Cyber Insecurity vs Internet Security

Pandora's box has been opened and the explosion of information both personal and non-personal seems to be limitless and increases exponentially. And according to the National Opinion Poll taken in January of 2007 half the UK harbors a "deep mistrust" due to security concerns. Not only is there a deep public mistrust but, the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology are inquiring into the need for personal Internet Security because of the growing use of home computers, expansion of broadband, internet banking and commerce (Brent MacLean "A new look at Internet Security" Monday September 10, 2007).

Every one is talking extensively ( ISP Associations, Richard Clayton of the Cambridge Security Lab, John Carr of the Children's Charities Coalition on Internet Safety, as well as Johnathan Zittrain of the Oxford Internet Institute and many others), gathering evidence of information and compiling it all for what? Sadly, most businesses and citizens still do not take the threat posed by cyber-insecurity seriously.

You would think with dependency of economies relying on certain infrastructures involving the Internet and information exchange between key service providers, that a disruption would certainly result in loss of lives, loss of property, and the collapse of public confidence globablly. Today simple domestic hacking is not the issue that will bring on devastating destruction like those designed by terrorist activities directed at nuclear plants, banking systems, hospitals, air traffic control as well as domain name servers, the possibilities are limitless. However, it is imperative to remove these personal and public computers from the arsenal of cyber terrorists as well as cybercriminals. With 225 million Internet users in North America (Nielson-Netratings), the personal computer dominates the Internet and at the same time is the most vulnerable. Millions of PCs are under the control of "zombie masters". Red Herring, the technical business journal, estimated that in 2005 a 172,000 computers were hijacked and taken over each day and became "zombies" and under the control of a hacker. By 2007, Secure Computing, which tracks the Internet landscape, identified more than 500,000 new zombies per day that were hijacked and under the control of "bot" herders. Triple the level only two years earlier. The FBI says that because of their wideley distributed capabilities, botnets are a growing threat to national security, the national information infrastructure, and the economy.

The total number of compromised computers on the Internet is not known; however, Vince Cerf, Father of the Internet, estimates that about 150 million PCs currently connected to the Internet and are part of botnets. Based on FBI reports and other independent researchers the aforementioned number may be significantly higher. The typical home computer is attached to "always on" broadband facilities, severely compromised with malware (viruses, spyware, Trojans, keyloggers, etc.), usually without degradation of their ordinary capabilities and doing the bidding of their "zombie master". Hacking, virus dissemination, denial od service (DoS), theft of personal data, ID fraud, keyloggers, spamming, distribution of pornography, spying through webcams, click fraud and many other cyber exploits are all now almost wholly orchestrated via zombie networks.

Computers weren't designed for security; they were designed to perform complex work. As complex as computers are, each computer has 65,000 open ports (doorways) to the Internet; a simple element that leaves them vulnerable. You might wonder why an individual would want control of a herd of zombies, there are several reasons. For exploits whether it's a denial of service, to bring down the servers of banks, major corporations, or a competitor. Inherently, whenever a computer says "hello" to another computer, that computer must respond with a "hello" back. A "bot herder" with tens of thousands of computers under their control has all of them say hello at the same time to your computer or a network of computers, what do think happens. Most likely the responding PC or server is overwhelmed and crashes, it simply can't respond to that many hellos. A botnet can be purchased on the black market to carry out attacks. Zombie-making virus kits can be purchased on the net, requiring little or no technical knowledge and which provides the breeding ground for future international cybercriminals and the training ground for cybergangs (terrorists).

What are we to do? Implementing new laws when it's already difficult to pursue and in some cases unenforceable and with cross-border criminal investigations not to mention the resources needed are vast and costly with little results.

How do we secure the Internet now? One idea is to improve administrative, regulatory, and technical solutions to produce a safer Net and then apply resources to fortify banks, airports, power plants from the insecure internet we have allowed to develop. It begins with securing the end-user and creating an awareness that we are all responsible for the safety of the Internet and we all need to "Become Responsible Cybercitizens".

We the people have to make an effort to make sure our machines run clean and free of malware (viruses, spyware, trojans, etc.). That involves current patches, updates, upgrades, and professional software technologies. It also obligates everyone of us to make sure that we have not been compromised by having our computers serviced by a security technician and assured that there is no malware present. There is a service, the Invisus PC security service, that will provide a fully managed computer security service including unlimited security technical support plus several additional benefits that will earn you the title of a "Responsible Cybercitizen".

Requiring ISPs to scan data traffic going to and from computers attached to their networks for unusual patterns of traffic and then deny them Internet access until it has been determined they are not zombies. We can also ask the ISP to provide remote patches, updates and software updates. However, the ISPs will bulk at the cost, liability, autonomy, support, and delivery. Or have our ISPs provide a value-added service similar to subscription-based services offered by the Invisus PC security service which not only provides for a hassle-free computing experience but, is a total security package locking down the end-users computer for a minimum monthly fee.

In order to succeed we must meld security and convenience. The consumer doesn't want to be responsible for their security. All they want to know is how to turn their computer on and off. Unfortunately, we can't have our cake and eat it too. The time has come to learn how to maintain a safe and healthy computer (saving the consumer both time and money) void of infections that keep spreading and infecting other computers. It's not necessary to be technically savvy to operate a computer, like your automobile there's no need to be a technically savvy mechanic but, it is important to make sure your car is in good operating condition not only for its performance but, for the safety of others. We have laws to assure us the security of cars and their owners are safe. Those who are ignorant of how to maintain the safety of an automobile are required to perform certain responsibilities to insure the safety of their vehicle for others as well as the owner of the car. To insure the safety of others we require a certain level of education and knowledge of the rules of the road. You can't drive without insurance or a drivers license, which means that you have undertaken and understand some level of instructions.

You may disagree but, unfortunately as impossible as it may be practically, politically, and ethically, to require every consumer... including the ignorant, the poor, and even the wealthy, to be legally responsible for keeping their computer in a state of reasonable security, the fact is you are guilty until proven innocent. So, the next best approach might be to offer to try and educate them but we probably cannot impose a "computer-driving license". Again, we may be able to offer an alternative by requiring the consumer to take necessary steps to assure that their computers are serviced and up-to-date with professional security software and that they are checked and given a clean bill of health; free of malware.

The Bad Effects Of Cyber Crimes

A criminal defense attorney in California tackles on the subject of cyber crimes. What exactly are these? Can the law enforcement specialists find criminals on the internet? How can you develop a framework for your children to learn what cyber crimes are? The following information will help acquaint you with underhanded and unlawful online behavior. Online activities are simply as susceptible to crime and can endanger personal safety just as effectively as common daily crimes. Lawmakers, law enforcement, and individuals need to know how to defend themselves as well as the individuals for which they are responsible. You can see by the explanations of various cyber crimes below that the crimes have existed before computer systems and the internet were offered to the general public. The only difference involves the resources utilized to make the crime.

The term 'cyber crime' is really a wrongly used name. This term has nowhere been described in any law /Act passed or ratified by the Indian Parliament. The concept of cyber crime is not radically distinctive from the idea of standard crime. The two include conduct whether or not act or omission, which result in breach of rules of law and counterbalanced with the sanction of the state. Though cyber crimes is a new variety of crimes which came into being soon after the arrival of the computers and the scenario has become more worse with all the influence of the net in our day to day life. Numerous crimes which range from identity theft to extortion can be perpetrated by means of computer. For every single real-world crime, there is a cyber-based counterpart. Inside the cyber world, extortion lends itself well to those criminals who understand how to perpetrate destructive acts concerning computer systems.

Like conventional crime, cybercrime may take many shapes and may take place almost anytime or anyplace. Criminals carrying out cybercrime use numerous techniques, depending on their skill-set and their goal. This shouldn't be unexpected: cybercrime is, of course, simply 'crime' with some type of 'computer' or 'cyber' aspect. Symantec draws from the many explanations of cybercrime and specifies it briefly as any crime which is committed using a computer or system, or hardware device. The computer or device may be the agent of the crime, the facilitator of the criminal offense, or the target of the crime. The crime may take place on the computer alone or in addition to other areas.

A criminal defense attorney in California states that together with the increasing use of computers, cyber crime is becoming more and more predominant in today's world. Various types of Cyber crimes that can be found on the net would be the following. Junk e-mail, or the unwanted sending out of junk e-mails for business reasons, which is unlawful. Fresh anti-spam laws and regulations are being passed in various countries that may hopefully restrict the usage of unsolicited electronic communications. Harassment by computer is really a crime in several U.S. states. It's unique from stalking in that stalking typically requires several contacts, whereas harassment by computer can be a solitary incident. It is also totally different from regular harassment, because the criminal offense typically includes a range of crimes that will not be considered harassment if carried out personally.

Online Crimes - Is Justice Really Possible?

