Tag Archives: hacking

The World Of Gaming Piracy

Is pirating gaming software any different than pirating productivity applications? Can the theft of intellectual property be justified under any set of circumstances?

Guest writer Leo Kontogamopoulos, who in his Bio describes himself as “another regular guy, just out of school”, has written a provocative piece in which he sets out his thoughts on a complex issue.

imageI’ve been a follower and participant in the gaming community for a very long time – everything from consoles to PC gaming (which I tend to do more of now). Since the very start, piracy has been somewhat of an issue in the community, largely because it was (and still is, to an extent), so easy.

Basically, the reason why I have chosen to write this now, instead of another time is, because of the recent drama about the ‘hacking’ of the PS3. Just quickly, what has happened so far is – a small team of hackers managed to break through the security of the PS3 by cracking it’s root key, which is the verification code for all software and games – that nothing can run without.

As a result, user-made software and modifications are now available for the PS3, with one of the apparently unintended side effects of this hack being that piracy on the console is now possible for online play.

If you are interested in this story and the latest consequences of it, then please check out this article.

However, the cracking of the PS3 is not my main point for this post, although it definitely does relate to it. Now, all the news and companies that you have ever heard from about piracy make it out to be one of the worst things that you can possibly do in the gaming world, but is it really that simple for everyone?

Of course, I’m not condoning piracy of games in any way, I do know that it is illegal, but this post is simply meant to examine the reasons behind piracy. (What every hacker says, right?) Now that makes me look like a hacker. Great.

When someone pirates a game, a lot of the time it’s because they either don’t have the money to buy it, or they simply don’t want to spend that money. In the second case, where a person has the means to buy a game, I don’t think that they can justify pirating it.

On the other hand, if the person was never intending to buy the game at all instead of pirating it, then the publishers really can’t complain that much about it, since there are no real negative effects on them. It’s not like they’re losing money if the person was never going to actually buy it anyway.

In fact, increased piracy of games under these conditions could even be better for publishers in the long run, as they aren’t losing any money, but are still benefiting from the increased popularity and word-of-mouth advertising that comes from more people playing their game. In particular, the recent Crysis 2 PC leak, which released a beta version to the piracy world, is a perfect example of how piracy can lead to increased popularity, and get everyone talking about a game.

In this case, it’s more of an issue of ethics, as no one can really know whether or not someone was going to buy a game or not, so it’s up to the individual to regulate themselves. Of course, that has proven to be pretty ineffective for most people.

Following on from that, the vast majority of, if not all publishers are simply overly greedy in terms of their sales. Again, I’m not advertising piracy here, but how much could it really hurt them if around an average of 40% of their games are pirated? I mean, with many games selling millions of copies even with this level of piracy, each at a price of around $80, that’s a lot of money being made already. Do they really need (or deserve) that much more?

One of the more common, acceptable (at least in my opinion), mentalities on piracy is the “try before you buy”, in which case it is perfectly fine to do so, as long as you actually do intend on buying the game in question once you have tried it.

This has absolutely no negative impact on the developers, unless they were planning on selling games through simply appearing to be good, and not by having good gameplay, a flaw which would be discovered through this method.

Piracy, while it is not something that I condone at all, is definitely not as bad as developers and publishers make it out to be, and it’s not like the gaming industry is going to collapse anytime soon because of it. In my opinion, while it does require a level of self-control that many just don’t seem to have, piracy can be OK in some cases, when used correctly.

Bio: I’m basically just another regular guy, just out of school, who’s looking for a way to spend his free time. For me, that led to combining my interest in writing with a passion for technology, and the result is articles like the one above, as well as a brand new technology based blog, called KleoTech. There’s not that much else to know about me really, just that I really enjoy what I’m doing right now.

Blog Info: KleoTech is a brand new technology blog, focusing on technology, from hardware to software and an array of gadgets in between. The content is a mix of product reviews, guides and opinion articles, which are written and released almost daily on the most recent issues and advances in the technological world.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

Comments Off on The World Of Gaming Piracy

Filed under Games, Guest Writers, Opinion, Point of View, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

USBThief – Making it Easy for Cyber Criminal Wannabes

image With access to your passwords, cyber-criminals (they come in all shapes, sizes and flavors – so don’t be fooled), can and will, steal your identity and without a doubt severely compromise your financial security. Stolen passwords have the potential to cause serious havoc in your life.

There are numerous ways of course that a password can be stolen. Popular methods employed by cyber criminals include, but are not limited to:

Email scams: Email scams work because the Cyber-crooks responsible use social engineering as the hook; in other words they exploit our curiosity to start the process of infecting unaware computer users’ machines

Search engine redirection: Cyber-crooks continue to be unrelenting in their chase to infect web search results, seeding malicious websites among the top results returned by these engines. Malware, including password stealers can be installed on a computer simply by visiting a site.

Drive-by downloads: Drive-by downloads are not new; they’ve been lurking around for years it seems, but they’ve become much more common recently. They are crafted to automatically download and install malware including password stealers on your computer without your knowledge.

Added to the burden we already carry in protecting our computers, our private personal information, and our confidential financial information, we now have to be careful, and perhaps even suspicious of our friends, or for that matter anyone, who inserts a USB drive including MP3 players, such as a iPod, into a USB port on our computer.

image

USBThief is a free hacking application – available for download on virtually every torrent download site that I investigated – which can be installed on a USB flash drive, or even an iPod, or other MP3 player.

I haven’t tried (yet), to install this on a Digital Camera, but I suspect (with some modification), that it can be done. Consider how often a friend, or family member, has connected any one of these peripherals to your machine.

image USBThief has been designed and crafted with only one purpose in mind, and that is to steal both the passwords, and software keys, on the duped party’s computer.

There is no requirement that the culprit is a seasoned hacker – all that’s needed is that an ethically challenged individual download the program; decompress the archive and put all the files located in the folder “USBThief” onto a USB drive.

After connecting and removing the tweaked USB drive from the victim’s computer, the cyber-criminal simply views the dump folder to view the captured information.

Learning to use this application is an absolute “no brainer” – there are multiple sites on the Internet offering tutorials (including video tutorials), in the use of  USBThief.

Here’s a little blurb from a hacking site:

1.Insert the USB in your victim’s computer.

2.View folder “dump” to see the passwords. It also makes a second dump folder in the batexe folder. Tested and Working perfectly!

I have not written this article to produce paranoia, or to make you suspicious of either your family, or your friends, but so that you are aware of the ever increasing challenges we all face in protecting valuable information in a world that threatens us, at every turn it seems.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

10 Comments

Filed under Bill's Rants, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, flash drive, Geek Software and Tools, Malware Advisories, Privacy, Spyware - Adware Protection, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Smart Meters Make Us Dumb

Smart MeterSo what did Shakespeare mean, when he wrote “A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. Simply this  –  what something is, matters; not what it is called.

I can’t recall that electric meters were ever referred to as “dumb meters”, nevertheless, we now have a new breed of meters that the industry is calling “smart meters”. But are they really?

More to the point, are we being smart in adopting this new technology without a complete and probing review of the security implications posed by the rush to implement this technology? (I was forced to accept the installation of a smart meter earlier this year).

Smart Meters, on the face of it, sound ultra cool.  A Smart Meter, by definition, can monitor electricity usage and communicate with your electricity supplier. The supplier will then bill you on factors that include your consumption, cost adjusted, based on the time of day and the season. Use during high demand, or peak periods, will cost more money.

The stated objective is – billing consumers by how much electricity is consumed, and at what time of day, will force us to adjust our consumption habits to be more responsive to perceived savings, or additional costs. Hopefully, according to energy gurus, this will delay or eliminate the construction of additional generating facilities, and the associated environmental costs.

So what could be the downside to getting on board the speeding locomotive called the “green movement”, which is designed (we’re told), to make all of us more environmentally conscious?

Well here’s the rub with smart meters – according to industry sources, communication technologies being considered, or already in use for smart meters, include cell and pager networks, licensed radio or unlicensed radio, power line communication, and others.

So here’s my question – haven’t we learned anything when it comes to cost benefit and risk association?

