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Communication

Whatsapp scams

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

WhatsApp is a popular communication tool, used by students and personnel every day. On the downside, it provides cyber criminals with another way to convince you to part with your well-earned money and unfortunately it’s usually quite convincing.

WhatsApp scams come in many different forms and are often very convincing. Just make sure that you stay vigilant and don’t fall for anything that seems too good or too worrying to be true. Just because a friend or a family member sends you something, it doesn’t mean that it is safe.

Voucher scams

A message arrives in your WhatsApp from someone who looks like your friend, recommending a deal they’ve found. The messages usually come with a link that actually takes you to another website and tricks you into giving your personal information. Don’t ever click a link you’re not sure of and certainly don’t ever hand over personal information to a website you haven’t checked.

WhatsApp shutting down

There are many fake messages claiming that WhatsApp is going to end unless enough people share a certain message. The messages often look convincing, claiming to come from the CEO or another official. They’re written using the right words and phrases and look like an official statement. Any official statement wouldn’t need users to send it to everyone like a round robin. You would either see it in the news or it’ll come up as a proper notification in the app from the actual WhatsApp team.

WhatsApp threatening to shut down your account

This is very similar to the previous scam. It looks like an official message that claims that people’s WhatsApp accounts are being shut down for being inactive. Sending the message on will prove that it’s actually being used and often instructs people to pass it along.

WhatsApp forcing you to pay

Similar to the previous scam, with the only difference being that the message supposedly exempts you from having to pay for your account – if you send it on to other people.

WhatsApp Gold or WhatsApp Premium

The claim suggests that people pay for or download a special version of WhatsApp, usually called Gold or Premium. It offers a range of exciting-sounding features, like the ability to send more pictures, use new emoji or add extra security features. The problem is that it is far from secure. Downloading the app infects people’s phones with malware that use the phone to send more fake messages at the cost of the original victim.

Emails from WhatsApp

Spam e-mails are bad enough. E-mails plus WhatsApp is even worse. There’s a range of scams out there that send people e-mails that look like they’ve come from WhatsApp, usually looking like a notification for a missed voice call or voicemail. But when you click through, you will end up getting tricked into giving over your information, passphrases etc. Don’t ever click on an e-mail from a questionable sender. WhatsApp doesn’t send you e-mails including information about missed calls or voicemails.

Fake WhatsApp spying apps

Currently, it is not possible to let people spy on other’s conversations on WhatsApp, because it has end-to-end encryption enabled, which ensures that messages can only be read by the phones that send and receive them. These scam apps encourage people to download something that isn’t actually real and force people to pay money for malware, or actually read your chats once they’ve got onto your phone.

Lastly – 

Hopefully, you have  already blocked sharing your WhatsApp details with Facebook (telephone number, name etc. and allowing Facebook to suggest phone contacts as friends) and Facebook will not be able to  make your WhatsApp account accessible to the 13 million South African Facebook users.

There are some details about this controversial policy change by WhatsApp on the following page: http://www.mirror.co.uk/tech/you-can-stop-whatsapp-sharing-8893949

 

[ARTICLE BY DAVID WILES]

 

 

Beat the cyberbully

Friday, November 11th, 2016

bully-655659_960_720Cyberbullying is deliberately and repeatedly harming or harassing someone using electronic technology  – this includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets, as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites. 

With the increased use of communication technology, cyberbullying has become increasingly common, especially among teenagers. While the term cyberbullying is used predominantly for children or teenagers, cyberstalking or cyberharassment is when the same behaviour occurs in adults. 

What is cyberbullying or -stalking?

The main goal of this harassment is to threaten a person’s reputation, employment, earnings, safety or try to turn people against them. Cyberbullies aim to intimidate, hurt, control, manipulate, humiliate or falsely discredit someone. Their actions are deliberate, hostile, usually repeated and intended to harm.

Cyberstalkers use public forums, social media or online information sites to launch their attacks on. Online platforms provide anonymity and bullies can remain ignorant of the consequences their attacks have on the victims. According to the National Council on Crime Prevention’s survey, 81% of teenagers thought others cyberbully because it’s funny. 

