Tag Archives: Social Media

Facebook Telepathy Texting – Could It Be Hacked?

Is telepathy texting the next step in technology communications?

With over 2 billion registered members, Facebook is the world’s most popular online service. But to maintain that title, Facebook is constantly developing new services to keep people logging in. In a recent video conference, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg discussed one of the cutting edge projects his team are working on. The top secret Building 8 division has begun to develop what they call a “direct brain interface”, or the technology that would allow to text by “telepathy”.

What would you do with a direct brain interface?

The direct brain interface is intended to capture the words you plan to speak as they pass through your brain. These thoughts would then be converted into text, ready for transmission – to a nearby screen, or even directly into the mind of another person using a similar interface.

Initially, Facebook hopes that their new technology will allow people with brain injuries or communication problems finally “speak” with the outside world. One scientist working on the project believes such a device would be “as transformative as the computer mouse”.

Taking the direct brain interface mainstream

Once the medical application has been proven, Facebook would naturally expect to take the interface mainstream. Zuckerberg described how he would like to see the technology used to send messages telepathically between Facebook users.

Because the technology is “decades” from release, it is hard to properly imagine what the interface could do. At the most basic level it will probably work like a person-to-person version of the Facebook Messenger app. Presumably users would be able to send text messages direct to the brain of their friends, anywhere in the world without having to lift a finger, or making a sound.

The potential for problems

Just like any computing device, there is always a potential risk that the direct brain interface could be hacked. Again, the specifics of such an attack are hard to guess, but could be relatively harmless, such as receiving unwanted advertising messages directly into the brain.

The outcomes of a cyberattack could conceivably be far worse too. Malware that increases processor activity could cause the interface to overheat, damaging the brain for instance. As the Stuxnet virus demonstrated, malware can cause physical damage. But if that damage is caused to devices connected directly to the human brain, the results could be catastrophic – potentially fatal.

Plenty of time to prepare

The good news is that Facebook’s telepathic text system is still a long, long way from even having something to test. It will be many years before we see a working prototype, let alone a unit that we can actually buy.

In the meantime, engineers will be hard at work developing security measures to protect users against hackers and malware. And as devices finally start to appear, you can expect to see new anti-malware products going on sale to add an extra layer of defence.

In the meantime, why not check if Facebook Messenger is properly protected on your phone with a free Panda Mobile Security download

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Do you suffer from FOBO?

How long are you able to stay offline?

Modern life is increasingly dependent on the Internet. We manage our finances, do our shopping and communicate with friends and family online. And when we’re not sitting at a desk working on a PC, we’re glued to our smartphones and tablets.

As we spend more time online, the more important connectivity becomes to our lives. We rely on apps to give us the news headlines, and email to keep us up to date with projects at work. And if we ever find ourselves trying to kill a few minutes while we wait in a queue, social networks provide a quick injection of humour or gossip to fill the time.

The importance of being able to get online means that we even choose hotel rooms for holidays based on whether there is in-room Wi-Fi available or not.

What happens when we lose connectivity?

This obsession with connectivity has a dark side though. Some people experience genuine emotional distress when they lose access to the internet.

In fact, some people even have problems with the thought of not being able to go online. One journalist even came up with a name for it: FOBO, the Fear of Being Offline.

How do I know if I have FOBO?

It’s important to note that FOBO is not a medically-recognised condition. But that’s not to say that you don’t have a problem – here are the warning signs:

  • You take a backup battery and charging cable for your phone everywhere you go.
  • Thinking about losing internet access makes you distressed.
  • You constantly scan for Wi-Fi connections so that your phone is always online.
  • You avoid places where you know the mobile signal/Wi-Fi is unreliable.
  • Your pre-travel research always begins with Wi-Fi availability at the destination.

Ultimately, if connectivity is your priority in most situations, you may have FOBO.

How to protect yourself

If you do have FOBO, the best protection is to reduce the risk of losing internet access. This means taking steps to ensure that you don’t lose connectivity in the first place.

Things to consider include:

  • Choosing a mobile network provider with extensive coverage to reduce the risk of being caught in a blackspot.
  • Installing anti-malware software on your phone and PC to prevent your connection being hijacked or broken (you should do this even if you don’t suffer from FOBO).
  • Replacing your router or installing Wi-Fi repeaters throughout your home to boost network coverage and eliminate blackspots.
  • Taking out a roaming Wi-Fi subscription to use national networks like The Cloud when you’re out and about.
  • Planning your travel routes to avoid rural areas with known blackspots.

FOBO might sound silly, but people really do experience anxiety at the thought of going offline. Hopefully these tips will help to manage those concerns.

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Is it dangerous to share your location on the internet?

Look at the apps installed on your smartphone and you’ll see that many of them offer location sharing functions. Location sharing is incredibly useful – when used correctly.

Here are a few things you should be aware of

“Check-ins” and strangers

Apps like Foursquare and Swarm encourage users to “check-in” when visiting restaurants, bars and other places of interest. When using these apps, you are encouraged to leave a short review so that other people can decide whether to visit in future.

