Weekly Headlines

Our Newsletter (1)

Apple Forecasts Falling Revenues Since 2013

For the first time in more than a decade, Apple has forecasted a decline in sales. This further reinforces the observation that the smart phone market has reached saturation. According to Apple, the revenue for the first three months of 2016 will be between $50 billion & $53 billion, way under the previously estimated $55 billion. This further cements the concern that Apple has reached the peak of iPhone growth, a thought that has lead stocks to fall 20% this month.

63% of Apple’s entire revenue comes from smart phone sales. The rest of Apple’s products don’t even come close to being as profitable as the iPhone. The MacBook and iPad only brings in 13% and 8% of the total revenue respectively. Other products, comprising of the Apple Watch, iPod, Beats and headphones, are only worth 6% in total. Apple’s reliance on the iPhone and the Chinese market is a big worry for investors. The unstable Chinese economy has had staggering effects on the rest of the world. With most of Apple’s profits coming in from the Chinese markets, if China falls, Apple will most likely go down with it.

Bye-Bye Google Glass

It seems that Google Glass had bid adieu to the internet. The company behind Google Glass has been fairly quiet about the product for the past couple of the months. Now it seems that all social media accounts owned by the Google Glass have been taken down. Google+ was the only account that gave a farewell message.

“Hi Explorers, we’ve had a blast hanging out with you on G+ throughout the Explorer Program. From now on, if you have any questions about your Glass, you can get in touch with us here.” The account then gave a link to Google’s support page for Glass.

Since its launch in 2013, Google Glass was not a wildly popular product. Customers complained that it made it too easy for the user to record others without permission.  Others thought it was too overpriced and out of reach.

Google has decided to discontinue the consumer version of the product and instead sell them to surgeons as a specialist tool.

Hooray for Facebook

Facebook has exceeded expectations with a 52% jump in quarterly revenue as it made the decision to sell more mobile focused ads. Facebook is now in a strong enough position to challenge Google as the Internet’s most powerful company. Although Google is still three times larger by revenue, Facebook is rapidly closing the gap. In addition, Facebook has its fingers dipped in lots of other projects such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence. However, social networking remains the heart and center of Facebook; in the final three months of 2015, Facebook signed on a further 46 million users!

Glitchy Uber

Uber has accidently shared the personal information of one of their drivers. When several other drivers logged on to the website to download their 1099s, they were accidently sent the Florida drivers 1099. This contained her social security number, address, tax ID and earnings. Uber has confirmed that other drivers were not compromised and stated that the data breach happened due to a ‘bug’.  Uber has said that the tab allowing partners to download their tax information will be disabled until the problem can be solved. Furthermore, Uber will also help the Florida driver with credit monitoring until the issue is taken care of.

This was not the first time a driver’s personal data was let loose. In May 2014, the names and license numbers of thousands of drivers were stolen. In another incident, tax information of thousands of other drivers was released on the website.

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Weekly Headlines

Our Newsletter

It’s the last day of the week and we are here to bring you some of the week’s headlines!

Peach for iPhone

The co-founder of Vine, Dom Hofmann, released a new social media app called Peach which caught the attention of ‘early adopters’. It created a buzz on Twitter and with the addition of positive press, it quickly climbed the download charts in the iPhone app store (sadly, there is no Android version. Yet.)

Some quickly started to compare the app to Tumblr, Snapchat, and Instagram. However, there is nothing even remotely like retweeting or sharing in the app. It doesn’t even have hashtags!

The app lets users unleash their creativity by allowing them to draw with their finger or use ‘magic words’ to share Gifs, the weather and even shout out a message. . However, when I personally tried the app, I didn’t really feel the urge to delete my Facebook or Twitter and jump on the Peach bandwagon. To read more about this app, click here! Let us know if you tried it!

Apple news is off to a rocky start!

It is pretty much a well established fact that Apple can do no wrong! So when Apple news was launched, more than a hundred publishers from all over the world signed on! Little did they know that the app had one pretty major glitch. No one has any idea how many people are actually reading! Apple has been passing on inaccurate data to the publishers. Although publishers don’t pay to have their content on the News app, knowing the number of readers is important when it comes to selling advertisement.

