Archive for the ‘Boards’ Category

Secure Social Networking

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Social networking sources are often utilized as strong ways to communicate. But when used irresponsibly, they can also risk your security.

By “checking in” or updating your location, many social network users find a fun way to show their travels and promote their locations. But next time you move to do this, be sure that you’re not sending the message that “no one’s home.” When you consider making a status update on a family vacation for example, maybe include a fake shout-out to your fake home sitter.

When registering for a social networking sites (or really any website) don’t provide your Social Security number. We can’t emphasize this enough, and yet it still happens. Think of what your Social Security number does and why this site would need it before you provide it.

Often a social networking site will ask for your phone number. Typically there is a skip button though you may need to search for it. Sometimes the site will ask for a phone number to confirm your account. If this is the case then you will likely also be able to delete your number from your profile after the confirmation. Removing your number will protect it from reaching strangers. Nevertheless, phone numbers are surprisingly easy to change.

Don’t upload pictures or videos if you’re not ready for the public to have access to these. Even if your security settings have viewer restrictions, there is nothing restricting those viewers from copying and then re-uploading the file.

You should always check your privacy settings and be open to editing them. This can prove to be especially handy for when you grant access to an application and later want to deny it.

Make passwords that cannot be easily guessed (don’t limit yourself to the the names of your children and pets). Strong passwords will utilize lowercase and uppercase letters and will include numbers along with symbols. Though these seem difficult to remember, it’s much easier than being hacked. Strong passwords will also be hard to memorize at first and writing the password on a slip of paper that you keep with you can prove tremendously handy.

Stay safe out there!

Internet Security Sounds Secure

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Security and privacy are concepts with remarkable favoring, when not associated with the Internet. Why does so much resistance to “Internet security” or “Internet privacy” exist?

-          Because of the freedom that the Internet allows for

-          Because of the restrictions that security and privacy can create

For many the notions of securing the Internet, protecting the Internet, and stopping online piracy, means actively censoring . At the same time, others take protecting and securing the Internet to mean that their works will no longer by illegally used or that false facts will no longer be published.

As a result of widespread outrage to concepts on limiting the open Internet, SOPA and PIPA were put on hold or moved for revisions. However, the movements for Internet security are proving to be relentless and look like they will turn into a major decade debate. Today, the Obama administration introduced the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights and the controversy has already emerged. Main points of the bill:

  1. INDIVIDUAL CONTROL:  Consumers have a right to exercise control over what personal data companies collect from them and how they use it.
  2. 2. TRANSPARENCY:  Consumers have a right to easily understandable and accessible information about privacy and security practices.
  3. RESPECT FOR CONTEXT:  Consumers have a right to expect that companies will collect, use, and disclose personal data in ways that are consistent with the context in which consumers provide the data.
  4. 4. SECURITY:  Consumers have a right to secure and responsible handling of personal data.
  5. ACCESS AND ACCURACY:  Consumers have a right to access and correct personal data in usable formats, in a manner that is appropriate to the sensitivity of the data and the risk of adverse consequences to consumers if the data is inaccurate.
  6. FOCUSED COLLECTION:  Consumers have a right to reasonable limits on the personal data that companies collect and retain.
  7. ACCOUNTABILITY:  Consumers have a right to have personal data handled by companies with appropriate measures in place to assure they adhere to the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.

This bill is with stated efforts to “protect individual privacy rights” but will the public reject it with the same passion used against SOPA and PIPA, or will they recognize the bill as a tool for their personal Internet security. The battle for or against seems crucial to the Obama administration as the pressure from both sides must be overwhelming.

One identifying factor for the “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” is its aim towards protecting the individual whereas SOPA and PIPA aimed at protecting larger parties.  This may allow for the bill to receive a more welcoming introduction.

Further Reading:

Obama Administration Seeks Online Privacy Rules

What Are SOPA and PAPA And Why All The Fuss?

Microsoft Wipes Privacy Sidestepping on Google, Why Not Facebook Too?

Free Speech vs. Illegal Speech

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Freedom of speech is a true phenomenon across the (uncensored) Internet.