Most people know about Internet security and they know about identity theft being one of the most serious threats there can be. However, it is undeniable that a lot of them still do not fully understand just how serious web-perpetrated identity theft has become. Many even end up unaware that their identity have been stolen until such day that they receive their credit card bills and discover whopping purchases they wouldn't even have thought of making. Usually, it is too late before one discovers that he has been abused digitally and the only thing that can be done is to move and make sure that the same does not happen in the future.

There are many crimes that are eating away at our society these days but out of all of them, it appears that cyber-related offenses such as digital identity theft have become the most rampant. A lot of this fact can probably be attributed to the convenience that a cyber criminal enjoys while pursuing his selfish intentions. Aside from that element of convenience, it is undeniable that online crooks have been profiting from their activities with very little concern for the risk of being caught and it's also because cyber laws have not been fully implemented, if they have been created at all.

Given this, those who perpetrate their crimes through the Internet are definitely enjoying a lot of advantage because it's practically near impossible that they will be caught. First of all, there aren't too many technologies that allow for actually pinning down a suspect in a cyber crime. There are fields in cyber justice which are now being explored, specifically those that deal with investigations that look into digital trails from one computer to the next.

When a crime happens on the Internet, it is almost always guaranteed that no justice can be possible because there is simply not enough ways to actually pin down a suspect. When you talk of physical crimes, you have fingerprints, dental records, and other biometrics that can be used to point to the identity of a specific person. Online, however, while there are methods that computer forensics offer, they are not a hundred percent reliable because even if they are able to confirm that this particular computer was used for the crime, it could still be anybody behind that computer actually committing it. This makes digital theft so much more convenient and rampant because there remains no foolproof way of pinning down a cyber criminal. In fact, this is most probably the reason why a lot of even the most cosmopolitan areas in the world do not have legislation that covers Internet crime.

If there's anything that all of these facts tell us, it's another fact that cyber crimes are not expected to go away in the near future. That's because with every advancement that the white hats make while using computers more useful, the black hats are there to twist everything. What's even worse is knowing that both can be equally competent in as far as dealing with computers is concerned.

Perhaps what citizens can do is to simply protect themselves and to avoid all chances that they give someone reason to make victims out of them. Protection can come through software that block the entry of online contaminants such as viruses, worms and especially Trojans which allow a computer to be remotely accessible to someone who may not have the best intentions.

Another option is to use an IP hiding software which supplies a user with fake IP addresses that may be used while he surfs. Because an IP address is a computer's unique identifier, hiding it will mean the computer can actually bump into a hacker but not be recognized. Hence, that computer will be safe.

What Can You Do About Bullying - A Parent's Role

Bullying of children in the neighborhood, at school, or on the internet is a very serious problem that has to be addressed and just cannot be ignored thinking it will resolve itself.

Many times our kids, especially as they get older, are very reluctant to confide with a parent and allow them to know what is happening.

There are signs of bullying that might tip you off that there is an existing problem.

Some of the more obvious indicators are:

*Bruises, cuts, scrapes, a black eye, or the obvious signs of a physical confrontation.
*Torn clothing or damaged or missing personal property.
*A sharp change in behavior, being moody or depressed.
*Exhibiting a lack of self esteem or self worth.
*A loss of interest in school or the internet

There are many other indicators which I discuss in other articles.

In this essay I want to take the time to discuss what a parent can do to help their child if they feel there is bullying going on at school effecting your child.

Possible solutions to bullying:

*The first and most important thing to do is to somehow get your son or daughter to open up and discuss the situation with you. This can be very difficult.

If there is an older child in the house who has already gone through this type of situation in the past it might help to get them involved.

If you had such an experience when younger or know the story of someone else who had to deal with this issue it might help to talk about that.

*Often the person being bullied fails to talk to a parent because they feel the parent will:

1. Not believe them
2. Think it is their fault
3. Tell someone making things worse

So you have to emphasize that you are on their side. That you believe them and do not blame them.

More importantly you have to let them know that you will work with them together on the solution. That you will allow them to help decide what can be done to eliminate the problem that exists.

*Sometimes the answer is quite obvious and easily remedied.

Let's say, as an example, it involves stealing his or her lunch money:

1. Have them take a lunch to school instead of money.
2. If they take the packed lunch see about prepaying the school for lunches.

If the problem only occurs on the bus:

1. Is there an alternate bus your child can take to school?
2. If not, can you or a neighbor drive him or her to school? Car Pool?

If they keep trying to take a specific item, iPod, cell phone, etc...

1. Have your son or daughter leave the item home until the problem ends.

*It is important that your child has a "poker face" when being bullied. Do not give the bully the pleasure of seeing them upset or angry. It just plays right into their hands. It is what they want.

*It is important that your child does not lower themselves to the level of the bully. Do not argue or get into a fight. Stay calm. If it gets to the point that they cannot do this do to fear of their safety, then it is time to bring in an authority figure such as a teacher or policeman.

*Finally, it might be time to speak with school officials or even law enforcement especially if there is physical abuse involved.

1. Make sure you discuss this with your son or daughter first, no surprises!
2. If all else fails, try direct confrontation with the bully's parent, have someone as a moderator so things do not get ugly and out of control.

How to Write Website Terms of Service (AKA Terms of Use or Terms and Conditions)?

Terms: The Background

Why do we care about a web site's Terms and Conditions? Everyone knows that a site needs to have legal Terms. Few people think about the obvious question: Why?

While our statutes, regulations and past cases are full of laws and their applications when it comes to everyday interactions, few laws and cases exists with respect to online interactions. Why? Our cyber universe, as a mature legal arena, has existed for only some ten or fifteen years. When compared to the hundreds of years of "real world" interactions, its easy to see why many legal "holes" exists in our system.

Under US law, these legal "holes" are filled up with with either judge-made interpretations or privately drafted contract law. Given that on any single day, a judge reviewing an online case may have come from family, criminal or juvenile courts, we would rather leave as little for judges to decide on their on as possible. We achieve this through proper negotiation, drafting and implementation of site Terms.

Luckily for us, the US, as opposed to many civil code jurisdictions, respects privately negotiated contracts. Web site Terms are nothing more than privately negotiated contracts. Unless you realize this important point, you will end up leaving too much for judges to decide.

Three Common Mistakes

Failing to realize that web Terms are privately negotiated agreements, most web site operators make three common mistakes.

They Copy Other Sites' Terms: The most common way for site administrators to "draft" site Terms is by copying it from other sites. Worse, they copy it from some site touting its Terms as a standard that once edited can be used by anyone. Why? because, few administrators understand how important these Terms are. Fewer still understand the impact Terms have on each and every future online dispute.

They fail to Negotiate the Terms: The most common mistakes made by site administrators is believing that if they post Terms on the internet, they will bind visitors. That is equivalent to posting mortgage papers on the wall of a bank and believing that everyone who enters will be bound by those documents. Web site Terms must be negotiated to be valid. This is a critical component of online compliance; few, however, understand how online negotiations take place.

They Don't Change with the Times: Internet laws "develop" or "mature" through case law on a daily basis. Since so few cyber laws are codified through statutes, compliance can only be reached through Terms amendments reflecting these latest rulings. Many site Terms, however, were drafted 6 months to 3 years ago. Administrators must start thinking about making key changes to Terms on a regular basis.

The Risk of Non-Compliant Terms

In our representation of online companies, we see four main areas of risks faced by clients. These risks are easily avoidable; however, due to a lack of understanding risks often mature into costly if not destructive forces for a young company.

Many online companies unknowingly make promises to online users that they never intend. I've seen clients with subscription based pricing models having copied Terms relevant only to one time charge sites. As a result, they were liable for wrongful charges. Some clients with upstart e-tail sites, ended up making consumer support promises which only the like of Amazon or Buy.com could make.

Important contract provisions get struck down. When online companies fail to understand that Terms must be "negotiated" with users, they end up surprised when judges strike down provisions that are employed by countless other sites. The typical response is, "How could a judge do this? It is Standard industry practice."

The Company assumes unnecessary levels of liability. When Terms are not properly drafted and negotiated, incorrect provisions can result in substantial corporate liability. There are countless class-action websites run by attorneys soliciting clients for class action law suits against online companies. Having the wrong Terms can be devastating.

Administrators facing personal liability. Hard to believe, but when Terms are drafted improperly the owners and operators of sites can face liability personally, not just as a corporation.

Step 1: Define Your Goals

It may sound strange, but before you can start drafting any Terms you need to figure out what your goals are. The Terms must reflect your goals. More importantly, they need to avoid saddling you with unnecessary obligations.

If you are building an affiliate marketing campaign and deploying squeeze pages, what are your goals? You want to build a mailing list, that's obvious. But what are the Terms of the transaction? You may want to give them a free gift or service in exchange for information. Alternatively, you may want them to read product descriptions. Either way, what do you want you customers to do?

If you are building a forum or soliciting product reviews, what do you want users to do? You want them to post comments but you want them to behave in accordance with the law. What does that mean? How can their behavior make you liable to third parties?

