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The Various Faces of Cyber Crime

By |March 23rd, 2019|Categories: Cyber Crime|

Cyber attacks and cyber terrorism are not new terms. Every other day the internet (and that is the irony of it) is swamped with the news that terrifies us to the very core. The Internet might have been one the greatest feats of science and technology; however, the risks associated it with cannot be ignored. It is true that the World Wide Web has armed us with easy access to all sorts of information, but it has also reduced us to puppets with an illusion of free will. It has exposed us to a world of threats, and while we might not want to accept it, the realization has perhaps already sunk into our bones that we could be the next target to any cyber attack or cyber terrorism.

Let us now look into that very word that has become something of a nightmare to all those who need to work through or on the internet for the most of their day. The cyber attack we are looking at is ‘Phishing.’

What is Phishing?

Phishing

The word ‘Phishing’ comes from the word ‘fish’ and is pronounced alike. Just the way one would catch a fish with some bait, this cyber attack too makes use of the concept of bait and victimizes people. The bait we are talking about here is usually an email that has an authentic look and feel about it. The email urges people to download an attachment or click on a link that it often contains. These emails usually trick people into providing them with confidential and sensitive information which can then be used by cyber criminals to serve their purposes. Phishing is the favourite way of cybercriminals to break into the systems of many people since the emails it makes use as bait is usually unsuspecting. It is very difficult to tell a benign mail from that of the one used for phishing.

It is important to note that there are usually two kinds of phishing-one, that leads to people downloading malware and sabotaging the system, and the other, that leads to naïve people divulging confidential information about themselves.

Steps that can be taken to avoid phishing

Though it is rather difficult to detect a mail that has been sent for the purpose of phishing given how authentic it looks, there are still ways to identify these emails or at least be cautious to the very least.

  • Do not click on the link that is attached to the mail. Instead, try checking whether the link is secure by typing the name of the source on the web address, from where the email has been sent.
  • Beware of links and attachments that ask you to fill in sensitive information. Authentic sources do not make use of confidential information to get on with their work.
  • Always tread carefully while filling out details about yourself and while downloading attachments.

 

Phishing might be threatening to one’s cybersecurity, but there is no need to harbour the feeling that it is impossible to detect attempts of phishing and that there is very little that one could do to avoid being a victim. Awareness about phishing and the various phishing scams as well as a bit of caution can go a long way in defending oneself from this malicious cyber attack.

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Netflix and Chill? Not Really!

By |March 19th, 2019|Categories: Technology|

Last day while watching Bandersnatch, the latest installment of Black Mirror, I scratched my head twice, cursed myself for selecting a great evening for watching something like Bandersnatch and then left it halfway. The movie just does not end. Multiple endings, too many choices, all enough to tick you off; and the worse thing was that the movie allows you complete control over its course. For those who have not yet had the chance to watch the movie, spoiler alert! It is a movie that is more like a video game. You decide what Stefan, the protatgonist (or the antagonist, maybe) of the movie does. You decide his actions. Pretty amazing, huh! No, not really. It only provides you with an illusion that you are controlling it, where in reality the movie controls you. The moment you hit a cul de sac after making a choice, it takes you back to square one, where you will be once again asked to make a similar choice. You already know where your last choice landed you. So do you make the same choice all over again, or do you make a new one?  If you make a new choice, it basically means that you are allowing Netflix to use you as a puppet to serve their goal. I was facing a moral problem with the movie. All those talk about individual agency throughout our lives reduced to ashes in a matter of  few hours. My predicament mirrored exactly that of Stefan-“So many choices and you don’t know what you want”.

The movie might seem like a benign venture by Netflix to engage its users and grab more eyeballs. However, it begs a deeper, philosophical question. Are we really in control of technology and social media, or is it the other way round? This movie might just be a humble attempt by Netflix to shake some sense into the minds of its users, or maybe, it is just my interpretation.

Technology- a boon?

