Online Dating – Dangerous Ishq!


In this era of busy lifestyle, it is obvious that people have less time to dedicate to their personal lives and hence tend to become lonely. If I say that we live in the age of lonely hearts… I may not be wrong!

These lonely hearts always try to find some or the other way to escape their emptiness… With social media taking over… rather, leading the communication sector… it has proved to be the best tool and the most common way to find friends… and also that ‘special someone’.

Just like any relationship… online relationships too have their own success as well as unsuccessful stories. However, here the issue is that we begin getting closer and opening our heart to some one we never met… we don’t know at all about that person still we get in to the relationship and find a soulmate in that person… hence chances of things going wrong are comparatively more.

I consider such scams into two categories;

1. Personal

2. Cyber threats

When I talk about personal benefits, spying and money extortion tops the list. Any one who wants to spy an individual can fall in love with or make the individual fall in love online. People find this as an easy way to fool some one and earn money in the name of emotions and friendship.

I am sure many of us might have faced such situation wherein, we have met some one online who gradually becomes good friends and then at times love. Later that person may have asked for financial help stating that they are facing some unforeseen situations. Usually such online relationships are short-term though with a promise of long-term at the beginning. The intention is financial benefit. The day you deny helping such person, you do not love or rather trust that person!

As per FBI, chances of women being trapped in such romance Scams is double than men. Last year (2011) the losses reported from this type of fraud reached $50.4 million, with the average victim losing around $8,900 in the name of love. The FBI report also claims that at a rate of 15 complaints received per day, these scams saw daily reported losses of approximately $138,000, or more than $5,700 every hour.

 Most of the times, it is difficult to identify the intentions of the real people behind the fake profiles. The scam artists are innovative in terms of developing new tricks and excellent when it comes to creating characters online to run such frauds. They win trust and heart of victims and often leave them heartbroken and financially ruined.

 The second category of Online dating scams is cyber threats. With the growing cyber age… cyber terrorism, cyber espionage is on peak. Cyber criminals easily take advantage of people adapting to the online dating and relationships in order to exploit the vulnerabilities. Hackers know that in the name of love, fooling people is easy. Moreover, once the trust is won, it is easy to get access the victim’s financial information with an intention of identity theft. Such activities include less effort and help attain maximum output with zero percent physical interaction. No doubt, online dating is a billion dollar industry!

 These days online scammers have started a new scam campaign on Facebook wherein they alert you that someone has viewed your profile or has showed interest in you or has posted a message for you. Then to know more about it they ask you to click on the mentioned link (fraud). Once you click on that link, you welcome malware in your system that takes over your system by infecting it.  

 In addition, at times dating sites are hacked due to improper security measures deployed by the web site. Even if the user exercises utmost caution, the site itself may provide complete information about the member to the hackers including CC number, etc. in case the victim is a paid registered member. Recently, a military dating website – www.militarysingles.com was hacked into by hackers wherein they took confidential information such as passwords, email addresses, etc. from more than 170,000 records. 

 Moreover, in case the photographs are shared while in the online relationship, anyone can take advantage of those pictures. I hope you know about morphed images! People who fall prey of such scams not only face financial loss buy also embarrassment that is usually tragic.

 So, next time anyone who tries to find love online, always ensure of not sharing any kind of sensitive information while interacting on dating sites. Parents, especially of teens, should be cautious and ensure that the child is not getting in such practices. Remember that photographs are not the right proof to judge the genuinity of person and may not even show the real sender (scammer). There is a possibility that the love interest (scammer) of the victim may not even be the same gender that was informed at the beginning of the relationship. It is not that such scams may only happen when some one approaches to the victim. There is a possibility that the scammers may have created a profile on the dating site and then waits for a potential victim to contact them.

 At times, scammers send out random unsolicited emails stating that they are a loner or have a desire to begin a relationship in the hope that some gullible recipients will favourably respond. Many a times, such relationships also begin in chat rooms or messengers.

 Well, I know, anyone reading this may have a question in their mind – is it possible to find love online? I would say, anything is possible… however, I guess we ourselves are the better person who can think best for us! Or may be we are looking for love in wrong places!

BEWARE! You are spied while banking on internet!


Technology has advanced to such an extent that we now trust our computers in money matters. Coincidently, more than we may trust humans!

It is observed that major internet savvy users have stopped going to bank. Right from filling the forms and online applications to transferring the cash and all the other banking formalities we have started using internet. Let me not talk about the pros of the same. We all are aware of them. However, the overshadowed cons due to favourable pros of this facility need to be brought under notice.

