Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Who wants to go Phishing?

     The trust we have in the internet is actually extremely scary if you think about. Everything we post on our Facebook, what personal information we enter into our PayPal accounts when buying from Ebay, to simply paying our bills online. How secure and safe are we really when we put all of this personal information out there into the world wide web?
     Around ten years ago, the term phishing was created to describe the process that thieves use to trick people into giving up their financial information and passwords. To think people are that manipulative and tricky is sad. I know I've received e-mails from "Bank of America" claiming that there was unusual activity on my account and that I needed to click on a link provided and enter my statement information to confirm that it was really me. Of course it had been all over the news that this phishing scam was occurring nationwide so I knew better, but still. Older people who may not be a savvy with the internet and connected to what's going on wouldn't know any better, and end up entering their information and just like that the so called "phishers" just got exactly what they wanted!
addition to these phishers, there’s hackers as well. It’s because of them that the amount of identity theft cases have soared through the roof! People enter their information online, whether on a legit site or not, and hackers are so technologically savvy that they just go right in and get all the information you just entered carelessly to buy those perfect shoes that you wanted so much!
      What it all comes to is just being smart and safe when it comes to personal information. You never know who can get to it, no matter what precautions you may take.

You're a Teenage Guy? So You Must have a Porn Addiction...

     The title says it all. The Dallas Observer posted an article in February stating titled "Too Much of a Bad Thing: Internet Lures Kids into Porn Addiction", which stated basically that the recent increase in use of the internet whether on a computer or phone by children and teenagers has caused a surge in porn addiction, mainly in boys. They go into detail about how middle schools and high schools are the perfect breading groups for aspiring porn producers and directors and their aspiring actors (the young boys and girls). Steve Schultz, a director at a popular porn addiction facility even goes as far to state that , "if a child has a computer or takes a cell phone to bed at night, [he] can guarantee that they're using it for some sexual purpose".
     Now, I don't know about you, but I take my phone to bed with me every night and also tend to take my computer with me as well. I'm also going to go ahead and throw this out there that I am indeed NOT looking at porn, but rather texting friends while either looking at facebook, watching Hulu, or maybe even working on homework. I'm not a guy, but I know plenty of guys that do the exact same thing as me, and as far as I'm concerned, they aren't up all night looking at porn. Maybe playing BlackOps till 4am, but not looking at porn. And to say that middle and high schools are the start of the amateur porn industry? I think that's pushing the limit a little too far. In my 7 years in middle and high school, not once did I hear about amateur porn being made by anyone.
     I will agree with some of what they're saying though. Many children wouldn't have been exposed to porn at such a young age if it weren't for late night TV shows or accidently Googling the wrong thing when researching for a school project. But with internet safety features that parents can install on their computers as well as the safety blocks schools put on, there are definitely ways to get around it!
     To say that the internet is causing the youth of today to have porn addictions and produce pornos I'd say is pushing it a little too far.

Hyper-Speed Dating

      In today's society, who has time for traditional dating methods once you're older? When you're young and in school, you still have the chance to meet people on a regular basis at school or go out to a bar and meet someone, but once you're in the real world, working a real job, with a real life, who has time to go out and actually meet someone face to face? That's why the beauty of internet dating was created. With sites like match.com, EHarmony, and the millions of others out there with their thousands of success stories posted all over their page, it seems like the busy bee's perfect solution to dating!
      If only it were that simple...
      From stalking, to cheaters, to defamation of character, to financial scams, and in extreme cases, physical harm such as rape or even murder, the pros of internet dating rarely outweigh the cons in this situation.
      In November 2009, a young woman invited a man she had met on an internet dating website back to her house, and he ended up hitting her and then proceeded to rape her in front of her three year old son. It's the numerous stories like this that make me wonder what people are thinking putting so much trust into strangers they know nothing about other than what a website that person made tells them. The internet may be knew, but whatever happened to having a little common sense and learning to think through the possible consequences of a situation? Just because you met someone online and have a good conversation doesn't mean you should invite the person to your house. Would you do that if you were to meet someone new at a bar one night?

I didn’t think so.

When the Internet Fights Back



      I found this picture on a websites expressing the dangers of cyber bullying and it really stood out to me. Using the overall color of red really stands out and since red usually has negative connotations (such as with blood), it helps to express that cyber bullying is indeed a bad thing. The use of big, bold, black letters that take up a good fourth of the picture matched with the giant, bolded "no" sign that covers the whole picture also help to make a statement that cyber bullying is bad.
      My favorite part of this would have to be the fist punching through the screen. Cyber bullying is one of those things that many people don't realize how serious it is and how much it can hurt someone since you don't have to see the other person's face when you're hurting them. It's all done through the safety of a screen. Unfortunately, this safety is only one sided, and only really works for the person delivering the bullying rather than receiving it. This fist punching through the screen helps to express the idea that the words and images on a computer screen are just as hurtful as if you were to simply punch someone in the face or the stomach. This picture, although very simple in nature, does a really good job of expressing just how hurtful and harmful cyber bullying is.