“We’re in the process of fixing that now, but our numbers are lower than reality,” Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, stated. “We don’t know what the right number is,” but he added that it was better to undercount than over-count traffic.

Want more information? Click right here!

Exploding Hoverboard

Youtuber Stephen Leenott, otherwise known as BlueBritish, showcased just how dangerous Hoverboards can be. Having left the Hoverboard, which he bought from eBay, to charge the previous night, Leenott took his new toy outside for a maiden run. According to the video, the Hoverboard appeared dead when Leenott tried to start it. The Hoverboard then let out a hissing sound, followed by smoke and flames!

The cause of the fire is unknown but Hoverboards do contain lithium batteries. These have been known to explode when configured improperly. However, it is likely that defectively constructed motors and wiring may have caused this fire, as well as others.

Click here to watch the video (You can skip ahead to 1:12).

No more Social Media at Work!

A new ruling by the EU could give your bosses access to your social media, especially the private chats. No folks, this is not a drill. You can go ahead and panic now! This new ruling comes after a Romanian engineer was fires in 2007 after using Yahoo Messenger at work to privately message his friends and professional contracts.

The company stated that the use of such apps was a direct violation of company policy. The engineer argued that the firm had violated his right to privacy. The EU Court of Human Rights ruled in the favour of the company. They reasoned that it was acceptable for a company to ensure that all professional tasks were being done.

This ruling now gives employers the right to monitor their workers and their private chats but only during work time.

Xbox live goes down

On Wednesday, The Xbox Live network went down for several hours which stopped Xbox One and Xbox 360 users from accessing the store and other online features. Although the issue was later resolved, it managed to get on the bad side of none other than Snoop Dogg.

An enthusiastic gamer, he uploaded a short but very entertaining video on Instagram clearly incredibly upset about the issue. In true Snoop Dogg manner, the passionate speech was full of profanities. He even threatened to ditch Xbox for rival Playstation. It is worth noting that the Playstation network was also down for several hours last week.

SoundCloud Partners with Universal Music

Despite being at odds with most of the music industry due to its popularity, SoundCloud has signed a licensing agreement with Universal Music Group. The record giant has signed popular artists including the Weeknd and Sam Smith.

This deal will let SoundCloud access to Universal’s catalog and let artists make money from advertisements on the free service. SoundCloud is used by over 175 million people so we’re guessing both parties are very happy with this agreement.

Out of the big players in the music industry, Sony is the only one to not shake SoundCloud’s hand.

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Facebook Messenger’s Road Map to Success

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Facebook Messenger was the fastest growing app of 2015! It was named the second most popular iOS application right behind Facebook.

The stats:

Facebook Messenger currently has 800 million/monthly active users!

It is used to transfer 10 billion photos/month!!!!

Below is a list of all that Messenger achieved in 2015:

  • Effectively improved speed
  • Introduced video calling
  • Offered more customization in terms of colours, emojis and nicknames
  • Introduced customer service options via messenger
  • send and receive monetary payments
  • photo magic
  • better location sharing
  • business cards
  • became a transportation platform by teaming up with Uber
  • a virtual assistant ‘M’

2016 Road map to success

Down with the phone number

It is no secret that Messenger is far ahead in the game of messaging apps and the only other noteworthy rivals are SMS/iMessage and Whatsapp. Lets face it, SMS and even iMessage doesn’t have the features that Messenger does. the only really important difference between Whatsapp and Messenger is that you need to know the other persons number to be able to contact them on Whatsapp. With Facebook Messenger though, you no longer need to know anyone’s phone number. You can send a message request to anyone available on Facebook; all you need in a name.

Bringing Business to Messenger

Expand customer base? Check!

Explore new markets? In progress.

Messenger is looking to incorporate new features which will let users interact with businesses more easily. These new features will hopefully let users buy items, book flights and get customer service in a less “frictionless way”. To be able to group EVERY SINGLE activity in one app seems like a ridiculously complicated feat but if anyone can pull it off, Facebook Messenger can!

Innovation!

The test runs of M, Facebook Messenger’s virtual assistant, have been successful so far. According to Facebook though, these are just the early days and it might a be awhile before M has reached its full potential.

