Monday, 26 June 2017

Protect Your Data From Hackers

As the world progress and technology takes over almost every aspect of our lives, important data about ourselves is now available online for faster transactions. If you have a bank account, you’d likely be doing online banking too. Those with credit cards also have online accounts and frequently visit online sites for online shopping (sounds kinda redundant, perhaps?).

But data is a far more valuable commodity that many of us have no idea about. It is why hackers will resort to all sorts of tricks to be able to get important data on their hands. Fake news and phishing have been all over social media. While we seem to enjoy scrolling through our newsfeed and reading interesting posts, we fail to realize that hackers are behind them with the goal of stealing our precious data through malwares or viruses you infect your computer with after clicking a dubious email.

The word of “fake news” has been spread around like wildfire lately, especially since the recent election. It might seem harmless, but frequently these fake news stories can go viral, spreading misinformation to millions of people. It is usually easy to spot fake news, if you look at the source, but there are so many people who don’t know how to identify credible sources, and they may believe most of what they read.

Email phishing is a similar online scam, and it can go hand in hand with fake news. At my corporate job, our IT department is almost always sending out alerts and information on how to spot phishing emails, yet someone always ends up clicking the dreaded links. More and more companies are putting their employees through Security Awareness Training, to try and avoid phishing scam issues in the future. Michael Levin from The Center for Information Security Awareness (CFISA) was kind enough to answer some questions on this training, and why it is smart to take this preventative measure.


The risk of losing data to hackers is even higher now despite the fact that news about fake news and phishing scams are spread everywhere. The reason - more people are going online. Those who did not frequent the web in the past are now avid users, gullible as they may be.

But the damage is greater if a phishing email is opened using a corporate email. From which, hackers can gain access to the organization’s system and realize their plans and more to gain.

In an interview with Computer Weekly, Samani said hackers, private detectives and criminals use sophisticated psychological techniques, designed to bypass the conscious mind, so that otherwise sensible people click on malware.

The malware is often hidden in an email targeted to a specific victim – a technique known as spear phishing.

In one notorious scam that still attracts multiple victims, hackers pose as the victim’s chief executive officer by sending a convincing email to a victim in the finance department, asking for an immediate transfer of cash to complete a business deal.

The scam works because of the urgency of the email, and the tendency of people to comply with requests from people in authority, coupled with the risk that an employee might damage their career if they don’t comply, said Samani.


Even the government are struggling on how to put a stop to these cyber scams and crimes.

A $10 billion-a-year effort to protect sensitive government data, from military secrets to Social Security identification numbers, is struggling to keep pace with an increasing number of cyberattacks and is unwittingly being undermined by federal employees and contractors.

Workers scattered across more than a dozen agencies, from the defense and education departments to the National Weather Service, are responsible for at least half of the federal cyberincidents reported each year since 2010, according to an Associated Press analysis of records.

They have clicked links in bogus phishing emails, opened malware-laden websites and been tricked by scammers into sharing information.

One was redirected to a hostile site after connecting to a video of tennis star Serena Williams. A few act intentionally, most famously former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who downloaded and leaked documents revealing the government’s collection of phone and email records.


Cybersecurity is proving to be a difficult feat for many, even the government. Due to the increasing frequency of cyber attacks and crimes committed by hackers, we remain vigilant and protect our data at all cost. It may mean using firewalls, logging out of websites after use (especially banks or other offices where you have an existing account such as credit card, social security etc.) installing antivirus software and many others or risk losing data to scrupulous hackers who have nothing to lose but everything to gain from their victim's data.

The following blog post Protect Your Data From Hackers was first published to IANAA


Saturday, 10 June 2017

How Is The U.S. Doing Under The Trump Admin?

Politics is a circus, how aptly said. The wise men of yesteryear truly know what they are talking about. From centuries ago to modern-day politics, nothing much has changed and politicians are just interested in making themselves look good while making their opponents look bad. Well, aside from looking after their vested interests, that is.

Even the people can get so emotional when it comes to their political views. And with a bigger platform like social media, friends become foes and even family members sever ties come election time. Politics should unite people but it actually does the opposite today as leaders instigate the people who believe in them to be hostile to the other party through the articles/ photos/ or videos they post on social media.

Many people engage in Facebook politics because they feel it is the only way their voice can be heard, but it does more harm than good.  It is unproductive, often negative, and tends to misdirect or waste political energy. Instead of creating crucial dialogue and engaging people in the issues of our day, it makes politics more divisive and even pushes people away from engaging in politics altogether.

In many ways, Facebook politics is an odd concept. Social norms discourage one simply blurting out controversial political opinions at a party. That would be quite rude. Instead, one normally limits political conversation to appropriate times and places and among people with whom you have a secure foundation of mutual respect. In a sense, the sharing platform that Facebook creates is much like a party, in that most of the people a user is connected with are mere acquaintances. Perhaps this would be different if the platform was made for political speech and consequently could suggest community goals for civil discourse, in the way bridgeND is able to, but it is not and does not. Facebook is made for keeping in touch with friends and bragging about your study abroad experience, but it is unclear that it is an appropriate or useful platform for political discussion.

