How a fish tank helped hack a casino – The Washington Post

“This one is the most entertaining and clever thinking by hackers I’ve seen,” said Hemu Nigam, a former federal prosecutor for computer crimes and current chief executive of SSP Blue, a cybersecurity company.

Source: How a fish tank helped hack a casino – The Washington Post

Britain reopens privacy debate after attack, presses tech firms | Reuters

Bottom Line — Should companies like Facebook be allowed to create end to end encryption communication apps?  Does this become a tool for terrorist to avoid detection as they plan their next attack?

Source: Britain reopens privacy debate after attack, presses tech firms | Reuters

Lucky in Love Meets Cautious Online

As if looking for love weren't intimidating enough, online dating can have shattering consequences. Take Carole Markin, a TV producer in Hollywood who recently sued a dating website claiming she was brutally attacked at her home by a man she met online who, she later discovered, was a convicted sex offender. Thankfully, Markin's experience is not the norm, but it contains lessons for online daters.

Meeting someone in cyberspace is significantly different from meeting someone in person. In the real world, your dating “site” is made up of friends, co-workers, family and acquaintances. While this network of “real” people doesn't ensure that you'll never have a bad date, having that personal and human connection is vitally important.

Seeing the whites of their eyes might be a cliche, but it's a cliche because it remains relevant. It gives you a sense of the person. Because we don't have the benefit of that personal contact online, there are some extra safety measures that need to be taken.

In the real world, you might meet potential dates at parties or bars, and often go out on group or double dates. You are in the unfortunate position online of not having enough information to determine whether you should trust the information you have. Can you trust that the picture really is of that person, that the person is even real to begin with and that all the person's information and communications are legitimate?

A safe encounter can often depend on a safe dating website. Not all sites are created equal. Here are some questions to ask to help find a site that is right for you:

Does the site screen-vet candidates?

How does the site lower the chances of abuse?

How does the site handle abuse if it happens?

Do the terms of service allow explicit content?

Does the site review webcams, chats and videos?

Does the site provide users with tips on how to safely and successfully navigate the site to avoid predators and scammers?

Does the site provide an emergency phone number?

Does the site run all users through a registered sex offender database such as SSP Blue's RSO SAFE?

It's comforting to think that everyone on dating sites is just as earnest as you are: looking for love and hoping to find a soul mate. Sadly, even the online dating world has scammers.

One of the more common scams involves a lovely woman with a gorgeous photo looking for a new love in America. Her story is a poignant one: no family to speak of, a big heart, a desire to see men she meets online. Eventually, this woman asks for money, perhaps to help with a ticket or because she has been detained trying to leave her home country.

The man wires her money, and then she disappears. This is disheartening, heartbreaking and all too frequent. This is one of many scams. Learn more here.

If you wind up making an online connection and want to meet in person, meet in a public place, preferably well-lit, familiar to you and in an area with which you are comfortable. While these suggestions apply strongly to women, men would do well to take note as well. Predators and scammers are not all men.

Engaging in safe dating online, in some ways, is no different from dating safely in person. But because you can't see the whites of his or her eyes online, your own eyes and ears need to exercise extra precaution.

For more info on Hemu’s role as a Web Avenger for ABC News 20/20 new special We Find Them, check out this site.

Charlie Sheen Reminds Us, The Internet Has a Memory

Like millions of other people around the world, I’ve been watching Charlie Sheen’s rants and explosions with rapt attention.  I find myself thinking less about Mr. Sheen’s extreme words and actions, and thinking, instead, more about the built in dilemma of publishing them on the Internet. Even if Sheen wanted to take back every word of it, and managed to apologize enough to dilute the memory of the public, nothing ever defeats the memory of the Internet.

Interestingly, intertwined with the rise of popularity of social media is the fact that as more of us work to create a public face, the more important it becomes to manage our privacy.  We need to be careful with not only our business or banking, but also with our personal privacy.  Information, pictures, pieces of writing, comments, concerns, and anything that we post on the Internet can do far more harm than we’d like to think. By our own conduct, we build a permanent record, be it in a virtual form, of everything we do online.  And most of it, unless we are careful, is available to the public at large. That means that recruiters, employers, friends, enemies, and criminals can access our lives, whether we want them to or not.

According to Career Builder 45% of employers are “screening” social networking sites when hiring new recruits.  Over 80% of college recruiters asked in a Kaplan Test Prep survey suggest that social media will play at least some role in future recruitment.  For people who tend to be over-sharers in their social media worlds, these trends can prove to be disastrous.  Prospective students and employees might be denied employment or admission; or, in other cases, they can be removed from their posts or institutions. Not even Charlie Sheen is immune to this effect; he was fired on Monday.

Even when we think ” that posts are temporary, they really aren’t – just ask Gloria Huang.  Huang accidentally signed in to the Red Cross Twitter feed (to which she has access given her position with the organization) and Tweeted about getting beer and getting drunk.  The Tweet was deleted after about an hour, but there were innumerable screenshots made of and stories published about the “rogue” tweet.  Thankfully for the Red Cross, they were able to pull something redeemable from the incident, but it does highlight the point that nothing is temporary on the Internet.