All in all, Facebook Messenger has promised to basically turn us into social addicts (but hasn’t that already happened though?) by delivering new features to keep us hooked. I’m just dying to know how Messenger is going to handle all these features without collapsing in on itself. Here’s to hoping for a glitch free future!

What do you guys think of these features? Any predictions come to mind? Let us know in the comments below!!

Source:

Facebook’s Newsroom

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Death-To-Flash: The Occupy Flash Movement

 

2016 might just be the year Flash (not the DC superhero) finally meets its demise. Recently leaked documents show that Adobe Flash has fatal security flaws which enable hackers to install malware onto victims’ laptops and computers.

Due to these security flaws, many tech giants have disabled Adobe Flash on browsers while Google and Mozilla have both turned away from the flawed program as well. Starting from the first of January, Google Chrome automatically disabled ads using Flash player. Amazon has flat-out refused to accept any advertisements using Flash technology. Mozilla Firefox completely blocked Flash from working on the web browser until Adobe released a version which fixed some of the bigger security flaws.

Facebook’s head of security officer Alex Stamos asked browser makers to stop using Flash via twitter. Anticipating this, Facebook has now fully moved on to using HTML 5 for videos. HTML 5 runs graphics with more advanced technology and without plugins.

Stamos’ demand to shut down Flash mimics the words of Steve Jobs. In a 1,600 open letter titled ‘Thoughts on Flash’, Jobs claimed that Flash is outdated and cannot keep up with the changing requirements of today’s advanced technology.

Wired called The Flash player a ‘bloated, insecure battery hog’ that ‘deserved to die’. Ouch!

 

Although Adobe Flash has been dying a slow, glitchy death for quite a while now, these “death-to-Flash” demands came after cyber criminals hacked and leaked 400GB worth of documents from HackingTeam. One of the documents contained details about exploiting Flash bugs which would give hackers easy access to victims’ PCs and laptops.Since the documents have leaked, three previously unknown attacks have been verified and the threat to security has risen.

Despite these attacks, more than 23% of web pages still use Flash Technology. Killing of Flash completely is easier said than done. There are decades old websites which rely on Flash to function. In addition, most of the top video networks such as NBC, and MBL, are still very much dependent on Adobe Flash. Removing Flash altogether would most probably break the internet. Browser makers such as Google and Mozilla have given Flash special permissions even as they try to steer the internet away from the program. Mozilla explained on their support page that not all versions of Flash were disabled and definitely not forever.

Stamos suggested that Adobe should set a definite date for Flash’s demise so all browsers can make the necessary preparations to drop the software.

Sources:
Daily Mail
Cnet
Wired

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The Biggest Tech Blunders of 2015

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Every year we get companies that mess up in some way or products that are such big flops that we can’t help but write about them! 2015 was definitely not a good year for the companies mentioned below.  We present to you some of the biggest blunders of 2015!

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Earlier last year Google has to completely overhaul it’s Map Maker feature in Google Maps after someone use it to draw an Android peeing on apple. That’s right. That actually
happened! It’s both hilarious and appalling at the same time! This little gem was discovered by a Hacker News user who claims that this is more likely a prank by a Google Maps user. Google claims that despite edits being moderated, some inaccuracies go unnoticed. Funnily enough, this was not the only time some abused Google’s Map Maker feature. Another Hacker News user discovered an image a couple of miles east of the first which read ‘Google Review Policy is Crap’. Both images have since been removed and the users suspended.

google-crap_3279810b

 

Facebook faced some major backlash after it made the unfortunate decision to include facebook_txxc“fat” in the list of emotions available on Facebook. To make matters worse, they added a chubby-faced emoticon to go along with the feeling. Moreover, a Harvard student was able to create a Chrome extension which could pull locations from Facebook Messenger and actually track his Facebook friends! Facebook ended up rescinding the internship initially offered to the student.

 

 

reddit-rebellion_a8ay.1280

When Reddit fired Victoria Taylor, manager of the popular AMA interviews, Reddit users rebelled. In an act of solidarity, they were able to shut down more than 260 subreddits which limited the site for the whole of July 3. Amidst the rebellion and backlash over offensive content, CEO Ellen Pao was also fired!