Swarm also encourages users to create networks of followers who they then compete against, collecting points for every check-in. You can even share these check-ins on other social networks like Twitter and Facebook.

Facebook and Twitter also allow users to share photos, comments and their exact location with status updates. And any of your followers can see these details.

For anyone with a very small social network of people they know and trust, this location sharing isn’t really a problem. But where you have hundreds or thousands of followers who you don’t actually know, sharing this information is less safe.

Potential for crime

For most people, sharing their location is perfectly safe. But the potential for problems does exist.

Burglars have been known to monitor social media for instance. Your holiday snaps taken on the beach on Ibiza are clear evidence that you’re not at home for instance. Which means that your house is empty – a perfect target for a robbery.

As well as knowing where you’re not, location sharing also lets people know exactly where to find you. This is fine for friends and family, but what about jealous ex-partners? Or in the case of children, complete strangers? These people can use your location to meet you for an argument, or perhaps something worse. These incidents are rare, but the risk is real.

Location sharing made safe

The key to sharing your location safely is to limit who can see that information. Rather than broadcasting your location publicly, you should carefully choose who to share with.

Apple

Tools like Apple’s iMessage allow you send pinpoint locations to specific contacts for instance – perfect when you’re trying to organise a meeting, or when one of your friends gets lost on the way. Find My Friends, another Apple app, allows family members and close friends to keep tabs on each other all the time – so long as they agree to sharing their location first.

Android

For Android users, Panda Mobile Security limits sharing personal information through the Privacy Auditor. It shows the permissions required by the apps installed on your device (access to contacts, bank account data, photos, your location, etc.). With a quick look you’ll decide which apps can have access to your location.

Google Maps offers similar functionality – but to maintain your privacy you must set a time limit for sharing. This means your contacts will only see where you are for a few hours or days, reducing the risk of someone you don’t want following you around.

Ultimately, there are four rules you must follow:

  • Do not share your location with the general public.
  • Always think carefully who else may be following you.
  • Regularly check who your location is shared with – and remove permissions for anyone who doesn’t need to know.
  • Use privacy-focused apps like iMessage, Find My Friends and Google Maps to ensure your location isn’t exposed to the public.

One final rule of thumb – if you can’t be sure, don’t share.

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Is Youtube Safe For Kids?

It can be surprising for parents that someone like Pewdie Pie has a net worth of millions of dollars, or that watching someone else play videogames is a billion dollar business thanks to streaming companies like Youtube. The types of videos that young children gravitate towards often surprise us, as the trends are constantly changing. To avoid any nasty shocks or surprises though -for you and your kids- it’s important to have adequate parental control in place.

Surely your kids won’t mistakenly find inappropriate content on websites like Youtube?

Sadly, this is not the case. A recent piece by Gizmodo’s Spanish website has highlighted the huge amount of videos on Youtube that parody kids’ cartoons. Series such as Peppa Pig and Dora the Explorer have been hijacked by comedians who give the show an adult theme that wouldn’t be appropriate for the original show’s target audiences. Judging by the thumbnails, some of these could easily be mistaken by a child for the real thing.

Even well intentioned amateur copies of shows that are still aimed at kids may not be great for the young ones. Remember that shows like Peppa Pig are specifically written and created with the help of child psychologists and pediatricians that understand the subtleties of how a child’s mind works.

Some of the adult-themed parodies have clear warnings at the beginning of the video, but this is not the case with all of them. What can we do though? Clearly blocking Youtube on our children’s devices is not a viable option, as so much of the content on there is great for the kids.

Youtube Restricted Mode

Youtube Restricted Mode, though not foolproof, is good place to start. When watching any video, scroll down to the bottom of the page where you’ll see several options like “language”, “content location”, “history” and “restricted mode”. After clicking on “restricted mode” simply press “on” and you’re good to go. Youtube itself warns that “no filter is 100% accurate, but it should help you avoid most inappropriate content.”

The Youtube Kids app also does a pretty good job of filtering out bad content for kids. Google, who own Youtube, have also been keen to stress that it is a signed-out experience. The app doesn’t collect any personal data. However, a watch history is kept to recommend shows for kids, a controversial issue that raises the possibility of targeted ads. Something we definitely don’t want for our three year olds.

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Cyberbullying and “13 Reasons Why”

How “13 Reasons Why” can help fight cyberbullying

The Netflix TV series 13 Reasons Why has become a worldwide smash hit with teenagers drawn into the tale of a teenage girl’s suicide. Dealing with powerful issues like sexual assault, drugs, bullying and of course, suicide, the program has won praise from critics and viewers alike.

The dark, adult tone of 13 Reasons Why makes the series unsuitable for younger teens (in some countries it has been given an adult rating by film classification boards), and some have criticised the way in which suicide has been portrayed as inevitable. Some schools in the UK have even sent letters to schools in an attempt to make parents aware of the program, its contents, and to prompt discussion between parents about suicide and bullying.