If you are building an e-tail site, what do you want to accomplish? You obviously want to make sales, but you also don't want to be liable for faulty products, lost shipments or false advertising.

What if you are designing software that runs on the internet? You want to make sure it is deployed in accordance with legal allowances. You also want to make sure that its not distributed without your consent. What about a dating site? Here you want to make sure that members are truthful and that people interact safely.

Every online product or service is unique. Start by defining your goals. There can never be too many. The mistake is to just ignore this stage.

Step 2: Where is Your Liability?

Once you figure out what your goals are, you need to think about where potential liability can come from.

If you're developing an affiliate marketing campaign, you face liability from potential false advertising and product liability.

If you you built a widget that runs off of tweeter, you face potential trademark and copyright violations in redisplaying tweets.

If you run a forum, you face publisher liability for comments made by users.

If you developed software that automates posting to Craigslist, you face liability for enabling your users' unintentional violation of that site's terms of service.

If you develop a squeeze page you may face privacy concerns due to follow up advertising.

If you develop a digital entertainment download site, you may face liability due to copyright infringement for ringtones and games.

If you build a social network site, you face liability for intellectual property infringements for users' posting.

There is unlimited forms of liability faced by online companies. The trick is to give some thought to all potential issues that can arise in the future, however remote. Always ask, what can someone end up being unhappy about? Even a $2.99 download product can result in millions of dollars in liability.

Step 3: Define Your Customer's View

It's one thing to figure out what you want. It's quite another thing to figure out what your customer wants to achieve. Don't forget what we said earlier on: A web site's Terms is a negotiated agreement. It can never be one sided or it risks being thrown out by a judge. So what do your customer want?

A customer who clicked on an advertisement to an affiliate marketing site, wants truth in advertising regarding the product.

A visitor to a squeeze page wants an exchange of his information for value. The e-product must be delivered as promised.

A subscriber to a newsletter wants his information kept confidential from 3rd party marketers.

A member to a dating site wants his personal information kept confidential from other members unless he wishes them revealed.

A customer of a digital entertainment site wants his digital game to operate properly.

A customer downloading a ringtone wants to make sure that he is paying for one download and not paying for a subscription.

A buyer from an e-tail site wants to know who to return the product to in the event of a complaint.

A client posting a review wants to make sure you keep his identity confidential.

If you haven't given thought to what your customers want, a judge will. The negotiation starts by you thinking about your customers needs.

Step 4: Enable through Negotiation

So how do we put everything together? How do we enable our goals, while minimizing potential liability and allowing for customer wishes? We negotiate with the customer. I know this sounds strange. How can you ever negotiate with a visitor to a splash page?

Terms of service are worth little if a court is likely to later dismiss many of the key provisions. Courts over the past few years have struck down many important sections of leading sites' Terms as being too one sided. How do you avoid it?

Focus on the best form of "consent". Most web sites at best offer a link at the bottom of a page to the site's Terms. Others go a little further by requiring the users to check a box as having "agreed" to the site's Terms. However, if you have a provision that you "must" make sure that a court will uphold you can do better. There are countless options available to make sure that a client reads and consents to important terms (e.g. displaying summarized terms of service).

For some key issues, like dispute resolution, afford the user options. Most attorneys, inexperienced in online law, draft straight forward terms. As they try to bind users, they fail to understand that unless they build options into the Terms (like how to best resolve disputes) judges are likely to strike the provisions down.

Don't fail this step. Negotiate fair Terms with your customers by giving them ample chance to consent to important provisions and providing them with options on how to best implement the Terms.

Step 5: How to Make Changes?

You can be assured of one thing. You'll have to make ongoing changes to your Terms. Not only are your business practices likely to change over time, online laws change on a regular basis. As online legal cases make it through the court system, we must incorporate into existing Terms any new legal interpretations and findings. Failing to do so, assures us of stale and irrelevant Terms. Basically, absent amendments to our Terms, the goals we set up earlier while minimizing liability will be ineffective.

But how do we make changes? If we look at the typical terms of service agreement, we are likely to see a statement such as this: "XYZ reserves the right to amend these terms of service at any time, with or without notice to the users. It is the user's obligation to check this page from time to time to see if any changes to the terms were made."

Does this provision seem strange? How often have you heard of a contract that can be amended unilaterally by one side without notice or the option to back out? Not often! That's because, in our normal daily lives we would never agree to such a contract. So why should such a contract apply online?

Courts have, in online cases, consistently rejected contract provisions which were deemed too onerous when one side did not have the opportunity to choose among alternatives, negotiate or withdraw. From cases concerning arbitration clauses to subscription pricing, courts have rejected provisions that are too one sided.

While this provision is widely accepted in the industry, I would not advise building an online business based on the broad application of unproven and legally weak provisions. Avoid the risk of a court rejecting your Terms. The solution: NOTICE. Go out of your way to provide your users with notifications of any changes made to your policies. Send out email and txt messages. Post notices of revisions to your site. Have members "re-accept" the new Terms.

You can never do too much when it comes to providing notice of changes.

Step 6: How to Control Liability

So by now, we negotiated compliant Terms for our online business. Is that enough to control our liability. No! To assure that any potential future liability is contained, you must follow these three steps:

Follow the Terms: This may seem so simple, but so few actually follow it. You need to know your Terms and you need to follow the Terms. If you made promises, keep them. If you provided customers with procedures they need to follow, respect them. Don't create a situation where you actually create liability for yourself by having drafted compliant Terms but having failed to follow them. Remember, since there are many "holes" in the online legal system, judges rely on privately negotiated contracts such as Terms. Your failure to follow your own Terms will be read against you. You would have effectively breached your agreement with your clients.

Teach your Clients: So you "negotiated" your Terms through proper usage of the "acceptance" procedure. But do your clients know what to do? Often you liability is tied to your clients' behavior. So go out of your way to teach them proper and lawful behavior. From support forums to seminars, from conference calls to newsletters - Build a culture of education by teaching your clients the lessons that are important to you.

AND... Build Liability Proof Domestic and Offshore Corporate Structures.

Build Liability Proof Corporate Structure

After all is said and done, don't forget that your best ally when it comes to managing potential liability is the corporate structure that you've set up.

Basic corporate structures, if properly set up and managed over the years, will provide you with some liability protection. That might be enough for some simple online businesses such as squeeze page powered affiliate marketing campaigns and e-tailers.

For other online businesses, a more sophisticated form of domestic and offshore corporate structure is needed. Believe it or not, your greatest risk will not come from government. It will come from competitors. Everyday, large tech companies compete with smaller more nimble companies using the court system. And why not? In court, the larger companies have an advantage - money.

Many entrepreneurial companies have gone out of businesses after being dragged into court by larger companies. For many online and software companies, compliant Terms will not suffice. They need to supplement those Terms with a structure that evens out the odds in court.

This is a topic too large for this eGuide. Speak with an attorney about the design of domestic and offshore networks of online compliant corporate businesses.

Where Do We Go Next?

Sit back and start designing your site's Terms. The more questions you have, the better it will end up. And remember what we said in the beginning of this eGuide: A Site's Terms is only one component of its overall online compliance.

Make sure your Terms integrate and support your business' overall online compliance strategy including:

Online Privacy Software Compliance Mobile Compliance Direct Marketing (email and txt) Intellectual Property Compliance (trademark and copyright) Online Advertising Online Promotions (contests and sweepstakes).

Once you design an overall compliance strategy, examine your business' liability exposure and the ability to incorporate an online liability management system based on both domestic and offshore corporate structures.

Is Facebook Helpful In Identifying a Cyber Stalker?

Facebook.com now has over 350 million active members. With that many people interacting over the Internet it's obvious why so many cyber stalking cases take place over the Facebook social network system. But with so many instances of cyber stalking occurring everyday are the owners and managers of the popular social network helpful to their members is locating and identifying the cyber bullies? Unfortunately like all the est of the Internet giants they are not helpful at all. The standard line is that they will cooperate with law enforcement and comply with court orders and subpoenas served on the Custodian of Records.

It sort of becomes a catch 22. The police will sometimes say that they cannot open a case until you can identify the person stalking you and the ISPs or social networks will not release account holder or members information unless it's in compliance with a search warrant. The victim of the cyber stalking crime is once again victimized by this system of "pass the buck". In a civil litigation a lawyer will probably not take on a case unless you can identify the person you want to sue.

There is hope though. A victim of a Facebook stalker can turn to a private investigation that specializes in Internet investigations and locating and identifying people online. In the case of Facebook, most accounts will have an email address that is visible to other members. The email address used to open the Facebook account had to be active and working at the time the account was opened and the page was created. If that is the case the email address can be traced back to the owner using a standard reverse email search investigation.

If the email address is hidden from public view the private detective can still contact the Facebook page owner via the private messages system and can use a pretext to either trick the cyber stalker into revealing their identify or they can lure the stalker over to a pretext web site. These sites are created with features that can trap and trace a visitors identifying information. This information can be traced to the stalker or perhaps compared to identifying information about a person you suspect is the cyber stalker.

