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HACKING HUMAN MINDS

Hacking Human Minds-Top 5 Ways Hackers Socially Engineer Your Employees

You might have developed, to your own detriment, certain stereotypes about hackers. You tend to think of them as super intelligent tech guys, sitting somewhere in the virtual universe, generating codes and software to hack into your network. Consequently you grow a false sense of security that your company’s network system is safe once you ensured adequate network protection.  But have you ever considered the possibility of your own employees, perhaps the most competent ones, unknowingly and unintentionally creating system vulnerabilities by divulging sensitive information? Yes, we are talking about an aspect of hacking most companies tend to overlook- social engineering.

Understanding social engineering

Social engineering is popularly described as the hacking of human minds. Using cleverly performed ruses, hackers try to get someone inside your company to lower their guard and divulge secure information. This is easier than finding system vulnerabilities and using them as a gateway into your company’s secure data. Though there are several ways a hacker can socially engineer your employees, here is a snapshot of the top 5 methods:

  1. Social media

Be it Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, your employees make their presence felt in the social media and share their interests, job profiles, hobbies and other personal details.  Albeit the efforts made by the social media to augment their privacy controls, many users render them futile by adding strangers to their friends list. The information your employees post on their social media pages can be used in a number of ways by a hacker to socially engineer them. For example, a hacker might send an email impersonating a friend listed on the page asking for confidential information or find out popular hang-outs of your employees by viewing their pictures and then show up at such spots to socially engineer them through other means.

  1. Personally relevant messaging

None of us like to read impersonal group mails, but what if a mail has something directly to do with our interests? Mails that pertain to the personal interests of your employees are likely to get more attention from them than a group mail; hackers know that fact and they play to it. Your employees might get messages that contain a subject line that catches their interest- it can be their locality, their job or hobbies. Along with that mail will be an attached instruction to download a video player to know more about the topic. Those who download it end up downloading a malware that create system vulnerabilities.

  1. Social compliance

We are inclined to trust something that is either popular or recommended by trusted sources. Hackers take advantage of this aspect of human psychology to find their victims. Remember those virus attacks that spread on Facebook, which came to be known as ‘likejacking’ attacks? Facebook users were tricked into liking pages that claimed to have contained secrets of celebrities and rare videos and photographs. When they clicked on those links, they were in fact clicking malicious websites created by hackers, which furtively caused them to like the page. This activity was published on their pages giving legitimacy to the malicious page and inviting more and more people to click and ‘like’ it. Your employees’ tendency to follow popular online behaviors makes them susceptible to social engineering.

  1. Reverse Social Engineering

Reverse Social Engineering or RSE primarily involves three steps-sabotage, advertising, and technical assistance. Firstly, the hacker will sabotage your network by means of launching a network attack or sending an email from a spoofed email address telling your employees that they are infected with a virus. Secondly, the hacker advertises himself as a security consultant, offering you his services. He might use mailers, business cards or other such means to advertise his services. Believing that he is a legitimate consultant you end up taking his services and giving him access to your network. Once gained the access, he might do malicious activities such as installing keyloggers or stealing sensitive data under the false pretext of restoring your network.

  1. Phishing

Phishing is a social engineering technique of fraudulently obtaining confidential information.  A hacker sends emails to your employees that appear as coming from a legitimate site, such as PayPal or a banking site, asking them to visit certain websites, input private information or requesting verification of information. The emails contain links to a malicious websites that are made to look legitimate with company logos, relevant content and with a form asking them to enter private information. Once the hacker collects information specific to a person, he might take the attack a step further by using it in different fraudulent ways. The 2003 phishing scam where users received mails allegedly from eBay asking them to click on a provided link to update their credit card is one of the classic examples of phishing.

No matter how many encrypting devices, firewalls and security technologies you implement, your network is not foolproof as long as there is human factor. Educate your employees about how hackers make use of social engineering to manipulate them and obtain access to a system. The first step towards fighting social engineering is being aware of what its different forms are.

 

HOW HACKING IS NOT A SPORT OF THE TECHNICALLY SAVVY ANYMORE

 

How Hacking is not A Sport of the Technically Savvy Anymore

Even as you have this link open, take a look at the other open tabs on your web browser at the moment. Chances are that an email account and a social media website is open and logged in. As much as social media websites and emails have become a part of our everyday lives, so has hacking.

Computer hacking is a rampant crime. It is an invasion into privacy. Hackers gain access to your email, your social media accounts and even your bank account details. With the combination of computer hacking and identity theft, the virtual world is not as safe as one would think it is.

