A Very Public Privacy

Internet Security News

Cyber Bullying

I very much think that the video above captures just how distressing cyber bullying can be for children and teenagers. It is, in a way, far more difficult to cope with than other types of bullying.  A cowardly bully finds it even more easy to hide behind a computer without consequences to their actions.  Cyber bullying is not only harder to take, it’s also harder to stop.  A teacher or parent is in a worrying position if they find out a child is being cyber bullied.  They are faced with no clear-cut way of dealing with the problem,  the bullying is mostly anonymous and the culprit is harder to find and punish.

The different mediums of communication these days also makes this kind of bullying a constant presence. As the video shows, it’s not only online that kids face cyber bullying,  its phone calls and text messages too.

So, what can be done to combat this horrible kind of bullying?

Well, if you use MSN messenger or other similar services you usually see a “block” button, this prevents the person you block from being able to contact you or even see when you’re online.  Often alongside the block button there is “report abuse”.  I haven’t ever used this feature so I had to look up what it does and I couldn’t find any answers which suggests to me that it does little more than the block feature, with perhaps some added peace of mind.

The best things to do in these situations is same as with all bullying,  never try to deal with it on your own if you are the victim,  Schools often have procedures in place to find bullies, cyber or not. Keep records of everything that is said and e-mail addresses and phone numbers that is has come from where possible.

If you’re a parent, be aware.  If your child is being bullied online,  they may not react the same as they would if it was bullying at school.  Monitoring who your child is talking to is NEVER a bad idea, there are far bigger risks than bullying involved.  Speak to the school if your child is being bullied through any method.

April 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Virus Writers- Troublemakers or Something Far More Sinister?

The simple answer is both.  Virus writers take on many forms but when it boils down to it there are really three types of virus writers

– New computer programmers who are flexing their digital muscle.

– “Research” virus writers,  creating malware to test our systems

– Finally, and most dangerous of all, the professionals.  Writing malware at this level means it often goes undetected by anti-virus software.

Trojan viruses, for example, can be used to steal login details to web-based services that cost money.  These are often written by the first group of virus writers,  often students and young people who prefer not to pay for internet services.  This happened to AOL in 1987 when internet was more expensive to receive.  Since internet prices have fallen, so has the use of Trojan horse viruses.

From there on the world of virus writers gets far more complicated. From what I could tell,  a step up from petty internet theft is more hardcore cyber crime which involves many things such as sending out mass spam e-mails from thousands of anonymous sources.  Spam emails, as you all well know if you have ever read one are full of empty and impossible promises, usually costing a high price, or requiring your bank details.

Another type of cyber crime is that which I mentioned in my post on cyber warfare,  I have now learned that the technical name for it is “distributed network attacks” where sites are flooded with requests to the point where they are shut down and common users cannot access them.

Cyber criminals can use their talents to steal electronic currency, banking information, other confidential information. They can even use it to blackmail.

The methods are incredibly complicated and unfortunately I’m not a computer programmer and a lot of it goes over my head.

There is a fascinating website here which you should check out if your interested in all of this, which you should be,  it is after all, both fascinating and terrifying.

I am not a virus writer, and I have no desire to become one, but in those two words I think the motivation is summed up.  The world of virus writing is fascinating, and incredibly terrifying. People are naturally attracted to power, and I think that kind of talent is the modern equivalent of excellent sword skills.  It makes you threatening and admirable at the same time,  why wouldn’t you do it, if you could?

Food for thought indeed.  I look forward to your comments!

April 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Internet Warfare. Just How Dangerous Could it Be?

Today i’m going to talk about internet security on a much larger scale. In World War I and II the biggest threat to us was chemical warfare, and now nuclear weapons are a massive concern for the world.  These two things have something in common, if deployed, we are virtually defenseless to the effects.  It is only sensible to assume that if war was to break out tomorrow the first line of attack would be cyber warfare.  If you take down a countries Internet access, they are crippled.

The easiest example is the banks, Internet banking is used by the majority of people and business’  If you could take down the internet banks, the whole economy would come to a grinding halt, the knock on effect that this would have would surely be disastrous for individuals and the country as a whole.

