Is Anonymous Social Media At Risk?

Internet anonymity isn’t necessarily associated with Tor network or VPN which both hide your IP address, location and your identity. It also means being able to open social media profiles without revealing your real name, as it was in the early days of internet before Facebook, YouTube, G+, and even MySpace.

Social Media
Ever since Facebook made it obligatory to use your real name, Internet anonymity has become questionable. According to a national survey, 86% of Internet users are taking steps in securing anonymity for themselves.

Although some believe that Internet anonymity provides security and comfort for people, in most cases people use it to misbehave, bully other people, troll across the internet, threat and even engage in criminal activities. So, Internet anonymity seems to be a double-edged sword.

And while Facebook still insists to use real names, Twitter and Reddit and similar sites are a bit more flexible and users are not required to use their real names; the main consequence being significant increase of bullying on these platforms as opposed to Facebook. Even Twitter’s CEO agreed that “we suck at dealing with trolls and abuse.”

New wave of concern for Internet anonymity has formed around people-rating app Peeple, and shutting down the anonymous app Secret. Peeple app is something like Yelp for people. What this means is that anyone who knows your name, phone number or your Facebook account can open a profile on your behalf and rate you! You don’t even have to be aware of it. Moreover, the reviews are permanent.

So, if you’ve kept yourself off the radar all this time, you will no longer be in control of your anonymity; sooner or later we’ll all end up on Peeple, all set to be reviewed.

Perhaps that’s not such a bad idea, after all. I mean, when buying a car or a cell phone, we do quite a bit of research on the particular device and on the company that sells it; so, why not do the same when picking new friends or partners?! The app became controversial even before its release.

Peeple
Speaking about Internet anonymity, its advantages and disadvantages, in her book “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace” Danielle Citron gives a list of all possible harassment crimes on the web and possible solutions to counter it. None of the solutions questions justification of Internet anonymity. Citron believes that bullies occur equally on anonymous and non-anonymous social media sites.

She proposed a couple of solutions such as clear guidelines, better reporting system, well presented explanations for punishments, and of course allowing users themselves to reinforce good or bad behavior.

One of the attempts in preserving Internet anonymity was project Rooms. It was based on IRC chat rooms, where people could openly discuss certain topics in a room, and messages are approved by moderators. Strangely enough, the project was unsuccessful and gained just a handful of users.

Secret anonymity app was another project that failed in its mission to allow users to openly exchange their opinions. The app was shut down by the founder himself, David Byttow, and the money, $35 million, returned to the investors. Byttow said it was the hardest thing in his life, but he didn’t have any other choice, since the network was growing fast and getting out of control. He was especially dumbstruck when he realized just how many trolls and abusers are out there. Whisper and Yik Yak also struggle with bullies but they are still holding online.

Anonymous
Perhaps the most worrisome thing considering Internet anonymity is the recent event that took place in Sidney. An anonymous threat was posted by user on the message board called 4chan. He threatened to shoot at college and campus. Police and the anti-terrorist squad were alarmed and the next few days they spent patrolling the area; fortunately, it turned out that the threat was a fake one.

Police later said that even though they believed the threat wasn’t genuine, they treated it like it was. Most of the students were not very upset about the threats; they believed it was made by a fellow student who just wanted to ditch classes and enjoy a beautiful day. But some of them were very upset realizing that similar things happen at some colleges across America, where shooting attacks occur relatively often.

One thing’s for sure – even though Internet anonymity provide fertile ground for abuse and even criminal activities; more and more people are becoming advocates of Internet anonymity and believe that there are other ways to secure safe communication among people.

Some Types Of Internet Security Threats

The world we are living in is making a fast evolution to digitize everything. Books, weight loss programs, music, even parties and classes are all now available online in digital form. Indeed, the technology for all these applications continues to innovate and grow exponentially fast.

