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Keeping up with the news and subjects that matter to my clients. Current events, interesting posts from other websites, and my own insights about business, technology and the law.

Analysis of a Phishing Email

Adam Masser

I received a phishing attack in my inbox today. They come pretty often, so that fact alone is not surprising. However, this one was much more sophisticated than the typical Nigerian crown prince who wants to give you a lottery ticket--and it made it past my spam filter, which is a feat in itself.

I wanted to warn people about the changing nature of such attacks. The attached image shows some analysis on the signals that it is a phishing attack.  More education = less potential victims.

Spam Analysis.jpg

Social Media Week and an Amazing Frontline Epsiode

Adam Masser

There were a lot of great SMW events all around NYC last week, including an awesome DigitalFlash panel at Grind on Thursday.

At the Digital Flash event I had the pleasure of speaking with one of the panelists, Tom Chernaik, CEO of CMP.LY. Among other things, he told me to watch last week's inredible Frontline episode all about Social Media :

Frontline: Generation Like (PBS, February 18, 2014)


The episode gave an in-depth and insightful view of the way social media pervades the lives of young people. It also perfectly illustrates just how powerful (and lucrative) a tool social media can be for savvy brands. Some thoughts:

  • I was intrigued by the scenes with teenagers sitting around a table, all on tablets, laptops and phones, talking and laughing with each other in realspace as they liked and commented online. These are powerful tools--they open up new possibilities and fundamentally change how we interact. 


  • Frontline added a sinister tone to the product spots in music videos made by The Audience, and generally seemed uncomfortable with how brands inserted themselves into culture. Yet I don't see a big difference between brand sponsorship of music or video and the patronage of rich nobles and merchants of artists in the past. You could argue that it's "distasteful" compared to "pure" art, but the fact that it is giving young artists a chance to perform their craft is certainly a worthwhile benefit.


  • One the other hand, I fear we may lose some small slice of humanity as we edge ever closer into an amalgamation of marketing statistics. We're just reaching the tipping point of social media's potential to radically change how we relate to brands and to each other. There are right ways and wrong ways to go forward. At the very least, transparency, clarity, and consent mechanisms are the key. We need strong standards, including, at a minimum: 
    • Crystal clear and simple terms of use that don't take a lawyer to understand
    • Comprehensive privacy policies that are actually enforced*
    • Opt-in procedures for sharing of all types of data (with a bonus added for granularity of opt-ins)


  • I'd like to see more on the effects of social media on young people.  They can't all win the popularity contest. I worry about what happens if some kids don't get enough likes or retweets, and may be excluded from social groups.


* Dr. Benjamin Edelman of the Harvard Business School found in January 2006 that sites with TRUSTe certification were 50% more likely to violate privacy policies than uncertified sites.[23] (Source: Wikipedia)

A Short Form Guide to Contracts for Software Developers and Tech Startups

Adam Masser

A version of this article originally appeared on

Think contracts and code live in separate universes? Think again. They’re more similar than you think. In fact, drafting a contract is a lot like writing code. Here’s why:

1. Each and every word, sentence and paragraph is operative and has a purpose. One reason why both contracts and code seem unintelligible to non-experts is that they tend to be very dense. Both condense conceptual ideas into a minimalistic instruction set to dictate behavior based on measurable inputs. Also crucial is the choice of inputs, which determine a contract or program’s flexibility and responsiveness to different situations.

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Contract Tall.JPG

Hypothesis-Based Problem Solving: A Comprehensive Approach

Adam Masser

Ever wonder whether your problem solving approach really matters? Here's why it does:


What is Hypothesis-based problem solving?

Hypothesis-based problem solving is, simply, a particularly effective strategy for identifying solutions to any problem.

Whether you realize it or not: we are always responding to hypotheses! Except sometimes we believe they are true. Then we dwell on them, analyze them, rely on them.

That's OK if it's the hypothesis has been deeply investigated, and you come to rely on it as truth.

That's not OK if it was simply the first thing that occurred to you. The first thing that occurred may or may not be true. If you are well-adjusted and knowledgeable about your situation, it may even be likely your first response will be correct. But you can only be sure if you compare it to other possible responses. This is why a hypothesis-driven approach is so necessary—it recognizes that there are multiple possible explanations for any given problem or process flaw, and it examines each one in turn until the problem is isolated and a solution can be identified.

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