Lots of people do not know this, but www.Miniclip.com, headquartered in Switzerland,
is the world’s No. 1 online games website in terms of monthly players! It is also
the world’s largest privately owned gaming website. Those who know it, brag about
the huge collection of various games hosted by miniclip. Miniclip is also the first
game provider to include games for Android and iPhone.
This past July, Miniclip rolled out it’s new website design with tons of new games
and features for it’s players. The new layout creates more intuitive experience
for Miniclip’s 70 million visitors and more than 800 games.
Online success and massive popularity does not come without risks however.
On September 1, 2005, the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team
issued an advisory concerning Miniclip:
“The Retro64 / Miniclip CR64 Loader ActiveX control contains a
buffer overflow vulnerability. This may allow a remote,
unauthenticated attacker to execute an arbitrary code on a
vulnerable system…. Although the ActiveX control is no
longer in use by either retro64.com or miniclip.com, any
system that has used certain pages of these web sites in
the past (prior to September, 2005) may be vulnerable.”
And in 2006, some Miniclip users had installed miniclipgameloader.dll which contained
malware identified to be Trojan DownLoader 3069.
So, you always need to be careful when downloading 3rd party addons.
These smart guys thought they had it all figured out. How they could take in
millions of dollars in bets, mostly sports betting, and never get caught. Duh!
They did okay for four or five years, they lived the good life, money, luxury,
etc. etc. Then the FBI came knocking on their doors!
Known as the Mastronardo Bookmaking Organization which was based in Philidelphia,
but took bets all across the United States. There was about sixteent men involved
in running this illegal betting ring. They took bets by phone, eMail, Skype,
Instant Messaging, and sometimes in person at a predetermined location.
At the peak of the operation, they were taking in millions of dollars per year.
I understand how greed can motivate men to get involved, but I do not understand
how they figure that they will NOT be caught. Is there some special chemical
missing in their brains? Or maybe the intense greed distorts their sense of
reality to such an extent that they believe just because they WANT to believe.
Most online games offer the players “extras” such as more livestock for
Facebook’s FarmVille, or more weapons for games like World of Warcraft.
The list goes on and on and although, the players are encouraged to use
in-game gold that they have earned, many would rather just pay and move
up in the hierarchy of power and prestige.
The problem is that these online games are global, available to everyone
all around the world, BUT credit cards are not available in many countries.
Also in many countries, you will not find pre-loaded debit cards in a
Walmart store or 7-Eleven. So, the payment options are limited. Also,
Paypal is not accepted in every country due to banking policies.
This is where Skrill comes in. A major deal between livegamer.com and Skrill
is opening the flood gates for tons of more money to easily flow into the
dozens of the most popular online games, especially the virtual worlds as
they are the ones that have the bigest in-game asset markets.
According to a spokesman from Skrill:
“With Skrill’s Moneybookers, the system can be much easier
because the company already has a relationships in place. It
has more than 100 payment methods in more than 200 countries.
Moneybookers allows someone in Poland to instantly pay for a
virtual item, and it offers charge back protection.”
Go Gamers, GO!
Some time ago, McDonald’s got into the children’s social networking business
by giving out free coupons with children’s meals that need to be redeemed at
McDonald’s online site: HappyMeal.com.
Well, so far, so good. What’s wrong with that?
The whole problem came done to the “forward-to-a-friend” option at HappyMeal.com.
This encouraged the little kids to submit their friend’s email address and send
eCards, photos, and other links to their friends, (which included advertising,
of course). The bottom line is that McDonald’s was using little kids to create
a viral advertising blast across the internet. All without their parents permission
and without fully understanding the implications.
It may not sound all that bad to you, but the Federal Trade Commission passed a
new protective law in 1998 called the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998.
This law prohibits the exact activity in which McDonald’s was engaged. To comply
with this law, McDonald’s would have to require parental permission before the kids
(under the age of 13), could submit personal information.
Due to the complexity and cost of that requirement, McDonald’s decided to just remove
the “forward-to-a-friend” option.
Over and done with.