The one indisputable commonality of communication technologies is this: each and every one can be intercepted, or hacked – and hacked easily.

image

Should we worry, should we be concerned, that the major lifeline (try living without electricity), to our way of life can, or will, be compromised? You bet!

In a recent article “Building the Smart Grid: Proven Methods to Secure the Future” by Joshua Pennell and Michael Davis, of security firm IOActive

They wrote:

“IOActive researchers were able to identify multiple programming errors on a series of smart meter platforms ranging from the inappropriate use of banned functions to protocol implementation issues.

The research team was able to “weaponize” these attack vectors, and create an in-flash rootkit, which allowed them to assume full system control of all exposed smart meter capabilities, including remote power on, power off, usage reporting, and communication configurations.

The initial attack vector could also be leveraged to deploy a worm, much like the Blaster worm that wreaked havoc on computer systems in 2003. The consequences of such threats are potentially widespread and devastating”.

Still not convinced; then read the CNN report by Jeanne Meserve, CNN Homeland Security Correspondent, “Smart Grid may be vulnerable to hackers

Excerpt:

…… cyber security experts said some types of meters can be hacked, as can other points in the Smart Grid’s communications systems. IOActive, a professional security services firm, determined that an attacker with $500 of equipment and materials and a background in electronics and software engineering could “take command and control of the (advanced meter infrastructure) allowing for the en-masse manipulation of service to homes and businesses.”

Experts said that once in the system, a hacker could gain control of thousands, even millions, of meters and shut them off simultaneously.

A hacker also might be able to dramatically increase or decrease the demand for power, disrupting the load balance on the local power grid and causing a blackout. These experts said such a localized power outage would cascade to other parts of the grid, expanding the blackout. No one knows how big it could get.

image

Not worried yet? Then you should be. If you’re unfamiliar with the prevalence of hacking and cybercrime, let me offer you this quote from my good friend TechPaul, “The Internet shadow economy is worth over $105 billion/year.  No country, no person, no business and no government is immune from Cybercrime”.

I find it impossible to believe that cyber criminals will not take advantage of the enormous attack surface that smart meters will present. These are the same cyber criminals, who frequently hold individual Internet connected computers for ransom using a vicious form of malware.

I don’t know about you, but I’m very tired of being held as a “hostage to fortune” in a present, and a future, created by and large, by the same illogical thinking patterns and by the same careless people (I’m being kind here), who in many cases, are responsible for the economic meltdown we are now forced to deal with.

Whatever happened to the application of logic? We need to stop listening to these morons – right now. They certainly don’t have your best interest at heart.

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

4 Comments

Filed under Application Vulnerabilities, Don't Get Hacked, Green Living, Interconnectivity, Networking, Personal Perspective, Ransomware, Smart Meters, System Security

Wireless Keyboards – A Hacker’s Gateway?

Guest writer Rick Robinette, one of my favorite Blogging buddies, explains why he’s concerned with the security of wireless keyboards.

I was sitting here typing on my wireless keyboard wondering what I could write about and explore next; when, low and behold it hit me.  Are wireless keyboards secure? In other words, could another person intercept my keystrokes as I typed from my wireless keyboard?  If this is possible, this is not good.

In my case I am an internet junkie and my credit card numbers, usernames and passwords to all of my accounts, could be stolen. I know as an IT professional that wireless networking can be a security risk; so why not wireless keyboards.

Wireless Keyboard

During my research I soon found out quickly from an article at Enterprise Security Today, titled “Symantec Warns of of Wireless Keyboard Security Threat”, that a new form of attack aimed at users of wireless keyboards had been uncovered.

Excerpts from that article:

The warning follows the release of Keykeriki, an open-source “sniffer” project that allows users to remotely decode wireless transmissions.

The project was created by a site called remote-exploit.org. “This open-source hardware and software project enables every person to verify the security level of their own keyboard transmissions, and/or demonstrate the sniffing attacks (for educational purpose only),” the site notes.

Symantec warned that, although the creator’s intentions appear honorable, making the software code and hardware schematics open to everyone means that criminals could use the software to eavesdrop on wireless keyboard inputs.       [ Source: Enterprise Security Today ]

I then came across excerpts and a YouTube video with Steve Gibson, Security Expert and Founder of GRC.com (makers of the Spinrite hard drive data recovery software), being interviewed by Leo Laporte (from the “The Lab with Leo Laporte”) regarding “The Frightening Insecurity of Wireless Keyboards” (see excerpts and video below).

Having a keystroke logger installed on a computer is one of the worst things that can happen. But what it everything you type on your wireless keyboard can be easily intercepted by a neighbor or office worker?!!! It turns out, it probably can be.

Leo and I will examine and describe the incredibly weak “encryption” used on Microsoft’s 1000 and 2000 series (and probably other) wireless keyboards to show how easily that encryption can be broken to allow anyone within “radio range” to log everything typed.

If you Google: “wireless keyboard encryption” right now you’ll find a number of links to articles about the recent revelation of how simple Microsoft’s wireless keyboard encryption is. [ Source: The Lab with Leo Laporte ]

[ CLICK HERE TO SEE VIDEO ]

Lab With Leo Laporte

Needless to say, following my reviews of this information, I am considering going back to a wired keyboard; at least until the wireless keyboard manufacturers can responsibly demonstrate that the data being transmitted from my keyboard to the receiver is encrypted and is not at risk of being intercepted.

This is a guest post by Rick Robinette, who brings a background as a security/police officer professional, and as an information technology specialist to the Blogging world.

Why not pay a visit to Rick’s site at What’s On My PC. Like me, you’re sure to become a frequent visitor.

1 Comment

Filed under Don't Get Hacked, Guest Writers, Interconnectivity, Privacy, Spyware - Adware Protection, Surveillance, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools

Smart Meters – How Dumb Are They?

smart-electricity-meter Several weeks ago while writing a report for a client; I was interrupted by my local electricity company who asked that I shut down my machines so that they could install a “Smart Meter”, on my electricity service.

Smart Meters to monitor electricity usage are just one of the latest technology advances to ensure we take the “green movement” seriously. A Smart Meter, by definition, can communicate with your electricity supplier who will then bill you, based on factors that include your electrical consumption based on the time of day and the season.

The stated objective is – billing consumers by how much electricity is consumed, and at what time of day, will force us to adjust our consumption habits to be more responsive to perceived savings, or additional costs. Hopefully, according to energy gurus, this will delay the construction of additional generation facilities.

Pretty cool – right? So what could be the downside to getting on board the speeding locomotive called the “green movement”, which is designed to make all of us more environmentally conscious? Or so we’re told.

Well here’s the rub – according to industry sources, communication technologies being considered, or already in use, include cell and pager networks, licensed radio or unlicensed radio, power line communication, and in my view, the most startling of all – the use of TCP/IP technology as a widespread communication method for Smart Meter applications.

TCP/IP technology has been with us since the 1970’s, and the one thing we know about this technology is – it can be hacked easily. So, of course, can all of the other technologies either in use, or being considered as a communication platform for Smart Meters.

image

Should we worry, should we be concerned, that the major lifeline (try living without electricity), to our way of life can, or will, be compromised? You bet!

In a recent article “Building the Smart Grid: Proven Methods to Secure the Future” by Joshua Pennell and Michael Davis, of security firm IOActive they wrote:

“IOActive researchers were able to identify multiple programming errors on a series of smart meter platforms ranging from the inappropriate use of banned functions to protocol implementation issues.

The research team was able to “weaponize” these attack vectors, and create an in-flash rootkit, which allowed them to assume full system control of all exposed smart meter capabilities, including remote power on, power off, usage reporting, and communication configurations.

The initial attack vector could also be leveraged to deploy a worm, much like the Blaster worm that wreaked havoc on computer systems in 2003. The consequences of such threats are potentially widespread and devastating”.

Scary stuff to say the least!

Now I don’t know about you, but I’m very tired of being held as a hostage to fortune in a present, and a future, created by and large, by the same illogical thinking patterns and by the same idiots who, in many cases, are responsible for the economic meltdown we are now facing.