In countless ways the Internet allows us to discuss unbound topics and target distant audiences. It enunciates voices that otherwise may remain silent. It shares. It brings perspectives to new points allowing for research, discussions, and visuals as never before.

But through the same awesomeness, the Internet advances piracy and fact fabrication. It brings these issues of fraudulent and stolen work into new extremes. It alters the righteousness associated with free speech. It attests that not until the Internet phenomenon was the freedom of speech contemplated without the accountability of speech.

Should there be punishments for illegally published work on the Internet? Should there be restrictions or limits? Is the real punishment not defining your own judgment? Is the real tragedy misunderstanding?

Cyber harassment: A growing issue

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Ever since the internet rose to popularity, cyberstalking has been a sensitive issue. Following numerous reports of harassments or threats via online communication, the first US anti-cyberstalking law went into effect in California in 1999.

Since the late 1990s, computers and mobile devices have come to be a fundamental part of our society, and in the process, have provided cyberstalkers with increasingly more opportunities and methods for harassment.

Cybertstalking refers to the use of the internet, email, mobile devices and other forms of electronic communication to stalk an individual through a pattern of threatening and malicious language and/or behaviors.

This differs from cyber harassment, which does not necessarily involve a direct threat to the victim can include harassing emails, IMs and blog entries or websites devoted to the torment of the targeted individual.

Yet another subcategory – cyberbullying – can include all of the characteristics listed above, yet it is only considered to be bullying when it occurs among minors. Many such cases have resulted in suicide from the mental anguish provoked by the cyberbullying and have been closely covered by the media.

According to a survey by the Electronic Communication Harassment Observatory (ECHO) at Bedford University in England, cyberstalking is now more common than the traditional forms of actual physical harassment. Technology has changed the way in which stalkers carry out their malicious deeds, and it has also changed the dynamics of the situation.

Based on an ECHO study of victims of cyberstalking, only 4 percent of the stalkers were former partners, compared to around 50 percent of face-to-face harassment victims. Online harassers are much more likely to be either complete strangers or casual acquaintances than former love interests.

This may be due to the boosted confidence one feels from the anonymity provided by the internet or it may be a result of the abundance of information that one is able to encounter online about anyone at all – whether it be stranger, acquaintance or close friend. Photos, family information, telephone numbers, addresses; it’s scary just how easily accessible all this information can be with just a little bit of digging around on the web.

According to a recent study by the National Centre for Cyberstalking in Bedfordshire, UK, researchers have found that victims of cyber attacks can suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) comparable to that experienced by individuals exposed to extreme events such as military combat or sexual assault.

No matter whether the cyber victim actually meets their stalker or not, the situation can have devastating psychological effects, including mental anguish, fear, stress, anxiety, paranoia and the overall loss of trust in others.

Social networking sites and mobile devices have served to open up a cyber victim’s world to harassers, allowing them an intimate look at a targeted individual’s life and constant and immediate access to deliver their threats via electronic communication.

In terms of minors, cyberbullying can be even more severe and traumatic than the attacks of traditional schoolyard bullies. After school lets out, bullies go home and the torment stops, but with cyberbullying and the ubiquitous online access, the threats and harassments follow victims home and wherever they go through mobile devices.

Some might argue that the issue of cyberharassment can be blown out of proportion, since in most cases the victims receive no physical harm. But the constant verbal attacks and fear that ensues can push people to the brink, and in many cases bring them to take their own lives.


McVeigh, Karen. “Cyberstalking outstrips face-to-face stalking” Accessed 10/24/11

Page, Lewis. “Being cyber-stalked is as bad as being raped, or in a war” The Register Accessed 10/24/11

“State Cyberstalking, Cyberharassment and Cyberbullying laws” National Conference of State Legislatures Accessed 10/24/11

Hurricane Irene Contractor Scams

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

As if victims of natural disasters don’t already have enough to worry about with trying to piece their lives back together, another threat that they must keep in mind is contractor scams. Unfortunately, scammers will jump at any opportunity they see to make some extra cash, and right after a hurricane is a prime time to prey on the unsuspecting.