I would like to take up the mantle of technology to question technology in this section.  It is true that the world has evolved. It has gifted us with globalization and everything that comes along with it. The greatest invention of the 20th century, the Internet is also a part of this ever-expanding technology. Life has become easy. Thus, there is no way that we can refute the services extended to us by technology, or defy it in its entirety. We are surrounded by technology in various forms-  phones, laptops, bullet trains, and let us not forget our kind Google. It definitely is a boon and perhaps, the greatest ever. However, there is more to technology than what meets the eye.  This is where the next section of the article comes in.

Technology- probably also, a bane!

 

There are always two sides to a story. Talking about the other side of technology, let us just say that it is not all harmless afterall. It has made our lives easier, but it has probably sucked our lives out of us, driving us towards the edge of insanity, bit by bit. One failed attempt to login to our Netflix account and our entire world comes crashing down. One hateful comment on our latest selfie on Instagram, and it is like we are not worth anything good in our lives. Our self-esteem is tied to the opinions of others, and I only have technology to blame for this. It has not only made us lazy, but also reduced us to intellectually stunted beings with diluted emotions, dependent on our phones, laptops and Netflix for all our work.

Thus, it is probably time we stopped bragging about our Instagram accounts and made use of technology for what it was really meant.

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The Fatality Of The Internet

By |March 8th, 2019|Categories: Fatality|

We have all got some of the fondest memories associated with our childhood. There would be days when we would come back from school and read Enid Blyton all day, scribble on our colouring book and maybe even fight with our friends over some trivial matter.  There would be winters which could only mean two things- either play badminton with friends till the sun sunk beneath the horizon or watch Tom and Jerry on our television sets. Then there would be those difficult adolescents and teenage years, where our emotions would rule us. We would cry over heartbreaks but then bounce back with renewed zest and zeal to take over the world. Reminiscing that good old childhood and teen days provides comfort and nostalgia, and a miserable feeling that all these beautiful experiences that are needed for the holistic growth of a child have become a thing of the past. As the world evolved, technology boomed, and the internet came into being, badminton was soon replaced by Pokemon Go, and hardbound Enid Blyton with some shoddy digital version available for download on Kindle.

Online Games

It would still be easy to make our peace with the fact that our children are taken under the clutches of the internet if that was all to it. However, the problem with the rapid digitalization of childhood and adolescence is far more grave than what meets the eye. It is about giving them access to their deaths. Yes, it sounds brutal, but trust me when I say this, it is the reality.

The Blue Whale Challenge

Blue Whale Challenge

On August 1, 2017, a 14-year-old boy jumped off the terrace of his residence to finish off not only the final task of an egregious online game but also his life. This incident sent shockwaves throughout the nation, and people started questioning the nature of the game. What sort of online game eggs on a naïve kid to commit suicide? This game was The Blue Whale Challenge. Investigations brought into light that the game had its origin in Russia where it lures young kids and adolescents into playing this deadly game. The game involves the player to perform various odd and risky tasks, like waking up late at night, watching horror movies, listening to dark music, carving out patterns on the body with a sharp object and then finally committing suicide. Since then, several such unfortunate incidents of children taking their own lives as a result of playing the game have come into the picture. Though the government of many countries has tried blocking the online links to this game, recent reports of suicides due to this game have proven that The Blue Whale Challenge is still alive and preying on innocent lives.

Is the internet a boon, after all?

The example of this dangerous game can be only taken as an instance to throw light on the various ill effects the internet has on our lives. Children and adolescents do not have a fully developed prefrontal lobe of the brain which is involved in decision making and rationalizing. Exposing them to the internet, and that too without proper supervision only increases the risk of endangering their lives and sabotaging their future. There cannot be any replacement for the good old ways of childhood when storybooks and outdoor games would be the flavour. The internet might have been successful in bringing together people and continents separated by the vast oceans and limitless sky, but it sure has cost our children their innocence and lives.