Cyberbullying enters mainstream consciousness

As these letters from schools show, many parents are not fully aware of online bullying and the effect it has on young people. Although trolling often hits the headlines, the use of social media to attack, shame and humiliate children and teenagers tends to be less openly discussed.

13 Reasons Why not only mentions cyberbullying, but goes into detail about how one student – in this case the protagonist, Hannah Baker – is singled out by her classmates. Initially a false rumour is circulated about Hannah’s sexual activity with someone she meets at a party. The show also covers sexting – an intimate photograph is shared widely around the school, further shaming Hannah who never intended for the picture to become public.

As the story reaches its climax rumour, innuendo and lies circulate on social media, adding to the pressure Hannah feels with tragic consequences.

Important talking points for parents

The letter shown above is correct – the issues raised in 13 Reasons Why are important. They should be discussed with teens to help them avoid some of the situations Hannah finds herself in.

Social media bullying

Social media platforms typically require users to be at least 13 years old, but many parents allow their kids to set up accounts early, lying about their age in the process. Despite the pestering of their children, they should hold off until the minimum age is reached.

You should also consider using content filters to prevent access to age-restricted sites by your children until you are sure they are old enough to manage.

Reporting mechanisms

Every social network has tools built in to report bullying, trolling and other forms of abuse. You should help your kids set up their social media accounts, showing them how to use each network responsibly and safely. You must also show them where to find the abuse reporting tools, and how to use them, so they are prepared should they ever become a victim of cyberbullying.

Sexting

Sharing “intimate” pictures between teenagers is distressingly common – and few realise just how risky this behaviour is. As Hannah discovers in 13 Reasons Why, these photos can become public very quickly if someone decides to re-share them. Your kids may find themselves victims of bullying, harassment and unwanted sexual advances.

Use this opportunity to discuss the risks with your kids – and why they must never send “sexy” pics to their friends.

Parenting and personal security

Keeping your kids safe online – and avoiding some of the disastrous consequences discussed in 13 Reasons Why – relies on strong parenting and applications that help. As well as discussing sexting, cyberbullying and suicide with your children, consider downloading a free trial of Panda Global Protection to reinforce the rules and protect them from the darker corners of the internet. With Panda’s Parental Control feature you can decide if you prefer to block inappropriate content (pornography, drugs, weapons…) or just monitor their online activity and be aware of what they do online and what they look for. This can be very useful to find out if they are having some kind of problems (anorexia, bullying, etc.).

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Simple Ways To Make Your Twitter Safer

Anyone can fall victim to a twitter hack.

“I hope the new world order will arrive as soon as possible!” – Britney Spears 2011

It used to be easy to quote literature and big names in a credible way. You’d pick out a book with an author’s name on the cover and you could use the author’s words without fear of ridiculously misquoting anyone.

With the advent of social media, such a thing has become less and less possible. What’s made the problem even worse is the Twitter hack. Britney Spears wanting to change the world order is, perhaps, an immediate red flag for hackers having a bit of fun, but other hacks have been more embarrassing and damaging to the people involved.

Whilst some hacks are made in the name of fun (Gucci Mane saying “Justin Timberlake is yummm” for example), Amnesty International recently had its account hacked and plastered with swastikas. Less serious in its content but embarrassing nonetheless for the owners of the account, last week McDonald’s had to delete a post saying Donald Trump has “tiny hands”.

While hackers often go after high profile names to get their posts seen, anyone can fall victim to a twitter hack.

Activity From Years Ago Could Be Compromising Your Account

It turns out that activity from over five years ago is compromising many people’s Twitter accounts. In Twitter’s first few years, third-party apps were used to analyze tweet views, automatically tweet messages or find followers. The previously mentioned hackers reportedly got into Amnesty International’s twitter account through third-party statistic compiling Twitter Counter.

These apps have lost a lot of their initial popularity as Twitter themselves now offer similar services. The problem though, is that many people downloaded these third-party apps years ago and have completely forgotten they are still active on their phones.

What Can We Do To Keep Our Twitter Accounts Safe?

To protect your account, go to Twitter.com on your desktop. Once you’ve logged in, click your profile photo on the upper right and select “settings and privacy” on the drop-down menu. On the next screen, select “apps” from the left-hand menu. If there’s anything you don’t recognize there, or simply forgot you installed months, or years, ago, click “revoke access”.

Two other simple changes you can make in “settings” are a password change and two-factor authentication. Recent hacks that affected sites like Cloudflare and Yahoo, amongst others, could potentially have released your password to strangers. If you’re not too attached to your current password, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Simply select “password” from the drop down menu to do so.

Two-factor authentication, meanwhile, adds another layer of security that makes it very difficult for anyone to log in to your Twitter account without you knowing. From the settings menu, select “account” and tick the box by “verify login requests.” You’ll be asked to fill in your mobile number. Doing so means that anytime you try to login from a new device, a six-digit code will be sent to your mobile device. Only someone with access to your mobile phone can login to your account.

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