Once the investigation has been completed the investigator can reduce his findings to a report that is in acceptable form for the police to continue the investigation and make an arrest. So even if Facebook is not helpful in a cyber stalking investigation there are PIs that will help you. Of course it would be so much simpler if large social networks would just police their forums and keep things nice and safe and friendly however that is just not the case.

Cyber Crime Law Separating Myth From Reality

Remember Bruce Willis, the main protagonist in the fourth installment of the
Die Hard series last summer? Live Free or Die Hard depicts Willis as the New
York police department detective John McClane who is commissioned to capture a
gang of 'cyber terrorists' intent on shutting down the entire world's internet.
In today's increasingly volatile world of mobile activated bombs and websites of
various militant groups, it is not hard to imagine the Die Hard scenario
materializing in real life as well.

One of the most fascinating aspects of modern technology is how it has
penetrated every scope and strata of society. Everyone from the uneducated
mechanic to the high-profile chief executive officer of a firm now carries a
mobile and is aware of what a computer is. This infiltration of technology in
our communities has, by and large, proved to be beneficial. But like every other
good thing, technology too can be exploited. This exploitation, among other
things, has resulted in certain crimes being committed through or against
computers, their affiliated networks and the information contained within them.
Thus, came about the neologism of cyber crime.

Even though the term is now widely used in law circles, disagreements are
aplenty regarding what actually entails cyber crime. President of Naavi.org,
India's largest cyber law information portal suggests that the term is a
misnomer. "The concept of cyber crime is not radically different from that of
conventional crime," says in a report on the portal, "Both include conduct
whether act or omission, which cause breach of rules of law and [are]
counterbalanced by the sanction of the state. Cyber crime may be said to be [one
of] those species, of which, the genus is conventional crime, and where either
the computer is an object or subject of the conduct constituting crime,"

However, despite the similar legal nature of both conventional and cyber crime,
they are substantially different in practice. Cyber crimes are far easier to
learn how to commit, require fewer resources relative to the potential damage
caused, can be committed in a jurisdiction without being physically present in,
and until recently, their status of illegality has been, at best, vague. As the
global technology policy and management consulting firm McConnell Institute
notes in a comprehensive report on the subject, many countries' existing archaic
laws threaten the global information dynamic

"The growing danger from crimes committed against computers, or against
information on computers, is beginning to claim attention in national capitals.
In most countries around the world, however, existing laws are likely to be
unenforceable against such crimes".

The report added, "Existing terrestrial laws against physical acts of trespass
or breaking and entering often do not cover their 'virtual' counterparts. New
kinds of crimes can fall between the cracks."

Furthermore, efficient law enforcement is further complicated by the
transnational nature of cyberspace.

"Mechanisms of cooperation across national borders are complex and slow. Cyber
criminals can defy the conventional jurisdictional realms of sovereign nations,
originating an attack from almost any computer in the world, passing it across
multiple national boundaries, or designing attacks that appear to be originating
from foreign sources. Such techniques dramatically increase both the technical
and legal complexities of investigating and prosecuting cyber crimes."

To protect themselves from those who would steal, deny access to, or destroy
valuable information, public and private institutions have increasingly relied
on security technology. But in today's rapid world of e-commerce, self
protection, however essential, alone cannot make up for a lack of legal
protection. Many countries, therefore, now have separate legislation against
such activities.

The bill covers two basic types of cyber crimes. One in which computers
themselves are targets (such as criminal data access, data damage, malicious
code, and various other kinds of information theft on computer networks), while
the other in which computer and other technology are used as a tool to commit
virtual versions of various conventional crimes (such as cyber terrorism,
electronic fraud and forgery, cyber stalking and spamming, etc).

For the average internet surfer, unaware of the technical definitions of most of
these offences, the law may appear quite confusing at the first glance. It shall
come as no surprise, therefore, that disagreements regarding the ordinance's
interpretation persist even in the broader legal fraternity. In particular, it
has come under fire from civil rights groups and a section of lawyers who
denounce it as "effectively and practically [...] useless against cyber crimes"
but nevertheless creating "enormous obstructions and nuisances for IT enabled
[...] businesses and individuals" as well as considerably sacrificing individual
liberties such as that of privacy.

Mark Tamale (former member of the information technology law forum and the
ministry of science and technology) who has been at the forefront of the
awareness campaign, 'Take a bite out of the cyber crimes law' has criticised
this and other sections of the ordinance as being too ambiguous. He implies that
the law could, as a consequence, render even something as innocuous as googling
'how to make an atomic bomb' a 'terrorist act.' Surely however, the 'knowingly
engages in' portion of the statue as well as the subsequent definition of

'terrorist-ic intent' should make this a highly unlikely possibility.

A more pressing concern however, at least for the average citizen would be of
privacy. Sections of the law pertaining to corporate responsibility require all
internet service providers to store up to 90 days of data regarding consumers'
internet usage. Service providers are also, in turn, legally bound to comply
with federal law enforcement agencies if they require such data. Such broad
ranging powers for the law enforcement agencies are a common feature of the
ordinance, which also empowers the Federal Investigation Authority to issue an
arrest warrant without any direct involvement of the judiciary.

This means that in effect if the peoples found out how you took a picture of the
man that always stands at the beginning of your lane and then posted it in your
blog, then you may end up in jail (section 13 (d) of the bill renders it illegal
to distribute any image on the Web without the prior explicit consent of the
person in the picture). You may also be arrested for bombarding all your
'frands' with Valentine Day wishes (section 13 defines cyber stalking as
'communicating obscene, vulgar, profane, lewd, lascivious or indecent language,
picture or images with an intent to coerce, intimate or harass any person using
a computer network, internet, network site, electronic mail or any other similar
means of communication').

Worse still, if you committed any of 21 crimes enlisted in the bill in your
office premises, you will not only end up in jail yourself, but land your bosses
in hot water as well. For section 21, on offenses by a corporate body, holds any
corporation responsible for any action which was committed on its instruction or
for its benefit. Some of these definitions, even by layman standards paint very
abstruse criteria.

Even if one puts aside valid concerns about the lack of procedural safeguards
and due process to protect the rights and the liberties of individuals, one
cannot help but wonder how it will become a nightmare to implement the law, and
then prove any accusations in a trial, especially given the international nature
of cyber crime. Unless the crimes mentioned in it are defined in a manner
consistent across other international jurisdictions, coordinated efforts by law
enforcement officials to combat cyber crime will remain largely complicated and
unsuccessful. There is also a most pressing need to educate law enforcers
themselves about the nature of technology involved, so they can distinguish
aptly between a casual surfer and genuine cyber criminal. The past reputation of
our law enforcement agencies does not leave one with a lot of confidence in this
respect.

In short, a separate ordinance for cyber crimes is in it self a step in the
right direction. After all, rule of law in any capacity always constitutes
towards blossoming a trustworthy environment for business and individuals to
work in. But merely passing a law has never been enough to curtail any crime;
the real deterrent will be its implementation and awareness among the public.

Protecting Brands in Cyberspace

Facebook has more than 350 million users, Twitter boasts 32.1 million, and MySpace attracts over 115 million to its site each month. The number of people using social media makes trademark infringement and brand confusion as easy as creating a username and password.

In Dallas alone, where we are based, more than 700,000 area businesses have a Facebook Page, which are customizable mini-sites geared toward organizations, products, or public personalities. In reaching out to their target demographics, these companies allow users, or "fans" of the page, to post comments, view news and information, and basically have a voice about that company. With tools like these open to the public, how are companies able to protect their brands and trademarks in a social media-run world?

There are some proactive ways to beat counterfeiters and imposters to the punch. For one thing, it may be beneficial to have a few employees or outside contractors regularly check social networking sites for unauthorized use of your brand, bad press, trademark infringement, and the sale of counterfeit goods. Of course, the best defense is a good offense, so join the online community and create your own positive buzz. It's a relatively inexpensive way to advertise and reach consumers, who may not always be reached by traditional methods.

Also be sure to register your company or brand name with key social media sites. This can be a simple process and probably the easiest way to secure your company's reputation on social media sites. By registering your name or brand, no one else can. The trouble lies when someone else has already secured your name. If that happens, there are several steps you can take to ensure that your social media presence is your own.

For one thing, be sure to take advantage of the "terms of use policies" to protect your rights. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter all have procedures in place to assist rights owners in handling infringement. It's important to take full advantage of these safeguards to protect your brand. Many sites require an official representative of the company to control the page or username, but others, like Twitter, don't. Typical guidelines include rules against impersonating others that does, or is intended to, confuse, mislead, or deceive the general public.

Other options may include calling your in-house counsel or litigation, but before taking any sort of action, first analyze the seriousness of the offense. Taking a tough stance against a fairly harmless infringer can backfire and cause negative press (or in some cases, benefit the offending party). Sometimes it's more effective to send a letter explaining the situation and asking the party at fault to fix the problem.