One of the biggest security concerns when using internet banking facility is Keyloggers. In simple words these especially creative people tracking the keys struck on a keyboard from remote, while someone is banking on internet. We might have heard people saying that they have lost money from their account or there are some unknown transactions showing on their bank accounts using their internet banking accounts. This means that their account is being hacked!

Now, a question might arise that how is this possible? This is done secretly so that the person using the keyboard is not aware that his/her actions are being spied on. Key logging can be done from hardware and software-based approaches to electromagnetic as well as acoustic analysis. With is they are able to trace the username, password of the online banking accounts. And can take advantage of that information. It is easily possible by writing simple software applications for key logging. Later, these programs can easily be distributed as a Trojan horse or as part of a virus in the network. To whom-so-ever this virus stuck, is a victim!

Here, something which is not simple for the Keylogger is to install a hidden keystroke logger without being caught and to download the data that has been logged without being traced. Usually these Keyloggers manually connect to a host machine to download logged keystrokes risks being traced. There is always a risk of sending a Trojan to a fixed e-mail address or IP address because it may expose the key logger’s identity. One of the other ways that keyloggers try is by unconditionally writing the crypto Trojan to the last few unused sectors of every writable disk that is inserted into the machine that remain marked as unused, using a USB token. And only the Trojan writer can decrypt the cipher text because only he knows the needed private decryption key.

Hence, we need an alternative to the conventional computer. In year 2008, IBM engineers invented virtual keyboard also known as laser keyboard. Its primary use is when you need to type without a physical keyboard present. It is also used as an additional safety measure from viruses, Trojan and  that might be present in the computer that logs every keystroke from the keyboard waiting for you to type in your password or credit card number. Virtual Keyboards are the best for internet banking. This online application protects your password from malicious Spyware and Trojan Programs.

Presently, there are several programs available in the market today that can be added to any desktop or laptop system to create a virtual keyboard environment. Also, it can be downloaded from internet. Once installed on your computer, it is easy to access. Some times the original keyboard (hardware) is used to active the virtual component and using mouse virtual keys can be typed. Couple of more alternative devices such as head mouse and eye mouse can also be used. Laser technology can also be used to operate the virtual keyboard.

Apart from Virtual keyboard, the other ways to have a safe banking experience online is by using Anti- Keylogger softwares, Live CD/USB, Anti-Spyware, Anti-Virus programs, Network monitors, Automatic form filler programs, One-time passwords (OTP), Security tokens, On-screen keyboards, Keystroke interference software, Speech recognition, Handwriting recognition and mouse gestures, Macro expanders/recorders and so on!

Well, the fact is that effectiveness of countermeasures varies as keyloggers use various techniques to capture data and the countermeasure needs to be effective against the particular data capture technique. Also, there are always possibilities of the Keylogger software authors updating the code to adapt to countermeasures that may have proven to be effective against them. With the increasing advanced innovations, there are more advanced versions of thefts invented…. Or Visa Versa!

The bottom line is BEWARE!

Hollywood… Forget about Bodyguards… Do you have Anti-Virus?


Celebrities are no stranger to encroachments… privacy has always been a serious issue for them… right from media to the over zealous fans to their jealous competitor costars… all seek unfettered access to their favorite stars. However,Hollywoodnow faces a new, freakish threat to their privacy!

 

After creating havoc in the top level corporations and governments, the known hacker group Anonymous is diverting its attention away towards the Hollywood’s elite. And for this they have honored themselves with a new title – HOLLYWOODLEAKS… thus has declared war on the entertainment industry!

 

Since past few days, Hollywood Leaks has been successfully accessing the private records of celebrities. They are simply facilitating the free flow of information what they find and interestingly, have no qualms about sharing it. They got access and distributed some of the precious data like the confidential script for the new Tom Cruise movie, ‘Rock of Ages’ and phone numbers of celebrities – Ashley Greene, Joey Fatone, Miley Cyrus, Lil Jon, and Mark Cuban. They even leaked Julianne Hough, the singer’s health insurance information, her cell phone number as well as her cell-phone pictures, including pictures of her with boyfriend Ryan Seacrest and even her unreleased album.

 

Eventually, they are also responsible in leaking topless pictures of VMA nominated rapper Kreayshawn and shared them with her some 300,000 odd Twitter followers. Toby Barrett’s twitter account was hacked. And recently, they hacked Gerald Butler’s e-mail address of his Gmail account along with email addresses of rappers Waka Flocka and Lloyd Banks.

 

Just like Anonymous or LulzSec, Hollywood Leaks revealed that they are in it for the Lulz – that is just for the felonious amusement atHollywood’s expense!

