Category Archives: Cyber Crime

Online Marketing Blog: Cyber-Crime May be an Act of War Says the Pentagon!

Hollywood has long speculated and shown us how cyber crime could be serious. In our movies, we have become accustom to seeing the ultimate super villain not armed with guns, but with a laptop.

Well, it seems that Hollywood is meeting reality as the Pentagon has announced that hacking into the government is not only a crime, but can be considered an act of war.

Yep, a new way of looking things for sure eh?

For the first time, a hack can result in the U.S. dispatching military forces. Although the Pentagon said this is just to deter someone or something from attacking, it sure puts a whole new light on cyber crime and may even prevent the most experienced to think twice before hitting “enter.”

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, the Pentagon is thinking of taking an “equivalence” approach when judging how to punish such an attack. Personally, it’s like the old “eye for an eye” philosophy to me, but you will have to decide for yourself.

Basically, they are saying if a cyber attack’s by-products equal the same amount of destruction that a military attack could, then the Pentagon would be allowed to respond with military.

I know I have said it once already, but I suppose I’ll have to say it again. Cyber crime is serious. And, as our technology evolves, so will the rules and laws that bind them.

If even the Pentagon is taking action, that should tell us something. So, be careful. Think before you Tweet or Facebook.  Realize that a simple prank may not look so simple to Uncle Sam.

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Top Five Security Concerns Online Social Networking Sites and More

Continuing with the theme of online privacy concerns and fears of corporate espionage from the past few days, here are the top five security concerns that each of us should be worried about:

Malware: Ugh this is one of the worst! Malware simply refers to software that is designed to secretly access your computer and steal your information. Browsers are the main way for malware to infect your computer. Malware can steal private information and cause serious privacy breaches for you. Some known data-stealing malware include Qhost, LegMir, and Gator.

Insider attacks: A fired employee, a disgruntled employee, or the heavy reliance on outside contractors who have access to your computers is a huge risk we all face. It is impossible to protect a company totally from insider attacks but there are ways to implement good security measures, implement frequent password changing policies, and ensure that only trusted employees get Carte Blanche to all your computers and their passwords.

Mobile devices: Mobile phones are susceptible to malware, worms, and privacy intrusions. Through the wifi networks they may access, the risk is even greater. Mobile devices may result in huge losses for you and your company if you are not aware and protected from these intrusions.

Social Networking websites: Yep, social networking websites such as Facebook & Twitter can create serious privacy violations for companies. Phishing is a way to steal ID's and is very, very common on social networking websites. "Baring all" in public is another threat resulting in increased cyber criminal activity and identity theft issues.

Corporate Espionage: Corporate espionage concerns are growing and leading to companies banning employees from using social networking websites. Corporate espionage is a real threat and is increasing, no doubt about that. It can result in companies becoming very vulnerable to hostile take-overs and losing market-share to the competition.

So although we propagate the usage of social networks, our intent is also to highlight the challenges faced from social networking websites. In fact, this may become the case for why social media marketing or social networking should be an outsourced activity. By using a third party, companies can actually protect private information because third parties like us would never be privy to private corporate information that could lead to corporate espionage. (Hmm….perhaps a good basis for a new white paper)


Search Engine Marketing Blog: Protect yourself from Hackers on Facebook

Have you recently logged into Facebook and found yourself requiring to verify information before accessing your Facebook page? I have and so have several of my colleagues and friends. It appears that Facebook is trying new ways to improve their security measures to help prevent hacking and scams against its users.

If you log into your account from a different location than usual, you are almost sure to receive a "verify your account information" request.

It's so easy to get yourself exposed to hackers. One click on the wrong link and you've just compromised your account to hackers who are just waiting for your slip. People fall for simple tricks like a post on the wall or an email that says "saw you on this video" or "lol, look at your photo". The link takes you to a hacking website and from that point on, its all downhill. In most cases, it's better to copy and paste a link into your browser window rather than clicking on it.

Prevention is always better than cure so change your password often and make it hard for others to "figure out". Never use birthdays, kids names, or general words that are common and easy to decipher. Hackers run routine scripts to break passwords and by using passwords like the word "password" or "food1" or something that simple you are making it easy for them to access your information. Try to create a password that includes a capital letter, lower case letters, numbers and special characters.
Finally, be careful whom you add as a friend. Do you even know this person or anything about him or her? Just because they sent a request, doesn't mean you need to add them. "Ignore" is just as easy an option to choose as "accept"!

Search Engine Marketing Blog: LinkedIn Email Attack

So I received several emails with the message "messages waiting in your inbox" supposedly from LinkedIn about my connections and contacts. I deleted them automatically knowing that they made no sense cause if someone were to write to me, I'd get notified anyway. Come to find out, LinkedIn was the latest to be targeted for an email attack just like Facebook and Twiter in recent weeks.

This attack was so huge that apparently one quarter of all spam email sent out last week was directed towards Linkedin users. Basically it looked like an invitation from someone looking to connect  and if the link is clicked on, the user is taken to a web page where a trojan horse program gets downloaded and embedded into the user's browser. The purpose of the trojan program is to capture all keystrokes to hijack personal information such as online banking information, passwords to other sites, etc.

Best thing to do is AVOID curiosity and delete anything that looks suspicious. You know that if there was a message waiting for you on Linkedin, you can just as easily log into LinkedIn and read it. Remember, never click on a link that you don't recognize, rather go to the site in question by typing its url in the browser window and thus protect yourself from going to a hacker's website.

Search Engine Marketing Blog: AVG Protection for Social Media Websites too!

Hacking is real and lots of companies claim to offer real-time analysis and detection.