Regulations and organizations are in place to remedy infringement when letters and niceties don't work. The Digital Millennium Copywrite Act (DMCA) may be helpful in copyright infringement cases because many social networking websites have guidelines that mirror DMCA requirements. The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) is an official trade association representing the interests of the social media industry, with an ethics code requiring members to adhere to certain guidelines, such as disclosure of identity, genuine honesty in communication, and compliance with media-specific rules.

Social media has not only opened up new avenues for communications and brand marketing, but has also added whole new ways to infringe on those efforts. Making sure that your brand and company is protected in cyberspace isn't just important; it's an integral part of 21st century communications.

Cyber Crime, the Threat to the Youth

There must be people out there who wish to protect their children from the biggest lure of the century is the Internet. It is wonderful yet dangerous place for the kids to play. There have been innumerate warnings from the media and law enforcing agencies, yet the problem seems to be escalating. If your kid is caught in a cyber crime, then he will face charges. However, if the child is too young and immature, then a bail bond Las Vegas or sometimes more than one bail bonds Las Vegas can get him out.

This is starting to become a big problem that has materialized only recently, approximately two decades ago. The children born in this period grew up with computers, and they had easy access to the Internet. Internet access is available to them just about anywhere. Whether it is at schools, libraries, friends' homes, kids can use computers and the Internet anywhere. The problem seems too complicated because even parental check is not practical every time. Parents simply cannot keep 24 hour surveillance like a satellite.

Besides, the advancements in technology are providing even more opportunities for teenagers. Computers are getting smaller, faster, more powerful and cheaper than ever before. This boom in technology has changed our world forever. This has given an undeniable access to kids, and you will agree with the fact that there is hardly any home left in the world without at least one computer.

The tragedy is that the people with wrong intentions are also well familiar with this technology. They think it is a safe place for theft because they can easily hide their identity until the time they are caught. Most of the times, it is hard to believe that the suspect can be a child. And, by the time he is identified it is often too late.

There is, however, a positive aspect, and that is that more and more people are becoming aware about the issue and many are attempting to address this issue seriously. Cyber crime is, unfortunately, very difficult to catch; besides, the convict is mostly a teenager who attempted the crime as a fun activity. However, there are some cases in which the crime was planned for the sake of monetary gains.

Moreover, with the computer at their disposal, it is quite easy for kids to meet strangers through their computer screens. Nobody knows the intentions of the stranger. They can easily plan out something notorious or dangerous. It gets easier if the computer is placed in the kid's bedroom where he has complete privacy to do whatever he wishes.

The biggest solution to this issue is parental check. It is the parent's job to make sure what the child is doing while surfing the web. Parents should take out some time to discuss what new findings they have made through the web. Go light while discussing this because if you are too harsh on him, then your child can start telling lies and might even turn rebellious. At the end of the day, preventing your child from cyber crime is in your hands.

Sticks and Stones Can Break Bones, Cyber Bullying

Most of us remember the school yard chant "Stick and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me." I guess as children we believed that but most of us realized, through life experiences, that words can not only hurt us...they can kill.

The most heart breaking and shocking incident of the harm cyber bullies can cause is the case of Megan Meier. Megan was a child, a thirteen year old girl with hopes and dreams and a child's insecurities and vulnerabilities. She had battled a weight problem and ADD but there was a new bright light in her life. She had lost 20 pounds, her fourteenth birthday was approaching and most of all she had met "Josh."

"Josh" was the boy of her dreams. They met online and he was perfect. He was cute. He played the guitar. Most of all he accepted her. For six weeks her cyber relationship with Josh was life changing. He thought she was pretty. No doubt she felt pretty and in fact she was a very beautiful little girl.

As quickly as everything had begun it all came crashing down. His posts to her turned dark and mean. He didn't want to be her friend. He wished her a shi**y life and told her the world would be a better place without her.

The little girl who had found something so beautiful to believe in...believing in herself and believing she was accepted crashed down like a chandelier. Fragile and shattered she ran to her bedroom, fashioned a noose from a cloth belt and hanged herself in her closet. She died the next day.

The boy who had broken her spirit was not a boy at all. He was a fictitious creation of a cyber bully, a mother of a former friend, a neighbor. The neighbor had spent six weeks feeding Megan's fragile little girl ego only to bring her crashing down and with her words she did break bones.

Having been a member of some online support forums for Alzheimer's care givers and persons who have lost someone to suicide I can attest to the damage a cyber bully can cause. We are all fragile in different ways and at different phases in our lives. Whether we are a starry eyed teen who is enamored by a cyber boyfriend or a bone weary care giver who is feeling isolated, disheartened, physically spent and desperate we all have our tipping point.

Over a period of a few years I tried to give back to the Alzheimers support community by being an active online member of the Alzheimers Association member's forum. Hours were spent trying to be supportive of those who were traveling a path I had completed when my father died in 2002. The friendships were mighty and the sense of giving back was gratifying.

There was a cyber bully there too. It would seem an unlikely place for someone to go to "agitate and intimidate" (his words from his online blog) and yet it does make sense. It is the emotionally delicate who make a good target. Internet bullies are looking for an effect. Certainly finding a forum with thousands of members and a world wide audience makes a great stage. Those who stood up to his insults and attempts to create discord were banned from the forum (myself included). He told those who could find nothing to hold to that they were not fit to be care givers. He even made a point of discussing my brother's suicide and suggesting I could have and should have prevented it. The bully? He remains.

We live in a society that loves to build someone up and tear them back down. We see it with celebrities but perhaps it is just as common here in our real world and the availability of a world wide stage, given the internet it has reached a new low. What was once a bully on a playground or a neighborhood oddball who delighted in taunting those unfortunate enough to cross his path are now finding themselves in the cross hairs of their cyber bullying for sport.

Can it ever go back to the way it once was? No. The internet is here to stay as are those who will use it to do harm. Megan's suicide has began a movement to have cyber bullying made illegal. It is only a tiny step forward but it is step which must be taken. Hiding in the shadows online and using the anonymity as a means of inflicting emotional pain must be dealt with. For Megan's family it will be the second Christmas without the little girl who was a shining star in their lives. For the woman who perpetrated the online hoax it is life in the spotlight of all who know the truth. For a tiny town of Dardenne

Prairie Missouri it is a new law which makes such evil acts illegal.

Understanding the Trademark Infringement Debate

Cyberspace offers a heap of fortune for every individual who run his e-business. It also explores diverse ways for the business establishments to glorify their reach among the masses. Adapting the legitimate and right ways to publish and advertise the online businesses is the only way to get noticed on the cyber ramp.

Since the internet is now emerging as the most popular tool to let your business flourish every moment, indulging in the online malpractices are now prevailing the arena. Several illegitimate tips and tricks are nowadays dominating the space of online business and If I am not wrong, trademark infringement or trademark copy writing issues are rampant one.

What infringement all about:

Let me set a brief definition. Trademark infringement happens when an individual or a company violates the trademark rights of another individual or company. If seeing in wider prospective, infringement occurs when a third party uses the popular and well- established trademark(s), domain names and other affiliate programs of another user or business without permission of the trademark holder. Now the story moves. In case, the trademark holders notice the violation, they can go ahead with the litigation process through various trademarks acts established. Using third party trademarks as keywords in search engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN for the advertising purposes is counted as illegal.

Activities that fall in infringement category:

In online marketplace, a number of activities are considered as the infringement. For an instance, using keywords for SEO purposes that resembles competitor's brand name is an unlawful activity under the cyber law. Domain name infringement is very primary complaint recorded in the scenario of infringement. In this case, some one uses an established trademark as their brand name to divert the traffic to their sites. An infringement analysis can be done if your domain is suspected to execute some of the following activities for establishing your online presence:

  • Domain name contains trademark, logo or image already registered
  • Pronunciation used seems very similar to some registered trademarks as Pepsi and Pep-C
  • Tag lines are used illegally

Google sets an example:

Let me remind you a very interesting yet eye-opening case study when Google pulled a number of notorious online business players in the logjam of infringement battle. Google filed a cyber law suit against the numerous domain owners who run fraudulent Google Money schemes to make people learn how to make money with Google. The lawsuit accuses the infringing parties against Trade mark infringement, Misleading advertisement and monetary Fraud. Google has specifically mentioned a number of domains to be sued under cyber law and infringement acts. These domains include:

google-money-master.com
google-money.net
google-moneyblog.com
google-moneytree.com

Cyber Law - How to Respond to Online Reputation Attacks?

Today, people are using internet far more than they used to just one year ago. The number of users was growing exponentially and is still growing. Unfortunately, people often use internet for wrong purposes and one of them is also reputation attacks on other people. Because people consider internet as a private and anonymous thing, they think that they can write anything they want without even considering the damage that can be caused to other people. The fact that the statement wasn't true is not important at all, because the damage is already done. In order to get your reputation back, you need to react on online attacks.