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Tips On How To Prevent Computer Viruses

By |March 4th, 2019|Categories: Viruse|

Keep your computer up to date

It is imperative you maintain your computer up to date with all the latest updates. Why? Updates are the newly revised versions of the applications capable of filling any security patches or downfalls the previous versions of the application. Often, updates can be a pain and inconvenience, but it is crucial in taking these updates seriously for keeping your computer up to date and away from the risk of any virus infections or attacks. You can switch on your auto updates which will allow the computer to run automatic updates when available.

Do not use the internet explorer

internet-explorer

So why is it that professionals recommend avoiding using the internet explorer? The internet explorer, unfortunately, does not offer anywhere near the protection and quality of other various internet browsers such as Chrome, Opera or Firefox, regardless of its updates. To be safer, avoid browsing through internet explorer which offers very minimal protection against potential malware.

Back up your computer

This is a very crucial tip to bear in mind. If you possess an effective backup strategy, encountering a virus issue will not be much of a severe problem. Often when a computer gets affected by a virus attack, experts recommend formatting the operating system. Having your data backed up can make the formatting process easier.

Anti-virus basics

virus-alert

Remember that your computer requires only one quality anti-virus software to protect it from malware and to have more than single anti-virus software is undoubtedly a bad idea. For the installed anti-virus to be effective, it is vital to update the software from time to time. Enabling the auto-update function will be more convenient for you.

Avoid entering suspicious websites

When researching information on the internet, you are bound to come across millions of web pages providing said information. Remember to tread carefully on the web as it is a host to numerous websites containing potentially harmful content. You can take steps to avoid malicious content by keeping an eye out on the URL of the site.

Mandatorily scan email attachments

It is quite common to sustain virus attacks through opening emails containing harmful and malicious content. Often, hackers target their victims by sending emails with virus holding attachments, after being opened allow the hacker to gain access to the victim’s email account. Due to such scenarios, it is recommended to scan any email attachment regardless of who sends it.

Avail a malware scanner

Remember that anti-virus software and malware scanner are distinct and different from each other. Unlike anti-virus software, malware scanners are free of cost and thus can be availed for periodical scans.

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What are the Disadvantages of the Internet?

By |February 23rd, 2019|Categories: Internet|

Trolls, cyberbullying, stalkers and crime

The internet is an extensive playground for anyone and everything. The internet has seen numerous cases of cyberbullying when people decide to share some information about them which do not appeal to others and leads to a war of words. When sharing personal information online, you are giving opportunities to stalkers as they can obtain personal information via numerous means. Moreover, the internet’s dark side or the dark web is a hub of illegal activities where criminals do not fear being caught for their fearsome crimes.

The spread of pornographic and violent images

The internet has an infinite number of content of which some can be beneficial in nature while others can be unwanted and potentially harmful. Often, users come across unwanted material when treading through online of which such content contain pornography and violent depictions.

Causes addiction, time wasting, and distraction

addiction

Many users tend to spend precious time whiling away playing games on the internet rather than doing something productive and beneficial in nature. Moreover, indulging in excessive online games and so on can cause severe tendencies of distraction from essential tasks at hand.

Never being able to disconnect from work

The internet serves as a useful mean of providing plenty of work for users. There is however a drawback to it as it often means doing work when you are not required to but still have to. You tend up getting notifications of pending work, irrespective of time and place.

Hacking, viruses and identity theft

Since the internet connects every computer to another, it, unfortunately, makes it easier for hackers to gain vital information and data by monitoring the weak and vulnerable computers. Hackers can gain access by inserting malicious content and once clicked and activated upon can give essential financial and personal details leading to identity theft cases.

Bankers

Advertising and spam

The internet provides a global platform to advertise which no other traditional advertisement means such as newspaper, radio or TV can match. In addition to its free or cheap and easy capabilities to broadcast, it will result in substantial amounts of spam occurring, which can become inconvenient.

