How to stay safe Online

A few weeks back, my account was compromised. Nothing glorifying about it, but there are some lessons that I learnt, which I look forward to share in the current article. Well, all my accounts were cracked and emails were sent/received along with many other, not so nice activities to talk about. I could recover everything, which not everyone would have the patience to do.

Here are some points 

The Past

I have spent over 15 years in the IT Industry and have worked with some of the finest brand names that include McAfee. Unfortunately, always thought to be invincible by cracking a few mail accounts. There were a few incidents where my friends after getting fed up with marketing spammers, would crack their account and then send them a mail from their own id. There were also a few incidents where mobile phones were tracked in real-time and an SMS flashed on their mobile, in the direction they are headed, which would freak him out. Frankly speaking, I loved it.

The Present

The judicial laws in and around the Cyber Space are either in the stage of evolution or completely new. The unfortunate part is the lack of awareness of judicial authorities as well as masses.

There are hundreds of examples where people managed to get over the system. There is a legal system in place with proper hierarchies and highly responsible management. The lack of awareness is the principal factor that is contributing towards the current mess.

Anything shared over the web has a potential to be tracked, cracked, and abused. The actions are almost irreversible. Youtube has a link where my birthday is being celebrated without me. I chased youtube for many months and eventually dropped the communication because according to them, there was no violation of policies.

Sony Pictures Scandal

Then came this Sony Pictures scandal with all kinds of mud spinning from various fronts of the globe. The funniest part was to view the headlines claiming US Government sponsored attack, which brought down Korean Internet. Give us a break guys. Please do not claim what you don’t know. A basic knowledge of networking with some research would reveal the facts about the Servers from where the Korean traffic is routed. From what I understand, it should not be a big deal. Moreover, does US government even have time to attempt something so small in magnitude?

Mobile Phones

Buy a mobile phone and before you realize, all the data would be consumed (without your permission), the personal data sold off to 3rd party agencies, and you will be threatened in case you miss out on any payment. In case you do not review the subscription, virus infection might even infect you.

Technically speaking, mobile phones are not even phones and happen to be nothing more than dual band radios, which have become an institution of money laundering. Even Government does not spare us for the free air, and there also there are scams like 2G. During a recent meeting, a fellow geek from IIT Mumbai stated – “they might as well start charging us for the oxygen that we breathe”.

Security Organizations

I know people who have written virus’s and then anti-viruses also to test the former, myself included. What do you do when you see a Security Company spreading viruses if the subscription is not upgraded? Well, we live in not so perfect world. Where ignorance of one becomes the business of other.

Web Security

At the time of writing the current post, I see more than 25 thousand people desperately trying to crack Pakistan Servers.

Fate of Whistle Blowers

Whistle Blowers despite their fair intentions have always been on the receiving end. To the best of my knowledge, everyone who has dared to raise his voice has suffered (myself included). A few noteworthy examples –

  1. Julian continues to work from Ecuador Embassy, Edward Snowden continues to stay in Russia but they are at least physically safe and alive.
  2. Jeremy Hammond and Bradley Manning continue to face the sledgehammer, which would continue for the rest of their lifetime.
  3. Aaron Swartz, also known as Internet’s own boy was probably one of the most honest & brilliant but ended up committing suicide.

Recommendations – 

I have a few recommendations, which might help to stay safe online –

  1. Limit Internet Usage
  2. Check the authenticity of the site before visiting. There are plugins like “Web of Trust”, that are highly useful.
  3. Don’t trust service providers, be it bankers, mobility, and/or Internet
  4. Don’t give your mail id or contact numbers on websites
  5. Social Media – keep a watch on activities especially of the younger ones in the family
  6. While browsing online, put off the camera (that’s right), unless you need it

The Future

It is recommended to stay updated on the latest cyber crime activities. The future will be safer, but the question is when but not if. Till then, keep yourself updated or don’t do anything unless you know what you are doing.

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