Can I be A Victim of Hacking?

It is easy to presume that you cannot possibly be a victim. However, a connection to the World Wide Web network makes you as vulnerable as anybody else. The prevalence and ease of access to software that gives a hacker control over your machine is what makes hacking the widespread threat that it is today.

Win Spy – A Software to Hack

There are a number of software programs like Win Spy that can be used to hack into your e-mail or social media sites. The software can record and send data such as web history, keystrokes and chat room conversations to your email. Read on for a guide to using the software. Test it against your own email to get an understanding of how hacking works.

How Does Win Spy Work? – A Step by Step Guide

Win Spy can be disguised to look like a word document, an excel spreadsheet, PowerPoint or a screensaver. It runs discreetly enough in the background so as to not alert the target computer. The software can by-pass firewall blocks and can be operated via email.

Step 1 – Create an E-mail

Create an email id that you can hack via the win spy software.

Step 2 – Download the Software

Download Win Spy software from the website www.win-spy.com. Once the download is complete, you will be asked where you want to store the file. Store the file on your desktop. The software requires a username and a password for access. This will be your login information.

Step 3 – Login

After a computer restart, win spy will launch automatically at startup. Holding down the shift, control and F12 keys on your keyboard will open the win spy login page.

Step 4- Create A File

Once logged in, you may create a file that can be sent to your target computer via email.

While creating the file, you can set up an email to which the recorded keystrokes will be sent. Once the file is created, send it as an email attachment. When you click on the attachment, you will find that the win spy software is downloaded and running in the background. Log into the email that you had earlier set up to receive the recorded keystrokes and you may hack your own password.

Professional hackers use similar software to create email threads that seem plausible enough for the reader to click on the attachment.

Am I Being Hacked? – Signs of An Infiltration

Understanding how hacking works is the first step to protecting yourself in the eventuality of an invasion into privacy. If you happen to notice a sharp decline in the performance of your computer and/or a sudden unexplained shift in large files or the files stored on your computer doubling, chances are that your machine has been hacked. Changes in network settings, or a modification of files that is unexplained are all indicators of infiltration.

Restoring Your Privacy

Securing yourself against computer hackers is an ongoing task. In the eventuality that your passwords are compromised, there are steps that will help restore a sense of safety. The first step is to change the passwords on all your email accounts and social media accounts. Use unique passwords for every account and have at least ten characters in every password. Change the security questions if they seem too easy to crack.

Prevention is Better than Cure

Use caution when opening emails that have attachments and are from people you do not recognize. Run regular anti-virus scans on your computer. Keep tabs on the emails you have sent. Check the deleted emails to see if any emails about resetting passwords were sent. If any password reset emails were deleted without your knowledge, it points to a hacker’s presence.

You also need to keep regular tabs on your credit cards and check for any unauthorized transactions. Hacking is a very real threat with the ease of access to a range of hacking software. A few precautionary measures, however can help protect your identity and your privacy against hackers.

 

FIVE IMPORTANT FILES YOU SHOULD TAKE A BACKUP BEFORE YOU PACK UP

Five Important Files You should Take a Backup Before You Pack Up

Crash! Oops! Where has all the data from your PC vanished? Will a phone call to your network administrator do any good? Yes, if you have a backup of all your important files; and no, if you do not have a backup of the data on which you invested hard work and several hours of your precious time. What are the most important files that you need to create a backup of before you pack up for the day? Here is a list of the five most important files and why you need to create their backup.

Network Drive – Which is the network drive you utilize all the while? Of course, your data is secure there and it must be well-organized to be of help whenever you need any data that is saved in it. Yes, your boss is asking you for information created over a year ago and when you think it is right there at the tip of your fingertips and you can send it in a jiffy, you may be in for a shock. The network drive which you placed all your trust on is DEAD! Do you have a backup of all those files containing tons and tons of important and crucial information? Unfortunately, no. So, ensure you always have a backup of this most important folder which could contain MS Word files, Excel sheets, PowerPoint Presentations, PDFs, dashboards, analytics data, financial reports, business reports, etc.

E-mail – Many professionals trust their mailbox. Again, the mailbox is neatly arranged in folders to be of quick help when a particular e-mail chain is required to be retrieved. E-mails also serve as proof when proving a point and almost everyone ensures the important mails are not deleted. But, what if they get deleted automatically? Do you have a backup? Get it if you do not have it yet. Follow the dentist’s advice who asks you to brush your teeth twice a day. Create a backup of your important e-mails twice a day.