 

ashley-madison_e79e.1280

The month of July (and probably the rest of the year to be honest) was probably the busiest month for divorce
lawyers. Ashley Madison, an online cheating site, was hacked by online vigilantes. User details were stolen and posted online, and chaos ensued. The CEO was ousted, marriages were ended and the PR team for the Duggar family probably had a major nervous breakdown.

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Click below for iPhone Storage Tips!

 

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Don’t you hate it when you’re trying to take a video or a string of selfies because the light is good, and your clothes are on point and your iPhone not so kindly informs you that you have no more storage space left? Worst. Nightmare. Ever!

Well, we are here to provide you with some tips on how to maximize your storage space and make room for pictures of cute puppies.

Your camera roll and your music aren’t the only things that take up your iPhone’s storage space.

The first step is to check what apps are taking up the most space by following these steps:

Settings > General > Usage > Manage Storage.

downloadA list of applications will come up detailing the amount space they are taking up. Unfortunately, the phone wont show with video, picture or music file is taking up the most space. There won’t be any general specifications in this case. This does not apply to other apps. For example, the space used by a certain game, does not need to be broken down further.

You will need to watch out for apps that download data onto your phone. For example, Spotify can use up a lot of space if you have downloaded songs to listen to offline.

Apple users are also presented with the opportunity to store their files on the cloud. High-resolution photos take up more space than regular ones so storing them on the cloud will help free up some space. With Apple’s new iCloud Photo Library feature, users can store high-resolution picture on the cloud and low-resolution copies on your phone. Users can access the high-resolution copy from the servers and see it on their phone. This can be done by following these steps:

Settings > iCloud > Photos. Ensure that iCloud Library is selected. Next, click on Optimize iPhone storage.

It should be noted that Apple only offers 5 GB of free cloud storage. The 5 GB of storage space has to contain all your backups and synced data in addition to your photos and videos. You can go ahead and buy more space: 20 GB for $0.99/month or 200 GB for $3.99/month.

Settings > iCloud > Storage > Buy more storage.

Additionally, you can use other services to upload and store your photos. For example, both Maxbackup & Acronis offer high levels of security for your data coupled with a price as low as 30 pence/GB.  For more information on that, feel free to contact us!

Another option is to just transfer the photos to your laptop and delete them from your phone. However, you will need to make sure your laptop is secured and that you have created a back up of important files.

Instead of updating your iOS system over the air, simply connect your Apple device to iTunes and download your update from there.

Plug in your device to your laptop > Open iTunes > Select device > Check for update.

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Technology inspired by Sci-Fi Movies

Technology these days has become so advanced and I am often left wondering “Who even comes up with these ideas?”  Most of the technology demanded is inspired by movies. We all wanted the hover board after watching Back to the future II. it seems that both demand and supply of tech gadgets has been greatly inspired by movies! If the 8 year old me could see the future now, she would be incredibly disappointed at the lack of jet-packs available. That being said, so many sci-fi predictions have come to life such as the hover board and self-tying shoelaces (both inspired by ‘Back to the future II’).  We have all experienced the joys of video calling and watching TV on a flat screen. The recent invention of the Google Glass seems extraordinarily close to the devices worn by the McFly family in ‘Back to the Future II’. Below are some more tech gadgets inspired by science fiction.

SNeil-Armstrong-on-the-Moon-in-1969pace Travel Inspired by Woman in the Moon (1929)

Set forty years before Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon, Woman in the Moon was a movie about sending a group of men and woman to the moon. Some parts of the movie relating to rocket launch and the moon itself were quite wrong. For example,  the movie showed the availability of oxygen gold on one side of the moon. However, the film makers were able to accurately depict the multistage rocket launch 26 years before the first ever rocket set off on its journey!

Video Calling Inspired by Metropolis (1927)Metropolis-Videophone

The first ever reference to video calling can be seen in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Later on, face-to-face communication via a videophone was also featured in “Back to the Future II” and “Demolition Man”. In 1964, AT&T invented their ‘Picturephone’, a venture which was not at all successful. It was Skype that popularized video calling in 2003 (by 2014 they have 2 million users across the world!).