When it comes to the way I look at my own online presence, I like to think of it more like my reputation. If I wouldn’t show a picture to a meeting of my fellows at work, I won’t put it online. For kids, or parents thinking about their children’s online reputation, try thinking of your social media profiles as “grandmother approved.” In general, keeping our profiles private, be they on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc, is a really good idea.  In a day when we can Tweet from a smartphone and post to Facebook from an iPhone, keep a simple rule of thumb in the forefront of your mind at all times – do you want to see it in the front page of the New York Times sitting in your grandmother’s house?  If not, keep it to yourself.

Really, the more we know about Over-the-counter Viagra the memory of the Internet, the more we should think before we post our lives online.

The Amazing Race: Text Me So I Can Hear You

Last week’s episode of The Amazing Race was the most uncomfortable ever and strangely last night’s episode was the most comfortable ever.  Last week brother and sister couple, Justin and Jennifer, fought, shouted, yelled, screamed, bickered, and argued during the entire episode.  They even argued when they were simply waiting for a train and not in the throes of a challenge.  It got to the point that it was not only visibly disturbing for the other contestants to watch, but it was even disturbing for us as viewers to watch.  Last night’s episode was quite the opposite.  While mention was made that everyone hoped Justin and Jennifer wouldn’t be at each other’s throats, most of the episode was dedicated to cordiality between team mates and cooperation amongst teams.  All of this set in the rice fields of Indonesia and a 9th-century Buddhist temple at Borobudur.

The contrasting episodes of painful bickering and peaceful living made me wonder whether life would be better lived in a world without smartphones and the Internet – a techno-less society to slow us down and take away our need for instant gratification that usually leads to instant frustration.  Justin and Jennifer are prime examples of folks who have been pushed to extreme emotions without the comforts of what they are used to – looking up things on Google, having a GPS to take them to their next destination, and having the luxury of air conditioning wherever they are.

Is there any way all this fancy technology can help them get along or do they need to slow down and plant rice for awhile?

Every word Justin spoke, Jennifer responded to.  And, vice versa.  But if you actually listened, you would notice that they were both talking so loud they couldn’t hear each other.  They weren’t communicating at all.  They weren’t listening, responding, listening, reacting.  And here is where technology can save them.  If they could just send a text to each other, even while standing next to each other, they would be forced to process their thoughts, think of the right words to articulate them, breath while they typed them into a texting device, and wait for the reply.  This texting back and forth would allow them to actually have a conversation without speaking a word.  It is the conversation that human relationships are built upon.  A little technology can allow couples to communicate without having to live on a rice farm on the other side of the world.

So next time someone is talking so loud that you can’t hear them, send a text.

The Amazing Race: Confucius Meets Twitter

The Amazing Race came back with yet another exciting season premier this weekend.  From the start we saw a lack of preparation by ‘the showgirls’ that almost landed them a trophy for the shortest lived contestants on The Amazing Race.  It all started when Kaylani didn’t secure her passport, dropping it at a gas station less than an hour after the race began.  Luckily, a passerby Tweeted that he had found a passport belonging to an Amazing Race contestant and got convinced by his followers to hand deliver it to LAX.  Strangely, this was a harbinger of the upcoming challenge in which contestants played a game of ‘telephone’ at the Taipei Confucius Temple where they had to listen to a recorded saying by Confucius and then repeat it precisely for their next clue.

Confucius said, “In all things success depends on previous preparation.  And without such previous preparation, there is sure to be failure.”

Even though Confucius spoke nearly 2,500 years ago, his words are as applicable in this digital century as they were when he first spoke them.

In this week’s episode, we saw firsthand what can happen if a team fails to prepare.  But for the kindness of strangers connected to Twitter, Kaylani and Lisa would have been sure to fail.  And therein lies the amazing facets we find in the season premier of The Amazing Race.  Every aspect of our life is interconnected through and into the digital world.  Every step we take online has some type of impact on our footprints in the real world.  With each step we must ask ourselves, “Are we preparing for future success when acting in the present moment?”

When you post a photo on Facebook, can it affect how a future employer might perceive you to be resulting in a lost job opportunity?  When you get a security update, do you hit Remind Me Later, leaving all your personal bank information at the mercy of a hacker?  When you sign into Facebook, Twitter, or Gmail, do you use the same password, setting yourself up for a major phishing attack?  When you register for a new site, do you skip the privacy set-up process, letting others you would never share with see all your personal thoughts.  When you store your private photos, do you put them in a folder clearly marked private, making them highly visible and desirable for others to open?

Every act we take online impacts our safety, security, and privacy.   Take a moment to consider how your actions today will impact your future success.  This was true when Confucius lived in a world without an Internet just as much as it is true today in a world than can’t survive without an Internet.

For more information about online safety, check back here every week or visit my website.

Alert: Camp Counselor Enters Digital Age

Here's a hypothetical story. Johnny, a shy local boy of about 12, attended a sleep-away camp. His counselor helped Johnny make friends with the other kids, who seemed intimidating to Johnny. Johnny was proud to gain confidence, and his parents were grateful to the counselor for helping Johnny grow.