Needless to say, with this raging growth in the online industry follows a rapidly increasing number of cyber security threats. As every aspect of our lives turns digital, we are in turn becoming more and more open to having our files compromised, our privacy violated, and our information stolen. Government and hackers alike are to blame, because Internet surveillance is now pervasive in almost every country, despite public protest over such bad measures.

There is a host of obvious threats to your Internet security and here’s what online users should watch out for.

Ransomware

Ransomware is a sickening form of malicious software, which infects victims’ computers, locks up all, or some documents and asks for payment in exchange for them to regain access. Cryptolocker – the most infamous example of ransomware – was earlier this year dealt as huge blow when several people were arrested by federal officials for allegedly being involved in the scam.

And, although that crackdown was a great step, Internet security experts say the software is still spreading and it is now moving to new soft targets. Intel’s McAfee Labs, has managed to track a rapidly rising number of ransomware attacks, especially on mobile devices.

Ransomware

Possibly scarier: Internet security experts generally recommend that people back up their data in order to avoid the pain of losing access to their documents and files, however, McAfee has warned that new ransomware strains might attempt to target securely stored login info for cloud backup service and lock up the files too.

Consider backing up your documents to external hard drives to avoid ransomware threats. Just like with many other kinds of malware, this one is also often unknowingly downloaded when consumers click on links or open email attachments.

However, if you at any one time you become a victim of ransomware attacks, please avoid the temptation of paying up. There is absolutely no guarantee the villains will actually free up your files, and funding Internet security crooks’ activities only worsens up the matter.

Malicious messages that certainly seem like the real thing

Cybercriminals mostly deliver malicious software or obtain personal information by tricking their victims with messages that really seem as legitimate. Download the attachment or click the link, and you have unintentionally infected your mobile device or computer.

Such malicious e-mails were once unsophisticatedly done: poor grammar, broken images, or other hints that the messages were not really coming from your mom or the bank. However, cybercriminals now have advanced increasingly and are now using toolkits’ at their disposal to help them build very truthful-looking malware and messages.

They can direct a tool at any website, say a school, and it scrapes the actual school site’s language, logo, language, everything. Internet security experts used to tell consumers to stay clear of things that look suspicious, but these advanced toolkits’ can trick even sensitive customers. It is all turning out to be a more professional game that is likely to hurt many Internet users globally.

It is a highly sophisticated spin on old attacks, and it’s worrying that consumers are always wrongfully assuming they shall be able to know any malicious e-mail. The best thing you can to do remain safe from this type of Internet security threat is by simply not clicking on links coming from any e-mail.

If that is really too extreme for you, then be sure to hover your mouse over hyperlinks ensure they are taking you to the site they claim to be. And, if it appears even remotely wrong or strange, do not click the link. Try to exercise extreme caution whenever you are dealing with any attachments as well.

Targeting the “one percent”

Although cybercriminals may target a particular government or company entity, they generally don’t spend much time targeting a single person because the possible financial pay-off is not worth their time. Nonetheless, wealthy consumers are the exception, according to a recent Internet security research carried out.

Cyber Crime

It is highly expected that cybercriminals will have a more active eye towards the wealthy – the one percent. If a criminal thinks he/she can get a serious amount of money from a victim, he/she can decide to spend a lot of time on a personalized attack.

Even if you are part of the 99%, Internet security experts warn that consumers must desist from giving out information like employers, birthdays, as well as other bio details on Facebook , Twitter, and other sites. Crooks can be devious about leveraging this info.

Cyberwar and Espionageware

What Internet security experts have been terming as a “Cyber Cold War” for quite some time is now ramping up very quickly. Indeed, many nations and states both strong and weak see cyber-attacks, as the best weapon to counter United States’ global influence.

Therefore expect an increase in malicious software being used by governments to spy on the activities of certain individuals. Amnesty International recently released an antispyware tool, which scans devices for surveillance software belonging to governments.