Phone System – Just as e-mails are important, there is no need for an explanation on why voice mails are important. Most files in the phone system are carefully saved for use in the future. However, just like e-mails, it is essential to create a backup of the phone system lest you lose them and regret.

Cost Management Data – For any organization, its employees, vendors and clients are highly treasured. In such a scenario, isn’t it imperative for the organization to safeguard all pricing information related to these assets? Be it payroll data, customer invoicing, billing, payables or any other accounts-related information, it is a must for the enterprise to have a backup of the files with absolutely no excuse for loss in today’s high-tech world.

Customer Information – Customer is the king. Information associated with every single customer is of utmost importance, and at times, highly confidential. There may be at least another person with a copy of the e-mail that you just lost. But, that may not be the case with customer information. It may be entrusted to just one person, and sharing of the data may be strictly prohibited. In this case, can one afford to lose data? No! Create a backup and be safe. For fear of losing security, files may be encrypted. Is it not better to have the data somewhere rather than losing it completely?

Important moral of this important story – It is very important to realize the importance of creating a backup of all important files with a copy of all such important files in two separate locations at any given point of time. (‘Important’ has been used so many times just to emphasize that a backup is really important.)

Any individual never thinks of himself/herself becoming the victim of an accident until it really occurs. We all know that accidents can happen; but never think of them happening to us. Beware! It is time we realize this. Use the Backup & Restore feature, use an external drive, or do it in any way that suits you. Managing data on the cloud is also one of the hottest trends that we see today. Options are limitless; ensure you create a backup before you pack up.

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THE BITTERSWEET STORY OF CHOCOLATE

THE BITTERSWEET STORY OF CHOCOLATE

Chocolate. The word is a resounding affirmation that sheer joy and pleasure can come wrapped in foil. As the wrapper unwinds in your hands, you are unleashing the secrets of the cacao tree’s seed. You become a part of the story that began 4,000 years ago when people turned to this enigmatic food which found its place in countless rituals, medicine and was consumed for pleasure.

It’s now armed to entice the taste buds in the most seductive way. Today, it’s a saviour on a bad day, solace for a broken heart, a gift for the loved one, truce between siblings, chocolate is literally hope in bricks and bars.

For something that has been a part of our lives for eons, it only makes sense to get acquainted with our lovely dark companion on a more intimate level. This time, let chocolate share its story before you sink your teeth in it. That’s all it asks for. To be known before it meets its destiny. And it’s only fair. Don’t you think?

PLACE OF BIRTH: SERIOUSLY CLOSE TO THE EQUATOR

Well this dark beauty loves the heat and humidity. It has very humble beginnings. The cacao bean starts its life inside a pod on a tree in the tropical regions. It’s mostly found in Southeast Asia, West Africa, Central and South America.

CHOCOLATE CURRENCY?

True story. Once upon a time, a long, really long time ago, the Aztecs and Maya’s used chocolate as currency. Well the Mayans started the trend. The Cacao beans were so valuable that they substituted them for currency. Rumours are that you could buy a rabbit for ten beans and sadly, a slave for hundred. Aztecs carried forward the trends  to buy livestock, tools and food. Just like any other currency, counterfeits were made using clay. However, it was only the aristocrats who could drink chocolate frequently. Makes sense, as drinking your money is well an expensive affair.

MONEY DOESN’T GROW ON TREES. BUT CHOCOLATE DOES.

Cacao trees need all the pampering in the world before they bear what we seek. The delicate, flower-laden trees yearn for much tending. With sustainable farming methods these trees thrive in the company of other cash crops like rubber, hardwood trees or bananas. These trees are usually grown on small family farms. The cocoa beans that actually yield chocolate are seeds from the fruit of the cacao tree. The seeds develop inside a pod-like fruit and are enclosed in white pulp. Cocoa farmers bust open the pods, take the seeds out, ferment and dry them.

And from these cocoa farms they continue their journey in rugged sacks to be traded with a local buyer and eventually to processors off seas. When they finally arrive at a factory in snug bags, they are ground, then pressed, heated and stirred to churn out the most delectable chocolate. The beans are finally shipped to factories in snug bags. Here the manufacturers carefully inspect them and painstakingly clean them. Then they are roasted and ground into a mushy paste called chocolate liquor. It is pressed further, then rolled and mixed with sugar and different ingredients. Heating and cooling this concoction is the genesis of chocolate.

WHAT THE SECRET INGREDIENTS OF CHOCOLATE REALLY ARE.

