Thursday, January 24, 2008 vs Cyber Sannyasi

Alright, seems like it's time to write about something that I did early this week (21st Jan 2008) with Google's most popular Most of the Orkut users would've seen this message in their scrapbook sent by one of their friends...

Here are some tips to make your cell phone battery last longer. Just copy the JavaScript, paste it in your address bar and hit ENTER


trust me, you’ll find this newsletter informative! [;)] (...ending with a sarcastic wink !)

And, if they did what it suggested them to do, I'm sure, they had enjoyed the Cyber Sannyasi's cool Technology newsletter that featured an excellent YouTube video and a's article on extending your cell phone battery's life.

For those who're seeing this message for the first time here, be patient, you may see it in your scrapbook soon as this script is being misused by many users. Orkut has not fixed the bug completely.

Let me briefly explain what this JavaScript did...

When logged into you're asked by your friend to run this JavaScript from the address bar. This injects the actual prank Script from that runs in the background and renders the newsletter within the same browser window. While the user is engrossed with YouTube video and battery tips - the sript runs asynchronously performing those actions that it was programmed to do. It first sends a read receipt with timestamp back to the author's scrapbook (that's for my tracking purposes). Then fetches the current logged-on user's friends list from Compose.aspx page, builds AJAX based WebRequests and posts the scrap message to everyone on that list. The users were completely unaware of what had just happened until somebody on their list did the same. It forced Orkut to do one more nasty thing... When the user's friend-count exceeded 150 with 150 scraps originating rapidly with a time gap of 500 milliseconds, orkut blocked their write access for an indefinite period of time assuming he/she was a potential spammer [bug? it need not take 150 for the damage... damage has already been done at this point]. As mentioned earlier, this was just a prank and never touched users' sensitive information nor transmitted any cookies nowhere as some bloggers falsely believed (...and scared). In short, it meant no harm to anybody, but for the nuisance it created.

The script was later flagged as spam by many and eventually got deleted from the site where it was hosted. The hit counter showed that it was accessed 70,000 times within 36hrs before it went offline prematurely. Well, in a much popular social networking site like this number could grow astronomically over time.

Why did I do that ?

Hmm, good question. Well the story goes like this.., Inspired by all those "SCRAP ALL" and tons of other similar scripts (...this one's a mutant of SCRAP ALL), I wanted to take Orkut on a more profound spammer-coaster ride propelled by its own do-all-what-I'm-told ignorant users, I wanted to exploit a bug in, and I wanted to educate the users - in a safe but annoying way - about the harms of running scripts while being logged on. Remember the bold red message I had at the bottom of that newsletter ?

Protect your account: Never run any script while logged into, no matter what it claims to do. Including this newsletter or "Scrap To All" thingy... LOL!!

Yep, I put the same security tip that often appears in BOLD on the home page after you login. I commend Orkut in this regard for constantly reminding its users not to run any scripts while logged in.

My advice:

I believe, there are sections where Orkut can improve its anti-spam, anti-bot techniques. Like word filter, that could immediately pop up a captcha when trying to enter URLs or potential script texts in Srapbook. Employ the same flood-prevention algorithms to disallow users from posting similar messages within a specific time. Currently, this works only on a One-One basis. That is, one user cannot send consecutively similar scraps to the same friend, but, CAN definitely send consecutively similary scraps to one friend at a time - a potential for *SPAMs* like this one [;)] ( ... another sarcastic wink!). Hello Orkut, if you're reading this post, get this fixed asap as several users have already started hosting this script at multiple locations and misusing it.

For now, if you want to keep spam off of just remember the red bold message above. Or, if you're the one who is really curious to see what happens when you run scripts... then... don't curse script-authors for the outcome... It's YOUR PROBLEM & YOU CHOSE TO DO IT!

As a final note, I would like to apologize for the frustration, annoyance, confusion & inconvenience caused to several thousand users who fell for this prank. I would also like to apologize the guys at for using their site as a hosting place for this script.

Once again....  I love and let's keep Orkut Beautiful...  [:)] (...a hearty smile) !!