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!

NOW COMPUTERS WILL UNDERSTAND YOUR PAIN!


When we are sick, the worst thing that we go through is someone questioning what exactly you are going through… where is it paining and to what extend is it paining… its very irritating… right? In addition, the situation is tougher with infants, elderly, debilitated or unconscious patients.

Pain being considered to be the fifth vital sign, it is considered as one of the key elements of the patient assessment. Doctors completely rely on patients to tell them whether they are in pain. Well, however, gone are the days when we had to keep trying to explain to our doctor how much something hurts on a scale of one to 10. Recently, the Scientists at Stanford University have taken an initiative in creating a new gold standard for assessing pain using computer learning software.

As the research and development continues for this innovation, the scientists have been able to predict most of the time whether the volunteers are experiencing pain or not. Moreover, to get these results, they have combined computer-learning software with a catalogue of MIR brain scans. For the study, the team uses a linear support vector machine – a computer algorithm – to classify patterns of brain activity and determine whether someone is experiencing pain. For this, the volunteers who undergo the brain scans are touched by a mildly heated probe and then again on a painfully hot setting. The computer uses data from these scans to recognise different brain activity patterns that occurs when a person is detecting heat, and which ones detect pain. It is estimated that, in these tests the computer has been more than 80 per cent accurate in detecting which brain scans are of people in pain or not. Conducted in a controlled laboratory environment, the study is said to need a further research to detect if the technology can be adapted to accurately show chronic pain.

Using this neuro-imaging technology, apart from the scale of pain, the team has also been successful in detecting whether the patient is in a state of pain or not. Hence, eventually with the use of this technology, doctors will be able to detect pain better and will be able to give better treatment of chronic pain.

So, the next time when we go to the doctor and he has this question in his mind for us that how much does it hurt, their computer will help them tell how much pain their patients are experiencing.

I agree it is a great innovation, and fingers crossed…. I pray that it meets the standards successfully. However, I would like to make a point that no matter how successful this innovation is, it will not give accurate results if the malware and other viruses affect it. Such malicious creatures have the tendency of disturbing the working of softwares installed in the computer as well as the whole computer rather. Moreover, this will lead to inappropriate treatment, thus increasing the complexities in the patient’s health. Hence, an Anti-Virus is a must for such computers.

Otherwise, how will the computer understand the pain we are going through?

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!

Internet Threats to children


I recently read about investigation that resulted in child rape charges against a 19-year-old in Salisbury with an ugly journey into the world of Internet crime and child pornography. As the investigation proceeded deeper into the underground realm of child pornography and Internet crime, this extensive nature of the danger to children goes far beyond what most of us would imagine.

Internet has proved to be a both boon as well as bane for this generation. With the rapid & intense penetration of Internet in our lives, our screen time is increasing day-by-day. Today’s world is full of information that is accessible to all age groups just with a click. This age group can be as young as 4 years to as old as 70 years. All the information, good or bad is right in front of children which can be both misused and put to good use.

Today, children are exposed to a wide variety of information on the internet. Statistics shows that approximately 80% of children who are five years of age use the Internet at least once a week. And I am astonished to know that over 60% of children from three years are watching movies on the Internet and mostly are using Internet TV. It is estimated that time spent watching TV is 47% of all time spent to the media devices by children and 90% of 5-9 year old children on a daily basis reads books for at least an hour. However, children’s screen time is increasing day-by-day every year, though the books time remains the same. Well, that is the only reason I feel that children of such an age are quite vulnerable to Internet threats. Frankly speaking, at times, they even don’t exactly know, at which link they are clicking and whether the Internet site is free of Malware, Spyware and Viruses. No doubt, many times they land up navigating child-sensitive content sites that can affect child’s psychological health. Their inquisitive mind does also have some questions about some aspects of life. They have found the answer on internet and now know how to access the tool quite well. They easily become victims as they don’t know what they’re getting themselves into when they respond to Internet predators.

With social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and many, the current generation seems to be too much obsessed with themselves. They have these so-called ‘short attention spans’ and a childlike desire for constant feedback on their lives. Well, why should someone be so much interested in what someone else has had for breakfast or gets stuck in traffic or goes out for shopping? Though the present scenario is that, children who are these social networking site users, feel the need to become mini celebrities who are watched and admired by others on a daily basis. They do things that are Facebook status worthy and keep updating about their lives on these walls because they feel that this is the only way they can define themselves by ‘people knowing about them’.