This is not just a theory either, Russia has shown how effective a cyber attack could be in a dispute with Georgia. Russia targeted Georgia’s governmental websites by flooding the sites with requests that they could not process and therefore, closed down. The attacks are hard to trace and virtually impossible to stop, which makes them incredibly dangerous.

The ongoing dispute that China has with Google is one more example.  Google refused to comply with the heavy censorship that the Chinese government demanded and as a result China launched a cyber attack upon Google which interrupted there Chinese services, threating hundreds of Chinese jobs.

So what defence do we have against attacks like this? I can’t help but think that if Google has not been able to protect themselves from a suspected government launched attack, there is very little defence that could be had. There’s an article at this site that explains that the UK is ahead of the EU in terms of its cyber defence.  Unfortunately, there seems to be no information, anywhere on how we are actually protected, but I suppose if people knew how, it would be much easier to get around.

World War 3 may just be less WW3 and more WWW.

March 31, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

YOU’RE FIRED!!!!

On Sunday I had a staff meeting for my job at a Nando’s restaurant,  The whole workforce had to attend and one on the items on the agenda was Facebook.   At first, I was surprised, our meetings usually consist of talks about rotas and staff parties but this period, Facebook was high up on the priorities.  I’m not even sure if I’m allowed to disclose why Facebook featured so prominently, kind of ironic that I’m blogging about it really.

It is no secret that people have been fired from their jobs because of incidents on Facebook.  There’s a fantastic article  that shows the rise of social networking and the people who have lost their jobs along the way.

On researching for this blog I found the shocking statistic that 60% of potential employers will google an applicants name before taking them on and you have to consider that a potential employer, looking at your drunken photos may be a little put off.  I don’t want to be the nagging presence of your online life, but once again I come with a warning,  Facebook,  if used recklessly, can well and truely, ruin your life.

There’s a little something to brighten up your day!   Happy Social Networking!

March 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Google Street View-A useful tool or an Invasion of Privacy?

Part of our lesson yesterday was taken up by us all exploring england, from the comfort of our office chairs using google street view. It was great, I had a walk to my parents, stopped off at my friends house on the way, even popped to my grandma’s for a bit.  Fortunately, none of my family were caught by the camera so there was no opportunity for embarrassment on anyones part.

I really should be against street view. If I was heeding my own morals I would call it a massive invasion of privacy that people have no control over,  It isn’t like facebook where you can opt out of it’s service,  If you have never used street view, you might be peeking through the window of your house, for all the world to see, and you would never know.  I do, of course think that steet view can be an invasion of privacy, you only have to type “google street view disasters” into a search engine and you’ll get thousands of results of people in the most comprimising of positions.

The fact of the matter is, Google street view is an amazing tool, you can visit places you’ll never be able to go with the click of a finger, and it really does feel like you’ve been there. Google has offered an explanation for this tool here saying “Street View has a variety of practical uses. Using Street View you can easily find the exact location for your crucial meeting and the nearest coffee shop, plan a restaurant venue to meet friends for dinner, or find the best viewing spot for a marathon or parade. If you are moving house or re-locating, you can save time by exploring properties and their surrounding area in advance and also by looking up driving directions. Street View allows you to check out a hotel or holiday home before you book, and to explore different travel destinations around the world.”

And it’s true.  How many times have you been on time for an interview or meeting but end up five minutes late because you couldn’t find a car park? or known what street your meant to be on but not how far down the street you have to go. Google street view, in my opinion, is an extention of google maps, it can be as simple as that, it just happens to be fun at the same time, and like everything fun, it has it’s downside.

Just like all of my blog posts so far, I would never say do not use this tool for the sake of your privacy, just be careful how you use it. For example, don’t write “OMG My House on Google!!” and post a picture.  because you would be giving too much of yourself away. Everyone should give it a try,  you might just find something suprising!

A virtual tour of London from the comfort of your office chair

March 19, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

ForTheHack- Genius!!