Cyberbullying can come in various forms. It can be someone repeatedly sending e-mails or text messages even when the person clearly stated they don’t want them. It can include repeated threats, sexual remarks, hate speech, false accusations or ridiculing someone.

Some bullies/stalkers will even go so far as to hacking into a site and changing information or posting false statements to humiliate or discredit a person. They may also publicise a victim’s personal data or create a fake account to use to defame, discredit or humiliate them.

The 8 most common cyberbullying tactics used by teens according to www.wikipedia.org are the following:

  1. Exclusion: Teenagers intentionally exclude others from an online group.
  2. Cyberstalking: Teens will harass others by constantly sending emails, messages, or tagging others in posts they don’t want to be tagged in.
  3. Gossip: Post or send cruel messages that damage another’s reputation, relationships, or confidence.
  4. Outing/Trickery: Trick another teen into revealing secrets or embarrassing information which the cyberbully will then share online.
  5. Harassment: Post or send offensive, insulting, and mean messages repeatedly.
  6. Impersonation: Create fake accounts to exploit another teen’s trust. They may also hack into an account and post or send messages that are damaging to the person’s reputation or relationships.
  7. Cyber Threats: Threaten or imply violent behaviour toward others to make them feel uncomfortable.
  8. Flaming: Fights online that involve hateful or offensive messages that may be posted on various websites, forums, or blogs.

More definitions of cyberbullying can be found on The Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention’s website.

Who are the bullies?

The root of cyberbullying is the same as face-to-face bullying. The only difference is the convenience and anonymity of technology which makes it even easier.

Usually, a bully will know their victim and attack them because of their own prejudice, whether it’s race, religion or sexual orientation. Or merely because they’re “not cool” or they didn’t like something they said on social media. 

It’s important to keep in mind that, in general, a bully’s behaviour stems from their own problems or issues. According to Stopbullying.gov, there are two main groups who harass others. Popular kids or teens bully because they think it will make them more popular or hurting others give them a false perception of power. At the other end of the spectrum are those who bully because they are victims of bullying themselves and it’s their way to lash out. 

How to beat cyberbullying or cyberstalking

In most countries, cyberstalking has the same consequences as physical stalking. South Africa does not have specific legislation dealing with cyberbullying. The victims of cyberbullying, therefore, have to rely on criminal law and/or civil law. More information on these laws can be found on The Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention’s website.

For this reason, it’s important to deal with cyberbullying as soon as it rears its head. The video below provides some valuable hints in this regard.

 

[SOURCES: http://www.bullying.co.uk/cyberbullying/, http://www.deletecyberbullying.org/why-do-people-cyberbully/, http://www.cyberbullying.org.za/south-african-law.html]

 

Google says Allo

Friday, September 30th, 2016

alloWe’ve seen Google grow from a small company developing a search engine to one known for its groundbreaking work, developing not only technology for today but also self-driving cars and virtual reality platforms for the future. 

Rich Miller of Data Centre Knowledge estimated that in 2011 Google was running more than one million data centres around the world. Not bad for a company that started off as a research project by two PhD Stanford University students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, in 1996.

On 21 September they added a new phone-based chat application, Allo, to their list of innovations. 

Much speculation has been made as to why Google would launch a stand-alone app that can only be used on mobile devices and can’t be integrated with other devices. Some claim Allo is their attempt at breaking into the Indian market, the 3rd largest in the world after China and the US. And as we all know, censorship in China doesn’t allow much in the line of western technology, hence Google’s focus on India. 

One of the advantages of using Google products is that it can be accessed over all platforms with your Google account. This is not the case with their latest brainchild.  Allo won’t recognise you as a Google user. In fact, you have to register anew, without an option to register with your Gmail address. Allo, like Whatapp, uses your mobile number as a form of recognition instead of an e-mail address. 

Allo does not replace the less-than-perfect Google Hangouts. It doesn’t do video chat or send SMSs. Another app, Duo, which is used exclusively for video, was released at the same time as Allo. So why install Allo at all? There are some positive points to be made. 

Google’s machine learning technology might be the main reason why Allo downloads passed the million mark this week. Allo introduces Google Assistant, an integrated, smart search bot embedded in your chat. It enables access to information without opening an additional tab or alternatively, you can start a private conversation by typing @google and asking a question. Think of it as Siri for Android, only more efficient. 

