*New Trends in Online Harassment

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Imagine if you will: there’s a knock at your door. “Pizza delivery!” It’s the fifth time in the last hour that you’ve had to say to a delivery-person: “No, I really didn’t order anything.” By now you know someone is pranking you.

Half an hour later, there’s another knock at the door. This time it’s a heavily armed and aggressive special response unit of your local police force. They’re responding to a tip of a domestic disturbance and shooting at your address.

Why is all this happening? Turns out, you’ve come to the attention of a cluster of mischief makers who thrive on harassing people online.

You’ve been “doxxed”. Your private information has been posted, perhaps by an anonymous imageboard user, who’s implored others to “do with it as you will”.

These sorts of internet-enabled attacks have become more frequent in recent years. In fact, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been cautioning citizens about “swatting” (see below) since 2008.

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*The NSA’s PRISM Program Continues to Scoop Up Your Personal Data

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The NSA’s PRISM program, which collects and mines metadata on anybody the NSA has “51% confidence” is a foreign national. Despite a federal judge ruling that the practice was unconstitutional, the question remains … will anything change?

The Political Problem

Find a politician railing against NSA surveillance, then see where they voted on the Patriot Act, the law that made all this NSA spying possible in the first place. You’ll find a lot of people who happily voted for the act and its renewal are suddenly very disturbed about the consequences of the law they passed.

A huge part of the problem is that while government organizations are spying on US citizens, anything they incidentally collect while doing so is something they can keep. That means if you’re on your phone within a three-block radius of a suspected terrorist, whoever’s listening can record and file your conversation… and use it at a later date, for whatever purpose, if they so desire.

The Social Problem

The second problem is that there is no law on the books keeping the government from looking at your Facebook. Which they’re probably doing, right now.

The reality of the situation is that we place information online about our lives that we would never discuss in public. Amazing, but true. Today you can read information about  friends, family, coworkers, even strangers, that would rarely, if ever, be exposed to someone else.

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*New Facebook customer service scam offers fake phone number

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Many of my friends are active, regular Facebook users. It’s estimated that there are nearly 2 billion active monthly users worldwide. That’s an astonishing number.

And we all know that some websites go down from time to time. And that Includes Facebook. But what if you were in the middle of posting something important … like what you had for breakfast, or a photo of your new cat. And suddenly Facebook crashes. If something did go wrong, how would you contact Facebook?

Crafty scammers have developed a way to target Facebook users who feel the need to get in touch with the popular website if they have trouble with their postings. And of course, people are falling for the scam.

National Public Radio (NPR) decided to investigate this scam after multiple police reports were filed.

How this Facebook customer service scam works

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*Data Firms Are Harvesting – and Selling – Your Social Media Profiles

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By now most people are aware that companies are harvesting their personal, private data from their emails, texts, videos, and social website profiles.

In particular, your public social media profiles—including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn—are being harvested and resold by large consumer data companies.

A recent Congressional inquiry revealed that some companies record — and then resell — your screen names, web site addresses, interests, hometown and professional history, and how many friends or followers you have.

Some companies also collect and analyze information about users’ “tweets, posts, comments, likes, shares, and recommendations,” according to Epsilon, a consumer data company.

Many people think their lives aren’t worth recording, they simply say, “so what? everyone is watching?” But what’s cringe worthy is that we’re talking about an industry that brags about largely “operated in the shadows.”

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*How we lost the war on privacy

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Even before computers really hit their stride at the turn of the century, it was easy to see the surveillance infrastructure we’re so accustomed to today just finding its legs. Cameras popped up — visibly — in department stores, gas stations, grocery stores, movie theaters, and parking lots.

Even those places who had used cameras for years, like banks, seemed to make an effort to put those mechanical eyes in the sky in full view as a deterrent to would-be criminals.

As camera technology has become more sophisticated, it has become smaller. Those huge, black fiberglass domes you’d see in most department stores have been replaced with rows upon rows of small, individual camera domes, dotting the ceiling like a grid.

Technology is even better now. Mini-cameras look back at you from the gas station. Most computers and phones come with webcams that pose a potential security risk. Traffic and street cameras line the roads, often with resolution clear enough to identify civilians when paired with facial recognition.

Even if you disregard the visual threat, the data you willingly provide to social networking sites and internet service providers can be used to track you. Couple that with ‘digital fingerprinting’, which tracks which unique equipment regularly visits what websites, and those remaining gaps in personal identity begin to fill in.

Personal data is trackable. It’s no stretch to understand that governments and corporations have a vested interest in knowing more about you, the citizen and the consumer, and it’s why the war for privacy was lost before it even started.

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*WhatApp reveals huge security vulnerability

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The recently discovered WhatsApp vulnerability is being proclaimed as a ‘huge threat to freedom of speech’. A security backdoor that can be used to allow Facebook and others to intercept and read encrypted messages has been found within its messaging service.

New research shows that Facebook, it’s advertisers, as well as government agencies could in fact read messages due to the way WhatsApp has implemented its end-to-end encryption protocol.

That means that if you are using WhatsApp with the intention of having private, encrypted messages, you’re out of luck.

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*Secret “sexting” codes kids that kids use are not just ‘lol’ anymore

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Parents … we’ve all seen our kids retreat into their private world with their heads down and their eyes glues to their smartphone. We are not really sure what they are doing.

Are they texting their friends? Are they sending emails? Are they surfing the Internet? If so, then what are they looking for?   These are fears that all parent have.

And many times when asked what they are doing, parents will get the basic teen answer, “nothing”. And if we push them they throw a hissy fit and storm off, not revealing what they are doing.

But a growing practice among young teens is that of “sexting” That’s where teens not only talk dirty to each other, but they also send nude, or near-nude photos of themselves to each other, along with coded messages. Are you bothered yet?

Yes, they even have their own language comprised of codes specifically designed to keep adults in the dark as to their activities.

Below is a graphic translating many of the codes and abbreviations kids use. There’s a lot of them, but most kids know them all. Maybe as parents we should become familiar with some of the codes as well.


Be Safe – Backup Your Data Regularly!


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