This would be a great story if it weren't for the fact that after Johnny got back from camp, he started to disengage from his family. He spoke less at the table and was constantly on his laptop or smartphone. After several weeks, the shy, sad kid returned, and no one could get through to him. He even ignored his favorite teachers and the baseball coach he used to admire.

Finally, his parents hacked into his laptop and smartphone and found months of illicit email and chat conversations between Johnny and the counselor. They also found inappropriate pictures and plans for a secret rendezvous. The parents were horrified and immediately got the police and a psychologist involved.

Actually, this is more than a hypothetical. This is based on something that happened to the child of a friend of mine. I helped my friend navigate the complicated aspects of dealing with the police and prosecutors, and the emotional strain on the entire family.

We are left to ask: How on earth could something like this happen? Unfortunately, the answer is simple: access. We adults may remember carefree summers spent at camp with gaggles of new friends and maybe a fun counselor or two. When we left camp, we left camp. Camp counselors had very limited access to campers after camp ended. If a counselor wanted to communicate with a camper, he would have to call his or her home phone or write a letter, both of which would have to go through a parent, reducing the chances of ill-intentioned activity.

But all that has changed in today's ever-connected device-dependent world with social media, IMs, texts, chat and cell and smartphones. (See “Summer's Coming – Be More Than Just a Parent.”)

A counselor can now connect to your child even when your child is in the safe haven of your house. The counselor might suggest they keep in touch so the camper can let him or her know about their school year or the rest of their summer. So, the camper accepts a friend request from the counselor on Facebook or a similar site. They begin to exchange messages, and the counselor starts “grooming” the camper. (See “Trust and the Despicable Art of Grooming.”)

Grooming is a seemingly innocuous process by which an online predator — in this case, the counselor — finds an “in” with the child, slowly coaxing her away from family and friends, claiming to be the only one who really understands her. The counselor might suggest that he has something important to tell the camper and needs to do it by phone or text. Not knowing the danger she is walking into, the camper agrees and gives out her cell. Now the counselor has anytime-anywhere access to the child. It's not a big step to a meeting in person, where irreparable harm can take place.

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Is there a way you could know if this was happening to your child? First, it is important to understand the method by which the counselor can get access to your child and how the grooming process begins. After camp, with your child having more private time and chances for private conversations, watch her actions carefully after camp. See if her behavior changes, especially if she reduces her time with friends and family. If you are concerned that something is happening, it might be time to use monitoring tools like Mobile Watchdog, a service that allows you to read someone's smartphone chat sessions.

To minimize the chance of getting into this position in the first place, before camp or any other away-from-home experience begins, talk to your children about making wise decisions with online and real-ife friends. If they are already in the habit of talking to you about everyone in their lives, extend that conversation into their online lives. Children don't always know they are being groomed, so we need to warn them.

We also need to discriminate when selecting camps. Many camps are now carefully vetting each counselor they hire, perhaps even running background checks against state sex offender registries. Be aware that these checks are limited to the state where the counselor lives, and would-be predators could have perfect records. Ask the camp about their process for selecting counselors. Finally, do your own research about the camp. Use Google and your own network of friends and family to find information. Check out what other parenting sites are saying about the camps you are considering.

Thousands of children have a great time at camp every summer. The keys to ensuring a carefree summer for both you and your child are communication, preparation and vigilance. With these keys in place, camp can be a great and safe experience.

For more info on Hemu’s role as a Web Avenger for ABC News 20/20 new special We Find Them, check out this site, and check out the show’s promo.

The Emergence of Blue…

SSP Blue is a personal endeavor.  Safety, security, and privacy online are issues that I care about.  As a father, I find comfort in knowing my family is safe online.  As a businessman, I find comfort in knowing transactions, plans, and communications are secure.  And, as an Internet user, I find comfort in knowing that my personal information is protected and my privacy is intact.  As a society, these are necessary comforts we all care about.

I started SSP Blue to provide strategic business counsel to companies who recognize the value of these necessary comforts and to raise awareness amongst all of us about how to navigate safely and securely online.

So, where does “SSP Blue” come from?

Often safety, security, and privacy are treated as mutually exclusive, when in fact they are mutually inclusive.  “SSP” – Safety, Security, Privacy – must work together hand in hand for us to be able to navigate successfully online.  Thus, putting “SSP” into the name expresses our core mission.   And “Blue” signifies the holistic strategies and tactics that must be implemented in order to reach the proper balance of SSP.  Companies and citizens alike need blue-prints for action.

Much like the name, the logo with intersecting petals of similar blue tones integrated into a soothing image has its own story as well.  Online safety, security, and privacy are often tough issues to grasp and deal with.  When visiting the site or working with us, we want you to feel a sense of calmness and comfort while recognizing the intersection amongst SSP.  SSP Blue can help provide the comfort that comes from knowing that we’re providing solutions that protect us online.  As much as SSP can branch out into different directions, at the core they are really shades of each other originating from the same place – a necessary comfort for all of us.

Why would so much thought go in to one name and one logo? Mostly because that is how much thought goes into everything we do at SSP Blue.

SSP Blue, your blueprint for safety, security, and privacy.