First of all, you may want to respond to accusations and explain your side of the story. In case the person who wrote defamatory remarks is reasonable, he/she will try to understand it and raise the level of communication. But, in case this person does not understand it, most lawyers will suggest injunction.

Injunction can be very powerful in case it's used correctly. Most defamatory cases are solved with just the threat of injunction, because people are scared of the costs connected to it. The most important thing you need to keep in mind is to seek it against the correct person. Most effective injunctions are sought against the owners of the websites where the defamatory content is published. In addition to the individual writer, an injunction can also be sought against internet service provider.

On the other hand, injunction against unscrupulous people isn't successful in many cases. People who consider themselves they have nothing to lose, are often even more aggressive with writing defamatory content after they receive a mere threat of injunction.

The most important thing we can do about keeping our online reputation is prevention. Treat your clients well, don't give them reasons to hate you and write nasty things about you. In case someone still writes defamatory content about you, you might find out that your other clients are responding (writing comments, blog posts) with their positive experience. In this case, your reputation will even increase.

How Should We Handle the Possibility of Cyber Attacks?

With Internet increasingly growing in technological capability and sheer number of users, the threat of Internet based cyber attacks is on the rise. With groups spanning countries, groups with different political and ideological affiliations, the idea of how to defend against a possible cyber attack is becoming more real.

This was recently made painfully obvious by a so called "cyber attack," by the concentrated efforts of a group of Koreans, angry at some comments made on the popular Japanese web site "2 Channel," regarding figure skater Kim Yu Na. Kim won the gold medal in the women's figure skating, while the Japanese figure skater, Mao Asada, came in a distant second. 2 Channel is a popular forum based web site in Japan. Due to the anonymity of the Internet, it is not uncommon to find racially motivated and nationalistic diatribes by some users.

The trouble began when some anonymous posters on the Japanese web site "2 Channel" made some statements alluding to Kim winning her gold medal through bribery rather than skill. People In South Korea didn't take too kindly to this insult to their national hero, and decided to launch a counter attack against the Japanese web site. An Internet group was formed specifically to launch this "attack."

As reported on Japantoday.com, a widely read source of news in Japan, up to 10,000 South Korean Internet users simultaneously posted messages on the web site, overloading it with traffic and shutting it down. The question is, did they break any laws? Should this be considered International terrorism? What if they had launched their cyber attack on a website with more significance than an opinion forum?

With the Internet increasing it's size and technology on a daily basis, the possibility of any cyber attack is increasing as well. In another recent case, a highly skilled Internet user hacked into the computer which controlled a large video billboard in Moscow. During rush hour traffic, the billboard suddenly began showing adult movies, causing massive traffic, and at least one heart attack.

As technology advances, so will holes in the system that can be exploited for financial gain, political motives, or just for fun. With your own computer, it's important to keep this in mind while surfing the Internet.

Cyber Security Strategy - The 4 Laws of Information Security

Technology infrastructure is today a critical asset with all of its digital business information being the new currency. What are the risks to sensitive business information and the associated vital assets? What are your security blind spots? Cyber security is about applying the appropriate defense to protect your critical business assets. Businesses today are highly dependent on technology to deliver services, interact with customers and manage a supply chain. What is your cyber security strategy to ensure that you maintain a reasonable level of vigilance against cyber threats? We introduce the four laws of information security - these laws provide insight valuable for organizations to develop their security strategy.

We start our journey by diving head first into the defenses of the human body. So much can be learned from one of the most studied subject of all times. We examine the human body's outer and inner defense capabilities primed to attack viruses and bacteria. We then analyze immune responses to fight diseases through complicated mechanisms involving special white blood cells and action of the lymphatic system that include vessels and nodes that extend around the entire body. The human body provides an excellent case study in fighting threats in the journey from prevention to detection.

We reflect on human body defenses to better understand core components of an organization's cyber security strategy. An organization's cyber security strategy establishes vital security priorities aligned with the business mission to enable integrated defense capabilities. Like the human body, the cyber defense capabilities need to be robust, roving and lead ultimately to a resilient enterprise that is primed to address active, passive threats that may be from the inside or outside.

With information being the new currency of all businesses, we examine the requirements of enabling a technology architecture that is self-healing, highly resilient to threats that can be seriously disruptive to business processes. This is especially important since threats today are more sophisticated, increasingly covert and highly targeted against a technology architecture whose edges are being stretched as a direct consequence of Web-based applications, mobile computing and virtualization. It is about establishing a cyber security strategy that is tailored to your organization and the risks that need to be treated appropriately.

Symbiosis Distance Learning Courses Offered

The underlying concept of Symbiosis Distance Learning is rightly full-filled by modern ways of education which includes pre-recorded DVD lectures, self-learning and e-learning modes. These blended learning research and training methodologies facilitate not only Indian but also international students to seek the light of knowledge and spread in the darkest corners of ignorant regions in the world.

Courses in symbiosis distance learning are offered in specialized diplomas, advanced diplomas, certificate courses, single courses, corporate programs, and management development programs. Faculty of management facilitate the student with outstanding courses in business administration, human resource management, international business, insurance business, retail management, customer relationship management, supply chain management, entrepreneurship development, marketing management, financial management, quality control management, business law, business communication, management accounting and disaster management.

Faculty of information technology facilitates the students with post graduate diploma in information technology. Whereas, the faculty of law offers certificate program in cyber law, consumer protection act and right of information act. Faculty of humanities, education, and social sciences offers specialized courses. These courses comprise of post graduate diploma in educational administration, pre-primary teacher's training, technical writing, creative writing and advanced diploma in creative writing English.

Online On-demand examination is the most convenient exam policy provided by Symbiosis distance Learning. This exam service facilitates the student to reserve a date, place, and time to appear in the examination. This examination service is not only conducted in India but also abroad. Hence, the equal facilities for local and abroad students make the learning and research process outstanding. Symbiosis distance learning course is prepared under tight scrutiny to enhance the innate qualities and refine the intelligence & capabilities of the students.

ISP Thwarts Cyber-Terrorists

[The Crisis]

"We think that someone calling himself 'Mr. Zilterio' may have accessed our customer records, to include credit card numbers. He's threatening to reveal that information to our customers and the press if we don't pay him a large amount of money."

That was the initial call I received from Marc Benzakein, one of the founders of linkLINE Communications, an expanding, relatively small (15,000 subscriber) but profitable Internet service provider based in Mira Loma, California (note: in their business, "profitable" is rare).

In that phone call, and a subsequent meeting with linkLINE's management/crisis response team, I learned that:

* According to federal authorities and information available to anyone who does a search for "Zilterio" on the Internet, the same individual may have extorted as much as $4 billion from other organizations who wanted to sweep the situation under the rug for fear of losing business.

* linkLINE, with law enforcement direction, had been stringing Zilterio along for a little while identifying how he got past their security. In the process, they traced the bank account to which Zilterio wanted money wired through Russia (where he said he was from) to Yemen, a known hotbed of terrorism.

* The ISP felt strongly that it was ethically and morally wrong to give in to what could clearly be construed as "cyber-terrorism."

* linkLINE had taken the steps necessary to ensure that the security hole which Zilterio may have exploited was plugged.

* A significant loss of customers could be devastating to linkLINE because of its still-small size.

[Crisis Response Team Meets]

As a crisis response team, we agreed that:

* linkLINE's customers needed to be notified of the threat before Zilterio communicated with them. This meant that the entire "response package" needed to be in place between our Thursday afternoon meeting and the following Monday evening. We all wanted to move even more quickly, but double-checking some security preparations precluded any more haste. The team member in touch with Zilterio felt he could stall him as long as necessary.

* The best approach, very much in keeping with linkLINE's operating philosophy, was to express compassion for the concern this might cause customers, provide them with information they would need as a consequence of the situation, while also calling for them to unite with linkLINE in combating cyber-terrorism.

* Close coordination would need to be made with the security offices for the four major credit card companies so that (a) linkLINE customers would have the least-possible work to do regarding the possible exposure of their credit card numbers and (b) that linkLINE's relationships with the credit card companies remained sound.

Pre-Announcement Activities

During three intense days of preparation:

* linkLINE management contacted the four credit card companies, who were very appreciative of linkLINE's proactive response, agreed to put a special watch on linkLINE customer credit card numbers to see if they were fraudulently abused, and assured linkLINE that customers would not be held liable for any such fraud.

* A Customer Alert letter was drafted for distribution on Day 1

* A press release was drafted for distribution in the early morning of Day 2

* A Customer Q&A was drafted in preparation for posting on linkLINE's website on Day 2

* A special Customer Service Response Guide was created and customer service reps trained on its use.

* linkLINE's crisis response team identified other key stakeholders, besides customers, who might need to be called or contacted when the news was released, and prepared to make those communications.

* Marc Benzakein was trained to be the primary spokesperson on the situation, with another member of the team as backup spokesperson.