I read about AVG who has come out with a solution called "LinkScanner" which is a real-time scanning solution.  Basically, LinkScanner checks websites and shows you whether or not the sites you are visiting are safe or not. Whether you are surfing the web or shopping online or networking online various social networks, LinkScanner tells you whether those places are safe for you to provide your personal or private information to them.  You get real-time check and the protection is automatically activated for your safety.

It is available for PC and Mac.


Search Engine Marketing Blog: Hacking is Illegal, Period!

Results published by a recent survey showed that students aged 18-21 thought hacking was cool.

The survey was conducted on 1000 students and 37% of the 1000 students who were surveyed admitted to hacking a site or an account. Shocking news? You bet!

The students surveyed admitted to hacking Facebook profiles, shopping accounts and email accounts. One-third of the ones who admitted to hacking revealed that their motive was simply fun, a few admitted to doing it out of curiosity and a few admitted to do it for monetary gain. Remember these are only 18-21 year old people!

Hacking is basically an invasion of privacy. Hacking an account is similar to breaking and entering. Hacking is also just as illegal as breaking into someone's home.

I see the need for a whole series of classes from high-schoolers and college going kids to adults in the workplace that discusses online etiquette, hacking as it relates to invasion of privacy, and social media moral and ethical "do's and don'ts".


Search Engine Marketing Blog: Beware of Malicious Software

Wow! I know that hacking is common and malicious software on the Internet abounds but even I was shocked to read that over 57,000 new pages are created every single week by hackers who want to infect the web with malicious viruses and trojans. Yes, 57 THOUSAND! Not only that, over 65% of these "fake" sites are designed to fool web users in thinking that they are online banking sites and 27% are to fool users into thinking they belong to eBay and other auction sites. The rest of these fake pages posed as government, financial, hosting, gaming and paypal site pages.

These fake sites have keywords or brand names that are hijacked and placed in these fake sites so that if you as a user type in that particular keyword or brand name, the results will include a link to the malicious web page. As soon as you click a link to go to that page, voila, the virus or trojan gets downloaded to your computer. Or the web page may appear genuine and ask for user details which may end up compromising your privacy.

Of course good anti-malware software is mandatory and should be purchased to protect your computer from getting infected but above and beyond that it's important to follow some simple common sense steps. One, type in the web address of the site you know you want to go to rather than try to search for it and then click on a link that may be malicious. This should be perfectly doable since you'd know the url for your bank or for ebay or paypal easily enough. For those urls that are not known to you, instead of just clicking on any link in the search results, review the url a bit more closely to find the right one.

And finally, don't give out personal details if you are not sure of the security of the site in question. Simple precautions like researching the site you plan to buy from before buying from it will save you money and time in the long run.

Malicious software, website hacking, and web crime is growing leaps and bounds. Protect your computer and your privacy the same way you'd protect your wallet and yourself in the physical world – using simple street smart or rather web smart.


Search Engine Marketing Blog: Why Oh Why?? (Are you “baring all” on Social Networking Websites?)

Three men were arrested recently for robbing 18 homes in the New Hampshire and getting away with $200,000 in personal property. The police didn't realize that the robberies and the three men were connected.

Finally they were able to figure out that every victim of these robberies had posted a status message on their Facebook page letting everyone now of their business or vacation travel plans. The told their fans that they were going to be out of town for several days and of course their profiles were not protected.

Although I want to say Uh, DUH!, I know that I've made that mistake once in the past by posting my family's vacation plans on Facebook. Fortunately for me at least my Facebook privacy settings prevented others from viewing my status updates and perhaps it was dumb luck that we didn't get robbed.

It is so important not to "bare all" on social networks even though it is so tempting to and done more than we all realize. From showcasing our personal likes and dislikes to giving out information that makes us a target for criminals, we all tend to make such mistakes. But just like we are vigilante about our emails and our online transactions now, it's time to wise up and start thinking "safe" when posting anything to social networks. Sometimes it's involuntary because we want to tell people how much fun we are having while on vacation but why not wait until you return home to showcase your vacation fun?

I always say, be careful what you say online. If what you say can lead to unemployment, jail or becoming a victim, don't do it.
P.S. Perhaps I should invent a "does it need to be said" button as a third-party app that pops up each time a user posts a status update and offer it to Facebook???

Social Media Blog: Want a Gmail Email? You Must be 13 Years of Age or Older!

Your kids want a gmail ID? They'll need to be at least 13 years of age to do so. That's the new change over at Google after the buzz over the launch of the "Buzz" social networking platform.

Google is also helping parents with tips on protecting teens with a video posted on YouTube about safely using Buzz.

There continues to be a growing concern about privacy, or lack there of, on social networking sites. Social networks increase our vulnerability to criminals, bullying, sexual predators and other predators. Companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter will need to continue educating users on how to be safe while networking online.


Social Media Blog: Have you checked your Facebook privacy settings recently?

Is your birth date on your Facebook or another social network profile? How about your school or hometown information? And are you one of those individuals who also uses private/personal information as an answer to security questions for online banking and online accounts? Are you getting where I'm going with this?
Cyber criminals can harvest all this information from your profiles if you are not hiding these private details from strangers. Also note that you face risk even if you are sharing this information only with friend if the friend's account gets compromised.

So how can you protect yourself?
Check your privacy settings. Determine who is allowed to view what information. Hide details from everyone who doesn't need to know personalized information. Be careful about adding people whom you don't know as friends. Think before you share any private information online including vacation plans, dinner out plans, and anything that compromise your security.

When was the last time you checked your Facebook privacy settings? I checked mine settings again today. Make this a recurring task on your calendar to make sure that any new additions to your friends or followers are thoroughly checked and your information remains as private as possible.

Identity threat is real. Cyber criminals are combing online websites to find their next victim. Don't become one.