Friday, January 18, 2013

Catfishing: A Not So Victimless Crime?

Named after “Catfish”, an MTV in-depth report special about people using Facebook or other social media to pose as someone else, is catfishing truly a victimless crime it once believed it to be?

By: Ringo Bones

One of the most bizarre incidents I experienced first hand online was when I made my Facebook account a few years ago. Within 20 minutes or so of setting-up my Facebook account a friend request suddenly popped up because back then I genuinely believe that the “goal” of Facebook is to amass 5,000 friends in as sort amount of time so I was a bit lazy in doing the requisite background check of friend requests. It was someone whose name I now forgot using the metal band Night Ranger’s guitarist as his profile photo who – this was 20 mines into setting up my Facebook account – keep insistently asking me why I only have one photo. I responded I’m only into Facebook for a quarter of an hour or so my “new Facebook friend” started accusing me as a “fake profile”. I since unfriended and blocked the bastard, and given the recent news story of the Notre Dame football team star linebacker by the name of Manti Te’o’s “dead girlfriend hoax”, I know wonder – I am almost a victim of this so called “catfish” or “catfishing” social media / Facebook malarkey a few years ago?

Currently my Facebook friend roster sits at around the 500 mark, given the rather rigorous and draconian screening of prospective Facebook friend requests. Of the 500 or so, only about 30 of them I ever met face to face during the last few years or so – making them qualify for the “realness” category. And only two of them that I actually met when I was only a toddler back in 1975 or so. Does this mean that social media like Facebook is now so full of this “catfish” malarkey that the only criterion we have for giving the green light on Facebook friend requests is weather or not we have actually met them face to face?

Well, some of my “real” Facebook friends that I have actually met face to face – a couple of them – used to act like that “Notorious Nigerian Prince” extorting me charity money to support their causes even resorting to using “guilt tactics” if I ignore them. And I am very, very tempted to unfriend and block them this very moment. Surprisingly, there are those that I suspect to be “posers” seem to act like social media saints by only posting necessary messages on my Facebook wall. One at best can only be pragmatic when dealing the problem of fake social media profiles and catfishing on Facebook on a case-to-case basis so exercise with “caveat emptor” when selecting your prospective Facebook and other social media friends. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Africa: New Haven For Cyber Criminals?

Even though that notorious “Nigerian Prince” may be lying low for now, will Africa’s newly improved internet infrastructure make it the new haven for the world’s cyber criminals?

By: Ringo Bones

That notorious “Nigerian Prince” may have had his day of victimizing millions of unwary internet surfers during the first decade of the 21st Century cyber security experts now predict that Africa – with a now newly upgraded internet infrastructure via newly set-up fiber optic cables and power plants – could become the next haven of choice for the world’s cyber criminals. And unlike that notorious “Nigerian Prince”, those cyber criminals may not even be native residents on the African continent but more often than not are by cyber criminal syndicates based in Eastern Europe or South-East Asia that program their so-called bot-nets to hijack unsecured computers and internet hubs physically located on African soil.

The likely victim of those newly established cyber criminals using the African continent as their very own “pirate haven” will be European Union based web-surfing citizens. Given that ¾ of Europeans now use the internet as their primary way to conduct monetary-based business and commercial transactions – compared to only 1/3 of the rest of the planet, Europe’s online business transactions could be the so-called “low-lying” fruit that cyber criminals could exploit of if its online security infrastructure is not upgraded to be resistant to cyber crime.

Troels Oerting of the European Cyber Crime Center says in a recent BBC interview that Africa’s continually improving internet infrastructure now make the continent a prime home-base of choice of the world’s cyber criminals. And given that Europe is now increasingly reliant on internet based commerce, cyber crime has been costing European Union citizens and companies collectively on average 1.5 billion euros a year. The newly upgraded office of the European Cyber Crime Center or EC3 in the Hague now features a Faraday Cage shielded computer room to study how sensitive data could be hacked by cyber criminals plus other R-n’-D labs for forensic analysis of cyber crime incidences.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Death of the Desktop PC: A Completely Exaggerated Rumor?

Despite the rumors of the death of the desktop PC being “exaggerated” since the start of 2012, when was the last time you saw your computer savvy pal replacing the video-card of his tablet computer?

By: Ringo Bones

Despite of the 2012 CES Las Vegas unleashing products designed to consign the supposedly “dated” desktop PC to the dustbin of history, it seems that the rumors of the death of the desktop personal computer had been completely exaggerated for little over a year now. The latest – i.e. 2012 era – tablet computers, internet-capable smart-phones and razor-thin laptops may be the hippest must own products for every self-respecting computer-savvy “technocrat” for the whole of 2012, but have you ever seen any “computer-savvy-technocrat” replace the video-card of his or her tablet computer, razor-thin laptop or internet-connected smart-phone PC after his or her attempt at computer animation kept crashing his or her latest ultra-thin portable PC type device that he or she bought last year? Does the bigger bits – i.e. active and passive electronic components - of the old-fashioned desktop PC the “very bit” that makes it infinitely upgradable by DIY computer enthusiasts?

The last time I visit our local computer shop just 4 days before the Christmas of 2012, video-cards, the latest 2to 3-gigahertz capable multi-core central processing unit boards – in a size/dimension that can comfortably fit inside the housing of a traditional desktop PC – are still available and selling like hotcakes to prospective computer / desktop PC do-it-yourselfers. And try as I might, I never managed to find user-insert-able / user replaceable CPU boards and video boards for any 2012-era razor thin tablet and laptop PCs, never mind those for internet-connected smart-phones. Inexplicably, our local shop doesn’t even carry those external solar-photovoltaic battery chargers allegedly used by the US Navy’s SEAL Team VI’s tablet computers / smart-phones that they use during their clandestine missions even though similar solar-photovoltaic chargers where exhibited during the 2012 CES in Las Vegas.

While waiting for any of the latest computer-tech bulletins of the upcoming 2013 CES in Las Vegas, I do wonder what the top personal computer manufacturers’ roll-out this time to “allegedly” once and for all consign those good old desktop personal computers to the technological dustbin of history. If the wares they rollout are just a bit better vaporware versions of 2012’s offerings, the traditional desktop PC could get another reprieve from being consigned to the technological dustbin of history. Unless these top manufacturers manage to design nano-machines that can speed up post-manufactured tablet computers and smart-phones already in the field.