Hover boards Inspired by Back to the Future II (1989)

hendo-hoverboard-9The director of this iconic movie admitted that most of the technology in the film was a joke. The fans however, do not see it that way. The movie was eons ahead of its time in terms of technology but the most awaited innovation was the hover board, a skateboard that floated above ground. 26 years after the movie was released, Hendo Hover has created a prototype which used magnetic fields to hover above metallic surfaces.

Originally, Greg Henderson (founder of Hendo Hover) wanted to use hover board technology to raise buildings’ foundations off shaky ground. According to Mr. Henderson, hover technology will have a positive impact on “transportation, industrial automation, structural isolation, education and much more.”

Memory Gels Inspired by Batman Begins (2005)cape-1024x576

What Bruce Wayne’s Batman lacks in superpowers, he more than makes up with his gadgets. Besides his bat mobile, the ‘Memory Cloth Cape’, a cape which could turn into a rigid glider upon electric stimulation, was one of his most unforgettable gadgets. A close replica of it was developed in 2013 by scientists at North Caroline State University. They designed and produced a flexible hydrogel which they call ‘Memory gels’. Memory gels held the ability to change shape and stiffen when an electric current was passed through. Sadly, the design could not yet support any heavy objects.

 

 Z-man Gecko Gloves inspired by Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011)

geckooo Who wouldn’t want to have the ability to climb up the sides of building using sticky gloves? Children’s dream come true and a parent’s worst nightmare, sticky gloves were one of the most important spy gadgets popularized by Tom Cruise. Researchers at Stanford University set out to test gloves based on the texture of a gecko’s feet. The final product, which unfortunately is not available to the public, enabled a 154 pound man to climb a vertical glass wall of up to 7.5 meters high!

 

Bionic hand inspired by Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)download

Remember when poor Luke Skywalker lost his hand fighting Darth Vader? They gave him a bionic hand which functioned just like an actual human hand would. This life-changing technology is a reality thanks to Touch Bionics. They developed a bionic hand which functions by reading myolectric (tiny pulses in the arm) signals and sending them to the hand to move it as needed. The best thing about this technology is that it works with Bluetooth signals and any computer can be used to configure the hand according to direct five fingers independently!

Laser technology inspired by Star Wars images

The cool thing about movies is that laws of science don’t have to always apply! The same was true in the case of Star Wars and their choice of weapon. Lightsabers used light to cut people in half. Now we know that it’s actually impossible to replicate such a weapon since light never stays frozen in one place. This never stopped us from coveting the iconic and super cool weapon though! Inspired by the movies, the military is researching laser technology and there has been some considerable breakthrough. Several companies are researching laser weapons which might soon replace stun guns! If we can’t have the real deal, we’ll settle for second best!

 

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Digital Security: The Password Phenomenon

password-key-s-w1520-h820-q75-m1418131199

Passwords are codes made up of words and numbers or a mixture of both to keep sensitive data away from prying eyes. Passwords were first introduced to the world in the mid 1960s by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At the time of its emergence, the invention of the password was sort of irrelevant because not that many advanced users incorporated this technology into their systems. The Apple II series, the very first Macintosh and IBM PC and PCjr didn’t have a logon password option and all the data on the machines was available to anyone who turned it on. While Windows 95 and 98 added in the option of a security password, it did not actually necessitate users to enter a password to log on.

Passwords became more operational when online services such as AOL and email were introduced over the internet. As communication over the internet increased, more and more users started to use passwords to keep their identity hidden. These days passwords are just as important as the information they protect. Technology and computers have become important tools to today’s work and so passwords have become more valuable and more prone to attacks. Since our e-mail accounts are connected to almost everything in our life (i.e. bank accounts, social media pages, and eBay) if a cyber criminal gains access to our password, it could potentially compromise all other accounts we have. E-mail accounts can provide criminals with access to an incredible amount of personal data and so they have become a favourable point of entry with hackers.

Hackers have an array of tools which they can use to achieve unlawful access to e-mail passwords. The “Brute force attack” is a form of trial and error system in which application programs try to decode encrypted data. A computer program ‘guesses’ and tries all possible password combinations until the right one is found. However, this method can be time consuming when dealing with long-passwords.