Hurricane Irene caused a lot of damage to peoples’ homes and personal property. There is a whole lot of repair to be done, and people need to hire contactors for certain jobs. Home repairs, cleaning, rebuilding; natural disasters create a market for contractor jobs.

According to an article from USAToday, 2008 saw a substantial increase in complaints of contractor fraud after Hurricane Katrina. In the two years after the storm hit New Orleans and surrounding areas, there were 6,000 complaints of contractor fraud to the Louisiana Attorney General’s office, up from 150 the year before.

Scammers are good at spotting vulnerability and using it to their advantage. In times of distress, such as after a natural disaster, people oftentimes fail to use their good judgment. They become preoccupied with trying to rebuild their lives and overlook certain details that are important in hiring someone to do work.

The article in USAToday brought up some valid points in how to avoid such situations. One thing a person should never do is pay for services upfront and with cash. Most contractors do require a down payment, but this should not be the full payment and the rest of the money should be paid upon completion. Once you give a contractor cash in hand, it’s ever so easy for them to just take the money and run.

Another good tip in avoiding contractor scams is to always ask for proof. Make sure that they are licensed, bonded and insured. Should something happen on the job site such as an injury or accident, you never want to be liable. If contractors cannot provide such proof, then you should gladly send them on their way.

One of the best ways to find good contractors is to ask around. Word-of-mouth is still one of the most effective forms of advertising, and nothing speaks more loudly than in-person praise about a business.

It’s unfortunate that certain people like to benefit from the misfortunes of others, but that’s just the kind of world we live in these days. You should always do your research before hiring someone to do work, post natural disaster or not, and always use your good judgment.

Earthquake Evokes Fears of Terrorist Attack

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Early yesterday afternoon, the most powerful earthquake in 67 years hit the East Coast. Buildings shook, people panicked and offices were evacuated, but no one was reported dead or seriously injured. As far south as Charleston, SC, as far north as Maine, and as far east as Cincinnati and Atlanta; the tremors were felt of this 5.8 magnitude quake.

In Washington DC, important national buildings such as the White House, the Capitol and the Pentagon were evacuated. Of the 20,000 daily workers at the Pentagon, some initially feared that a terrorist attack was upon them. Just three weeks away from the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and Twin Towers are fresh in our minds.

In New York City and Washington DC, frightened office workers flooded the city streets, not completely aware of what was really going on. What started out as a low rumble built into an eventual shake, causing cracks to appear in the Washington Monument and breaking off three capstones from the National Cathedral, according to the Associated Press.

Although this 5.8 magnitude earthquake was relatively mild in comparison to quakes on the West Coast, East Coasters are not used to this sort of natural occurrence. In 1944, the same size quake hit Massena, NY, causing $2 million in property damage. The 1944 Cornwall-Massena earthquake was felt as far away as New York City, Quebec City, Toronto and Boston.

Not to be a worrywart or sensationalist, but Americans have good reason to worry. The threat of a new terrorist attack in wake of the ten-year 9/11 anniversary is very real. If they did it once, they can do it again. No amount of airport security or bomb-sniffing dogs can keep terrorists from carrying out their evil deeds upon our nation.

Not to mention that 2012 is rapidly approaching. In case everyone forgot, the predicted date for the end of the world (and not that fake apocalypse a few months back) is December 21, 2012, according to the Mayan calendar and other predictors of the future.

I try not to buy in too much to the end of the world and conspiracy theories, but I have to say that we have not been short on natural disasters this past decade. Earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, hurricanes; we have seen it all in the past few years, and it only seems to be getting worse.

Luckily the earthquake yesterday did no real damage and only managed to shake our buildings and rattle our nerves. But if all the 2012 and terrorist attack-fearing people out there are right, this could only be a sign of things to come.

The Wiener Wars

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

As a man that has been on the receiving end of various accusations that I have had to adamantly defend myself against, I always like to pay attention to grand legal battles that make the news. And when the bout includes two iconic American companies such as Oscar Mayer and Ball Park, it adds even more intrigue to the story. But wait it doesn’t stop there… When the judge begins the court session with the statement, “Let the wiener wars begin,” you know you’ve got a legal case worth following here.