The group posted message to YouTube recently – “Attention Hollywood. We are Anonymous. We have been watching you. We have been listening to you. You have been allowed to run free too long. The time of Jew control media is over.” Later, the group tweeted “LOL at people calling us Anti-Semites. It’s for the LULZ.  Get over it.”

 

The hacker group has revealed that its intent is to target celebrities in Film, Television, and Music. And as we see, few top celebrities have already been targeted. The main purpose of these hack attacks seems that the hackers are looking for dirt, such as nude photos, embarrassing e-mails or memos, scripts under wraps, etc. In general, Hollywood Leaks wants to leave a trail of showbiz carnage in its wake.

 

Though it’s not the most devastating list of achievements of the group so far, however, their ominous sign-off:  “We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.” … scares me a bit! I just wonder what next… rather whose next!

 

I am pretty sure thatHollywoodspin machine might be scared by now due to the Hollywood Leak’s operation and have got an idea of the hack group’s potential to wreak havoc on the industry! And it looks like they’ll continue to shake up the industry.

 

According to security experts, Hollywood Leaks have broken into these celebrities accounts may be simply by guessing some bad security questions. So dear allHollywoodmembers… stop only thinking about your physical security… Think about securing yourselves online…. A bodyguard for you online… A good Anti-Virus!

IF JUNK… JUST BUNK…


Many a times we have received an e-mail that says something like: “Forward this e-mail on to 10 people and receive good luck for a month!” Or “If you forward this to 10 people, you’ll see something funny on your screen after you send it or forward this on to ’10’ of your friends” or “sign this petition” or “Forward this mail to 10 people or you’ll get bad luck,” or ” Forward this mail to 10 people and you’ll get good luck,” or “you’ll see something funny on your screen after you send it” or the very famous ‘Microsoft Email Lottery’!

I am sure almost 99% of the “Please forward this to everyone” emails we get almost regularly contain at least some misinformation. Rather sometimes, the entire email is completely a hoax. Even the one trying to warn us of some great peril are usually worthless, like HIV infected needles in coin return slots, gang member initiation rituals, kidnap attempts in parking lots, or simple procedures that will save someone in an emergency medical situation, at times are outrightly dangerous (if they contain virus).

Also, the e-mails that ask you to add your name and forward on to others are similar to the mass letter. Many of us must have also received emails that say that “you can do your friends and family members a great favor by sending this information to them. You will be providing a service to your friends.”

I have also received many of the emails that try to play with our conscience by saying that “send this e-mail to 10 people… if you’re not ashamed of God/Jesus” or also the e-mails that talk about a missing child or a child with an incurable disease, “how would you feel if that was your child”…

I know these mails are received by many of us quite occasionally. My question is that how many of us respond to such mails as instructed? And what happens when we do so?

If I am not mistaken, the answer is NOTHING ACTUALLY HAPPENS! True… we neither win any lottery… nor do something good or bad happen with us! So what is the purpose of these chain mails? When no one gets anything out of it… why do these mails… sorry chain mails keep knocking our inboxes?

Well, as it is said that in today’s world nothing happens without a reason… same applies for internet world!

These chain mails have tracker programs attached to its e-mails that track the cookies and e-mails of those whom you forward them to. It is one of the ways to get names and cookie tracking information for telemarketers and spammers. This activity helps them to validate the active e-mail accounts for their own profitable purposes. It so works like this that every time the mail is forwarded, the host sender gets a copy and then he is able to get lists of ‘active’ e-mail addresses to use in spam e-mails or sell to other spammers. In some cases, such mails also waste bandwidth and clog ISP’s mail servers.

Yes… it’s true…! The fact is that these spammers really don’t care about how they get our e-mail addresses as long as they get them.

Well, all I would say is that do a favor for yourself by stop adding your names to such types of listing… no matter how real they might sound, making you feel guilty that if you don’t…. just ignore them and do not participate!

In case we follow the instructions thinking that somehow, somewhere we are supporting a great cause, actually we are not! Just remember that such mails are all about getting e-mail addresses and nothing more! Rather we are inviting tons of junk mail in our inbox that may bring lots of deadly viruses to your computer! As apart from such emails firing up a program that can track where an email has gone and report back to a marketer, they can launch a program that installs itself on your computer to do all kinds of nasty things like, pop-up ads, using your computer to send out spam, or keyboard watchers, etc.

When someone sends one of such mails to us and 20 other people, our email address with such activity gets on the machines of 20 people. If 5 of them forward to 20 more people then our email address is now on about 100 different computers. The reason is that by default, most email programs include the entire list of people the original was sent to when it creates the forwarded copy. And if this activity is repeated a few more times, congratulations as without you doing anything, your email address is on thousands of computers!