TIP: Use no less than 12 character codes and even try to mix up letters and numbers; as the complexity of passwords used increases, it becomes more and more difficult for hackers to crack the code.
Another method of attack is called ‘Dictionary attack’ where a computer is used to try out all common dictionary words. This is a much simpler and quicker way of finding the correct password because the computer isn’t trying out the combination of every letter in the alphabet. If used correctly, a computer system can enter all one million words of the English language in less than 24 hours!

 

TIP: Mix up letters and numbers to void this method. Common words such as daisy, ladder and butterfly will not suffice. Da1sy might work.

Alternatives to passwords

Wherever there’s a problem, there’s a solution. Companies with high-stake sensitive data are starting to bio-metricsimages (1) as an alternative to simple passwords. These include fingerprint scanners and retinal scanners (mostly used by governments). Phone manufacturers such as HTC, Samsung, and Apple have incorporated fingerprint readers that can actually be substituted for passwords.

Due to the increased attacks, Adobe, Twitter, and Apple have started using a security system called ‘two-factor authentication’ or TFA. In simple words, TFA is about knowing and having. To access accounts using TFA, users must know the passkey for that account and they must also have something. This is typically a phone containing an app that assigns random login codes for the user to enter. Some TFA systems use something that the user is. This could be physical (face recognition system) or bio-metric (fingerprint scanner). Since TFA require at least two of the above factors to be present, chances of unauthorized attacks decrease drastically.

However, TFA can sometimes be inconvenient, especially if the user has to logout and login several times a day. The TFA system provides a ‘stand-down’ option in which users have the choice of not entering the second verification code when use that device. This way they gain quick access to their information while hackers will still have to go through the two-factor authentication.

So what should you do?

Less is never more when it comes to passwords. Use long passwords and mix letters, symbols and numbers together to make them harder to crack; even use a mixture of upper and lower case letters. Most email providers such as Microsoft will warn users if their password is too weak.

Do not use easily guessable passwords such as your name, birthday, mum/pet’s name or 123456789 (yes people still do this).

It is never wise to have the same password for all of your accounts. Usually when someone hears that a website such as Amazon has been hacked, they will immediately change their passwords. But forgotten-passwordwhat if they have the same password for Hotmail/Twitter/Facebook/eBay? Users might not think to change other login credentials and chances are that some passwords will be viable for all of those sites.

Frequently change your passwords and avoid reusing old passwords. In fact, companies have security policies in place which require employees to change their passwords every 14 days. However, forcing employees to change their passwords too frequently can lead to them forgetting their passwords. In that case, users might write their passwords down which can actually increase the chances of a security breach. Some companies will fire you if they find that you have written down passwords that provide access to company information. Some companies will allow the use of password management apps which require passwords of their own but the advantage is that user will only have to remember the master key they chose for the app.

Digital Security: Don’t get Phished

phish

The internet is a wonderful place. Loved by most, used by all, the internet has made our lives immeasurably easier. Our friends can take us with them on their holidays by sharing photographs of their vacation. A wealth of information on music, medicine, science, math, art, travel and so much more is right at our fingertips! We have immediate access to every public record ever made thanks to the internet. It’s so easy to connect with friends living hundreds and thousands of miles away and to build societies based on similar interests. Imagine if you will, a gigantic virtual neighbourhood where houses are replaced by laptops, all connected through the World Wide Web. The constant connectivity and availability of information can seriously compromise your digital security. I say seriously, because this is not some inconsequential concern that should be brushed off. Millions of pounds are spent in an attempt to keep resources and confidential information from being stolen. In the wrong hands, any personal information such as banking or social security details can be used to bring about devastating and life changing consequences. Criminals are waiting for a mistake that will give them the access they need to steal your information.what-is-phishing

It’s not only these criminals that we need to watch out for though; there are other, less dangerous and less ill-intentioned parties that like to impose upon our privacy. The government and other corporations are interested in monitoring how the public spends its time on the internet. While they may not be looking to steal your passwords, it is always better to protect yourself. In today’s blog, we will do just that. After all, prevention is better than cure.

Don’t get phished: Stay out of the ‘phisherman’s’ net!