As a result, it is difficult for Facebook politics to be productive. First, it does not foster quality conversation. Most good conversation happens in person, when opponents are forced to recognize each other as fellow human beings, and when participants must wait for the other person to respond before they speak again, and are able to pick up on tone and body language. The exception may be among close friends, who have built up trust and mutual respect. Unfortunately, political posts on Facebook tend to be reductive and uncharitable to the other side, and the responses they evoke frequently mirror those same negative tendencies.


It does not help that the newly elected leader is very transparent in his dislike for the previous administration and the party. President Trump has a very active social presence and is known to post some of the most controversial Twitter posts from time to time. But the thing is other political leaders do the same and don’t think twice before issuing sensitive comments in public.

President Trump on Thursday struck back at the House caucus that sunk his ObamaCare replacement bill, threatening their legislative careers if the staunchly conservative members refuse to get on board with the new president’s agenda.

“The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!” Trump tweeted.

Later Thursday, Freedom Caucus member Rep. Justin Amash returned fire in the Republican civil war:

"It didn't take long for the swamp to drain @realDonaldTrump. No shame, Mr. President. Almost everyone succumbs to the D.C. Establishment," Amash wrote.


It’s disheartening to witness such a blatant display of biases and disregard to the public interest. As elected leaders of the nation, their utmost priority should be public service for the best interests of the people of the land. But here they are bickering like young kids for the entire world to know.

While we appreciate the fact that they can be easily reached through their social media accounts, they should remember to exercise proper decorum when airing their personal thoughts in public – especially in a platform that is seen all over the globe. America is struggling to recover from the last recession in 2008 but if this circus keeps up, we may lose whatever progress we have made from then on.

The post How Is The U.S. Doing Under The Trump Admin? is available on The IANAA Blog


Saturday, 3 June 2017

Feeling Sick And Lonely

Loneliness not only affects a person’s emotions but the physical health as well. It is not surprising to see people develop physical symptoms when they are anxious or depressed. Palpitations, sweating, headaches etc. are just examples of your emotions getting the best of you.

So, why is it that people are more prone to illness when their morale is low? Well, I guess it has to do with your immunity. Your immune system can better fight off infections when your spirits are up rather than when you are feeling depressed. So, you are more likely to catch a common cold when you feel sad and lonely.

Suffering through a cold is annoying enough, but if you're lonely, you're likely to feel even worse, according to Rice University researchers.

A study led by Rice psychologist Chris Fagundes and graduate student Angie LeRoy indicated people who feel lonely are more prone to report that their cold symptoms are more severe than those who have stronger social networks.

"Loneliness puts people at risk for premature mortality and all kinds of other physical illnesses," LeRoy said. "But nothing had been done to look at an acute but temporary illness that we're all vulnerable to, like the common cold."

The study is the subject of a paper published this week in Health Psychology.

The researchers drew a distinction between feeling lonely and actual social isolation.


The study goes to show that loneliness predisposes a person to sickness – even to the common cold that your body should be able to easily fight off if you’re in a good mood.

At the beginning of the study, the 159 participants were scored on a scale indicating their level of loneliness and another one indicating their level of social isolation, as measured by the size and diversity of their social networks. Those who were lonely were no more likely to fall ill with a cold after they were exposed to the virus. But, among those who did become ill, those who were lonely were almost 39 percent more likely to report higher-severity symptoms than those who were less lonely, says LeRoy.

The researchers purposely measured subjective reports of symptoms, since whether someone is feeling well is more likely to be the reason they would stay home from work or curtail normal activities than more objective symptoms like, um, the amount of mucus production.

"Even something as simple as the common cold can be affected by how you're feeling beforehand," LeRoy says. The reason isn't clear, and she didn't want to speculate, but other research on loneliness has suggested multiple mechanisms, including effects on the immune system and behavioral factors.


This is definitely not good news in a world that’s becoming more global yet disconnected. Social media and the web may bridge the distance among people but it disconnects them from the people who matter most to them because of too much preoccupation with technology. Rather than spend a day bonding with friends and catching up with their lives, you can easily send them a message or two and you spend your day cooped up at home binge watching your favorite shows. The times are changing and so are we.

“When you’re in your teens you have a close-knit circle of friends.

"But when you get into your twenties, people start to drop out of friendships.

"They have commitments, responsibilities, and can’t come out anymore.

"Friendship groups shrink. What meet-up does is give another avenue to expand your social circle.”

Loneliness – including in the young – has been an emerging modern problem for some time, with some experts pointing to the isolating nature of social media an the decline of traditional communities.


Even constantly checking on social media does not ease the loneliness you may feel as you only see what’s lacking in your life. Your friends go to all those places, buy all those expensive stuff and live a more glamorous life than you and it can damage your ego badly. Thus, as you become more insecure and alienated in a world that’s rapidly growing smaller, your health suffers too.

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