Dying to be Thin

      Identity is one of the most important things to a teenager, whether that be having their own identity or more importantly, simply being able to identify with others. But what happens when identifying with others turns into something that could slowly kill them from the inside out?
      Pro-Ana and Pro-Mia websites just might be one of the most disturbing things someone can find on the internet. Pro-Ana websites are created by real people with the disease anorexia nervosa, and Pro-Mia websites are created by people with bulimia nervosa. They support others in the endeavors to be thin in this extreme manner by giving tips, support, pictures, and real life chat/forum support. Just looking through these websites could shock anyone.
      The worst part though? After looking through these websites, I can almost guarantee that you'll probably feel a little down about yourself. I mean, how could you not with everything they're throwing in your face. One website has a Q&A forum where people ask questions such as "I want to become ana, but im worried about death and hair loss.. tips?" to which her response was "WHAAAAT ?! hahaha. sorry is that a joke?" It's these kind of remarks that dismiss the seriousness of these diseases, and potentially make the disease worse for these people who really just need help. Other websites go on to give their top ten tips to losing weight such as these list:

"1. Negative Calorie Foods are your new bestie (google it now)
2. Drink tons of ice cold water.  Ice cold anything is good.  Cold water raises metabolism and burns calories. Also, when you are thirsty, you may confuse hunger for thirst. 
3. Take Caffeine pill or drink something low calorie and caffeinated.  Not only is caffeine great for energy but it is also a natural diuretic so no need for water pills.
4. Exercise often.  If you can’t exercise often try clenching your butt cheeks.  The use of the gluts cause tons of calorie burn and it is easy to do often.
5. Use supplements like Ephedrine or Clenbuterol.  Both raise your body temperature helping you burn calories by doing nothing.
6. Count all calories, even negative calories because they add up.
7. Sleep as much as you can.  It is known that people who get at least 8 hours of sleep a night are 85% less hungry than the counterparts who get less sleep.
8. Eat slow
9. Cut down on sodium.  Try to never add salt to you foods.  Sodium will make you retain water.
10. Always fidget.  Movement!  Any calorie burning is better than none."

 The internet may be a blessing to humanity, but there's two sides to every story.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Hide Your Kids, Hide Your Wife

After looking through various blogs over internet safety, two definitely struck me. The first being one titled “How to Protect your Children from Internet Dangers” and the second titled “Internet dangers and how to keep your kids for staying safe”.  
Both these articles drown the reader with pathos, basically scaring the parent’s reading the articles to death with the fact that their children are going to be sexually solicited, as well as watch porn, be harassed, threatened, or even learn how to potentially kill themselves all while browsing the web. These articles may be a little over kill, especially with a claim like “the harsh reality is that the Internet is full of criminals who will stop at nothing in their attempts to exploit children in any way they can, and just by doing a simple search on Google, children can end up into inappropriate webspaces that are prime hunting grounds for extremely dangerous child predators”. The internet is full of criminals, really? I’ve been on the internet since I was about eight and have yet to come across a criminal trying to “exploit” me.
There’s also mass amounts of logos added in there through the use of statistics about the dangers of the internet, such as the amount of youth that visit adult websites either on purpose or accident, amount of Facebook users, number of pedophiles on the internet, etc. These only reinforce the fears of the parent’s reading the article that their children are going to get into something extremely inappropriate.
These articles are definitely one sided towards the internet being a horrible place full of horrible people who are only out to get the children and youth of today, and does nothing to praise the great things about the internet. Yes, there are many dangers associated with the internet, but children are being taught at young ages how to deal with these. They may be young, but they aren’t as stupid as their parents may think.

Stranger Danger

Most parents want to think their children are perfect, that they do no wrong, and that they would never be stupid enough to do something crazy like give their name, address, school, or any other identifiable information out to strangers on the internet.
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but that's just about as accurate as saying the no one under the age of 21 would ever dare try an alcoholic beverage.
          The internet makes meeting and connecting with new people way too easy. There are so many chat websites just for the sole purpose of talking to strangers, or even videoing strangers. There are even websites for young children with chat abilities, such as Club Penguin. May not have been the brightest idea on Disney's part to give young, vulnerable children the ability to chat with strangers, but that's their choice.
I will admit, I've had my fair share of internet stupidity, especially when I was young. Coke Rewards used to have a chat function when I was in sixth grade that me and my best friend at the time would get on to talk. One night though, she introduced me to a boy who claimed to be our age and from Canada named Omar. We talked to him for weeks after that, and eventually he started just talking to me by myself. He complimented me and told me how much he liked me and finally asked if he could meet me and where I lived. Luckily my older brother was there and immediately reported him and blocked him so he couldn’t get into contact with me or my friend again. Now he very well could have been a 12 year old from Canada, but then why would he want to come down to Texas to meet with some random 12 year old girl he had only talked to for about two months? Sketchy? Very, very sketchy.
Me and my roommates also use a website called Omegle to talk to random strangers from around the world that has not only a chat ability, but a video ability so you can see the strangers you're talking to. Although its technically anonymous, I can’t tell you how many times strangers on there give out way more information about themselves than necessary. It's scary how stupid and na├»ve some people can be when it comes to internet safety.
Think before you type. Please.