Apart from ignoring such emails, the other best way to save you is to have an updated Anti-Virus. Never open an email attachment that you were not expecting. If an email comes through with an attachment, always check with the sender before opening, even if it’s someone you trust. The best idea is to just click the button marked Delete. Don’t click the Spam button as this will add the senders e-mail address to the spam list, and other genuine e-mails the person sends you could also get treated as spam. Also, the sender’s e-mail could get added to the companies black list, which may result in most of their e-mails also being treated as spam to other people they are e-mailing as well. This might not just affect us but others too!

So, conclusion is that by forwarding e-mails just can’t bring us luck or bad luck… if we don’t forward! And, above all the pain and suffering we go through; we are actually helping those spammers to get rich! Let’s not make it easy for them!

So if you are still someone who continues to forward the chain e-mails expecting any luck or due to the fear of bad luck, I urge you to stop this practice… If any junk mail in your inbox… just bunk it!

How good is being social?


“Are you on Facebook or Twitter or Google+?” This is the most generic question asked these day to anyone you meet or interact with.

In the recent past, there seems to be an unprecedented growth of these so-called social interaction platforms. The main intention of the invention of Internet is for the exchange of information. Social networking sites took this trend further. Though over the last few years, they have simply taken the world by storm. It was initiated with MySpace, Badoo.Com, Bebo, Flingr and Orkut and now the most popular are Facebook, Twitter and the recent one- Google + joining the world of Social Networking sites.

It is strange that in the span of just last 6-7 years these social networking sites have picked up a great momentum and now have garnered the global attention, making people badly addict to it. They have successfully attained the must-visit web destinations on internet on daily, rather hourly basis. Today, many of us just can’t imagine living without social networking. It has become a daily routine no matter wherever we are. And with mobile phones getting more advanced day-by-day with their applications, use of social networks today is not an issue anymore.

Social networking websites work by asking you to create a profile by filling in basic information and personality, adding people you know to your friend’s list. These profiles are generally quite open and can be easily viewed by anyone. And, the worst part is that there is no way to guarantee that the people viewing your profile are the people you want to see it.

These sites no doubt come with the advantages of you getting connected to your long lost friends, which can be otherwise impossible in the case of many of us. Also, these sites have proved to be a great platform for marketing by entrepreneurs considering that it has emerged as a viable, profitable marketing tool. However, these networking sites do come with a whole lot of package of some unavoidable disadvantages!

I know at the first instance, you many not agree though this is the hard fact!

Forget about alcohol, the addiction of these social networking sites is taking new dimensions! It has no doubt turned many of us emotionally dependent on the virtual relationships developed by these sites. But the other big concern which is the worst is privacy. Until, you have a habit of regularly updating your privacy settings to ensure that your personal information is not viewed by unknown people and their pictures are not misused, you are in a big problem. And the other health issues that come along with this package… we usually don’t even think about them!

If you ask my granny, she feels that we- the so-called new generation has become lethargic because of social networking feature. She feels that it is simply making us unsocial by just being stuck in front of computer and least bothered about interacting face-to-face. It’s true to quite an extent that social networking is slowly taking over face-to-face communication, and these days’ people prefer expressing themselves online. They feel a great comfort zone. So the bottom line is communication has become rapid and easier, though at the cost of personal interaction.

It’s been observed that these days the companies spy on future employees on social networking sites. Well my point is, isn’t that supposed to be just for social networking and not to be mixed with our professional lives?

Hence, I feel that one needs to be serious about what you have in your social networking account. The stuff that you don’t want some one to see needs to be secured or blocked. We can’t consider this as spying as social networking sites are public spaces on internet. Anyone can have access to them and use the data for their own purposes. There is no such thing as separation between personal and professional anymore.

I know many people with worst experiences in their life due to these networking sites, especially teenagers who are more attracted to these sites as they meet different people not really knowing their original characters, habits etc. They call their relation as ‘love’ and ruin their live by inviting disasters. I have seen many people adding 1000 or more friends and feel happy about it. Though what I don’t understand is that what is the need of having such a huge friend’s list when from that list you don’t know about the 99% of them…. You don’t talk to them… how can you call them as your friends… just because they are in your friend’s list ???

Looking at all this, at times a though comes to my mind that if this is the scenario in the span of 6-7 years of the existence of social networking sites, then what will be the scenario after 5 years?

Agreed, technologies and inventions do make our lives easier along with some added pleasures. Though it is up to us, whether to make them become intrusive in our lives… or just stay on the sidelines as helpful tools!

I guess… let technology not master us!

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: