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Cyber-casing: Did you just Geo-tag your car keys to a criminal?

10 Jul

She ‘likes’ Audi on Facebook. She uploaded the name of the cafe she is currently in to Twitter. The keys are in her bag, by her feet. Her phone is visible on Bluetooth.

Criminals are increasingly focusing their efforts upon those people who upload valuable data to social networking sites.

“Cybercasing”  is the term used to describe the process by which a criminal can anonymously monitor a potential victim by watching as they sequentially upload valuable data about their possessions and their current geographical location.

A Simple Example:

Facebook Status Update: “A picture of me and my new Audi at the dealer franchise in Dallas!”

then, two days later…

Twitter Update: ” In Rocky’s Bar, Dallas with Kim. Come and join us!” – sent via iPhone App

The criminal already knows what you look like (you posted your beautiful face on Facebook, didn’t you?) and you told them what you drive. They now know your precise location (you just uploaded a helpful map to Twitter using your iPhone, didn’t you?) and that you are relaxing in a cafe bar.

Just as the Darwin Awards were invented in the 1990’s to honor those who killed themselves through their own stupidity, so time may be running out for those who openly advertise their valuable possessions and their geographical whereabouts to 900 million complete strangers.

Insurance companies already refuse to pay out on theft claims from people who have left their keys in their car’s ignition…only to find that some absolute cad has slipped behind the wheel and selected “Drive” while they were chatting to the postman or getting something from the house.

It makes sense to assume that it will not be long before the insurance industry takes a dim view of those who sequentially reveal information to strangers about their identity, location, their valuables and where to find the keys.

Most police forces, just like professional criminals, make full use of un- encrypted cell phone messages and social networking sites to hunt down their prey. In the case of the Police, they are usually trying to intercept a particular person but criminals are interested in knowing where someone is  for the opposite reason: if the person is at the beach, then they aren’t at home. If they drove into town then their keys are certainly with them. If they are out celebrating with friends then they may not be on their guard.

Professional athletes have known for some years that their houses are most likely to suffer a break-in while they are away competing or playing their sport. Everybody who follows sport knows where they are going to be at a certain time on a certain day.

But it seems to be a lesson not yet learned by the average person that Social Media reveals their own movements and plans just as clearly if they openly publicize their social interests, hobbies, friend network and current location.

Love motorbikes? Of course you do. Particularly Harleys. You have a profile of yourself on the Harley-Lovers Site. You post on the forum. You uploaded a picture of your pride and joy. It is one of the rare ones, very desirable. There’s you, in the picture, next to it. You even got three “likes” for the picture. Fantastic bike. Way to go!

Then, you  bought some rare enamel Harley badges on e-Bay. Real bargain! The guy posted them to you sameday. Top seller. Great guy.

That’s right.

You just gave your full address to a complete stranger who now knows exactly where you live.

What’s that you say on Facebook? You and your partner have got tickets to see Radiohead play and you’re in ecstacy ‘cos its her turn to drive?

Excellent.

You will be away from home for at least six hours.

The wireless alarm box will act dumb once I climb my ladder, unscrew the cover and remove the back-up battery. A suction-pad glass cutter on the back door will stop the neighbors hearing anything. Your fuse box is exactly where I expect it to be.

The Harley is in the garage and the keys will be in the drawer in the kitchen.  You have a dog? Nope. You used to.

You can keep the ladder. It wasn’t mine, anyway.

It is becoming ever more crucial that people understand that it is not cool to upload information to websites that can identify and link you like the cross-hairs in a sniper’s gun.

If you value your folk and your possessions, keep it private. Think carefully about whether it is a good idea to keep the same  username across different websites.

Be sociable but always be smart.

E.U. “Cookie Law” changed at 11th Hour: Wolves to be protected from sheep.

9 Jun

BBC Radio 4 News ran an excellent interview on Friday 8th June with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).The BBC has been quick to monitor business response to the EU “Cookie Law”.

The interview with the ICO’s spokesman was an attempt to discover whether the newly-implemented “Cookie Law” was being obeyed. The Cookie Law demanded that websites seek explicit consent from visitors to their site before that site is allowed to store tracking data about that user. When you consider how many ways cookie data can be stored and used against the interests of the consumer, this is not an unreasonable idea.

But very recently, just prior to the implementation of the law on 26th May 2012, the ICO suddenly added a clause to allow websites to exempt themselves from the law (and the need to ask permission) if something called “implied consent” was given by the visitor. The definition of “implied consent” appears to be that the person continues to use the website.

This is a bit like introducing a seat belt law that says: “Passengers in a car must wear their seat belt or face legal action…with the exception of those passengers who persistently do not wear their seat belt.”

Roadwax dispatched a top reporter to cover the BBC Radio interview. By sitting really close to the radio and turning the volume up, the following information was overheard:

BBC Interviewer: “Has the ICO been monitoring websites to ensure compliance with the new Cookie Law?

Man from ICO: “websites…? You mean internet websites…?”

BBC Interviewer: “Yes. Have you checked to make sure that businesses with websites are complying with the new law?”

Man from ICO: “Do you mean websites run by businesses…?”

BBC Interviewer: “Yes.”

Man from ICO: “Well…I should imagine that they have…I mean, these business people are jolly good sorts, mostly.”

BBC Interviewer: “Have you monitored the situation – yes or no?”

Man from ICO: “Well…it is still very early days. I mean, you can’t rush these things. It is all terribly complicated.”

BBC Interviewer: “So, you haven’t actually done anything to monitor the situation.”

Man from ICO: “Oh, well, I wouldn’t say that exactly. I mean, we sent someone down the shop to buy a pen…”

BBC Interviewer: “A pen…? How does that constitute monitoring for compliance…?”

Man from ICO: “Well…it pays to write things down, you know. We thought buying a pen might be a good start.”

BBC Interviewer: “Well, we at the BBC have been monitoring the situation.”

Man from ICO: “Gosh…! How frightfully clever! How did you do that?”

BBC Interviewer: “We contacted businesses and asked them whether they were complying.”

Man from ICO: “Yikes..! That all sounds thoroughly like a Sherlock Holmes story. How exciting!”

BBC Interviewer: “We discovered that a lot of businesses have not complied.”

Man from ICO: “No…! Really..? Gosh…! Well, bless my Aunt Betty. Really…?”

…and so it went on…and on…and on…

Dan Baird + Homemade Sin rock Europe. Europe considered rocked.

1 May

There is a simple Ethnicity Test that one is given before one can truly be described as British. Regardless of race, gender, religion nor one’s choice in sandwich filling, we all have to agree to one thing:

Please complete the following statement using one of the answers listed below.

“If I find myself one Spring evening in a beautiful English pub garden that perches on the banks of a fast and silent river and I realise that I still have one more wish to be granted in my life before it is time for me to go, then I explicitly demand that…

1) a veteran Georgia road-house band be transported here to play forthwith at maximum volume.

2) the quiet tranquility of this Sunday night is not suddenly broken and we shall still hear a weasel should it decide to fart.

3) we all remain sober and get early nights before the dawn of Monday because that is sensible and far wiser.

Did you correctly choose answer No.1?

Congratulations…!!!

You immediately gain honorary (yes – that is how we spell it) British Ethnicity. There is no badge to send you through the post. You will not be questioned further on any of your other beliefs. You are hereby assumed to be of sound enough mind to stand in a trial and be questioned by a judge.

Homemade Synopsis

Western Europe has always been proud of innovation. It is particularly our fusion of ideas from diverse sources that moves us forward as thinking nations.

None more proud or diverse than Britain.

One of the most important innovations that we British ever stole from the Americans was “guitar-driven rock”. Some time around the period 1975 – 1985, while all of the world was too busy watching the Nasa space program, we in Britain stole “driven, blistering guitar rock” from the American Consciousness and got it out of the country in a box.

In one of those “you couldn’t make it up if you tried” type situations, a band of the most accomplished Southern Rock musicians from the U.S state of Georgia just arrived in their tour bus down the treacherous hillside track that leads to Beese’s Tea Gardens. They plugged their valve-driven Fenders and Gibsons into the sound system and proceeded to take off heads.

Dan Baird engaging four-wheel-drive...

There is a strand of music history starting from the 1970’s that involves valve amps, two guitarists, playing with a backing of electric bass and live drums. It pays homage to its roots but it keeps moving forward. It has to, or else it becomes a parody of itself.

Dan Baird & Homemade Sin are the group who kept driving that sound forward. If Keith Richard, The Faces or a thousand other bar-room bands had kept on playing live and developing their craft, they would sound like this.

This band has always known that their particular musical genre bears unique rewards. One of its strengths is that you can play trouser leg-shakingly loud material with great clarity to an audience of a couple of hundred souls who want to party.

All you need is that good material and the phone numbers of some ace musicians.

And that is where Dan Baird & Homemade Sin come into the equation. They just happen to play rock for real!

Dan Baird & Homemade Sin come with free delivery and long-term guarantee. They are now on European tour.

Dow Chemicals almost kicked out of London 2012 Olympics. More pain to come.

17 Apr

Dow Chemicals, that lovable corporate giant who didn’t  bring you the 1984 Bhopal Disaster and who aren’t responsible in any way for injuring up to half a million Indian citizens in one of the worst industrial catastrophes in world history, are not happy bunnies.

Just sixteen weeks before the 2012 Olympic Games begin to deliver them “marketing gold”, they are being asked to get out of town. Just when the winning line for their social media campaign is in sight, they run across a problem. Nobody likes them.

Last week, the prestigious London Assembly decided by only one solitary vote not to kick Dow out of the 2012 Olympic games and cancel them as a sponsor. As close shaves go, that was very close.

Dow are not the kind of giant international corporation who take kindly to criticism. Dow takes the view that people who say that they are a classic example of a “corporation gone bad” are misinformed.

So that nobody is misinformed ever again, Dow have made the real truth abundantly clear on their website:

“Dow’s policy is to be lawful, highly principled and socially responsible in all of its business practices.”

“At Dow, diversity and inclusion are inherent in our work environment”.

“In 2011, Dow had annual sales of $60 Billion and employed 52,000 people worldwide”

“For over two decades we have embraced and advocated Responsible Care – a voluntary industry-wide commitment to safely handle our chemicals from inception in the laboratory to ultimate disposal”.

Well, so that nobody is misinformed ever again, here is some more real truth:

After persistently ignoring warnings from both American experts and local officials, a badly maintained Union Carbide plant, operating with knowing disregard to safety procedures, leaked toxic gas across a vast area of housing during the night.

Within days, all the local trees lost all their leaves.  Two thousand dead farm animals were discovered and disposed of. 170,000 injured people were received by medical staff. They were all suffering from the same effects you would get if you inhaled cyanide. Thousands died and more than a million people were physically damaged, it is now widely believed.

Union Carbide offered $350 million -only the sum they were insured for – as compensation. The Indian Government estimated compensation to be one thousand times higher than that figure. The discredited and financially ruined Union Carbide Corporation sold its Bhopal plant for peanuts in 1994 and in 2001 both Union Carbide and that plant were bought up by Dow Chemicals…purely for reasons of profit.

To this day, hundreds of thousands of injured victims have been denied either proper justice or reasonable compensation. Dow has said “No” and Dow means “No”.

The massive organisational project that is the 2012 London Olympics has always had an ‘unreal’ air about it. Whereas few would wish to knock the hard work of those athletes who pursue world excellence, many people have always maintained that not only are the Games themselves already seriously tainted by allegations of corruption but that London simply isn’t the right venue for them.

The list of key sponsors looks increasingly like a roll-call of corporate and athletic pariahs. Neither Coca-Cola nor McDonalds can make any claim to having raised the health standards of anyone in the world. But…Dow Chemicals…?

How on earth Lord Sebastian Coe and his Organising Committee were stupid enough to allow Dow to become a major sponsor of their event is to remain a mystery for now. Perhaps it was the large wad of money.

There is a huge elephant in the corner of the living room again. Lord Coe and his very important friends cannot see it.

Everybody else can.

Dow Chemicals have a slogan for their range of paints:

“A Smarter Way To Hide”.

Dow Chemicals also have a Corporate slogan:

“We believe that taking the extra step to be socially responsible does not hold us back – it sets us apart”.

Absolutely, Dow.

Absolutely…

Facebook: The wheels start falling off and the screaming begins…

10 Apr

My name is...

When Phillip Markoff, the ‘Craigslist Killer’ committed suicide while awaiting trial for murder, he unwittingly set in motion a chain of events that has blown the lid off Facebook’s Privacy Policy.

Facebook has always gone to great lengths to encourage users to upload as much personal data as possible. However, when the Boston Police Department issued a subpoena, demanding access to Markoff’s Facebook account, two things happened:

1) Facebook handed over the full, unredacted account history, including the account details of all Markoff’s friends and their ID information and their interaction.

2) The Boston Police Department then released this document into the public domain, without redacting the names and account details of his friends.

If Facebook users ever worried what information Facebook might pass on to the police and other government agencies about them, they need  fret no more. Facebook hands over the whole lot. You can read the excellent Boston Phoenix article here, including a copy of the document that Facebook handed over to the BPD.

The British government is currently seeking to pass a law allowing it to ‘monitor’ all UK citizens’ website conversations in “real time” – as they actually happen, without any limitation, nor requesting permission from a judge to prove any need or justification. You can read a simple BBC synopsis of this law here.

Now, add the following facts to your understanding of the above story:

Tens of millions of UK citizens’ private records held by Government Agencies have been lost or released. (1)

One in three British men has a criminal record by the time that they are 30. (Home Office Statistic, JRF)

Thousands of losses of our personal data occur at Local Council level through hacking and weak security. (2)

It is estimated that 27% of friend requests on Facebook are fake – around two in every ten. (3)

Let us take all these facts and try to create a ‘conservative’ mathematical algorithm:

For each hundred ‘friends’ you have on Facebook, ten are actually fake.

For each further hundred ‘friends’ you add, twelve are fake. The risk figure rises exponentially as you add more ‘friends’ whose real identity you do not know – for example, they are someone you met in a club, bar or online.

If you have 300 ‘friends’ on Facebook, in excess of 30 are ‘fake’-  the person is not who they say they are.

If 33% of UK males under thirty have a criminal record, and 50% of convicted criminals re-offend, (4) then any Facebook profile containing 300 ‘friends’ includes profiles of least 10 convicted criminals, hiding under fake IDs.

If 100 of your Facebook ‘friends’ also have 300 ‘friends’ themselves, you are connected by an evidence trail to 300 convicted criminals. Let’s be even more conservative still. Let’s say 200.

Ask yourself:

“If Facebook provide the authorities with full details of all ‘friend’ data and links that an active criminal has, and government agencies are allowed to monitor my Facebook page in “real time”…how long will it take before my identity will become PERMANENTLY and wrongly associated with a criminal whom I do not know and have never met?”

And if you know of a single instance of somebody who has successfully removed themselves from an Interpol database of criminals (onto which their name was wrongfully and unreasonably added) will you please provide me with the link?

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