I received an email from Lucrecia Llerena ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) with the subject line – Re: OpenOffice Writer Usability Study with a single task
It claims to be from the Open Office people. It asked me to take part in a survey that would provide them with data that would help them improve Open Office.
I am a strong advocate for open source software and like many other open source users, will go out of my way to help improve open source wares, which makes me a bit more gullible when it comes to a scam based around open source ware. But would you take part in this survey?
Here’s an extract from the introduction, you judge:
“Given that the deadline to present results of our investigation culminates in a short time, we request your collaboration to
participate in a usability experiment with OpenOffice Writer through the application of the Thinking Aloud and SUS Survey techniques. This time we need you just execute a task by following 8 steps in OpenOffice Writer. The average time to perform the task is 20 minutes. This experiment requires the installation of some applications (such as OpenOffice Writer and Morae Recorder) on your computer. As long as you execute the task in OpenOffice Writer, the time taken to perform and the number of clicks you made will automatically be measured by the Morae tool. To perform the installation of the Morae tool it is necessary that the computer where you are going to execute the task, has to have Windows Operating System (*) for its compatibility with the tool. It is necessary for our research that the recording contains audio and video of your facial expressions (audio is indispensable for Thinking Aloud technique and facial recording will be useful for measure your grade of satisfaction when executing the task). However, if you disagree, you can perform the recording only of your screen. “
Firstly, it has a very long wordy introduction and explanation – not the sort of thing we are used to with Open Office. The English, while grammatically correct, seems a little clumsy and the sender doesn’t appear to cite any Open Office credentials. They have addressed me by my sir name, as if it is my christian name. Maybe that’s just a mail-merge glitch. While I am a champion of open source software, I wouldn’t take this survey, even if it was genuine and helped the Open Office designers.
- Even though their email passed all the spam filters, it has an email address that is unknown to me and looks nothing like anything I am used to with Open Office, Libre Office or any of my Linux contacts.
- It asks me to download some unknown software and admits it is spying on me, through both my keyboard activity and through my webcam. They use the term “recording” but it’s the same thing as spying isn’t it?.
- If this is a scam, it has planted a key logger and hacked into my webcam – to put it another way – it has taken over my computer. What’s next, a ransom ware screen?
Seriously, if the sender was at all familiar with Open Source ware, they would have planned the survey differently. For the most part, open source users are more computer savvy than the general public. Many are using open source, rather than commercial software, because they already reject the various monitoring methods used by commercial software distributors to mine data for advertising, identify copyright breaches and logging user activity for updates and bug handling. Those types of people are less likely to be stupid enough to be conned into accepting spying software.
If Open Office genuinely planned this survey (and I doubt they are so stupid) Iwould be removing all their software because this demonstrates a complete ignorance of computer security – what’s that say about the security of their software?
I’d advise everyone DO NOT TAKE PART IN THIS SURVEY!