State of the Startup
Posted on by Beau AdkinsCategories Light Point Security Update, Startups1 Comment on State of the Startup

A long staircaseI decided it would be a good idea to occasionally post a status update of our startup on our blog. I plan on listing which of the many steps involved in launching a startup we have completed, and some tips on the ones that warrant it.

My reasons are two-fold. The first reason is that I hope once our product launches and it is a huge success and I am super rich and spend my days racing yachts, someone who wants to launch their own startup can use these as a step-by-step roadmap on what to do. The second reason is that I think it will be good for me to take the time to think about all the things we’ve accomplished since the last update. This may be a moral booster if I see that we have done a lot, or help me realize we are slacking if we have not.

What Have We Done?

  • Idea. The first thing was an idea about how I can provide web security better than everyone else. This idea has not been released publicly, so there isn’t much more I can say about that right now.
  • Research. The next thing I did was research on how I could implement it, and to decide if it was feasible that I could turn it into a profitable business.
  • Development Setup. I needed a development environment before I could create anything. I bought a computer and installed a subversion server for version control and TRAC for issue management. If you are developing any serious software, you NEED version control and issue management software. It is well worth the time.
  • Prototype. The next thing I did was to start building a working prototype, or a proof of concept. This took quite a while, in which time I was also working other items in this list.
  • Business Planning. First I knew that I would not have time to build the product, and run the business. I enlisted Zuly, my then girlfriend – now fiancee, to fill this role. Neither of us had run a business before, but we knew we could figure it out. We came up with a name for the business, snatched up the URL, made a business plan, etc. As I worked on the product, Zuly learned how to do the business side stuff (accounting, legal, etc).
  • Evaluation. At this point I had a working prototype, but when I finally looked at the stats, I realized the product would not be able to scale. This prototype had taken most of a year to get where it was, and then I found out it wouldn’t work. I thought it was all over at this point. But I refused to give up. I did more research to find a more efficient technology, and found one. I decided to swap out the old inefficient technology for the new hotness.
  • Persist. This new technology was another open source library that did the same thing as the old version, but it did so, much more efficiently. However, the way this library was written was nowhere near how I needed it to work. I spent months tinkering and reading through hundreds of files of source code to try and fix it. Every time I fixed an issue, I discovered 2 more that had to be fixed. After an entire year of this, I had my proof of concept functioning as it did before the technology swap, but now it was an order of magnitude more efficient.
  • Improvement. I added more and more features, eventually turning it into more of a product than a proof-of-concept.
  • More Research. As I implemented features, I tried to keep thinking a few moves ahead. I had a plan on what I would do next, and what after that. So in my down time, I would do some reading to make sure my plans on how to do those next steps would actually work, or if there was a better way.
  • Business Setup. At this point, we decided it was a good bet that we can make this work. We each took some of our own money, officially registered the business, and set up a bank account.
  • Website. We transferred ownership of the business domain name to the business, and bought hosting to set up this web page. We got something decent setup, and gradually improved it over time. We are still doing this.
  • Networking. We started blogging, using Facebook, Twitter, and others to start making a name for ourselves online. This is a never ending step.

What’s Next?

  • Branding. We have a name for the product, but we need to grab its domain name before we make it public.
  • Deployment and Beta-testing. We are now to the point where we need to start buying server capacity so other people can play with the product and give us feedback. We will use this feedback to make improvements until we feel the product is refined enough to begin charging for it.

Have I forgotten anything? If you see something missing that I should have done by now, please let me know. Or if you have any questions/suggestions, don’t hesitate to comment.

State of the Startup
The Facebook Will Start Charging Scam
Posted on by Zuly GonzalezCategories Web SecurityLeave a comment on The Facebook Will Start Charging Scam

With over 400 million users, Facebook is a constant target of online criminals and scam artists. The “Facebook will start charging” scam has been around since last year, yet people are still falling for it. Even worse, there’s been an increase in these types of scams over the last couple of months.

How the Facebook Will Start Charging Scam Works

Online criminals create Facebook pages claiming that Facebook will begin charging some monthly fee. For example, the page “I won’t pay $3.99 to use Facebook starting in July” is a scam. And the page “I will not pay to use Facebook as of Sept 7th 2010” is also a scam.

In fact, Facebook spokesman Larry Yu stated, “We have absolutely no plans to charge for the basic service of using Facebook.”

Facebook Will Start Charging Scam Page

There are many variations on this theme, and they’re all scams. I searched on Facebook for “Facebook pay” and got 287 page results (see below). And every single one of these pages is a scam! The top result had 7661 fans.

Just out of curiosity, I searched for “Facebook pay” again the following day and noticed that the pages are growing. The top result went from 7661 fans to 7844 fans and the second result went from 6877 fans to 6899 fans. So it looks like things are going in the wrong direction.

Facebook Will Start Charging Scam Search Results Facebook Will Start Charging Scam Search Results

Online scammers create Facebook pages (and groups) in an attempt to trick people into divulging their personal information, downloading malicious content, or inviting their friends to join the page. In the case of the “Facebook will start charging” scam, it seems the most common method is to get people to invite their friends to the page in an attempt to amass a large number of fans they can then sell to unsuspecting businesses.

Just take a look at the information on the “I will not pay to use Facebook as of Sept 7th 2010” page:

I Will Not Pay for Facebook Scam Page Description

And if you look at the information on some of the other Facebook Pay pages, you will notice that they don’t ask you for any personal information, or ask you to download something, or ask you to go to another website. The main thing these pages are asking people to do is to invite all of their friends. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t malicious links showing up on these pages, so be careful, and don’t click on any links in these pages.

So now that you know the truth, don’t join any Facebook pages claiming that Facebook will start charging.

How to Protect Yourself on Facebook

For the most part, these Facebook Pay pages weren’t setup to steal your personal information – although I didn’t look at every single page. And even if they were setup for that purpose, you usually have to take some action for this to occur.

But joining not only encourages criminals to keep coming up with these scams, it also puts your friends at risk. How? Well, as soon as you join, it’s displayed on your friends’ news feeds. A friend could see it and then join the group.

So, other than the obvious don’t join advice, here are a few other tips to help keep you and your friends secure while on Facebook:

  • If you see your friends joining these Facebook Pay pages, warn them about the scam and tell them to remove themselves from the page.
  • Spread the word. Scammers take advantage of the fact that people aren’t aware of these scams to do their dirty work. If people are informed of the risks, then it becomes a lot harder to get away with it. So tell your Facebook friends, and send them a link to this post, or any other post on the topic.
  • Be suspicious of any Facebook page that makes it easy for you to invite your friends, asks you to download something, or asks for your personal information in return for something else.
  • Always check the page’s wall before joining. There are legitimate reasons why you may be asked to download and install something from Facebook pages. However, there are also plenty of malicious programs out there. The legitimate stuff will, for the most part, work as advertised. On the other hand, the malicious stuff usually won’t work at all. So if you go to the page’s wall and see a lot of people complaining about the fact that it doesn’t work, stay away! Odds are it’s malware. And I’m not talking about a couple of bad reviews, because even the legitimate programs will get bad reviews every now and then. But if you see mostly complaints, then it’s likely to be malware. And even if it’s not, why waste your time, it obviously doesn’t work!
  • Join the Facebook Security page to get the latest security updates from Facebook, or visit Facebook’s Safety Center.
  • Read and follow the 5 most important steps for internet security to protect your computer from online criminals.

Have you come across this scam? Have you come across any other Facebook scams lately? What other ways of staying safe on Facebook do you recommend?