A few days ago I posted a quick post called Free Skype Premium for a year! and I got a few interesting questions about the voracity of the offer. Some of you were worried that it was a scam, and believe me I am the first person to say you should be skeptical. However before I posted about it I checked it out.
As one reader noted, the first thing I look at is the domain name. Behind all of the mess of incomprehensible much, every URL you browse to on the Internet will begin http:// or https:// and will be followed by child domains, sub-domains, and eventually the parent domain – for example I might, if we were larger, have a page with the URL http://we.all.love.mitch.garvis.ca/And?Wish/himAndHisFamily/?Well. The actual domain is directly to the left of the first (really the third, but I don’t count the two in http://) slash. So while a phishing scam might use http://188.8.131.52/we.all.love.mitch.garvis.ca/And?Wish/himAndHisFamily/?Well the first slash is after the numbers, which means that it is a scam.
Unless my domain name itself has been compromised – if someone has actually hijacked the DNS (Domain Naming Service) of garvis.ca they cannot create a child domain to it… so they could no easier use http://scam.garvis.ca than I could http://garvis.skype.com.
The link to the Skype offer was https://collaboration.skype.com/promotion/?cm_mmc=AFCJ%7C1250_B1-_-11129583-1225267. To the left of the first slash is collaboration.skype.com. This means it came from Skype.
Now let’s look at the next objection I got. ‘This page does not have a Skype logo on it, it doesn’t have Skype’s (or Microsoft’s) branding or look and feel. That is a big red flag.’
That is something that you would definitely take pause at… the only thing on this page that looks remotely like Skype is the colour they used for the top line. While this is a good observation, it is something that I throw away when determining the legitimacy of the page. I have examined hundreds or more phishing schemes and hijacked sites, ranging from banks to credit cards to e-commerce sites to the White House and United States Department of Justice. No matter how good the look and feel might be, they cannot get beyond the technical – if the domain name is right, then either the domain itself has been compromised… or it’s legitimate. In truth, most phishing scammers spend more time on look and feel because they understand that most of us would look for that first… if they wanted to hijack your Skype password, they would spend the time to make the site look legitimate, including the colour scheme and logo.
The next concern was that we entered our e-mail address, ticked the appropriate box, and clicked on SEND… and nothing happened. We didn’t get an e-mail right away (or even ten minutes later) as we were promised. Actually we were not promised that… we were told to ‘Look out for the voucher codes coming to your inbox in the next 48 hours…’ Well most of us are not that patient, and we assume that while some sites do claim it will take that long, we should really be getting something in the next fifteen minutes.
We shouldn’t be so impatient… especially when out of the blue someone offers us something for free. In fact, I posted the article just after 1:00am on December 18th (EDT) and received the e-mail at 10:27am on December 20th (EDT)… so in fact it was closer to 58 hours than 48. Okay, no problem… It was later than they promised, but it came. Thank you Skype for giving me a free service that I will absolutely use, and I forgive your slight tardiness .
As I had been promised in the original invite, I saw this screen – my vouched was successfully redeemed. However it did say that it would take no more than 15 minutes, so it could still be a scam, right? Well a few seconds later the bottom-right corner of my screen popped up with this Notification… and I knew I had gotten what I asked for. Thank you Skype, I will use the Premium services well!