The Announcement and Results

Zilterio did not act during the preparation period, and linkLINE was able to launch its crisis communications campaign.

* In the late evening of Day 1 and early morning of Day 2, respectively, the Customer Alert went out by email and the press release by PR Newswire (California circuit only, as 95% of their customers were in-state, and knowing that even the California circuit also goes to Internet news sites and certain other key media).

* While customer call volume did go up, it was not overwhelming; linkLINE had contingency plans for what to do if it backed up, but the Customer Alert, combined with the Customer Q&A, apparently satisfied the vast majority of customers.

* Most of the calls and emails that DID come in were highly complimentary of linkLINE's response. Some examples:

* "In today's world of competition and LOVE of money very few companies are up front when they have a problem that could affect their business. YOU GUYS ARE THE EXCEPTION. Thanks for letting us all know the truth. Because of people like you I feel much safer on the NET. THANKS AGAIN."

* "I would like to commend you on your handling of the Zilterio blackmail incident. Prompt and full disclosure through email and your website is the exact way to go. This kind of professionalism makes me happy to continue with linkLINE as my ISP. Nothing is 100% secure; what separates the pros from the rest is the response to a security breach. Your response measured up in every respect."

* There were some people who were initially very disgruntled, but linkLINE execs did a great job of communicating in a caring and informative manner that made customers more comfortable.

* A few credit cards were voluntarily (by customers) or involuntarily (by banks, when they were also ATM cards) suspended, but even those customers were understanding. And as part of their preparation, linkLINE had made it easy to switch to another credit card (securely) or use another method of payment.

Two weeks later, linkLINE had no net loss in customers and thereafter continued to enjoy its usual level of growth.

10 Most Used Cyber Bullying Tactics

Cyber bullying is a term used to define recurrent and sustained verbal and/or physical attacks by one or more children towards another child who is unable or unwilling to diffuse the engagement using information and communication technology. Like classic bullying, cyber bullying is harmful, repeated and hostile behavior intended to deprecate and disparage a targeted child.

Bullying used to be confined to schools, neighborhoods or some small geographic location that the bullied child could leave and seek respite. With cyber bullying, the target child has no escape from the taunting and harassment afforded by the internet and mobile digital technology. Given the variety of methodologies cyber bullies use, which continues to expand, provided below are the ten most common.

1. Exclusion: Exclusion is a cyber bullying tactic that is highly effective and indirectly sends a provocative message to the victim child without the need for actual verbal deprecation. As its well-known children and teens are developmentally fixated on being recognized by their peers, the process of designating who is a member of the peer group and who is not included can be devastating to the child.

2. Flaming: Flaming is a term describing an online passionate argument that frequently includes profane or vulgar language, that typically occurs in public communication environments for peer bystanders to witness including discussion boards and groups, chat rooms and newsgroups. Flaming may have features of a normal message, but its intent if designed differently.

3. Outing: Outing is a term that includes the public display, posting, or forwarding of personal communication or images by the cyber bully personal to the target child. Outing becomes even more detrimental to the child when the communications posted and displayed publicly contains sensitive personal information or images that are sexual in nature.

4. E-mail Threats and Dissemination: E-mail Threats and Dissemination is a cyber bully tactic used to inspire fear in the victim child and then informing other members in the peer group of the alleged threat. The cyber bully sends a threatening e-mail to the target child and then forwards or copy & pastes the threatening message to others of the implied threat.

5. Harassment: Harassment is sending hurtful messages to the victim child that is worded in a severe, persistent or pervasive manner causing the respondent undue concern. These threatening messages are hurtful, frequent and very serious. Although sending constant and endless hurtful and insulting messages to someone may be included in cyber stalking, the implied threats in harassment does not lead the child to believe the potential exists the bully may actually be engaged in offline stalking of the target child.

6. Phishing: Phishing is a tactic that requires tricking, persuading or manipulating the target child into revealing personal and/or financial information about themselves and/or their loved ones. Once the cyber bully acquires this information, they begin to use the information to access their profiles if it may be the target child's password, purchasing unauthorized items with the child's or parents credit cards.

7. Impersonation: Impersonation or "imping" as a tactic can only occur with the "veil of anonymity" offered by digital technology. Cyber bullies impersonate the target child and make unpopular online comments on social networking sites and in chat rooms. Using impersonation, cyber bullies set up websites that include vitriolic information leading to the victim child being ostracized or victimized in more classic bullying ways.

8. Denigration: Denigration is used in both classic and cyber bullying. Denigration is a term used to describe when bullies send, post or publish cruel rumors, gossip and untrue statements about a child to intentionally damage their reputation or friendships. Also known as "dissing," this method is a common element and layer involved in most all of the cyber bullying tactics listed.

9. E-mail and Cell Phone Image Dissemination: Not only a tactic used in cyber bullying, but a form of information exchange that can be a criminal act if the images are pornographic or graphic enough depicting under aged children. Children can receive images directly on their phones and then send them to everyone in their address books. Of all cyber bullying methods, this tactic, which serves to embarrass a victim child, can lead to serious criminal charges.

10. Images and Videos: Briefly described in Happy Slapping, the usage of images and video recording has become a growing concern that many communities, law enforcement agencies and schools are taking seriously. Due in part to the prevalence and accessibility of camera cell phones, photographs and videos of unsuspecting victims, taken in bathrooms, locker rooms or in other compromising situations, are being distributed electronically. Some images and videos are emailed to peers, while others are published on video sites.

Beware The Preparation Burden When Selling A Website

You've built up a pretty nice site and decided to sell it. Your first move should be to get it listed on relevant sites where buyers flock, right? Actually, such a move is a mistake. Why? You need to first prepare for the due diligence stage of the sales process.

Let's define the type of site sales we are talking about here. The focus of this article is substantive sites. I am fully aware that there are small sites that people build to flip for a quick profit. Most of these small sites require little in the way of due diligence other than proof you own the domain and have a right to use the content. The issues surrounding more substantive sites, unfortunately, are not as simple.

The purchase of a larger site is going to involve a period where the buyer conducts due diligence. The buyer will be checking to verify that the intellectual property rights surround the site are in order. This means everything from copyright to trademarks and even patents if relevant. As a seller, you must be able to provide this information and prove that you have a handle on the ownership of each and can transfer them to the buyer. For example, you will need to produce the website design agreement showing that the independent designer you hired transferred any and all copyrights to you. Without such an agreement, the buyer is going to balk since you will not have the right to transfer the design from a copyright perspective.

You are also going to need to produce the agreements on any contractual relationships related to the site. Part and parcel to this will be an investigation as to whether the contracts are assignable to a new site owner. You may be shocked to learn that many contracts included clauses prohibiting this from occurring. If so, the buyer is going to balk and the issue is going to need to be addressed with the contracting party.

As a seller, the key is to get all your ducks in order before you list a site for sale. If you do, you will then be able to get through the due diligence process with a minimum of fuss, get the site into the hands of the buyer and their money into your bank account. That is your goal after all.

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid - Cyber Crime

There are things to be concerned about and things to be downright worried about. This story - which outlines what appears to be woefully lax security at The Tennessee Valley Authority, the largest public power company in the United States - fits firmly in the latter category.

InformationWeek reports that a General Accountability Report released this week found that the TVA was in sorry shape. The authority did not dispute the report, and says that it is already working on 17 of the 19 identified problems.

Cyber criminals or terrorists playing with national infrastructure is not a new idea, but it doesn't lose its ability to frighten. The story says that last year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) leaked a video of what has come to be known as the Aurora Vulnerability that shows how a hacker could mount an attack. Indeed, there has been one confirmed case of a blackout caused by computer hacking, albeit outside the United States.

A recent Inquirer story, which uses the same House hearing mentioned in the InformationWeek piece as a jumping off point, describes the Aurora Vulnerability in more detail - and provides many more reasons to worry. The piece beings by saying that the release of the video, which showed how a generator in Idaho in a test was made to self-destruct, was "an extremely dumb thing to do." What is perhaps even more frightening is that it doesn't seem that a whole lot has been done since to obviate the threat.

James Langevin (D.-R.I), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats Cybersecurity and Science and Technology, said that DHS had not provided enough detail on the test, that power companies worked too slowly to fix the issues and that the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) did not performing its oversight job.

That's scary enough. But the pièce de résistance was the dismissive attitude of NERC. The information given to the House by the group that supposedly showed progress was found to have been "thrown together a couple of days before the hearing." Bill Pascrell (D.-N.J.), a member of the subcommittee, asked NERC if it thought House members are "a bunch of jerks."

There is no shortage of scary angles to the story of cyber threats to national infrastructure. Earlier this month, SecurityProNews reported that security firm Trend Micro found a vulnerability in the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems used by utilities. The story provides some detail on how the vulnerability could work. Core Security, another security firm, said in essence the flaw may or may not be exploitable. The National Vulnerability Database said that the vulnerability was seen as potentially dangerous because it is network-exploitable, not complex and doesn't require access to the component under attack.