Phishing is the fraudulent act of sending emails in order to get the recipient to reveal personal information. The recipient of these emails gets caught when they take the bait presented by the phisher, such as a request by their IT department to change the password of one of their accounts or by their credit card company to verify their banking details. These emails can be made to look so legitimate that often the victim does not realize that they are being scammed. One of the most common forms of phishing is an email which has an embedded link in a message that looks genuine but actually comes from a fraudulent party. The email address and hyperlinks are only slightly changed so that they look right at first glance.


Phishing is a well-crafted technique that blends together company logos, colours, grammatical language and design to mimic the style of emails sent to workers and customer in order to fool the victims. Organized phishing groups are experts at gaining and exploiting internal affairs. For example, if a company is undergoing any kind of IT related change, the employees will expect rather than suspect emails requesting password changes. Timing is often the key to successful operations.

The above is an example of long-line phishing where the attacker’s main aim is to snare as many victims as possible. Spearphishing’, however, is targeted towards specific people, organization or companies, making it the more dangerous type of phishing. Email is not the only way to approach victims. Attackers can use ‘smishing’ (sms phishing) where they try to obtain information by sending text messages. Another form is ‘vishing’ (voice mail phishing) where victims receive automated voicemails that can be tailored to sound like genuine bank reminders. Twitter and Facebook are not immune to phishing attacks. Any post asking to “click for free tickets” or free anything is probably a scam because let’s be honest, who gives anything away for free? Another different version of phishing is ‘USB-ishing’ where attackers usually try to lure victims to use unknown USB devices on their laptops/computers. Attackers will leave high-capacity drives in public areas such as restrooms. When a phish connects the drive with a device, the drive automatically installs a malware onto the device without the user knowing.

 

So what can you do?


In order to not fall victim to these scammers, everyone should make sure to zealously guard their personal and confidential information.

Any email asking for the following information should immediately raise red flags.

• Employee ID
• Bank account information
• Passwords to any account you have online (yes even your password to World of War craft)

Always remember that there is no such thing as a private email. No matter what security software you have, private emails don’t exist. Therefore, never give out any of the above information, neither via email nor via telephone (unless you actually called the bank and not vice versa).
If you are ever asked to click a link in an email, examine the link address closely. Hover your mouse pointer over the link to check where the link will take you before you click. Study the end of the web address to determine whether or not it is a legitimate address. Contact your IT department to confirm the email or if it’s an email from your bank, call the number on the back of your credit card or billing statement to confirm from a genuine source. Most banks tell their customers beforehand that they will not ask for private information via email.
Don’t just rely on yourself to catch a fake email, ESET security system takes all the necessary precautions to make sure that all phishers stay away from you and your personal data. To read more about ESET, click here or contact us to request an assessment.
Beware of any email that contains an attachment from a sender you do not recognize the attachment could contain a malware such as a key logger which will record your key strokes to steal your password and send the information back to the phisher.

Phishers tend to employ scare tactics to ensure that panic takes over the victim and they momentarily lose all common sense. If you get an email stating that your bank will be closing or freezing your account unless you click on a link and confirm your account, then you can bet your fishing pole that that is a scam. It is illegal for banks to freeze your account just because you failed to respond to an email.

 

Over all, cautiousness when using email is advised. Never give out any information over the internet and make sure to check that the website is a secure website (the URL will begin with https instead of http and will have lock right next to the URL). Never use a USB driver that you found lying around and be cautious when giving your USB to someone and then getting it back.

If you failed to recognize the signs and end up getting caught in the net, then immediately change your password and contact your IT department. However, if you have given away your bank details, you have to contact them immediately and let them know.

Stay tuned for our next blog where we will talk all about passwords! Meanwhile enjoy this witty comic courtesy of Google search!

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War on Social Media: Justified or Not?

netGenImage A communications professor Pavica Sheldon from the University of Alabama labels the generation born between 1980 and 1994 as the ‘Net Generation’. Sheldon believes that this generation is engrossed and obsessed with technology to the point that they live their lives surrounded by cell phones, video games, computers and video cameras. A recent CNN article found that 7.5 million American children under the age of 13 joined Facebook despite the fact that users have to be 13 to join. The article went on to state that by the time children are 2 years old, 90% have an online history and teens text nearly 3,500 times a month! We live in a time where television and social media is a major contributor to our perception of reality and it is crucial that we study the impact technology, especially social media, has on our lives.