Overall, Internet security experts predict the number of cyber-attacks will go up in 2015 and beyond. It is scary stuff, but there is hope that public awareness and conversation will as well increase. Of course, that will not happen overnight, but in order to make changes a conversation will have to be started.

In the meantime, there are a handful of best practices that can protect average persons from a host of vulnerabilities likely to face them. First, ensure to keep your antivirus software always updated, never store sensitive personal info online or on e-mails, use strong passwords, never sign into accounts when using Wi-Fi networks that are public and exercise extreme caution when downloading attachments or clicking links.

Tor Anonymity Apps On iOS 9

Internet anonymity services are becoming increasingly popular as more and more people seek privacy from online surveillance by governments, corporations that sell your data to marketing organizations, identity thieves, and others. Internet anonymity is currently a very controversial issue as policy makers, corporations and individuals face off over privacy issues and the legitimacy of government information gathering activities that infringe on individual rights. Cases of government snooping and data mining continue to raise tempers as more and more people agitate for the right to have personal information kept securely and not shared with third parties. With European and American governments seeking to draft and implement laws that will affect the future of encryption and online privacy, services that offer Internet users the chance to browse anonymously continue to attract more and more customers. And the technologies involved are becoming even more sophisticated by the day.
Tor and Apple Logo
iPad and iPhone owners using Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 9 are set to receive free Tor anonymity apps at a later, as yet undisclosed date. Privacy app developers are driving an initiative known as iCepa which seeks to increase online privacy and security for people using mobile devices to access the internet. Among the more popular Internet anonymity services is TOR. TOR is an acronym for The Onion Router, which was initially developed as a router for the US Navy to help protect government communications. Today, Tor is a nonprofit organization involved in the research and development of privacy tools for Internet users. It is used by the military, law enforcement agencies, journalists and individuals who need to browse the net anonymously.

TOR and other privacy apps work by encrypting a user’s Internet traffic and hiding IP addresses and other identifying information in order to protect the user’s identity. It moves your traffic across its various servers and encrypts it so that anyone trying to find out your identity will see traffic on the Tor network rather than tracing it back to you. Internet anonymity is a contentious issue with supporters and opposers in both camps. People support Internet anonymity for several reasons. One is freedom of speech, especially for persons living under autocratic regimes. Internet anonymity provides a platform for journalists and other whistleblowers to report what is happening under oppressive governments so that the rest of the world can help. Further, Internet anonymity helps people to research and discuss sensitive subjects without fear of discovery. Finally, anonymity can help to prevent cybercrimes such as bullying and stalking. People opposing anonymity cite several reasons. First, the reports by law enforcement agencies that anonymity encourages crimes like drug trafficking and child pornography. Secondly, hidden identities can help to propagate hate crimes and racism as it is difficult to trace back to the original source of such material where a website is anonymous. Finally, anonymity increases cases of scamming, email fraud and identity theft.

Governments and IT firms are currently engaged in a standoff about encryption with firms like Twitter and Dropbox launching a petition that urges President Obama to support encryption as a way of supporting freedom of speech. Further, firms and individuals alike are raising concerns about proposed laws by congress that if passed, could make it legal for the government to compel an organization to give up an individual’s personal data for “security” purposes.
available on apple store logo
The new privacy apps therefore could not have come at a better time. The system wide apps which will be available via Apple’s app store, will give owners of iPads and iPhones access to the Tor anonymous service as part of Apple’s strategy to protect user privacy. A few days ago, Apple app store removed over 250 iOS apps that were using a third party advertising SDK to mine customer’s personal data and reroute it to Chinese servers. Apple privacy and security guidelines prohibit the collection and use of app store users’ personal data. Tor developers continue to work on the app in order to provide iOS 9 users with the best product.

Hornet: High-Speed Online Anonymity Network

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJi4N8fcBhs

HORNET (High-Speed Onion Routing at the Network layer) is a Tor network alternative which is much faster than others. This online anonymity program is based on “onion routing” systems and can be scaled to support multiple users with little overhead required.