Other nice-to-haves include whisper/shout, a tool enabling you to change the size of your text by holding down the Send button and dragging your finger upwards. Not revolutionary, but possibly useful if you’re in a hurry. 

If verbal communication is not your strength, Allo has a large collection of sticker packs you use to express yourself with visually. The new Ink feature also allows you to draw on or add text to photos.

On a practical level, Allo uses Smart Replies, a tool which apparently thinks for you. By tracking your most used phrases and words, it predicts what your replies might be. Almost like autocorrect, only more clever and less embarrassing.

Lastly, there’s Incognito mode

Initially, when Allo was announced earlier this year, Google claimed that conversations would automatically be deleted after a specific time, as set by you. 

However, when Allo was released this week, Google changed their mind. They announced that the current version of Allo will store messages indefinitely on Google’s servers to enable them to collect data to improve their products. Unless you decide to delete your messages, they will stay on Google’s servers.  It’s this announcement that prompted Edward Snowden to warn the world against installing Google Allo.

The good news is you can still use Incognito Mode, which is end-to-end encrypted and will not store your messages. A good thing if you are sensitive about your data being potentially accessible to a third party or if you are Edward Snowden.

Google Allo can be downloaded from the Google Play store.

SOURCES:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Allo
http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/09/google-allo-is-incomplete-but-assistant-is-the-companys-future/
http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/new-product/google-android/what-is-google-allo-what-is-google-duo-google-allo-available-now-3640590/
http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/09/google-allos-limitations-explained-in-one-word-india/
http://www.androidauthority.com/google-allo-717745/
http://www.techradar.com/how-to/phone-and-communications/mobile-phones/how-to-use-google-allo-1329437

E-mail on the cloud

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

cloudAt the end of July we announced that university e-mail will soon be hosted in the cloud. Most of our Tygerberg staff were successfully migrated and are already active on Outlook via Office365. Next up is Stellenbosch.

Benefits of cloud e-mail include:
• Larger mailboxes and storage space.
• E-mail and storage space are accessible from anywhere in the world where there is internet access.
• E-mail and storage space are backed up in the cloud.

The only consideration is dependability on internet quality, as the service is hosted in the cloud. 

Mailboxes will be moved per department and each department will be notified via e-mail ahead of time when their e-mail will be moved. Little, if any disruption or downtime are anticipated during the migration period. 

After your mailbox has been moved, Outlook will prompt you to enter a password. Please enter your full e-mail address (e.g. username@sun.ac.za), password and select the Remember credentials option. There is a possibility that e-mail settings on your mobile device might have to be changed. We have also compiled a selection of FAQs if you have any problems. More technical instructions, if needed, are available on the IT self-help site.

User support might be necessary for devices with outdated software and our support team is ready to deal with these cases. However, please note that standard SU devices with Windows and asset numbers have to be attended to first and will be given priority. Non-standard devices, for example, Apple and Linux operating systems or private devices without asset numbers can only be attended to once we’re done with them.

If you have any questions or feedback, please contact the IT Service Desk at 021 808 4367 or help@sun.ac.za

Play and learn: apps for children

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

kids-appsAfter watching Barney, the dinosaur, or Lollos, the unidentifiable creature with the big ears, sing the same song for the twenty-seventh time this week, most parents would be desperate to find something else. Even if it’s only to preserve their own sanity. 

Gone are the days when television and videos were the only available options for frustrated parents. Today technology provides another platform for distraction and one which also has the ability to educate. Phones and tablets can conveniently be loaded with apps, games, and movies. 

The biggest challenge for parents is choosing the best, most appropriate, safest and most educational apps, which will also hold their child’s attention for as long as possible.

PC Advisor, one of the United Kingdom’s leading technology and media companies, attempted to make this choice easier. With the help of a group of parents, they compiled and published a list of 46 apps on their website. The apps are divided into sections for babies, toddlers, primary school scholars and teenagers. Don’t feel left out, there’s also a section for kids of all ages. That means you can also play along.

Do you have any suggestions for fun and educational apps? Let us know at bits.bytes@sun.ac.za and we’ll add your suggestions to our next article. 

 

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