The nation’s two largest hot dog companies brought their legal issues to court on Monday concerning false and deceptive advertising claims about which company says they have the nation’s best dog. Oscar Mayer is owned by Kraft Foods, Ball Park is owned by Sara Lee, and both hot dog makers are based out of Chicago.

The “wiener wars” began back in 2009 when Sara Lee filed a lawsuit against Kraft Foods for the Oscar Mayer ads that stated that their hot dogs beat out Ball Park’s in a national taste test. Sara Lee’s attorney claimed that the taste test was unfair since the dogs were served boiled and with no bun. They do have a point here, because who really eats plain, boiled hot dogs?

Later that year, Kraft retaliated with their false and deceptive ads claim against Sara Lee for their commercials stating that Ball Park’s are “America’s Best Frank,” and that other dogs are “not even in the same league.”

In response, Sara Lee accused Kraft of deception once again in saying that their dogs were 100% pure beef, since the franks also contain water and spices in addition to beef. Kraft’s response; Oscar Mayers are made with only beef, and not other added meats such as pork and chicken. Hence, the dogs are made with only beef.

The semantics of this case can get a little preposterous, especially because the intense legal battle revolves around wieners. And that’s why this week, the two hot dog giants appeared in court, pitted against each other in an epic battle to determine whose dog is king.

The outcome of this case, and how they will arrive at the conclusion will be interesting to watch. Will there be a hot dog eating contest to see which one is best? Will condiments be allowed in the taste test? And if so, how to determine what condiments will be allowed, and which brands of condiments will be used?

It could be that America has a juvenile obsession with this case because it’s all about wieners, but it’s also fun to watch two brands that we have all grown up with go against each other. We have seen it in the Cola Wars with Pepsi and Coke numerous times in ads over the years, and this is an issue that most people feel very strongly about. Which dog do I like best, you might ask? I eat brats.

More Fake Apple Stores in China

Monday, August 15th, 2011

If you stay up on this blog, which you should because it’s pretty fantastic, then you might have read a recent installation about fake Apple stores in China. After an American woman travelling abroad posted in her blog about stores using the Apple logo, trademark blue shirts and even spiraling staircases found in their actual retail shops, Chinese authorities cracked down on fraudulent Apple stores in the city of Kunming.

After the blog shed light on this situation, the stores were suspended from doing business by the Chinese Administration for Industry and Commerce. This happened a few weeks, and since this incident 22 new stores in Kunming have been exposed as fake Apple stores.

In the new rash of fraudulent Apple shops, the 22 stores have been ordered to stop using the Apple logo and trademark although they have not yet been shut down. Following the realization of these fake stores, Apple China filed an official complaint with the federal government concerning unfair competition and trademark violation. According to reports however, it is still unclear whether the stores were selling knock-off Apple products or real smuggled Apple goods.

What fascinates me about this whole story is that if you were in China, you could easily walk into one of these fake shops and buy an iPhone or laptop, thinking that you were making a legitimate business transaction with a reputed technology dealer. But in actuality, you are just contributing to an underground black market of fraudulent products and their peddlers.

The black market in China is by no means a new phenomenon. That’s why you can go to Chinatown in any major city in the US and buy quality knock-off goods. CDs, DVDs, polo shirts, Nikes, Louis Vuitton handbags; you name it – if you want the look but don’t have the money, go on down to Chinatown and spend a fraction of the cost for some knock-offs.

I’m not really into the buying of knock-off goods myself. I try to buy the original, quality, handmade products, because I know they will last. That pair of Jordans you bought in Chinatown may scrap and fade rapidly, but the real ones I bought will probably withstand half a decade of wear and tear.

So before you hop on that next flight to Kunming to buy that knock-off iPhone you’ve had your eye on for the past few months, think about the people affected by your decision to buy fake goods. Steve Jobs is losing money on this deal, and that’s the last thing we want in this world. Doesn’t he deserve to make millions of dollars every day of the week? Well, I can tell you one thing; no knock-off Apple store will be taking my money, thank you very much.

