaging applications with their API deve…

Catching Spammers in the Act

Researchers show how spammers harvest e-mail addresses and send out bulk messages.

Researchers have shed new light on the methods by which spammer harvest e-mail addresses from the Web and relay bulk messages through multiple computers. They say that findings could provide additional ammunition in the fight against junk e-mail campaigns.

The problem of unwanted e-mail messages, or spam, continues to vex computer users and security professionals. Currently, more than 90 percent of the e-mail messages traversing the Internet appear to be spam, according to the information released in June by the e-mail security firm MessageLabs.

In one paper scheduled to be presented this week at the Conference on E-mail and Anti-Spam, in Mountain View, CA, researchers from Indiana University studied how spammers obtain the e-mail addresses in the first place. The researchers used a variety of techniques to match the programs that cull e-mail addresses from Web pages to the resulting spam. “We are basically trying to figure out how spammers get your address–the addresses of people that they try to victimize,” says Craig Shue, a graduate student at Indiana University who now works at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

This involved exposing 22,230 unique e-mail addresses on the Web over a five-month period and watching for spam sent to those destinations. The researchers found that an e-mail address included in a comment posted to a website had a much higher probability of resulting in spam. While only four e-mail addresses submitted to 70 websites during registration resulted in spam, half of the e-mail addresses posted to popular sites resulted in spam.
The researchers also set up a website on their own domain and waited for their pages to be crawled. Each visitor to the website would see a different e-mail, a strategy that the researchers hoped would gauge how often programs that automatically crawl sites are operated by spammers. “We are giving out a unique e-mail address to every visitor to our webpage,” Shue says. “If we ever get an e-mail to that address, we know that the crawler gave that e-mail address to a spammer.”

The researchers also found that the programs that crawl the Web looking for e-mail addresses–dubbed spamming crawlers–have characteristics that could make it easier to detect them. For example, the parts of a network from which a crawler operates tend to be a good predictor of whether it is a legitimate crawler, such as those used by Google or other search engines, or a spamming crawler. “It may be feasible to block a small number of [network numbers] associated with spammer Web crawlers to eliminate the harvesting of e-mail addresses on a site,” the Indiana University researchers wrote.
Many end users protect themselves against e-mail harvesting using simple obfuscation techniques–for example, using “-at-” to replace the “@” symbol in an e-mail address. The researchers found that these methods frustrate current spam techniques surprisingly well. In addition, they found that submitting an e-mail address to a legitimate website rarely resulted in spam. “If you sign up with reputable organizations, you will be fine,” Shue says. “If you go to less reputable sites, then you will get spam.”

In a separate paper to be presented at the same conference, researchers from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), in Brazil, and Brazil’s Network Information Center show that spammers tend to combine different techniques to hide the origin of their junk e-mail messages. While many spam groups have adopted the use of botnets to anonymize the source of their e-mail messages, a significant number use a chain of different compromised machines, according to Pedro Calais Guerra, a PhD student at UFMG.

“The key factor for a spammer to succeed in terms of hiding his identity on the network is to spread his activity as much as he can,” says Guerra, who believes that the team’s study could be used to help fight spam by identifying which messages should be blocked. “We think it may have an impact on the design of blacklists.”

Guerra and five other researchers monitored special servers, known as honeypots, collecting 525 million spam e-mail messages sent from more than 216,000 Internet addresses over a 15-month period. They found, for example, that nearly 95,000 machines used by spammers were end-user computers that relayed messages and not mail servers, a third of which were in the United States and a quarter in Taiwan.

The chains of computers used by the spammers to anonymize the origins of spam fell into two categories: open proxies and open relays. The open proxies are compromised servers that forward data to other computers on the network, hiding the sender’s address; open relays receive e-mail messages for another domain, passing the message to the next server. The researchers found that spammers typically use each open relay to forward e-mail for only a short time, to avoid having the e-mail server added to a blacklist.

“We show in our paper that spammers send high volumes of spam to open proxies but low volumes of spam to open relays,” UFMG’s Guerra says.