  • Chocolate Liquor: When the shells of the cocoa beans are removed, they are fermented for some time, roasted and later ground till they acquire a liquid state. Both cocoa butter and cocoa solids constitute this special liquid. And both of these are naturally present within the bean.
  • Cocoa Butter: This is the natural fat that’s extracted from the cocoa bean. The richness in the texture of the chocolate is thanks to the extra cocoa butter added to it.
  • Sugar: You know who this is!
  • Lecithin: This is an emulsifier which is more often than not made from soy. Lecithin helps in blending all the ingredients together smoothly.
  • Vanilla:  or vanillin along with other flavours make chocolate a delight for all your senses

Apart from these basic ingredients, there might be a few special addons in your chocolate like:

  • Milk: For that glorious milk chocolate.
  • Nuts, fruits and other things good: For those scrumptious specialty chocolates.

THE ULTIMATE CHOCOLATE CLAN

There are three basic kinds of chocolates. Read up to know which one is most likely to enjoy the company of your taste buds.

Dark Chocolate: It’s back to the basics

Dark chocolate is essentially chocolate liquor, extra cocoa butter, an emulsifier like lecithin, sugar, vanilla and other flavours. It sometimes contains milk fat which helps in softening the texture sans the milky flavour.

Dark chocolate is also considered to be a semi-sweet chocolate. Baking chocolate or unsweetened chocolate is quite bitter and astringent like as it’s a cent percent of chocolate liquor.

It usually has a higher percentage of cacao implying a heavier dose of cocoa beans as compared to other chocolates.

Milk Chocolate: What goes into a dark chocolate with milk solids.

Here’s the surprise. Contrary to expectations, the creamy, sweet milk chocolate isn’t really made with frothy and cold milk. Instead it takes dry milk solids to make a fine batch of milk chocolate. This usually contains about 10 per cent cocoa liquor by weight and a minimum of 12 per cent milk solids. This is the most common version of chocolates found on those store shelves.

White Chocolate: Cocoa butter takes away the glory

White chocolate is all about cocoa butter. It’s like milk chocolate without the cocoa solids.  Apart from cocoa butter, milk solids, sugar, lecithin, et al white butter might just contain other flavourings. All in all, it’s 20% cocoa butter, about 55% sugar and 14% milk solids.

DO YOU TASTE YOUR CHOCOLATES RIGHT?

Maybe not. Usually, most of us simply rip the peel of and dive deep. However, just like wine to truly appreciate the flavours do a little ritual.

Pick a bigger sample: This time instead of your usual favourite, buy several kinds of chocolates. Choose a good mix of milk, white and dark. Dig brands with all kinds of cacao percentages, different kinds of beans (some exotic ones too! Like Forastero, Criollo or maybe Trinitario) and also with different countries of origin.  You could also go for a spectacular array of uncommon add-ins like sea salt or voila! Chillies!

Spread them out in style: Arrange them all from dark to light (higher cocoa percentage to lower).

Treat your senses: Take the time to observe the gloss, texture and colour of each chocolate. Feel the richness in your hands. The colour usually cues the taste. Darker colours have an intense and richer flavour while lighter colours suggest the characteristics of the beans instead of the cacao content or whether or not it has milk.  Begin with the chocolate lightest in colour and snap a small piece of it. Keep an ear out to take in the sound of that snap. The sharpness indicates the quality and freshness. The higher concentration of cocoa liquor is the reason why dark chocolates have the sharpest sound while snapping.

Get a bit nosy: Don’t underestimate the aroma! Ever! Bring your chocolate close to your nose and take a strong whiff of its aroma.  The aroma can tell you a detailed story of its origin and make. It may also teleport you to gardens with the sensual scents of spices and nuts, fruits or herbs, flowers or dairy products, all the way till sugar, wood, alcohol or even bread! It may sound unusual but you could also inhale in colours. For example, the colour purple could suggest the sourness of the chocolate.

It’s time you took that bite: Enough resistance! Take a small bite and let the chocolate melt in your mouth. Let one small bite follow the next and start chewing slowly. Observe how nice and creamy it feels. Feel if the chocolate melts all the way. Good quality chocolates usually have a much smoother texture.

Can you feel all the flavours swivel and swirl? It is trickiest to comprehend a dark chocolate. Its diva like characteristics makes it quite a challenge. Try differentiating the sugar from vanilla and cocoa from the rest. The aroma might sometimes betray the taste.

Encore: It’s time you rub away that taste with a palate cleanser. A slice of apple or unsalted cracker would do the trick. And go for the next one in line!

ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL!