Hopefully, the government will begin taking cyber security more seriously than the reaction to the Aurora Vulnerability and other problems in the past. A representative of a group with a suitably unsettling name - the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit (US-CC) - said at the recent GovSec, U.S. Law and Ready Conference and Exposition that the nation is increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Several layers of distinction (between physical and information-based attacks, between local and remote, between personal and public, and between economic and military) are fading. These changes tend to heighten the danger. Lauri Almann, Estonia Permanent Undersecretary of Defense, added that the world is in a state of cyber terror and even cyber war. Last year, Estonia came under cyber attack after it moved a statute honoring World War II Soviet soldiers.

At least some people are paying attention. This release says that the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and DHS released a document entitled "Roadmap to Secure Control Systems in the Water Sector" which outlines the design, installation and maintenance of control systems that can operate through a cyber attack. In the utility security industry, the public pays the most attention to power issues. Water safety, however, is a major issue. The story includes a link to the 48-page report.

Buying Second Hand Music Gear

Buying a new musical instrument can cost much more than what your budget permits. So, especially for those who are beginning to learn the instrument, it is a good idea to try out the second hand music gear. These second hand music gear are available in various local music shops. It is also available on the various music websites and as well as classified websites.

Another way of searching for a good second hand music gear is the classified advertisements of the daily newspapers. Classified websites offer innumerable choices of products. For example, if someone is looking for a guitar he can have ample choices to select from. These sites offer clear norms or rules, which are easy for both the buyers and the sellers.

There are some auction sites also where one can bid for his selected instrument. Auction sites have become very popular these days, as buyers can get their desired instrument at a very low price. But one has to abide the cyber laws, which have been implemented (to lower cyber crimes) for purchasing any instrument. There are also some facilities, given to the buyers by these sites, which make buying all the more fun. Some of these rules are:

No advertisements or external hassle.

Genuine personal supervision, service, and advice.

Proper previous and after sales service.

The ability often to combine shipments, and help with collections and deliveries for cheap and safe shipping.

No sale, no fee.

The banning of hidden reserve prices; if a person bid, he will get the item if no one is there to beat him.

Drawbacks

Buying second hand music gear can save money, but there are pitfalls for the unwary. It is all too easy to buy a bargained thing, then find it will cost more to fix than the price of a good one. With older models, external components are probably not available. These include keys, buttons, knobs and case parts. In general it is wise only to consider purchase, if the instrument is complete and in reasonable cosmetic condition. Even instruments using standard parts are not immune to this obsolescence.

Over the years the patterns, dimensions and general design of many components change. Others are ceased to be made when sales drop below economic margin. Previously many digital instruments used devices called ULAs. These were a cross between a high volume produced standard gate array and a custom part. A standard matrix of gates was made in large numbers, but the mask printed interconnections, essential to form a working logic system were omitted. The device was thus not committed to serve any particular purpose.

Conclusion

Buying a second hand music gear to begin learning an instrument is a good option. Good instruments are available at local music shops, where one can verify the condition of the instrument, bargain directly with the seller and then buy the thing. Sometimes one can also avoid paying shipping charges when buying from a local shop. Online purchases offer innumerable options of selecting the right instrument for oneself. One can bargain and bid for his favorite instruments too.

Social Networking Sites the New Home For Porn

When I was a child growing up, I recall pornography was predominantly limited to Playboy, Penthouse and a few other magazines that featured nudity that my parents told me were inappropriate and insulting to women. Those who bought and viewed this material were considered dirty old men.  Child pornography was something that you seldom heard of, and always happened somewhere else. It was a small segment of society who engaged in this type of behavior, and while a problem, it was not considered a significant one.

 
Today, this has changed. According to a recent of a recent US government study, the volume of online child pornography has increased by 1500% in the past 10 years. The Internet has become the mainstream tool that predators are using to exploit children in growing numbers. The Internet is an uncensored medium to exchange information, and those who would prey on children are using it to their full advantage.

 
While the United States and a handful of other countries have taken some precautionary steps to try and stem the growing tide of online child sexual exploitation and predation, countries like Brazil, India, and several Far East nations have become safe havens for predators. These countries offer few protections or safeguards that restrict or in any way prohibit the distribution of child pornography online. Bangkok, Thailand and the country of Myanmar are among two of the top countries in the child sex slave industry, and South America and parts of Europe are quickly catching up to this sickening, but lucrative industry that preys on innocence. India is a growing hub for online child pornography, yet government officials have taken few steps to halt its growth.

 
At any given time, there are more than 100,000 known child pornographic sites online, and investigators say the number is growing at an alarming pace. An estimated 20,000 new child porn sites are being set up each month around the globe, much faster than agencies who combat this crime with significantly limited resources can take them down. In a global culture of death where abortion on demand is available in most countries, life is no longer valued and abuse of children is a sad, but real byproduct.

 
Because the Internet is anonymous, and global in scope, those who exploit children by online means can (for the most part) remain themselves anonymous and cover their tracks well. Agencies who attempt to gather information to arrest and prosecute these sick individuals often run into dead ends, as the predators remain unidentifiable and unreachable in a virtual world. Policing the Internet is almost impossible, especially with the limited resources of law enforcement and a lack of cohesive laws to outlaw such behavior.

Social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, Yahoo!Chat, YouTube and Orkut are being used to help expand the predator's reach. Orkut, one of the larger social networking sites, has an estimated 60-70 million users. The Brazilian government has reported that almost 90% of all the illicit sexual material coming from their nation is flowing through Orkut. In 2007, 624 cases of Internet crimes were prosecuted in Brazil, and two-thirds of those cases (420) were linked to child pornography on Orkut. 

 
Thousands of pornographic images and video clips make their way onto the Internet daily, and many of these are of children as young as 5-7 years of age. And as you can see, it is not just the private, backroom sites that predators share through their private channels, but to social networking sites like MySpace, Orkut, and YouTube. Plus, new cell phone technology is making it easier to capture images and video and transmit this to other cell phones, as well as the Internet. 

 
The miniaturization of wireless cameras have also led to a rise in the gathering of images and video from unsuspecting children and adults. Cameras can be hidden in stuffed animals, book spines, air conditioning vents, clock radios, and other innocent locations that can beam a video signal to a nearby collection point for recording and later distribution onto private websites, DVDs and social networking sites.

 
Children are also adding to this growing problem by posting nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves online. Vanessa Hudgens of the Disney High School Musical movie series had inappropriate images she had sent to her boyfriend and co-star Zak Efron nabbed and uploaded to the Internet. One of the Cheetah girls, Adrienne Bailon, has also been linked to the release of nude photographs. This has led to impressionable young girls and boys posting their own images, or sharing them with others, only to have these images make their way to the World Wide Web and into the hands of those who would distribute them or view them for their own sick, twisted ends. 

 
According to the Dauphin County (PA) Child Predator Unit, more than 181 Internet predators have been arrested since they began operations in 2005. In 2008 along, they made more than 70 arrests, more than in any previous year. Attorney General Tom Corbett said, "Predators know that kids become more active online as the weather turns colder and the days grow shorter, and they also know that more young people are home unsupervised, either before or after school." He added, "Time and distance mean nothing to Internet predators because computer technology allows them to reach across the street, or across the country, to 'groom' young victims for sexual meetings or to flood their computers with sexually graphic photos and videos."

 
Parents should be aware of their children's online activities, and not allow them to have individual access to the Internet in rooms where their activity cannot be monitored. We suggest you place the computer in a centrally-located area of the home, in plain sight, so that everyone can monitor the family's Internet usage. Parents should also teach their children to be alert for strangers who pose as online friends or engage in sexually explicit language. If they are sent explicit photos or videos, solicited for sex, or asked to meet face-to-face, they should notify their parents and law enforcement should be contacted immediately.

 
Sexual predation is not limited to children, and teens (and pre-teens) are increasingly becoming the prey. As children in their pre-teens and teens go through emotional swings, predators have found they are more easily manipulated, especially by those who are lacking in self-esteem or having difficulties fitting in. Through social networking sites, predators will befriend children, teens and even adults in an effort to gain their trust and confidence, all the while grooming them for an anticipated face-to-face encounter or to persuade them to either send pictures or video, and in some cases pose or perform online.

 
As a society, we need to do more to make sure that social networking sites are truly social places, and not predatory hangouts. Turning a blind eye to the problem doesn't make it go away. Reporting deviant behavior and online material to law enforcement is an important first step, and taking the high road yourself to make sure that you and your family members are not contributing to this growing epidemic is another. 

 
Social networking sites offer a great opportunity to meet and communicate with people from all over the world; however, it is important to remember that you really don't know these people, and anything posted online can and will be used against you if it is accessed by the wrong person. It is also important to remember that once something is placed online, it is there foreve.  The Internet doesn't forget, nor does it forgive, wrong choices. And the consequences could have a lasting impact on you, and others.