It is almost as if they are going through some kind of identity crisis…

In a sense it seems as if keeping the brain in a sort of time warp…

It is almost as if people are living in a world that is unreal where what counts is what people think of you or if they can click on you…

And to gain attention children don’t even bother to know much about whom they are adding… all they want is to have a fan following…! They don’t know that with updating almost about every move and activity, there are chances of them being kidnapped easily, too!

I am not a psychiatrist, though somewhere I feel that this growth of so-called ‘Internet friendships’ have the capability to effectively rewire a child’s brain that can result affecting their concentration, a need for instant gratification and poor non-verbal skills, such as the ability to make eye contact during conversations…!

Talking about the child rape charge in Salisbury, the fact that somehow the victim’s mother discovered those disturbing e-mails sent to her son by the criminal was the reason behind the investigation which was initiated. The e-mails were soliciting the boy to pose nude for money for pictures to be posted on a graphic Internet pornography site and criminals very clearly told victim that he earned a lot of money doing exactly the same thing. What if the victim’s mother could not have been able to get access to those emails? Imagine the mental state of the innocent who is going through such situations!

Well, the ideal solution for parents to prevent their children from falling victim to such Internet-borne child predators is, knowing where your child is wandering in the Internet. I have heard about many parents logging onto social networking sites like Facebook to spy on what their children are doing. They did it to avoid having ‘awkward conversations’ with the children but I feel the reason here is also that they feel it is the only way they could find out about their lives. Yes, ‘overprotective’ instincts are the reason… and I respect that!

On the other hand, majority of the cases are found where children know more about computers than their parents do; they even know how to hide things. At times I feel the need to pull in some kind of law enforcement to make sure that parents are educated enough about computers and the Internet so as to safeguard their children. It’s a new age. Hence parents need to be alert!

Children on the other hand may feel that their privacy gets disturbed with parents doing so. And I have come across few groups on face book such as ‘For the love of god-don’t let parents join Facebook’, with more than 7,700 group members. Well, all can say is that this is the world we live in now!

So if you feel that your child is spending a lot of time on the Internet, I recommended you to use a good Internet Security Suite that offers you with an effective ‘parental control’ feature. Because as a parent, it is your duty to take control of the website/content they are viewing or gathering information and e-security plays a major role in this. If the computer is secured and protected with the good security suite then the website/content can be guarded and children’s interest can be taken care off. There are innumerable websites that contain adult content, games and objectionable pictures or movies that can create a long lasting impression on these tender minds. Hence, a good security suite would help the parents as well as their children to answer the questions only relevant to their age and interest and the website/content which is not required can be filtered.

Also, if possible computers at home should be in places where you can walk by and see the screen, not in children’s bedrooms behind closed doors. Also a good idea is to set up all computers and be the administrators so you as a parent can control access to all its parts and programs. Avoid children being the administrators of their computers. They are capable enough to control their parents’ access to it, allowing things to be hidden!

Quite smart enough… right! 🙂

Bin laden survived with Malware for terror!


Laden Laden Laden… ufffffff..!        A complete terrorist….

Just after the announcement of the death of the most wanted terrorist, Bin Laden (biggest rather most symbolic news of the year), FBI warned the computer users to be cautious if they receive any mails which contains the photos or videos of Laden’s death. A press release was rotated immediately by FBI which claimed that such mails could contain a malicious Malware which can penetrate into user’s system and spread the users contact list, by affecting the system of users as well as his friend sand family members too!

Seems there is this strange relationship between US and Laden! No doubt, he has been responsible for the sufferings and terror filled hearts of America. Now, with most wanted criminal’s death (which is just a news or …), the other i.e. Cyber criminals has began their part of crime by trying to capture confidential records from computers. You see he leaves a legacy behind him….!

Laden’s death, known to be one of the fastest exploitations of information ever, tricksters started manipulating the news, just after US President Barack Obama’s conference on Laden’s death, and initiated it by inserting Spyware and other Malware into links and graphics designed to draw immediate and widespread attention.

Osama Bin Laden may be dead, but the terror being inflicted in the name of his death by cyber criminals seems to be a threat, truly! Hence, advised by FBI (officially) to adhere caution to prevent becoming a victim of this so called terror while on cyberspace.

More over, a slight impact at the stock market too has been realized with Laden Effect, though the reason may be, investors celebrating Laden’s death!


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