The fact of the matter is that chocolate is high in antioxidants and is quite simply put, really great for your well-being. According to research, chocolates are home to flavonoids. The chocolate specific flavonoids are called procyanidins or flavonols. These do-gooders greatly benefit your heart and are also helpful in preventing cancer. Note that the higher the chocolate content, the better it is for you. Dark chocolates boost your antioxidant levels and reduce blood pressure. But washing down with milk is a strict no! That being sad, there’s no reason you should worry too much about the calories. With so many benefits you now have a scientific reason to stock those sinful dark lovelies in your freezer. Have a chocolaty day!

ALTERNATE USES OF ALCOHOL

Alternate Uses of Alcohol: Pointers on How to Use Liquor in an Innovative Manner

Ah, alcohol.  The very mention of the word is enough to send imbibers into a tizzy. As you get up on Monday morning with a hangover and a rather sketchy recollection of events that have taken place over the weekend, you’re left in a conundrum as it pertains to what exactly one should do with all that leftover booze. Before you decide to pour it all down the drain (or your throat), here are some uses of alcohol that you were probably kept in the dark about until now;

Beer and its Diverse Utility:  You can put out small fires with that extra can or bottle of beer. Beer contains a lot of water, and a simple shake and spray will aid in dousing minor flames. Carrying beer in a vehicle can help in fighting engine fire as well. Ever fancied a real bubble bath? Pour a bottle of the fuzzy liquid into your bath tub, lie back and relax.  The Vitamin B and natural sugars found in beer can help add shine and bounce to your hair.  Shampoo and rinse your hair as normal. After this, pour some warm beer on it and guide the beer through your locks with your fingers. A thorough rinse and you’re well on your way to more lustrous hair.

Vodka as a Fabric Freshener and Mouthwash: A tinge of vodka mixed with an essential oil of your choice and distilled water can give you a fabric freshener that is greener and cleaner than any product available in the market. Vodka’s remarkable germ-killing properties can help you in case you’re all out of toothpaste and mouthwash. Sip a tad bit of the liquor, guide it around your mouth, spit it out and voila, there’s that unpleasant breath taken care of. Be sure to spit it out, though.

Wine; Lord of the Flies: Ever been a victim of those annoying little beings known as fruit flies? The ones which are too small and fast to swat? Well, here comes wine to save the day. Making a trap of sorts with red wine is easy. Just empty some wine into a container and wrap the top with some plastic. Punch some (fly sized) holes into the plastic and watch the fun commence. The flies will get attracted to the wine and rush right in. The sticky nature of the liquid makes the exiting of the container much harder for them though, and they’ll be left without an escape plan. They’re at your mercy now.

Whiskey and Pain Relief: We all know that whiskey is one bad son of a gun when it comes to causing those dreaded, supersonic hangovers. But surprisingly enough, whiskey can be a handy ally in alleviating toothache. Putting a small amount of whiskey on your fingers and rubbing around a painful tooth can provide immense relief.

City of Gins:  It’s known the world over that gin can spruce up a cocktail or two. What isn’t as widely known is that adding gin to a homemade pickle helps in enhancing the flavour. Getting rid of mould is no real problem if you have some gin on hand either. Soak the adamant spores in the liquor for a couple of minutes and wipe them away with a sponge or cloth. A mixture of thyme oil and a couple of drops of gin is a ready replacement for a mouthwash. Applying the same mixture to your feet helps in getting rid of foot odour.

 

 

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WHY TREKKING AND HIKING?

Making paper boats during the monsoon and playing tag with your cousins in the pristine countryside in the summer – remember your childhood? Hiking and trekking are safe, but challenging activities that would help reconnect your children with nature the way you did.

Hiking and trekking will tone up your children’s muscles and lead to overall fitness. Experts note that these activities increase their endurance, strength and flexibility. Ms. Prinyanka, from Youreka, vouches for the sport, “Meaningful and unforgettable adventure experiences have often been life changing.” Youreka is a pioneer in the field of adventure-based learning programmes for kids and have over 17 years of experience working with around 40,000 children from across Asia and Europe.

Hiking and trekking activities can be custom-designed to the age, temperament and ability of each child. Through these fun-filled and eco-friendly activities your youngsters undergo an amazing learning experience.  According to Ms. Prinyanka, “challenges coupled with fun build confidence in participants while encouraging them to push their limits to achieve more.”

Yes, now is the time to watch them grow confident and become at home with Mother Nature while having fun.

You can contact Ms. Priyanka at Youreka at 080-65995290 / 91 or walk in at No 1611, Janardhan Towers, 7th Cross,Sector 1, HSR Layout  Agara Post, Banglore-560102 for more details.

 

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