Affects patience and focus

Users are subject to ridiculous amounts of choices to choose from when surfing online. Getting hooked on this feature tends to divert concentration on essential matters often leading to impulsive emotions such as anger. You can redress such issues by spending time away from social media and online activities, instead focusing on productive activities such as exercise, gardening, etc.

Depression, loneliness and social isolation

Indulging and obsessing over other people’s lives in social media can take a toll on our minds and often lead to severe symptoms of loneliness, depression, and isolation from real friends and the outside world.

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Cyber Safety Tips

By |February 18th, 2019|Categories: Main|

Formulate complex passwords

One of the best advice you can determine to protect your vital personal and financial information. Creating complex and unique passwords for each of your personal accounts can minimize the risk of hacker’s gaining complete control of your all your accounts if the same password is issued for all such accounts. So, avoid reusing the same password for all accounts. Another additional tip is seeking the help of a password manager which can save and formulate complex passwords for your accounts.

Enhance your network security

The next step to pursue after securing your password login is setting up a secure source of internet connection. Often, at work and home, you avail encrypted and secured network connections. However, at public places avoid availing public Wi-Fi and internet connections as it provides hackers with relative ease to access your device and gain vital information present in it. Experts recommend availing a VPN or Virtual Private Network. It is a software capable of creating a secured source of internet connection enabling you to connect anywhere without fear.

Use a firewall

In addition to securing your network connection, for further protection, it is recommended to use a firewall. A firewall acts like a barrier as it defends and alerts the user of any unauthorized access to your device.  Quality system security software will typically include a comprehensive firewall.

Click smart

Hackers general tactics involve luring careless users by offering bait such as click here for free phone, congratulations you have won a million dollars, etc. Users are expected to be smart and avoid clicking carelessly on such websites that contain harmful or malicious content and can provide unrestricted access to your device. Keep an eye out for sites that seek personal information without any sufficient reason.

Be a selective sharer

Today, social media serves as a global platform to share personal information globally. Unfortunately, it is harmful as it can lead to identity theft, impersonation, etc. So, be selective of what you share, especially when it comes to personal information.

Protect your mobile

mobile

Handheld devices are equally prone to attacks from hackers. In order to prevent this, it is critical to install effective software security and avoid installing shady apps not recognized from the official app store.

Up to date software

Remember to allow all updates to take place on your computer as every update has better security and protection patches, better than its predecessor version. Switching on auto-update feature can allow easy updating of software without providing an inconvenience.

Keep your guard up

Remember to maintain caution when trading online particularly on what sites you click and what you share online. No matter what, do not forget to seek the services and protection of quality system security software. In addition, tend to regularly back up your data in case of any virus attack. Backing up your data can be an aid in restoring all your vital details and getting back on track with ease.

newest-scams

Practice safe surfing

When surfing through web avoid clicking on sites with misspelled words and poor grammar as these are general indications of scam websites. When indulging in transactions online ensure there is a padlock symbol in the URL as it represents that the site is secure and encrypts your data preventing any unauthorized access.

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Mind Blowing Facts About The Internet

By |February 14th, 2019|Categories: Internet|

  • The internet is commencing its middle age. Researches indicate that the internet is consisted of over a whopping amount of 47 billion websites. The internet has the record of its first website created from twenty-eight years ago. Other critical statistics indicate that a large proportion of the internet is composed of adult content websites containing pornographic content. Shutting down such pornographic sites will nearly lead to the entire shutdown of the internet.
  • Presently, there are over 3.58 billion users of the internet, globally. This figure nearly accounts for half of the global population. And amongst half of the internet users are situated in the Asian continent.
  • It is quite interesting to know the difference in figures between media collection from television and the internet. Statistical facts confirm that around 1.59 billion houses exist with television sets while an excess of 2 billion has access to the internet via smartphones.
  • Each year, approximately 269 billion amount of emails are sent through the World Wide Web. But among these large figures of emails sent, a substantial amount of emails are regarded as spam. Statistically speaking, over 86 percent of emails are considered spam through spam filters.

