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.

The NSA Hacks System Administrators

This article reveals that the people holding the keys are often the juiciest targets, regardless of their innocence, as they are a means to and end. However, perhaps the most interesting part of the article, Inside the NSA’s Secret Efforts to Hunt and Hack System Administrators, is this:

Once the agency believes it has identified a sys admin’s personal accounts, according to the posts, it can target them with its so-called QUANTUM hacking techniques. The Snowden files reveal that the QUANTUM methods have been used to secretly inject surveillance malware into a Facebook page by sending malicious NSA data packets that appear to originate from a genuine Facebook server. This method tricks a target’s computer into accepting the malicious packets, allowing the NSA to infect the targeted computer with a malware “implant” and gain unfettered access to the data stored on its hard drive.

Looks like I chose a good week to cancel my Facebook account 😉

Cracking Password-Protected MS Office Files

Disclaimer: Don’t do this unless it’s for legitimate reasons, such as the one outlined below.

At work, I recently came across the need to crack a handful of MS Office files that someone had password protected. Of course, that person was no longer around, so the person who took over needed to figure out how to access these documents, and they asked the Security team for help.

My first instinct turned out to be the correct one: use John the Ripper on Kali 2.

The main issue I faced was extracting the password hash from the Office docs in question so that John The Ripper could have something to run against. Turns out there is a handy python script you can use that does exactly this: office2john.py (https://github.com/kholia/RC4-40-brute-office)

Instructions

Download office2john.py, then make it executable.

Now you can use this tool to extract the hash from the Office document, and save it to a text file:

Now check out the contents of the hash file if you want:

All you need at this point is a good password list to run through John the Ripper, and a few options to run it with. The sqlmap.txt file that comes with Kali2 is a good candidate:

Here’s the full command:

Options:
–session=docx – This is the name of this session. Could be anything, really.
–rules – Enables word mangling on the defined wordlist
–wordlist – Path to the word list you are running this against

Now, sit back and wait for John to do its thing.

PDFs

Just use pdfcrack in Kali.

The Best Ways to Boost Your Blog Revenue

Blogging really has become huge in the past few years, with thousands of new ones being set up every single day. People blog to share their knowledge on a topic, to keep as an online journal, to connect with others, even businesses have got on board with the benefits blogging can bring. If you own a blog, chances are you started it as a hobby. But these days there’s the chance to earn excellent money from blogging, and why wouldn’t you? Making money doing something you love is pretty much the dream. Here are some simple ways you can start earning money (or boost the revenue) of your blog.

Make Yourself More Attractive To Sponsors

The web is saturated with blogs, when it comes to advertising sponsors are spoiled for choice. So your best bet to encourage them to work with you instead of the next blogger is make your site as attractive as possible. You can do this by publishing regular, high-quality content with beautiful image. Have a clean, professional blog template installed with an eye-catching header to make it personal and unique. Drop the ‘.wordpress.com.’ or ‘.blogger.com.’ at the end of your domain by purchasing your own custom domain. Use a domain registration tool to find out what’s available and then go ahead and purchase. Setting it up to work with your blog is relatively straightforward, and you then have a far more professional looking blog. Some sponsors will only work with bloggers with their own domain, so this is something you can’t afford to miss out on. Another major thing sponsors will be looking at is domain authority. This is influenced by how long you have had your domain, and how many backlinks you have to your site. You can improve your number of backlinks by collaborating with bloggers, asking them to publish a guest post from you. Simply include a link back to your blog at the end as an author bio, and it’s win- win. They get good quality content, and you get a backlink. Use social media to connect with other bloggers, join in with Twitter chats and make friends. Not only can you support each other with links and comments but you might make some genuine friends too.

Sign Up To Sponsored Post Websites

The thing about sponsored posts is you often have to wait for advertisers to contact you. This can be frustrating as a blogger as you can go weeks without hearing anything and there’s not much you can do to be proactive. However many advertisers work with sponsored post companies, so it’s worth finding some of these and signing up. Usually, you can ‘bid’ on jobs, and the client will accept or reject you if you’re a good fit with relevance and have the number of social followers they’re looking for. It’s a good way to actively seek out work, even if you’re not getting accepted for everything it can help you to land jobs you may have otherwise not got.

Explore Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is one of the oldest forms of marketing, and while as a blogger this is unlikely to be your main source of income it can be a good backup. Google Adsense is always worth signing up for, every time someone clicks on your ad or even if you get an impression on the page you earn a small amount of money. Over time this can definitely add up. There are tonnes of other affiliate marketing companies out there so find one you like that pays well. You usually just insert an ad, link or piece of code onto your site (or in a blog post) and the clicks and purchases from it are tracked. If you link to something that your followers love and they actually buy the product you can get a decent percentage from it.

How Technology Is Changing the Face of Education

There is very often some concern expressed about the nature of technology and the impact it’s having on younger generations. Some people see it as a waste of time, with too many youngsters existing almost exclusively with their head in their devices. This, however, is not true. Technology is good for a lot of things, most notably when it comes to education. Though it didn’t get as much airtime as, say, smartphones, technology in the classroom continues to make learning better and more enjoyable than ever.

New Kinds of Learning

In the olden days, there was only really two ways of learning: you either read things in a textbook, or you got outside and learned with hands-on experience. Today, you can still do both those things, but there are also many other types of learning available, thanks to technology. For example, students are now able to learn through videos, audio books, online interactive systems, and much more. Now and in the future, students will be able to use VR headsets and other types of technology to take themselves to the far corners of the world, right in the classroom. Whichever way you look at it, that’s going to throw up some exciting new ways of learning.

Better Collaboration

Again, in the olden days, it used to be that you could collaborate with, well, whoever was sat next to you. Not so anymore. With the internet, cloud storage, and personal devices just about everywhere, students can work together on their schedule, even if they happen to be many miles away from each other. This also helps bridge the gap between students who might otherwise not interact with one another. Making the education system more democratic!

More Agile Response

Some older generations bemoan the amount of time those people below 25 spend on their devices, but there’s definitely an upside. For one, young people today are much faster learners than older people. They’re capable of holding differing opinions in their head at the same time and have become much better at multitasking than previous generations. When they’re presented with a problem, they can switch gears in their mind and find a solution. And this is because of technology use.

More Engaged

Technology has allowed students to become more engaged with their education. With tools like PeopleSoft and HighPoint Technology, they’re able to have greater control over their education. Rather than just turning up and waiting for the university to do the work, they’re able to direct their experience, communicate with staff, and arrange their own schedules. All this fosters a closer relationship between the student and their education.

Instant Access

A fact that is often overlooked by the general public, but not so by students, is that on any of their devices, they have access to more or less every piece of information that’s recorded in the world. They no longer have to spend hours in the library looking up a fact. It’s all right there, in the palm of their hand.