Whatever happened to the application of logic?

I’ll leave it up to you as to what you see as the solution to this untenable situation.

5 Comments

Filed under Communication, Interconnectivity, Living Life, Networking, Personal Perspective, Smart Meters

USBThief – Designed to Steal Your Passwords

Stolen passwords 1 We all know that the purpose of computer passwords is to protect personal information that you’ve stored on your computer, as well as in your online accounts.

With access to confidential passwords, cyber-criminals (they come in all shapes, sizes and flavors – so don’t be fooled), can and will, steal your identity and without a doubt, severely compromise your financial security. Stolen passwords have the potential to cause serious havoc in your life.

There are numerous ways of course that a password, or software license key, can be stolen. Popular methods employed by cyber criminals include:

Email scams: Email scams work because the Cyber-crooks responsible use social engineering as the hook; in other words, they exploit our curiosity, emotions and fears, to start the process of infecting unaware computer users’ machines

Search engine redirection: Cyber-crooks continue to be unrelenting in their chase to infect web search results, seeding malicious websites among the top results returned by these engines. Malware, including password stealers can be installed on a computer simply by visiting a site.

Drive-by downloads: Drive-by downloads are not new; they’ve been lurking around for years it seems, but they’ve become much more common recently. They are crafted to automatically download and install malware, including password stealers, on your computer without your knowledge.

Now, added to the burden we already carry in protecting our computers, our private personal information, and our confidential financial information, we have to be careful, and perhaps even suspicious of our friends, or for that matter anyone, who inserts a USB drive including MP3 players, into a USB port on our computer.

USBThief is a free hacking application available for download on virtually every torrent download site that I investigated – which can be installed on a USB flash drive, or even an iPod, or other MP3 player. I haven’t tried to install this on a Digital Camera, but I suspect (with some modification), that it can be done. Consider how often a friend, or family member, has connected any one of these peripherals to your machine.

Stolen passwords 4

USBThief has been designed and crafted with only one purpose in mind, and that is to steal both the passwords, and software keys, on the duped party’s computer.

The culprit doesn’t need to be a seasoned hacker; all that’s needed is that an ethically challenged individual download the program; decompress the archive and put all the files located in the folder “USBThief” onto a USB drive.

After connecting and removing the tweaked USB drive from the victim’s computer, the cyber-criminal simply views the dump folder to view the captured information.

Should you now be suspicious of your family, or your friends? Of course not; but you do need to be aware of the ever increasing challenges we all face in protecting our valuable information.

Good news for all of us however, is in the works. Windows 7 addresses this problem with its Guest Mode feature which when activated, will prevent users from writing to any USB, or other attached device or drive.

2 Comments

Filed under Don't Get Hacked, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Malware Advisories, PC Monitoring Application and Key Loggers, Software, System Security, USB, Windows Tips and Tools

Hi-Tech Spousal Abuse – Technology Perverted

domesticviolence 1 The U.S. Office on Violence against Women (OVW) defines domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.

Domestic violence can take many forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional, economic, and psychological abuse.

This article is gender neutral; clearly both men and women can be victims of domestic violence and abusive behavior.

Most of us would agree that new technology is, in most cases, unbiased. It is how we implement technology that establishes its value, and impacts any ethical questions that surrounds its use. It is clear that virtually all technologies, if used improperly, can be used to cause damage.

Over the past year I have reviewed several computer monitoring and keylogger products which I must admit, I had not considered could be misused as an aid in spousal abuse until it was brought to my attention. I suppose I shouldn’t have been quite as surprised as I was; after all many of these products are advertised as a method to detect a cheating spouse.

Curious about this, I Googled “cheating spouse”, and I was surprised to see over 900,000 hits. More surprising was the number of hits on “keyloggers for cheating spouse”; over 95,000.

Domestic violence.woman

Probing further, I discovered that this type of technology is now pervasive in spousal abuse. According to Anna Stepanov, manager of the Anti-Spyware program at McAfee Avert Labs, “Using spyware for surveillance in cases of domestic abuse is a serious matter.”

