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New round of phishing emails strike
A new wave of phishing emails have begun hitting the mailboxes of NZ Net users. Here's the URL of one phishing site that requests Westpac logins. Please feel free to enter whatever made-up 9-digit customer IDs, and passwords you want so that our evil little friends end up with more chaff than wheat. Fake Westpac Login Screen

Note: This column represents the opinions of the writer and as such, is not purported as fact
Cyber Cowboys Ride Again? 28 May 2004 Edition
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There's an old saying which goes something like "imitation is the most sincere form of flattery" -- or something.

Unfortunately, that's not always true -- at least on the Net.

Take a look at this site and this one side-by side on your screen.

Notice any similarity?

How about this one and this one?

Could it be that the owners of the original sites at puertadelsol.co.nz and aachenhouse.co.nz decided to mirror them on the nzti.co.nz website?

Well it seems that this isn't the case at all.

When I asked Paula Greenville, the manager of Puerta del Sol, if she had any relationship with NZTI and whether she knew that her site had been lifted lock, stock and barrel onto the NZTI website, she said "no" and was shocked to discover this.

She told me that her business had no agreement with New Zealand Travel Information Network to use their intellectual property or to take bookings on their behalf.

A little more digging indicates that these websites are not the only ones that NZTI appear to be using illegally and that they seem to be collect bookings on behalf of motels that have never even heard of them.

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And yes, NZTI *are* collecting bookings on behalf of these motels, seemingly without the knowledge or any expressed authority to do so.

Just look at the original Puerta del Sol booking page and compare it to the NZTI copy.

Not only have the original email address and phone numbers been removed from the duplicate page -- but NZTI is also advertising outdated tariffs.

When I rang NZTI yesterday, I was told that I needed to speak with a Bob Serge. Unfortunately (wouldn't you know it), Bob was away in the South Island and didn't have a cellphone.

So what's going on here?

Perhaps NZTI are simply trying to set up a one-stop-shop for travellers who are trying to track down suitable accommodation for their travels around New Zealand.

Unfortunately, even if this is true, NZTI appear to be not only breaching the copyright of those motels whose websites they've copied without permission but may well be committing other offenses by purporting to represent companies for which they have no authority to do so.

I doubt for instance, that anyone visiting the mirror sites at NZTI.co.nz will be aware that they're submitting their credit card information, not directly to the motel concerned, but to a company that may have no authority to accept those details on behalf of that motel.

Compare the source of the the original Aachen House booking form to that of NZTI mirror to see that information from the mirror is not going to the motel itself.

Of course I have no reason to believe that NZTI will do anything with this information other than pass it on to the motels concerned and request a small commission -- but simply assuming a right to do so is at best very bad business practice, and at worst -- well you figure that out.

I have no evidence or even indication that NZTI are trying to rip anyone off or "pull a fast one" but it would appear that they have shown very bad judgement by not gaining the necessary permissions and authorisations from those they seek to represent. They also seem to be negligent in their responsibility to ensure that the information they mirror is kept up to date and properly represents the establishments involved.

This is bad news for all concerned. For instance -- what happens if NZTI's servers are compromised and those credit card details are then used to commit fraud?

It is a little worrying that NZTI makes no disclosures or disclaimers on its website about what its relationship actually is with the sites it illegally mirrors, what are they trying to hide?

At least Danny de Hek has the good sense to actually build his own websites -- these people, it seems, can't even be bothered doing that.

Yes folks, it seems that the cyber-cowboy may not be an endangered species after all.

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