Biggest Online Security Breaches in 2017 So Far

Worryingly, we hear about data breaches so much nowadays that we have gotten used to them. From the infamous Ashley Madison breach, where thousands of cheating partners were exposed to the TalkTalk breach, which led to youngsters being arrested, the scandals seem to get worse and worse, as cyber criminals become more sophisticated. In this post, we are going to take a look at some of the biggest data breaches to occur so far in 2017.

Debenhams Flowers – Let’s begin with a data breach that his hit the news very recently. 26,000 customers had their personal data compromised as a consequence of a cyber attack on Debenhams Flowers website. Names, addresses and payment details were taken during the incident, which targeted a third party e-commerce company, Ecomnova. At present, the Debenhams Flowers website is currently offline, as they discover more about the attack, which is believed to have taken place between February and April of this year.

Gmail – Most people reading this post will have a Gmail account, and so the phishing scam that occurred in March was a pretty big deal to say the least. Gmail users were targeted in a sophisticated scam, which saw them receive an email that appeared to come from one of the user’s trusted contacts, such as a friend or a work colleague. The email had a Google Doc attached to it, and encouraged the user to open it. However, once clicked, the link actually lead to a security page, whereby the hacker would gain control of the user’s email account. Despite the fact that Google reacted quickly and was able to stop the attack within an hour, one million users were impacted.

InterContinental Hotels Group – While email platforms and ecommerce websites only have online threats to deal with, the hospitality industry has both physical and cyber security to bear in mind. If you would like some information on the former, take a look at information provided by HS Tech Group.  The InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) breach is important because it occurred due to malware, which is running rife at the moment. In the beginning, IHG believed that 12 of its properties were impacted by the breach, which saw malware on the servers used to process payments made at on-site bars and restaurants. This meant that stolen data included internal verification codes, card numbers, expiration dates, and card numbers. However, IHG later revealed that 1,200 of their properties had been impacted by the malware attack.

E-Sports Entertainment Association (ESEA) – Last but not least, we have a breach that was announced at the very start of 2017. ESEA, which is one of the biggest video gaming communities in the world, issued a warning to all players after discovering a security incident. It was later revealed that more than 1,500,000 ESEA records were impacted by the breach, and a lot of private data was compromised in the process, including website URLs, phone numbers, birthdates, email addresses, first and last names, usernames, registration date, last login, and much more.

For more information on how you can stay safe while using the Internet, take a look at this blog post.

Decluttering

declutter photoWith the start of a new year about to happen, I’ve been doing a lot of reflection on where I’ve been focusing my attention, and what I’ve been getting out of those things. My conclusions led me to discover that I have been putting a lot of time and energy into things that don’t necessarily help me, my family, and everything surrounding those primary things (career, creativity, cashflow, etc).

So, I have decided to give up the following:

  • Caring about sports. I may watch some bigger Louisville basketball games, but overall, this has become more of a chore than anything, and I spend way too much time wrapped up in the emotions surrounding games. This is particularly unproductive when they lose.
  • Facebook. I’ve given it up before, but it serves absolutely no purpose for me. If people want to keep in touch, they know how to find me.
  • Clash of Clans. I’ve led a very successful clan for almost 2 years, and been a part of the game for almost 3. I helped start the Reddit Alliance Clans system, and all of this has been a large time sink. I did have a lot of fun, and I met a lot of great people along the way, but ultimately, it’s been entirely unproductive towards helping any of the primary things in life I mentioned above.
  • Reddit. One thing I’ve noticed is that by deleting apps off my phone, I waste a lot less time. So I am removing the Reddit app that I use, and will instead only check in on occasion when at my computer, at home. I tend to get wrapped up in drawn-out conversations (or arguments) on Reddit far too often. While some of these interactions can have positive outcomes (discussing network security, for example), most of the time I am arguing with people who will never change their minds. Why? I have no idea.

I hope to start using all the freed up time and energy (in no particular order) towards continuing my newfound interest in working out, continuing to educate myself, investing more time and energy with my family, making more music, and focusing on the things that support all of the above — the primary things in life.

I will report back more in a few months to let you know how it all goes!

Photo by ollesvensson

O, Death

“You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.

And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly. Amen.”

-Aaron Freeman.

Nature Vs Nurture: Are Criminals Born or Made?

The question ‘are criminals born or made’ is a tricky one. As with anything when it comes to understanding something as complex as human beings, it doesn’t have a simple answer. But it’s a fascinating idea to look at, to understand what impact both nature and nurture have on us as humans and our personalities. When you think about notorious criminals and evil people in society, Hitler, Jack the Ripper and Ted Bundy to name a few, it’s easy to think that they were surely born ‘different’ to me and you and had something in them, to begin with to make them commit the atrocities they did. But how true is this?

‘Crime’ Is a Social Construct

When we’re trying to work out if crime is driven by nature or nurture, we firstly need to understand what crime is. It’s defined as an ‘action or omission which can be punished by law,’ but this itself is tricky. It means that the notion of ‘crime’ is a completely social construct- it’s us as humans who lay down the law of what’s acceptable and what’s not when it comes to our behaviors. Think about it, there is no ‘crime’ in the animal kingdom. With this being said, it could be argued that crime or criminals do not exist, it’s simply other humans who label them as such.

Biology of Risk and Violence

One of the reasons people may be naturally more prone to committing crime, particularly those involving a lot of risks or with violence is due to their genetic makeup. Both of these things can be noted in many people with high levels of testosterone. This is likely to be due to the way testosterone can affect dopamine levels, those with high levels of the hormone feel good when engaging in this kind of activity due to the way the brain’s reward system works. This could be why there are so many higher cases of male crime than female for violence or risk, any criminal or DUI lawyer would be able to confirm that most (but not all) cases they deal with are by men. So while crime may be a social construct, there is definitely a genetic/ biological element involved when it comes to defining some criminals.

Cognitive and Social Influences

Early influences can dramatically shape an individual’s personality, their outlook and can be a predictor for later behavior. Things like child abuse for example can cause depression, hopelessness and a negative self-view later in life. Social influences like bullying or very stressful situations like homelessness, death of parents, terror or other factors can do the same. Combined with other factors, these things could increase the chances of committing crime in some individuals.

The real answer to whether criminals are born or made? It’s a bit of both. Most of the time, people can have a predisposition towards criminal behavior due to their genetic makeup. But it’s opportunity in the environment that causes them to act on this. With this in mind, the best way to prevent people from committing crime in the first place is by providing better opportunities, things for young people to do and education which can stop them from swaying in this direction.