Stepanov, who is also the author of a report entitled Spyware: A Morphing Campaign, which describes current spyware trends that includes domestic abuse states, “Monitoring a victim’s online, cell phone, or general computing activity is of more value than ever in controlling or hurting a victim.”

Cindy Southworth, technology director at the National Network to End Domestic Violence commenting on this issue has stated “With spyware, if the victim is thinking about leaving, all that is captured. If the victim looks for plane tickets, shelters, a new apartment, it all shows up in the computer logs.”

Since spyware is now an issue in domestic abuse the agency cautions those in an abusive relationship not to use their home computer for these kinds of tasks.

All of this has now been compounded by the news that the misuse of GPS technology by abusive individuals is now rampant. GPS can be used to track a victim by transmitting coordinates that result in the generation of a web page that maps the victim’s location.

The U.S. National Network to End Domestic Violence suggests the following to computer users, to reduce the impact of this type of abuse.

Internet Safety Tips for Abused Women

  • If you are in danger, please try to use a safer computer that someone abusive does not have direct or remote hacking access to.
  • If you think your activities are being monitored, they probably are. Abusive people are often controlling and want to know your every move. You don’t need to be a computer programmer or have special skills to monitor someone’s computer and Internet activities – anyone can do it and there are many ways to monitor with programs like Spyware, keystroke loggers and hacking tools.
  • It is not possible to delete or clear all the “footprints” of your computer or online activities. If you are being monitored, it may be dangerous to change your computer behaviors such as suddenly deleting your entire Internet history if that is not your regular habit.
  • If you think you may be monitored on your home computer, be careful how you use your computer since an abuser might become suspicious. You may want to keep using the monitored computer for normal activities, such as looking up the weather or recipes. Use a safer computer to research an escape plan, look for new jobs or apartments, bus tickets, or ask for help.
  • Email and Instant/Text Messaging (IM) are not safe or confidential ways to talk to someone about the danger or abuse in your life. If possible, please call a hotline instead. If you use email or IM, please use a safer computer and an account your abuser does not know about.
  • Computers can store a lot of private information about what you look at via the Internet, the emails and instant messages you send, internet-based phone and IP-TTY calls you make, web-based purchases and banking, and many other activities.
  • It might be safer to use a computer in a public library, at a community technology center (CTC), at a trusted friend’s house, or an Internet Café.

4 Comments

Filed under Interconnectivity, Internet Safety, Personal Perspective, Privacy, Spousal Abuse, Surveillance

Steal Your Friends Passwords and Software Licenses!

I’ll bet that headline got your attention!

We all know that the purpose of computer passwords is to protect personal information that you’ve stored on your computer, and in your online accounts.

With access to your passwords, cyber-criminals (they come in all shapes, sizes and flavors – so don’t be fooled), can and will, steal your identity and without a doubt severely compromise your financial security. Stolen passwords have the potential to cause serious havoc in your life.

There are numerous ways of course that a password, or software license key, can be stolen. Popular methods employed by cyber criminals include, but are not limited to:

Email scams: Email scams work because the Cyber-crooks responsible use social engineering as the hook; in other words they exploit our curiosity to start the process of infecting unaware computer users’ machines

Search engine redirection: Cyber-crooks continue to be unrelenting in their chase to infect web search results, seeding malicious websites among the top results returned by these engines. Malware, including password stealers can be installed on a computer simply by visiting a site.

Drive-by downloads: Drive-by downloads are not new; they’ve been lurking around for years it seems, but they’ve become much more common recently. They are crafted to automatically download and install malware including password stealers on your computer without your knowledge.

Now, added to the burden we already carry in protecting our computers, our private personal information, and our confidential financial information, we now have to be careful, and perhaps even suspicious of our friends, or for that matter anyone, who inserts a USB drive including MP3 players into a USB port on our computer.

USBThief is a free hacking application – available for download on virtually every torrent download site that I investigated – which can be installed on a USB flash drive, or even an iPod, or other MP3 player. I haven’t tried to install this on a Digital Camera, but I suspect (with some modification), that it can be done. Consider how often a friend, or family member, has connected any one of these peripherals to your machine.

USBThief has been designed and crafted with only one purpose in mind, and that is to steal both the passwords, and software keys, on the duped party’s computer.

There is no requirement that the culprit is a seasoned hacker – all that’s needed is that an ethically challenged individual download the program; decompress the archive and put all the files located in the folder “USBThief” onto a USB drive.

After connecting and removing the tweaked USB drive from the victim’s computer, the cyber-criminal simply views the dump folder to view the captured information.

I have not written this article to produce paranoia, or to make you suspicious of either your family, or your friends, but so that you are aware of the ever increasing challenges we all face in protecting valuable information in a world that threatens us, at every turn it seems.

4 Comments

Filed under Don't Get Hacked, Geek Software and Tools, Interconnectivity, Malware Advisories, Privacy, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, USB, Windows Tips and Tools

Domestic Violence – Hi-Tech Spousal Abuse

The U.S. Office on Violence against Women (OVW) defines domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can take many forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional, economic, and psychological abuse.

This article is gender neutral; clearly both men and women can be victims of domestic violence and abusive behavior.

Most of us would agree that new technology is, in most cases, unbiased. It is how we implement technology that establishes its value, and impacts any ethical questions that surrounds its use. It is clear that virtually all technologies, if used improperly, can be used to cause damage.

Over the past year I have reviewed several computer monitoring and keylogger products which I must admit, I had not considered could be misused as an aid in spousal abuse until it was brought to my attention. I suppose I shouldn’t have been quite as surprised as I was; after all many of these products are advertised as a method to detect a cheating spouse.

Curious about this, I Googled “cheating spouse” and I was surprised to see over 900,000 hits. More surprising was the number of hits on “keyloggers for cheating spouse”; over 95,000.

Probing further, I discovered that this type of technology is now pervasive in spousal abuse. According to Anna Stepanov, manager of the Anti-Spyware program at McAfee Avert Labs, “Using spyware for surveillance in cases of domestic abuse is a serious matter.”

Stepanov, who is also the author of a report entitled Spyware: A Morphing Campaign, which describes current spyware trends that includes domestic abuse states, “Monitoring a victim’s online, cell phone, or general computing activity is of more value than ever in controlling or hurting a victim.”

Cindy Southworth, technology director at the National Network to End Domestic Violence commenting on this issue has stated “With spyware, if the victim is thinking about leaving, all that is captured. If the victim looks for plane tickets, shelters, a new apartment, it all shows up in the computer logs.”

Since spyware is now an issue in domestic abuse the agency cautions those in an abusive relationship not to use their home computer for these kinds of tasks.

All of this has now been compounded by the news that the misuse of GPS technology by abusive individuals is now rampant. GPS can be used to track a victim by transmitting coordinates that result in the generation of a web page that maps the victim’s location.

The U.S. National Network to End Domestic Violence suggests the following to computer users, to reduce the impact of this type of abuse.

Internet Safety Tips for Abused Women

If you are in danger, please try to use a safer computer that someone abusive does not have direct or remote hacking access to.

If you think your activities are being monitored, they probably are. Abusive people are often controlling and want to know your every move. You don’t need to be a computer programmer or have special skills to monitor someone’s computer and Internet activities – anyone can do it and there are many ways to monitor with programs like Spyware, keystroke loggers and hacking tools.

It is not possible to delete or clear all the “footprints” of your computer or online activities. If you are being monitored, it may be dangerous to change your computer behaviors such as suddenly deleting your entire Internet history if that is not your regular habit.

If you think you may be monitored on your home computer, be careful how you use your computer since an abuser might become suspicious. You may want to keep using the monitored computer for normal activities, such as looking up the weather or recipes. Use a safer computer to research an escape plan, look for new jobs or apartments, bus tickets, or ask for help.

Email and Instant/Text Messaging (IM) are not safe or confidential ways to talk to someone about the danger or abuse in your life. If possible, please call a hotline instead. If you use email or IM, please use a safer computer and an account your abuser does not know about.

Computers can store a lot of private information about what you look at via the Internet, the emails and instant messages you send, internet-based phone and IP-TTY calls you make, web-based purchases and banking, and many other activities. It might be safer to use a computer in a public library, at a community technology center (CTC), at a trusted friend’s house, or an Internet Café.

2 Comments

Filed under Anti-Keyloggers, Domestic Violence, Email, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety, Living Life, Online Safety, Personal Perspective, Safe Surfing, Spousal Abuse, Surveillance, Windows Tips and Tools

The Perversion of a Technology – Hi-Tech Spousal Abuse

The U.S. Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) defines domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can take many forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional, economic, and psychological abuse.

This article is gender neutral; clearly both men and women can be victims of domestic violence and abusive behavior.

Most of us would agree that new technology is, in most cases, neutral. It is how we implement technology that establishes its value, and impacts any ethical questions that surrounds its use. It is clear that virtually all technologies, if used improperly, can be used to cause damage.

Over the past few months I have reviewed several computer monitoring and keylogger products which I must admit, I had not considered could be misused as an aid in spousal abuse until it was brought to my attention. I suppose I shouldn’t have been quite as surprised as I was; after all many of these products are advertised as a method to detect a cheating spouse.

Curious about this, I Googled “cheating spouse” and I was surprised to see over 900,000 hits. More surprising was the number of hits on “keyloggers for cheating spouse”; over 95,000.

Probing further, I discovered that this type of technology is now pervasive in spousal abuse. According to Anna Stepanov, manager of the Anti-Spyware program at McAfee Avert Labs, “Using spyware for surveillance in cases of domestic abuse is a serious matter.”

Stepanov, who is also the author of a report entitled Spyware: A Morphing Campaign, which describes current spyware trends that includes domestic abuse states, “Monitoring a victim’s online, cell phone, or general computing activity is of more value than ever in controlling or hurting a victim.”

Cindy Southworth, technology director at the National Network to End Domestic Violence commenting on this issue has stated “With spyware, if the victim is thinking about leaving, all that is captured. If the victim looks for plane tickets, shelters, a new apartment, it all shows up in the computer logs.”

Since spyware is now an issue in domestic abuse the agency cautions those in an abusive relationship not to use their home computer for these kinds of tasks.

All of this has now been compounded by the news that the misuse of GPS technology by abusive individuals is now rampant. GPS can be used to track a victim by transmitting coordinates that result in the generation of a web page that maps the victim’s location.

The U.S. National Network to End Domestic Violence suggests the following to computer users, to reduce the impact of this type of abuse.

Internet Safety Tips

  • If you are in danger, please try to use a safer computer that someone abusive does not have direct or remote hacking access to.
  • If you think your activities are being monitored, they probably are. Abusive people are often controlling and want to know your every move. You don’t need to be a computer programmer or have special skills to monitor someone’s computer and Internet activities – anyone can do it and there are many ways to monitor with programs like Spyware, keystroke loggers and hacking tools.
  • It is not possible to delete or clear all the “footprints” of your computer or online activities. If you are being monitored, it may be dangerous to change your computer behaviors such as suddenly deleting your entire Internet history if that is not your regular habit.
  • If you think you may be monitored on your home computer, be careful how you use your computer since an abuser might become suspicious. You may want to keep using the monitored computer for normal activities, such as looking up the weather or recipes. Use a safer computer to research an escape plan, look for new jobs or apartments, bus tickets, or ask for help.
  • Email and Instant/Text Messaging (IM) are not safe or confidential ways to talk to someone about the danger or abuse in your life. If possible, please call a hotline instead. If you use email or IM, please use a safer computer and an account your abuser does not know about.
  • Computers can store a lot of private information about what you look at via the Internet, the emails and instant messages you send, internet-based phone and IP-TTY calls you make, web-based purchases and banking, and many other activities. It might be safer to use a computer in a public library, at a community technology center (CTC), at a trusted friend’s house, or an Internet Café.

2 Comments

Filed under Interconnectivity, Internet Safety, Living Life, Online Safety, Personal Perspective, Privacy, Safe Surfing, Surveilance Tools, Surveillance, Windows Tips and Tools