Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Was I right about Facebook 7 years ago?

Oh my, the Facebook...

It took about 7 years to prove my opinion about the Facebook. Look into my old article about the cyber weapons.

In my article, I have noted:
"For instance, with over 350 million users (!) of Facebook, this social networking web site becomes a prime target for cyber-gangsters. I have no doubts that the FSB (former KGB) has a copy of all Facebook accounts coupled with scientific analysis software to filter down the most useful intelligence data on citizens of many countries, and especially, United States. Hey, it's almost free database with people who have no clue that their opinions, personal information, employment, personal preferences, and pictures are being thoroughly analyzed and stored in the mainframe computer. I would be surprised if China is not following the same plan, or, perhaps, Russians share their intelligence data with their partner? Thank you, Facebook!"

Will the latest news (and the stock market reaction to it) become the trigger for people to think about their Facebook accounts? Will they finally realize that the social networking = no privacy protection?

On April 3rd, 2018 Facebook has announced that the majority of its 2 billion users very likely have had their public profile information "scraped by outsiders without their explicit permission" not to mention previous announcement that information from the profiles of 87 million people may have been “improperly shared” by Cambridge Analytica, the company that is described as an “arsenal of weapons” in a culture war.

The CTO at Facebook, Mike Schroepfer, wrote that he wanted to update users on the recent changes the company made to protect their personal information, like strengthening the process for approving third-party applications with access to the site.

“Given the scale and sophistication of the activity we’ve seen, we believe most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped,” he wrote.
This is the case when I hate to be right but I was. 7 years ago.
If people would share their pictures only (like family's or friends') it would be not so painful (not to mention that your name is identified with your picture and reveals your friends).

However, every "like" or "not-like" is being recorded, every post or reply to the post is being stored, and all of it, including the history and the links you have clicked -- is being added to your PROFILE. By the way, if any of your friends has certain political views, it would be linked to your profile. Did you know it? How many friends do you have that you have no clue about who they actually are? Or what the web sites they do browse?

Now, if you would work for any adversaries mentioned in my 2010 article, you would want to merge the Facebook info with Google info. It would be very useful. In that case, your life will be shown like the blood test from the medical lab after visiting your physician.

The profile can be potentially used by the government in a very unpredictable way, or by the adversaries in a predictable way (your profile would reveal your political and social views that could be potentially used to achieve the long-term goals against your company or even country).

If I did sound paranoid in 2010, perhaps now you may agree that I have the point, especially considering the Russians who have used social media to influence people for or against some political figures. #DeleteFacebook hash-tag is a good start.
The story about Facebook may finally trigger the process of hardening the privacy information like it was done within HIPAA regulations to protect the private health information.

Truly, I don't believe it will happen on the same scale when those who violate the privacy could be penalized with a sizable amount of money or even get prisoned. Perhaps, something will be done. Mark Zuckerberg is expected to appear before multiple congressional committees, and his company is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission on suspicion of violating an agreement in 2011 to protect its users’ privacy.

It is time, right?

No matter what will be done, one thing that cannot be changed: scrapping the FSB database on Facebook users.

And, hey, don't exclude Google and Twitter and the fake news!

Friday, February 2, 2018

How I was almost scammed

I’ll start it off with a bold statement: In the business there are probably more scammers than there are legitimate and honest businessman.

My life experience is a base for my statement. Yes, my friends, there are too many villains in this world - more than truly honest people.

I don’t have any hard proof and statistics. Just anecdotal evidence and experience. When you’ve been around as long as I have, you see a lot of things.

You can get in trouble because you trusted the wrong people.

That’s on the extreme end of course. But you might be surprised at how often people get cheated or misled – even in a minor way.

Thankfully, it doesn’t take much to arm yourself with the right tools. Most are just common sense.

Rule number one: Watch out for anything that sounds too cheap.

Here is my recent experience buying a new laptop. For years, I have been building my own PC from the part that I have been obtaining from computer shows. But when my "big daddy" - the PC in a case of a file server - began hikkin' up, I have decided that it is time to switch to a high-end laptop.

I have done some research, and have stopped on Samsung 15" laptop with the latest i7 processor from Intel.
The Best Buy and Amazon prices were similar: about $1,400 with taxes.

While I have been waiting for better price on Black Friday, I did searching other web sites. To my big surprise, I found better price on

Would you be happy to see the $850 tag on the same laptop?

I honestly was excited at first, so I have filled out the required info about my login name, home delivery address, etc.

Proceeding to the shopping cart, I was ready to pay but something "from above" stopped me. I have decided to initiate a chat and verify if they still have that laptop in stock.

The guy have answered the chat and confirmed that I can order it. To tell you more, he promised another 10% discount if I pay through PayPal.

Wow, 10% discount? Something smelled not right...

So, I have asked why the price is so low? The rep answered: we have a special promotion from the manufacturer. Sounds familiar?

Since I was not sure if I have enough money on my PayPal account, I said, hold on, let me check my account.
I found that I could pay with PayPal considering even lower price with a promised discount.

I still remember my excitement while processing this information in a spite of clear warning.

So, using the chat, I have asked how to pay with a PayPal because the web site did not have the PayPal payment option. The rep has answered, just use the "send money to friends and relatives" that is not a subject to 3% PayPal fee.

Wow, the second warning!

At this moment, I have realized that there is something wrong with this picture...

I have decided to check that site with Whois tool.

I found that the site is legitimate but the owner hides his identity. The site was registered by the owner from Panama. The site's location was somewhere in Arizona.

I have continued my chat and asked where the company is located since I found Panama and Arizona? The guy has answered: that is correct about owner but they are operating from the New York City.
What is the address? It is shown on the site's main page.

Punching the address in the Google maps revealed that that address does not exist! Gotcha!

I send a chat message that I cannot find the address on the Google maps.
As you may guess, I did not receive any reply.

Needless to say, I did not proceed with a payment.

After all, I was able to buy the laptop in the Best Buy store for $100 discount before Cyber Monday.

The moral? Be vigilant, careful, and do not let be fooled by the villains.

This short story from my experience just proves my statement in the beginning of this article. I hope you can learn the lesson from somebody's mistakes.

Just be careful out there.