Symantec’s 2015 Internet Security Threat Report: The Cyber Landscape

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5R34SXnRpk

Cyber attackers are being sophisticated than ever, moving faster and causing more damage. What are some of the biggest Internet security threats businesses are facing?

Advantages And Boundaries Of Internet Anonymity

Ever since the beginning of the Internet there has been a huge discussion about user anonymity – is Internet anonymity justifiable and when; should we all just use our legal identities while browsing and communicating on the internet. Naturally, there are lots of pros and cons to both sides of the coin.

Pros and cons of Internet Anonymity

Internet FishingMajor advantage of Internet anonymity is the opportunity to speak freely about things that would otherwise bring about unpleasant consequences to a person. This allows people to talk freely about their sexual orientation without fear of judgment, still very present in many countries; unpleasant experiences, such as harassment, sexual abuse or diseases; expressing political views that are different from the government’s, which is true especially in countries with limited freedom of speech.

In these situations Internet anonymity comes in very handy, but the major disadvantage of it is the fact that it can be used by criminal organizations and for criminal activities. Internet criminals are quite skillful at hiding, and typically they will attack those who use their real identities. So, many people view Internet anonymity as a major threat.

Those concerned about Internet security in general are mostly in favor of the anonymity; while law enforcements have a lot of trouble catching cyber criminals precisely because the high level of Internet anonymity.

The most common delusion of the average Internet user is the belief that using aliases instead of a real name will provide them anonymity. The truth is that it won’t, and the reason is quite simple – every computer has its IP address and it leaves digital footprints wherever you go on the internet.

Preserving anonymity has become much trickier since the social media came into play. It really doesn’t matter if you’re posting on a forum under a pseudonym; because, even an average hacker will be able to trace back to your Facebook  profile for example, which in most cases is on your legal name. And if you happen to link your social media profiles to any of your third-party profiles – their job gets even easier!

From here they can do whatever pops into their head and there’s no way for you to know that, until some serious damage happens. What’s worse, with them using various anonymity tools it makes them difficult to find; so, you won’t be able to press charges against them. Now, imagine someone bulling other people in your name; posting racist articles; manipulating your stock market; spending money from your credit/debit cards… You can end up in a lot of trouble, just for not being careful enough.

Anonymity
Some General Safety Measures

Luckily, there are some actions you can take to improve your Internet anonymity and security in defense against hackers.

• The main thing is to make strong passwords using symbols, numbers and letters, both upper and lower case.

• Also, consider using different passwords for different platforms, since platforms have various tools for protecting users’ passwords and not all of them are reliable.

Using a VPN is another way of protection against hackers and preserving your Internet anonymity. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and it will basically hide your computer’s IP address and your location. It is a most useful tool when using public networks, such as restaurants, airports, neighbor’s internet 🙂 etc. Plenty of hackers are just waiting out there for you to login into your Facebook account via the public network.

• Another thing you should be mindful of is to avoid giving your email address to untrusted sources and never (really, never!) use your social media accounts when creating a profile on third-party websites.

• Phishing is also something you should be very aware of. Hackers often send links to their potential victims in an email. These links lead to fake websites which look the same as their original counterparts; only their addresses are slightly different – for example it won’t be facebook.com but ffacebook.com or instead of skrill.com, you’ll see skrllll.com (triple l). People usually don’t notice these things and they just fill in the login information, practically giving away their usernames and passwords to hackers.

Social media is computer-mediated tool that allow people to create, share or exchange information, ideas, and pictures/videos in virtual communities and networks.We’re everyday witnesses of Internet being un-forgetful; everything you’ve ever done online is stored somewhere waiting to be used against you. And, hackers have a wide spectrum of tools they can use against you; no matter how careful you are they will always go above and beyond in discovering more creative and more subtle ways to get into your computer. You can never be careful enough, but you can make it a bit more complicated for them by being more mindful of your behavior online.