American Express will grow thanks to social media

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

The developing relationship between American Express and various social media platforms is going to help show businesses – both small and large – that investing in a solid social media strategy is a profitable venture.

Recently, AMEX started a partnership with the checkin service Foursquare, allowing those who check in to certain locations to receive exclusive deals. These can be had in the form of exclusive points on AMEX accounts or any kind of rewards that they deem acceptable based upon the type of card that is being used (an airline-based AMEX, for example, could theoretically earn more miles for a swipe at a location).

American Express is a 160-year-old company that happens to be outmaneuvering even some of the youngest start-ups today. Recently, they also announced a program that gives discounts to those who ‘like’ its Facebook page or certain elements on it. A $10 discount on $25 or more at Outback Steakhouse was an example of one of several deals offered.

The overall effect that this is going to have is that it’ll bring the younger – and more social media prone – crowd into AMEX’s target zone. Even if said targeted individual doesn’t sign up for a card right away or use it extremely often, it at least provides a progressive view of the company and gives it a solid reminder that they exist, even in the social media world.

Companies such as Citi, Bank of America, and especially Wells Fargo have seemed to all but ignore services such as Foursquare.

Furthermore, this provides an immeasurable amount of credibility to Foursquare, which was once seen as a creepy service that could result in everyone knowing where you were at all times. Now, they’re in a partnership with one of the largest financial – both personal and business – organizations in the world.

There’s not much more power than that when it comes to expanding in a smart and rational way for Foursquare. American Express is, to say the least, embracing the future with open arms and willing to pay a few social media strategists to make extra money for them.

Urban Myths & Cyber Falsehoods

Monday, June 27th, 2011

As a frequent victim of cyber attacks and malicious rumors concerning my business enterprises, I tend to pay attention to stories of other people being targeted on the Internet for various reasons. Some stories end up being true, but many are just harmful shots taken at public figures for no good reason.

The tales that prove to be true are just too good to make up – Britney Spears flashing her goods, Amy Winehouse going to rehab, Arnold Schwarzenneger’s love child. There are plenty of urban myths out there that have circulated the cyber waves for years. The whole thing about Richard Gere and the gerbil – how did that even start? But today I would like to discuss one Internet falsehood in particular.

Quite possibly the most preposterous of them all, this story holds no ground yet somehow is so believable. First appearing on the Internet in 1998, Steve Burns (the former host of Nick Jr.’s Blue’s Clues) was rumored to have died from a heroin overdose. This bit of gossip was so widespread that his own mother called him after catching wind of it to make sure that he was okay.

In the wake of this cyber rumor, Burns appeared on numerous talk shows and news programs to confirm that he is in fact still alive and does not do drugs. If you have ever seen the show, Burns is a chipper, bright-eyed dork that seems like the last person to ever abuse intravenous narcotics. But maybe that’s what makes it so believable. How else does he stay so happy when hosting that lame kids’ show?

The rumors about me and my professional career differ greatly from Steve Burns and his alleged drug use, but I feel his pain. What gets me is why certain people find it necessary to spend their precious time concocting these myths and spreading them around the Internet. Apparently some people have nothing better to do.

Trying to verify my legitimacy as an honest businessman in the cyber world has proven to be exhausting. There are multiple rumors about my supposed dealings on the Internet, and frankly it’s just plain irritating. I have worked hard to get where I’m at today, and people continue to make up stories about me and post them on the Web.

A wise man once said you can’t get ahead in this world without making some enemies along the way, or something like that. Naturally, by succeeding, you will gain enemies – people that are jealous of your success. The bigger and better you become, the more people envious of your situation there will be.

It’s unfortunate that this is the way it has to be, but such is life. If becoming a more successful and more professional entrepreneur means that people will be drawn to badmouth me on the Internet then so be it. I’m not going to let a few trash-talkers impede my career in the slightest bit. I’ll just be hanging out on the set of Blue’s Clues, sipping cocktails with Richard Gere and Britney Spears, laughing it up as we enjoy our successful lives.