Saturday, December 10, 2005

New phishing lures on Ebay

Those clever evil phishers are at it again, with yet another new heinous technique to try to pry personal information out of users, this time using auctions themselves, filled with illegal java script, to redirect users.:

Scammers have found a new way to try to trick eBay members into giving them their personal information. The new technique effectively hijacks links on
listing or search results pages, taking people to an official-looking eBay log-in page that is actually phony.

In one example the Mercury News viewed this week, several listings were added to eBay's ``Totally bizarre'' category, a section intended for offbeat items, with the title ``Movie!With me and Laura!My best friend!Sexy show!1$''

When eBay users clicked on the listing titles, their Web browser was immediately redirected to the fraudulent log-in page. Making matters worse, the phony page appears to download a virus onto users' computers.

EBay said the people behind the scam appeared to have added malicious JavaScript code to their listings that redirected people off eBay's site. EBay allows members to include some types of JavaScript in their listings for things such as interactive photo albums or tools to help buyers calculate shipping charges.

Friday, December 09, 2005

British Telecom Skype Backlash

British Telecom is apparently fighting back against Ebay's Skype, by lowering its prices:

U.K. carrier will use VoIP leader’s weapons to undercut the upstart: price and simplicity.December 9, 2005It had to happen, but to date, the backlash from traditional telecommunications carriers over the proliferation of VoIP application providers piggy-backing on their networks and competing with them has been very low-key.

But “Operation Backlash” may have begun in London with BT Group’s nnouncement that it is slashing its prices for voice services in half and offering free calls to 30 different countries during the holiday season.

In a surprising move, BT, the largest carrier in the United Kingdom, mentioned Skype by name in its announcement. The company said that international calls made from PCs to regular telephones are already cheaper with its BT Communicator than “with rivals such as Skype.”

To further drive home the point that the carrier is targeting Skype and other similar
services, BT said it will introduce an enhanced voice over Internet offering in the spring that will be available globally and feature its enhanced sound quality.

BT Begins Skype Backlash - Red Herring

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Famed Hollywood sign sells on Ebay for over $450,000

As we noted in an earlier post, the famous original Hollywood sign was put up for sale on Ebay. The ending price: $450,400 by an anonymous bidder:

"The original Hollywood sign, a Tinseltown landmark that overlooked Los Angeles for more than five decades, has sold for more than 450,000 US in an online auction.

Entrepreneur Dan Bliss, who bought the sign two years ago, said the
10-day auction ended Tuesday night at $450,400 US. "I'm pleased with the final amount," Bliss told the Associated Press. The 35-year-old, who refused to reveal how much he had paid for the sign, had already sold pieces of it in frames and as jewellery.

"I've thoroughly enjoyed owning it and I think someone would really enjoy having the opportunity to have that claim to fame."

Original Hollywood sign sells on Ebay -

Famed Hollywood" sign for sale on Ebay; starting bids $300K - Random Rants on the Evil Ebay Empire

Ebay's Skype now has more competition: from Yahoo

Yahoo is adding a Skype-like service to its Yahoo Instant Messenger, jumping into the competitive fray with Skype. While we love Skype, each additional competitor makes it only more evident that Ebay overpaid for the company:

Yahoo Inc. is entering a suddenly crowded field, offering Skype-like capabilities through its instant-messaging service that will let people dial regular phone numbers using their computers or receive calls from conventional phones.

The company has not set a firm date for the availability of the new paid features to the mostly free Yahoo Messenger service but indicated the launch was imminent.

Yahoo's addition of computer-to-phone capabilities follows a similar retooling of the rival AOL Instant Messenger service from Time Warner Inc. in October. It also comes just as Skype is revamping its popular service with video calling, a feature that's been available through Yahoo Messenger for several years, though only for
computer-to-computer calls.

In a similar vein, Sony Corp. introduced a free Internet-based phone service last month with an emphasis on visual calling that the company hopes will fuel sales of its video equipment. Yahoo's new "Phone Out" option enables users to call regular and mobile phones for one cent per minute in the United States and two cents a minute to about 30 other countries, including calls to Argentina, Australia, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Korea.