Net_GenAs I’m writing this blog, my brother is in his room watching ‘Arrow’, my mum is in living room on her iPad and I’m tucked away in my room on my laptop; with the exception of my dad, who’s at work, everyone in my house right now is on some form of social media. If someone were to walk into my house right now, they would label us as anti-social and probably would not stop from commenting on the sad state of our lives. And yes sure, at that moment, we were probably less of a family and more individuals busy in their own lives. But we are a family that eats together, we go out shopping together, I spend time with my mum helping her cook, my brother and I often watch movies together; we are not at all devoid of any form of communication with each other. The way you use social media depends on you and you alone, you can either sit in front of your laptop screen for hours, and ignore everyone else or you can live your life in a more balanced way. Either way, the choice and responsibility is yours, not social media’s.

One of the most common criticisms of technology in general is that it isolates people and breaks down communities. My experience has taught me differently. Technology has helped overcome obstacles posed by time and distance. I studied for four years abroad where I made friendships that will hopefully last a lifetime. Facebook, Snapchat and Whatsapp help me stay in touch with my friends. Skype lets my grandmother speak to her daughter who she hasn’t seen for almost 2 years. In days of letter writing, it would sometimes be weeks or even months before you heard from a loved one; technology and social media has connected people in a way that no other communication outlet has. In today’s society where less people suffer from geographical immobility and more are moving away from home to work, technology has made it more convenient for people to stay in touch.

Communities are not breaking down but are actually expanding. Users are making friends with people who have similar interests as themselves. One of the biggest examples of this can be seen in Google+. Google+ has countless communities which users can join based on common interests and topics. This way, they are expanding their circle, getting to know people from across the world that they might have never met before if it hadn’t been for social media.

Social media is not just for the individuals though; social media has revolutionized business marketing. Through social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, businesses can now connect and communicate better with their customers and receive instant feedback about their products and services, conduct efficient market research and learn about their audience. Hootsuite allows businesses to conduct a geo search on twitter for customers in your area so business can engage with them.

However, just as with everything else, social media has its downfall, cyber crime being the biggest. Cyber crime is crime that involves a computer or a network. Examples of cyber crime include cyber bullying, cyber extortion, hacking into systems without authorization and spreading viruses and malware. As the use of social media increases, cyber criminals have turned their focus on social media sites to target organizations and individuals. They hack Facebook profiles and Twitter accounts and try to pose as the original users, mostly spreading false information. Moreover, teenagers seem to be looking at life through a camera lens, recording and photographing every moment. The ability to make any video, document or photo viral has not only increased cyber bullying leading to depressed and suicidal victims. The obsession that today’s generation has of geographical tagging and documenting and displaying every moment is their life has made it easier for cyber criminals to stalk their victims.old lady

The internet can be a dangerous place when used incorrectly, especially by unsupervised kids. For our life to have any sort of equilibrium, we need to have some kind of balance. This is also true when speaking of social media. Through my research I have mostly come up with either an argument for social media, or an argument against but rarely an article which argues for both sides. I personally do not believe that the internet is the devil in disguise. The truth I believe is far from it. The internet was invented for our convenience; online shopping made it easier to buy things even on days you do not feel like changing out of your sweats, the telephone made it easier to communicate across oceans! Kids’ addiction to the internet or television is on them, not on technology. The problems we encounter today are not because social media exists, the problems arise because of the way we use it. The Prohibition era in America saw the ban on production, distribution and sale of alcohol in an attempt to reduce crime and corruption; this only led to the sale of illegal liquor and increase in prices. The Prohibition era failed because the public was not taught about the dangers of alcohol addiction. Same goes for the war on drugs. The selling and buying of drugs is illegal in almost every country yet rehab centers are full of people who couldn’t stay away from their addiction. People will always find ways to satisfy their addiction but they would probably be more in control if they knew the consequences of their actions. Drugs on their own are not dangerous at all, a gun sitting on a counter top won’t kill anyone; it’s what we do with our weapons that matters. So the war on social media isn’t going to be effective; you cannot simply  take away your kid’s iPhone and call it a day. We need to understand the ‘why’. We need to understand both the users of social media and the reasons behind their actions.

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