The banner for the PleaseRobMe.com website

So, many of you reading this are most probably technology orientated people, maybe you even have iPhone’s? Perhaps you use a certain App called Foursquare? Well if you do, you may well have made an unknowing appearance on the delightful website – PleaseRobMe.com

Now I, for one, am a big fan of this website and no, it’s not because I’m a robber, quietly watching your movements from the comfort of my sofa, waiting for you to “check in” in some far off location so that I can strike and steal all your worldly possessions.  Not at all, and I don’t think many thieves actually use PleaseRobMe.com but the thing is, they could, and then you would be kicking yourself knowing that if you had not informed the world of your location, perhaps you wouldn’t have been such an easy target.  But at least you’d still have your iPhone….Silver lining.

The reason why I love PleaseRobMe.com so much is because they are making a point, and excellently too if I may say so.  If you think about it most people will leave the house for the night, and leave a light on, so that the house doesn’t look empty, police would recommend you to do just that.  Yet no one seems to think twice about posting “Off on Holiday tomorrow!!  Two whole weeks!” to their Facebook.

Anyway, the masterminds behind PleaseRobMe.com are forthehack and if you visit their website it looks like they might have a few more tricks up their sleeves.  Here’s to hoping!  Maybe people might start to be a bit more careful about what they post.

March 14, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Facebook for the Young

So it’s been well documented that the 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall was killed when she met a 33-year-old man from Facebook who she believed was 16.  It’s a relatively local story for me, and most of the people who will read this as well, because it only happened a few miles away.

Now, I know that 17 isn’t really that young in terms of the Facebook demographic.  Many people much younger than 17 use Facebook. I won’t lie and say this doesn’t concern me.  I used to know someone who’s younger siblings used Facebook aged 9 and shockingly, 5.  I am not judging anyone’s parenting skills but i think 9 is far, far too young to use Facebook and 5, ridiculously so. The mother of these kids was well aware of their participation on the social networking site.

But, does it have to be this way?  These days kids seem to be born with the ability to operate a computer so I wonder whether or not they should be banned from using social networking sites or just educated in the proper use of them?  I think if the latter was done properly cases like the one of Ashleigh Hall would be severely reduced.

At the moment, the responsibility of teaching children about internet security lies with parents.  My personal opinion is that parents aren’t clued up enough on the dangers of the internet to pass the knowledge on to their children because they didn’t grow up with these dangers themselves.

If I was asked for my opinion I would say that there needs to be a more formal base for children to learn what the should and shouldn’t say to people that they don’t know otherwise cases like Ashleigh hall’s will tragically become more frequent.

Overall,  people need to realize that kids are by nature, naive and will believe someone if they claim to be 16, they need to be taught to suspect everyone online to be not what they seem.

If your reading, please give your opinions on how you would keep kids safe online.  Or if you’re a parent, what measures you take to make sure your kids are aware online.

March 12, 2010 Posted by | Internet security | Leave a comment

Is anybody out there?

While I am sure that at this stage there are zero people reading my blog I have planned ahead and created a poll on what general opinions people have on privacy when using sites such as facebook. So if your reading this, please check it out and give it a vote.

Thanks

March 11, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

A Picture Paints 1000 Words, A Video Must Paint Millions.

So there you have it. If you post your pictures on Flickr you may just have people asking you for your autograph in the street. If you ask me, I think she got off pretty lightly. I’d much rather Virgin used my face for an ad campaign than a group of unruley youths beat me up and put the video on Youtube, but maybe thats just me.

I found it interesting how the news anchor mentioned the lack of a gorverning body on the internet. It begs the question, would a governing body even work on the internet or would it be the nail in the coffin for freedom of expression. I personally think the internet is the last chanel that people have where they can express themselves without fear of a nasty backlash and a governing body would change this for certain. I know there are millions of privacy issues that go along with using the internet but when we log on, don’t we make that choice?

Personally, whenever I post on Facebook, I post with the assumption that EVERYONE will read it, that includes my mother, my boss and all of my tutors. I suppose this accounts for my far and few between status updates of facebook and my lack of a twitter account. I do not think that everyone who uses a social networking site thinks fully about the people who could be reading and this leads to hundreds of unhappy people who have been, at the very least, embarrased by their post and in the worst of cases put themselves in danger of being seriously hurt.

Maybe for the sake of the less careful people, a governing body would be a good way of keeping people safe online, but I can’t see that anyone has the resources to monitor the entire internet with the appropriate controls. It’s a pretty big place afterall.

March 11, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments