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Phishing and Computer Security – What You Need to Know

Information Technology has changed the way we live our lives. What once seemed impossible is now possible. Like what? How about a global network of computer systems that allows almost instant communication at almost no cost to the user? Or free video conversations with your friends no matter where they are in the world (well almost).

But with the good also comes the bad and technology is true of this too. Computers and the Internet have led to a whole new brand of crime – cyber crime. All of a sudden the everyone in the world is connected to everyone else and computer crime spread very quickly because of this.

One of the main ways this new wave of criminals gets access to you and your personal information is through a process called Phishing. Using this technique they can get access to your social security number, bank account details, ATM PIN and a variety of other personal and very sensitive information. Once these guys have this information then it’s game on and you’re going to pay the price.

This type of crime is on the rise and it’s all too easy to get caught out – some of the smartest people I know have been caught by phishing scams.

So what is phishing?

It’s a very basic and very clever scam based on the whole idea of social engineering (manipulation of people).

Here’s an example.

You turn on your computer and go to check your e-mail. You see an e-mail from your bank telling you that there’s a serious problem with your account and to please log-in and fix it. You click on the link and go to a page that looks exactly (and I do mean identical) to your banks website. You quickly type in your username and password but nothing happens. So you try again. And again. Your password doesn’t seem to be working so you decide to ring your bank. After 15 minutes waiting you’re told by the banks customer service staff that they never, ever send out e-mails and to just ignore it.

So you do just that. You ignore it.

Then 3 or 4 days later you get a call from your bank asking why you were withdrawing money from an ATM in Brazil? And are you sure you want to transfer all your money into that bank in Hong Kong? This is when the penny drops with you and you realize what’s happened.

You’ve just been caught by a phishing scam and you’re not alone. Thousands of people every day fall for this type of con. You’ll even notice that most banks are putting warnings on their websites now stating “We never send you e-mails asking for your passwords”

If you get e-mails from banks, eBay, PayPal or any other company asking you for personal details then ignore them. Delete them and mark them as spam. Just following that simple rule will keep you and your computer safe from 99% of the phishing scams that are lurking out there.

Internet and Computers, A Game Changer – AI, Robotics, BioTech, and NanoTech Are Next

It has often been said that he who controls the media, controls the minds of the people. The printing press gave an advantage to those who used it. Today, those who control the information have almost unlimited abilities to control and capitalize on that information. Thus, information technology has been a game changer in nearly every sector sense its arrival. The era of big data is now the changer of the game. Okay so, who owns the future in the next period?

Well, let me take a stab at it, but first to catch you up to speed on this topic, why not read this book below:

“Who Owns The Future?” by Jaron Lanier, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 2013, 416 pages, ISBN: 978-145-16549-67. Also the author of “You Are Not a Gadget” which was one of his earlier books, published by Vintage Press, 240 pages, 2011, ISBN: 978-030-738997-8.

The author works now for Microsoft Research, prior he’s had stints working with all sorts of corporations which use information to drive sales – he’s worked with algorithms for high-frequency trading, and sophisticated computers for insurance companies determining risk analyzing all the big data at their disposal. He’s watched companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook move ahead of the pack – companies like Cisco, Oracle and others build the systems to take the game to the highest levels.

Fine, and this makes sense, his knowledge, experience and observations are relevant for the future and in hindsight. Now then, what of the future, will big data still rule the world or will AI, Robotics, BioTech and NanoTech take the lead? Well, I suppose I could submit to you, as might Jaron Lanier, that in those sectors, big data will help those companies leveraging that data the best reach the top and control and own those industries.

Consider how important big data and computing power is to artificial intelligence? Without the computing power it’s not useful at all is it? What of robotics, same thing right, and you have to merge AI with robotics to get to the fullest potential there, again, big data is keenly important to success. In BioTech, the same thing, we already see that don’t we? DNA isn’t simple, it takes computing power to figure it all out. Material science is simple in concept, but complex to make it work for you. It seems that big data, and information technology will rule the game for the next era won’t it? Please consider all this and think on it.

Parenting Tip: 7 Ways to Complement Computer Games and Unleash Your Child’s Creative Genius

Even though we may enjoy playing them ourselves, many parents worry about the impact of computer games on their child’s development. We fear that letting our kids play computer games for more than an hour or so per day will turn them into anti-social, obese couch potatoes. It would be better to have our children read or to read child stories to them, we think. Yet, computer games are here to stay, so rather than fighting them, why not use them? This article shows you how you can let your child play computer games yet still foster the development of their creativity.

The issue that many parents have with computer games is that, compared with reading a child story, they don’t require the use of a great deal of imagination. Here are seven ways in which you can complement computer games to foster the development of your child’s creativity:

#1 Develop character profiles

Some computer games have characters. With the Harry Potter games these characters are already well-known and well-developed. With other games, however, the characters may be more “shallow”. This is a perfect opportunity for your child to develop the characters further. They can invent a profile for the character, imagining who their family is, where they come from, where they go/went to school, what hobbies they like to do, how they feel, etc. Your child can then make sketches or drawings of the character and scenes from their life: past, present and future. Finally, your child can create profiles of the other people in the character’s life: friends, family, pets, colleagues, droids, etc.

#2 Create Storyboards

If you think about it, a lot of computer games are nothing more than interactive stories. So, your child can create their own stories using the characters from their favorite computer games. Think of this as an extension of the computer game. You could even pretend that you work for the computer game company and are creating a new version of the computer game.

There are several ways you can approach this depending upon you and your child’s preferences. You can write a script, create cartoon-like illustrations, create illustrated scenes (i.e. pictures) only, or create pictures with accompanying text.

#3 Write a Diary

It could be interesting for your child to get inside the head of some of the characters. Incidentally, this is also a good way to develop a child’s empathy. Have your child write a diary as if they were one of the characters.

#4 Develop a Virtual World

One of my sons has developed his own virtual world. He’s created detailed maps, descriptions of all the creatures, plants (more than 100 in all, fully illustrated) and lands in it, and a complete history of this imaginary world. Your child can create a virtual world that is either an extension from an existing computer game or something completely new.

#5 What’s Cooking?

If your child likes to cook, why not develop some special recipes of what people eat in the computer game’s virtual world? What’s their favorite food? What is the national dish? These “recipes” could be from real, edible foods or other non-edible materials (make sure your kid doesn’t eat the latter!).

#6 Get Hands On

Some children are kinesthetic learners; they learn by doing. If your child is one of these, they can create 3D models from clay or papier mâché of the characters from a computer game. You can even create life-sized models in your garden/backyard. For example, you can carve a character from an old tree stump or log.

#7 Create Your Own Computer Game

In the area of computer games, what could be more creative than creating your own game? When they create a game, computer game companies go through a process similar to some of the steps described here so you might be able to use the results of your fun work to create an actual computer game.

There are hundreds or thousands of software tools you can use to create your own games. However, unless you’re a “techie”, it’s probably easiest to use one that doesn’t require any programming or advanced computer skills.

Software tools such as “The 3D Gamemaker”,* for example, allow you to create games simply by pointing and clicking. The 3D Gamemaker has a library of scenes, sounds and 3D objects that you can combine into your own games. Obviously, this is a bit less creative then making a game from scratch, but you can also scan in your own images, record your own personal sound effects and import your own 3D models to make your game more original.

The Multi-Choice Creation System (MuCeS) lets you create Multichoice adventures in which the game player chooses one option out of a number of given options depending on what she thinks will be best for a given situation.

The above are only two examples of the possibilities. The point is that you don’t need to be a “rocket scientist” in order to create your own computer games. Imagine how thrilled your kids will be to create their own games. Playing computer games will never be the same again!

Conclusion

Some parents regard computer games as an “unhealthy” influence on their children, but when you combine computer games with some of the “offline” child story creation activities described here, you’ll not only unleash your child’s creative genius, you’ll have a lot of fun doing it.

* Note: I have not (yet) used any of the software described here. The products mentioned are provided purely as examples.

Copyright 2006 Paul Arinaga