internet-facts

 

  • With a large amount of selfie obsession rocking humanity, a tremendous amount of photos are taken and shared via the internet. Records confirm that a minimum of 1 trillion photos is taken each year and uploaded on various social media platforms.
  • Did you know that YouTube has a record-breaking amount of users and subscribers? Eye-opening figures of over a billion users of YouTube exist. Amongst which, such figure nearly accounts for one-third of the entire internet users. YouTube confirms through its records that its users view over 6 billion hours of video every month. Ridiculous right?
  • Regarding online bandwidth consumption, YouTube takes up around 18 percent of entire online bandwidth. Netflix, on the other hand, consumes over 36 percent of online bandwidth.
  • Did you know that Facebook as a large user base of 1.86 billion users? If you were, to sum up, these users and accumulate them in a country, Facebook would become the most populous nation in the world. Research confirms that a typical person tends to spend a minimum of fifty minutes a day on social media platforms, all owned by Facebook.
  • Among the 90 billion app downloads a year, the most frequently used applications by a vast majority of the population are Facebook and Google.
  • However, all the information we know about the internet is a mere 4 percent of its total capabilities. The internet has a dark web which cannot be accessed through regular search engines and is a hub for all illegal activities including the sale of drugs, weapons, etc. most which are not for the faint-hearted.
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The Internet Never Forgets

By |February 9th, 2019|Categories: Internet|

We all love the internet. It is just out there, waiting to come to our rescue. Access to information, reaching out to people, online shopping, binge-watching series- you name it, and we have our precious Internet at our service round the clock. It is all very fascinating, to say the least. However, have you ever wondered about the prices that we pay to avail such services? No, I am not talking about our monthly Internet plans or Netflix subscriptions. The Internet is costing us our privacy, without even our slightest idea.  No amount of firewall and anti-malware protection can secure our virtual lives. Believe it or not, the internet is the biggest leak in our security.

We keep filling out information about ourselves, day in and day out, on social networking sites, e-forms and documents. Address, phone numbers, and other confidential information, in other words, our entire history, it is all there; but the question is, how secure are this information once we enter them? We upload photos that talk about our lives on Facebook and Instagram, and might even delete them if we feel like it. However, the question still begs, are they really ever erased from the Internet?

 

“Nothing is ever truly deleted”

There is reason enough to believe that once you fill in details about yourselves, browse something on the internet or upload a picture, it stays there for an indefinite period, even after you have deleted them. There is even reason enough to believe that “nothing is ever truly deleted from the internet.” This poses a serious question about our privacy. If all our information which was once uploaded on the internet cannot ever be deleted, then how safe are we? Anyone with hacking skills (and there are many) can break into our sensitive information and use them against us, for whatever reason. There are software and apps that can easily retrieve deleted photos of us.

Delete

 

What can be done to secure or delete confidential data from the Internet?

With constant news flowing in every day about the internet making us vulnerable to cyber crimes and data leaks, it is but normal to harbour feelings of insecurities. We have multiple social media accounts, and other online accounts where our information is stored and our pictures are uploaded. It is thus, natural to want to delete them all for good from the Internet in an attempt to stay protected. However, with the world evolving in leaps and bounds, it is nearly impossible to stay away from the World Wide Web phenomenon. We now need it for our survival; and in all honesty, trying to delete information about oneself permanently from the internet is but a fool’s errand. However, that does not mean that we should not adopt basic precautions and keep our guards low.

Secure

Deleting the browser history at regular intervals is a good way to start protecting oneself from cyber crimes. Our browser holds tremendous amounts of information about ourselves and our searches, which is why it is always advisable to clear the browser history. Next, you could use your antivirus protection software to turn off browsers from storing your personal data. The other way to keep yourself protected is by requesting Google to remove you from any searches that hold your personal information.

Thus, there are always ways to stay protected and armed in spite of all the cyber threats and security leaks around us. All that is required is awareness, tact, and patience.

 

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