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!

Loving Internet, Thanks for saving us! – From Trees


I very well know that with the rising altitude in global warming in the recent times and how is Internet connected with global warming. I agree that using the internet uses energy, depleting fossil fuels, and so on. However, have we every thought about what has happened ever since the invention of Internet and the way it has become accessible to nearly everyone on the planet? I guess not….

We must have shared this point of view of our many a times that information sharing has become much faster and accessible than ever before with internet. However, we never stretched our thought a little thinking that prior to internet; we had to be more attentive and aware about the news, happening in the every corner of the world or research at a library to know about anything. However, now all this information is at our fingertips. We don’t need to store the piles of cuttings of the newspapers about the article we thought may be useful to us in future. With websites of almost every news channel and newspaper, usage of paper has drastically reduced.

Have we ever thought that now the transactions have become much more and accurate even while using less paper?  Well, ever since the invention of computer, the usage of papers has reduced a lot. Now, we are more comfortable saving our documents and pictures on computer folders rather than in piles of files. And now with almost every bank offering online transactions with secure processes, purchases on online stores and many such virtual activities… the constant need for paper supply has really come down.

How many of us have been offered discount from our mobile network service companies for using e-bills? Go ahead and switch to e-bills… they save lot of paper and also less hassle for you that you face trying to keep your paper bills files and secured.

I really appreciate online education. Virtual books, internet as a vast online encyclopedia, no paperwork at all, and even online submissions… wow…

Apart from this, when we say that internet gives us a way to be connected to like-minded individuals across the globe. Have we ever thought that earlier, one could only have few friends though now we can be connected to just about anyone across the globe. And with this if we analyze, Anna Hazare’s recent Anti-Corruption movement would not have been successful! Online activities and constant support through email campaigns as well as social networking sites contributed majorly in bringing the wholeIndiatogether. In fact, social networks have helped campaigns reach more ears—and eyes—than ever before. Without internet, just sit and think how it could have been possible and how long it could have taken to achieve the success in the campaign!

We save a lot on paper and mailing by sending emails. We can now telecommute instead of actually driving to work… have meetings via teleconference instead of flying to another city…

Practically speaking except getting motivated on June 5th every year how many of us really take initiative to plant trees. Well, though we do really contribute somewhere a lot in saving them… right!

Internet has long promised a more efficient and greener world…. It seems to be keeping its promise!

I wonder if trees could speak the language we could understand! I am sure the one whom they would thank the most would be internet!

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!

The Great Internet Robberies!


If I say that the current scenario of cyber attacks, hackers and the increasing threat to information security is very clear and dangerous, I am not wrong I guess.

These days nothing is hidden. Hackers inform well in advance about their hack attack schedules. Currently, I am waiting to know what will happen to Facebook… waiting for November 5, 2011, the day when Anonymous have claimed to target the famous social networking site- Facebook shut down!

When criminals inform about their action in advance, I feel this means that they seem to more intelligent, confident and with advanced form of knowledge than anyone else around.

Look at the havoc these cyber criminals have been successful in creating. Network infrastructure of many companies like Google, Sony, several government institutions have been compromised resulting in the loss of sensitive intellectual property. These days it seems as if every day major companies are being attacked. Rather every major company, every major institution have been penetrated. It’s difficult to pinpoint a particular person or group behind these attacks as there are so many different potential suspects to worry about – ranging from nebulous groups of hackers, to organized crime, to competing corporations, to nation-states and military agencies – and frequently even the motives for the security breaches are unclear. This leaves victims and also the investigators wondering who was behind an act and the reason behind the attacks. One thing is very much certain that cyber attacks and the vulnerabilities faced by companies as well as society (referring to social networking sites) are intensifying day-by-day and reaching pandemic levels. With this, the appropriate protection to prevent such thefts seems to be challenging.

I agree that security is always a cat-&-mouse game between hackers and security software providers. And with time, both – companies as well as hackers have grown sophisticated. Most of the security softwares are now capable of preventing basic threats, though the malware and viruses are now too sophisticated. At times, even the IT experts fall prey to cyber attacks. Interactive media is very dangerous and now as social networking is becoming the part of marketing strategy of almost each and every company, they are more likely to be victim. Millions of Botnet-infected computers are running in homes as well as businesses across the globe. Data from more than 12 million PCs including Fortune 1000 companies and 40 major banks is being compromised. The hackers not only just steal specific data or intellectual property, but take advantage of anything and everything they can access. Either hacker increasingly knows exactly what they want, while their targets often struggle to understand the threat or where it is coming from. Or attackers continue to rapidly develop new ways to access what they want, and as a result, the threats can come from anywhere. Or else, observers believe that almost everyone and every company ultimately is at risk, a result of today’s highly networked global economy and communications infrastructure.

At one end these hackers are rapidly building malware and on the other end the security experts are trying to stop attacks using the same sophisticated programming tools available. There seems to be a constant change in the boundaries between professional and private activities the network. Also, there seem to be too many different ways by which users can access information. This is resulting in increasing potential points of weakness, thus contributing to the growing vulnerability of even the most resource-rich companies.

The more hyped concept of cloud computing brings more security. More and more companies these days outsource their IT infrastructure to Internet-based utility computing models. Thus, monitoring and controlling access to information no doubt become more challenging. Risks are becoming more interdependent as we are more and more dependent on IT systems. The supply chain and telecommunication systems in business are more interconnected today than ever and everything, everywhere; all the time can not be protected.

The only way out to be on the safer side is to protect the IT infrastructure and the actual information or data that is supported by that infrastructure, whether the information is in motion, in use or in storage. Also, make sure that access of the information and services are restricted as per the specific requirement.

Risk of anything happening anytime is the current security scenario. However, we can’t just sit thinking it’s difficult and impossible to handle. As it is truly said that thinking your enemy is more powerful than you, it should not restrict you from being more prepared and strong. They only way out is keep fighting!

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