On the flip side, users can sign up for a traditional phone number to receive unlimited calls to their computers from anywhere for a monthly fee of $3 or an annual payment of about $30.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Wow! Even Ebay itself gets tricked by phishing emails!

How utterly embarrassing for Ebay:

A sophisticated phishing attack has proved to be so successful, it has tricked eBay Inc.'s own fraud investigations team into endorsing it as legitimate, according to an independent security consultant who reported the attack to eBay.

In late November, Richi Jennings received a fraudulent e-mail message containing the subject line "Christmas is Coming on" Offering him "great tips for successful Christmas selling," the message directed him to the Web site, which then asked Jennings to enter his eBay username and password, as well as the name and password for his e-mail account.

Jennings, who writes the IT BlogWatch column for Computerworld, reported the site to eBay on Nov. 25, and four days later he got a note back from the company's investigations team claiming that the e-mail message was, in fact, "an official e-mail message sent to you on behalf of eBay."

Jennings was dumbfounded. He immediately wrote back to eBay pointing out that the Web site being used was clearly fraudulent, but his e-mail went unanswered.

On Monday, an eBay spokeswoman confirmed that the e-mail message was indeed part of a fraud, but she could not explain why it had initially been identified as legitimate. "I don't know the answer to that," said spokeswoman Amanda Pires. "I'm assuming right now it was just an error."

Ebay Tricked by Phony Email - Computerworld

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Ebay: "Alibaba on a mission"

Marketwatch story - "Alibaba on a mission":

Consumer-to-consumer e-commerce company Alibaba, of which Yahoo Inc assumed 40% ownership in August, will continue to consolidate control of YahooChina's search, portal and other assets in the coming weeks. Alibaba is also focusing on expanding the market share of its core e-commerce business, anchored by the popular Taobao auction site.

Taobao does not currently charge customers to list or buy items through its e-commerce platform, while its primary competitor, eBay's (EBAY: Eachnet unit charges fees to users. Taobao has taken advantage of its fee-free status, attacking eBay's previously unassailable market share. Insiders assert that a surprising portion of eBay users, in fact, frequently complete e-commerce transactions using Taobao and its associated e-payment platform AliPay after initially locating products for sale on eBay.

Gearing up for a battleThis substantial bonus for Taobao is likely to fade as eBay's long and somewhat tortured integration of Eachnet begins to show fruit in areas such as website usability, marketing sophistication and strategic execution. Taobao's Alibaba, meanwhile, is still adjusting to a new suit of second-hand clothes. Alibaba has reportedly established a substantial in-house research and development group to guide technology creation and application, which presumably will focus on usability and search tools in the short term, with an eye to chip away at eBay's technological advantage.

There are many potentially profitable directions in which YahooChina's new masters can take the group, and several valuable properties that it can leverage for growth: business-to-business e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba, the recently face-lifted portal, a bolstered search capability and the rapidly growing Taobao, which has developed into a powerful brand for Alibaba and a solid base for future growth, but at a substantial cost.

Full Story

Citigroup ups Ebay estimates; no target change

Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney upped his Ebay estimates in a note dated 12/4. Here's an excerpt:

Based on our proprietary eBay listings count,positive macro datapoints, and channel checks, we are raising our December quarter estimates and believe EBAY is setting up for a clean Beat & Raise quarter. Our estimates increase from $1,285MM revenue/$0.22 proforma EPS to $1,305MM/$0.23. The Street is at $1,282MM/$0.22.

At eBay, fundies are strong and getting stronger. We believe eBay will exit Q4 with accelerating growth in Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV), listings,and organic revenue, with operating margins expanding Y/Y.

We Reit the Buy and our $49 PT. We believe the stock can continue to work from here off of strong fundies (acceleration/expansion) and upwards earnings revisions. We continue to believe our out-year estimates are conservative: 1) we are modeling very limited margin expansion, and 2) we remain skeptical on Skype (modeling below guidance), so a surprise here is likely to be positive.