Webcam scams

The Australian government’s Stay Smart Online advisory service is warning people about the possibility of webcam hacks:

In another type of webcam-based scam, malware installed on your computer can be used to operate your built-in webcam, recording images of you without your knowledge. This malware is known as a Remote Access Trojan or RAT and can remotely activate your webcam, at the same time, disabling your camera indicator light.  These images can also be used to blackmail you.

What should I do?
  • As always, make sure your software and systems are up-to-date, and that you are using up-to-date security software.
  • Be aware that anything you do on the internet, including video and voice calls, can be recorded.
  • Never use your webcam to video call someone you do not know.
  • Be cautious about people you meet online. People you meet online may not be who they seem to be.
  • Revealing personal details online is extremely risky.
  • Be aware that this type of scam is blackmail and it is illegal. The scammers are breaking the law.

If you have been threatened, you should:

  • Block their emails and their accounts from all networks. Cease all contact with the scammer. Scammers often seek soft targets, so they may move on if you do not respond. Some victims have reported no further consequences once they blocked the scammer and ignored their demands.
  • Be suspicious of any new or unusual friend requests, for example, someone you thought you were already friends with on Facebook.
  • Save the scammer’s details, emails, comment threads or any other evidence you have of them and the extortion attempt.   This can be done with screenshots or taking a photo with your phone.
  • If you think images or footage may be posted online (you can set up a Google email alert to look for this content every day), you can contact the host site to ask them to remove the files.
  • Contact your local police and notify them of the activity.
  • Report it to SCAMwatch.
  • The only leverage the scammers have is your embarrassment. You may consider accepting the disclosure.
  • Paying scammers and extortionists is never encouraged. Once you have paid, there is nothing preventing them from targeting you or your compromised computer again

Read the whole article here.

Holiday help

This is the last post from iQ for sometime to come. Best wishes to all readers for a safe and happy Christmas and New Year and beyond.

Just a note that if you need support due to online issues, there are a number of avenues you can use:

You can also search the iQ archives for further assistance.

Ellen found your Facebook photos

Further to the You posted that on Facebook? post, Ellen Degeneres has another hilarious installment for viewers.

As per the previous post on Ellen and Facebook photos, it seems that the members of Ellen’s audience have not only forgotten that they were the ones who uploaded the photos to a Facebook account that can be accessed by the general public, but also that Ellen was likely to use their photos on international television.

Loophole opens up Facebook friends list to anyone – even if it’s set to private

Digital Trends recently reported that there is a loophole in Facebook that opens up friends lists to anyone.

 If someone wants to see the friends of a Facebook user who hides their complete friend list from strangers, they can create a new dummy account and send a friend request to that Facebook user. Once the request is sent, even if it is rejected, Facebook will start sending friend suggestions to the dummy account — for users who are already Facebook friends or who have received a friend request from the person in question. In this way, even though there’s no complete friend list, someone looking for more information about a Facebook user will be able to compile at least a robust partial list of their Facebook friends. And while most people aren’t going to bother going out of their way to circumvent settings, the people who will  – malware peddlers, spammers, and stalkers — are exactly the kind of users that people want to avoid when they select tighter privacy settings.

Read the whole article here.

Facebook takes on cyberbullying

Facebook has reacted to the number of teenagers leaving the platform by addressing online bullying. NBC News (USA) explains:

After reports that Facebook is losing teen users, the social network has released a way for parents and children to deal with cyberbullying.

The new step is considered a beneficial but belated one, according to NPR. Facebook’s new Safety Center about bullying is considered a prevention hub with resources for teachers, teens and parents on how to deal with both online and offline bullying. There will also be ways for users to deal offensive posts which mainly consists of engaging the potential cyberbully.

Access Facebook’s new resources on cyberbullying here. Read the whole article here.

New sexting laws for Victoria

The Herald Sun is reporting that:

ELECTRONICALLY sharing sexually explicit images of another person without their consent – also known as sexting – will become illegal in Victoria.

The government tabled its response to an inquiry into sexting in parliament on Tuesday and the legislation will also ensure youths found sexting do not end up facing child pornography charges.

Legislation will be introduced into Victorian Parliament in 2014, with penalties to be decided then.

The Herald Sun have also promoted the Australian Federal Police video warning young adults of the dangers of sexting.

Teen trouble: parents open up about fears

Recently The Age and Sydney Morning Herald published an article detailing parents’ fears about their children.

Experts say parents grapple with internet-related issues and mental health problems that did not feature in previous generations. Parents have always worried about their children’s friendships but family therapists say those concerns now centre around social media and cyberbullying.

Family psychologist Collett Smart says a lot of parents assume their teenagers are more socially and emotionally aware on the internet than they are. She says teenagers are also reluctant to tell their parents they are having issues online because they are afraid they will take away access to the internet.

Ms Smart advises parents to keep technology out of the bedroom so it is easier to monitor use, to talk to teenagers about what’s happening on social media and to know their children’s passwords.

Read the whole article here.

Some Android games monitor your location

The Australian government’s Stay Smart Online service is advising that some Android games can reveal your location without the user being aware:

Many mobile educational and game applications (apps), despite being designed for young children, have been identified monitoring children’s geographical locations and selling the information to advertisers.

Apps on your phone may request permission to access location, address book, email, SMS and other information as part of their normal functions, but for some apps, access to this information may not be necessary. If you are concerned about the privacy of your family, read the permission information carefully and be selective about granting the app access to information on your phone.

Managing an app’s access to information requires careful attention to the permissions you give the apps when you load it on your smartphone or tablet.

Security firm Bitdefender recently warned about the practice after noticing that some Android games such as Kids Educational Puzzles were requesting permission to track their users’ locations. This information is often sold to advertisers, who use it to target advertisements to specific types of users in particular parts of the world.

Android devices will show a warning screen when an app is installed and run, outlining exactly what type of information it wants to access. The latest version of Android (4.3), installed on new Android devices, includes an App Ops feature that lets you allow or block specific activities for each installed app.

iPhones and iPads do not explicitly highlight the types of data they collect, but you can control apps’ access to location information by looking in Settings > Privacy > Location Services.

Read the whole article here.

Help to clean up your Facebook account

If you feel you might need assistance to clean up your Facebook account, the website Your Dirty Mouth may be of help. Yahoo news reports:

 A new website called Your Dirty Mouth scans through your Facebook history and finds the most profane, controversial Facebook statuses you ever dared to publish.

The site, first spotted by AllFacebook, is not just good insurance for anyone in the job market, or applying to college, as employers and admissions departments are increasingly scrutinising the social media presence of applicants; it’s also a pleasant trip down memory lane, and an intriguing capsule into the shifting ways in which you’ve used Facebook.

Although the reference to college admissions is US based and not really applicable in Australia, it could be a good idea to scan your Facebook history anyway.