SnapChat & Sexting

One of the most popular apps categories amongst young adults and teens are social/messaging apps.  There are a plentiful supply of them too.  Vine, Kik, WhatsApp, LINE, pinger, KakaoTalk, WeChat, Tango, Telegram, and of course Snapchat.

Image from CyberSmart

Snapchat is a particularly interesting one from a business perspective since it is a company that has no revenue to speak of, yet it recently attracted and rejected a $3 billion buy-out offer from Facebook.  SnapChat’s claim to fame has been the ability to send “temporary” images between a closed group of “friends” with the confidence that the picture, after a number of seconds will disappear, never to be seen again.  Well thats the theory, anyway.  While this opens the floodgates for many and varied hilarious images to be sent back and forth, it also has had a massive impact on the ease and supposed confidence to engage in sexting.

Now, what is SEXTING?

Sexting is the modern conjunction given to the act of sexually explicit texting.  The concept of texts is used in this term because previously, the only way to do this was to snap a photo with your 1 megapixel camera on your clamshell mobile phone, and place the lo-res grainy image in an SMS/MMS message and send it.  All this with the knowledge that the image would then forever remain on the recipients phone until they chose to delete it.  But it didn’t really matter because no-one could make out what the image was of anyway! 🙂

Enter Snapchat and the advent of up to 41 MegaPixel(MP) camera perched in a mini computer that is your smart-phone in your pocket.  As an example, I have a stunningly detailed canvas picture on my wall which is approximate 1 meter wide.  The photo on the canvas was taken with a popular smart phone at the time with a 5MP Camera.  A 41MP could potentially be blown up as a picture to be displayed on the side of a skyscraper with great clarity.

What is the RISK?

So, I hear you saying, “if the photo disappears, why are we concerned?”

The reality is that it is notoriously difficult to remove data from mobile devices simply because of the way data is stored. Since mobile devices are so regularly recycled for newer versions, this means that Snapchat photos may inadvertently be passed on to unknown persons, when users are under the impression they no longer exist.  If you know how, it is relatively easy to retrieve them with forensic software.

 What do I need to be aware of?

There are a couple of things to be aware of, depending on your role in the use of SnapChat and other similar apps, and how they are being utilised.

A Concerned Parent

Ensure you have open communication with your child.  Explain the risks, and ensure that they are aware that even when they think images are totally gone, in reality they most likely are not.

Here are some sites which may help:

And while this link will expire on the 18th of Dec – I recommend watching the ABC2 Documentary “Suicide and Me
There is an astounding stat at the start – every 10 minutes, someone in Australia makes an attempt on their own life.  This program deals with, amongst other things, how to communicate with someone who might be considering drastic actions.

A Sexster

What you do with your phone is absolutely your choice – unless you are under-age, or the phone is not yours.  If you want to find out what the potential effects could be, or if you have been the victim of an embarrassing mis-use of a photo you intended to be private, you may want to review some of these sites:

Closing Comment

“Teen sexting is a very rational act with very irrational consequences.” Danah Boyd

This is not a practice exclusive to “Teens” – it is practiced by many age brackets – during my somewhat disturbing research on this article, I encountered many images I could easily have done without ever seeing.  There are many beautiful women exposing themselves and many not so aesthetic male and female images as well.  Both are doing it either through a lack of self worth, or simply without understanding the consequences of they are doing.  Either way, when their trust is broken by someone publicising the image without their authorisation, chances are the victim is going to be feeling pretty low at the time.   Great care is needed in communicating with them.  Not condemning, or punishing.  That could be the trigger for the victim taking an even more drastic course of action.

While we are not counsellors here at Askkiz, we certainly have some knowledge and technology to help in regards to the activities discussed.  Give us a call if you would like to take proactive steps to help minimise the effects, or stop it from happening in the first place.

For a little extra assistance in detecting Sexting activities, you can use the following list to help translate some of the acronyms used in communications.

Common Sexting Slang Terms

sexting

Warning: some of these terms are vulgar. This list is nowhere close to exhaustive, words can be combined, removed, and invented on the fly.

8 Oral Sex
143 I Love You
cu46 See You For Sex
DUM Do You Masturbate?
GNOC Get Naked On Cam
GYPO Get Your Pants Off
GNRN Get Naked right Now
FMH F#&k Me Harder
IWS I Want Sex
IIT Is It Tight?
Q2C Quick To Come
RUH Are You Horny?
TDTM Talk Dirty To Me
S2R Send To Receive
NIFOC Naked In Front Of Computer
SorG Straight Or Gay?
JO Jerk Off
PAW Parents Are Watching
PIR Parent In Room
POS Parent Over Shoulder
YWS You Want Sex
WYCM Will You Call M?e
RU18 Are You 18?
CD9 / Code 9 Parent / Adult around
NALOPKT Not A Lot Of People Know This

How to Enable 2 Factor Authentication in WordPress

Following on from my post “2 Factor Authenitication – Why everyone needs it” – Here is a guide to give you some more tools to make sure you are safe online.

The concepts in this presentation can be applied across the board, not just in WordPress.  Most Public Domain email accounts now have 2 factor authentication available in it – and many other sites and services are implementing it too.

 

 

2 Factor Authentication – why everyone needs it.

Public Domain Email hacked.

Public Domain Email hacked.

 

Once the exclusive domain of large corporate players, and high security institutions – 2 factor authentication is now a highly recommended, if not mandatory form of password security for everyone.

I recently spent time with a client who’s public domain email account (such as yahoo, gmail, hotmail etc) was compromised, and altered to redirect inbound emails to a similarly constructed email address.

Let me lay out the story in an infographic.

Apple, a bigger target than most think

I have maintained for many years, the message that Apple has historically touted of being a “virus free platform” is not true.  As Jennifer LeClaire of Newfactor reports here, “Apple has enough market share to be a viable target for attack.”  This has been true for some time now. However it is becoming apparent that the long publicised “virus free” message has bred complacency into the growing population of Mac users, and I believe the potential for the downfall of the mac computer platform.

image

While it’s true the Mac platform has not experienced the level of attacks that it’s counterpart in Microsoft has dealt with over the past 20+ years, this is NOT a result of the invulnerability and inherent security of the Mac platform. It is simply due to the fact that Mac has not been popular enough to warrant investment of time and money to creating malicious software (malware) by the bad guys.  The bad guys are also running a business (albeit criminal), and they need to have a positive return on their investment, like any other legitimate company.

This thought that Mac is not worth the effort to attack is obviously changing.  Malware writers are becoming increasingly interested in the platform, and ironically, it is in part a result of the “virus-free” message that was promoted to all it’s users for so many years.  Mac user complacency means that in most cases, patches do not get updated, security software is not even considered, and even a simple security practice like password maintenance is not followed.

So, by promoting a “virus free” environment, Apple have in actual fact made their users more vulnerable.

Are you a mac user? 
Have you got any security software on your mac? 
Do you know when you last performed any updates on your mac? 
If the answer to any of these questions is ‘No’, it’s probably about time you did. 
If you need some help doing this, give me a call.

That uneasy feeling you get when your computer suddenly turns off by itself…

Oops!, Oh no! Argh!, Huh? *thud*

laptops getting backed upThese are the sounds most often heard after a loss of data, either through accidental deletion, or a hardware failure…

That is, unless you have an effective data backup strategy in place.

It used to be that backups were only for corporations, banks, and other businesses.
This is definitely not the case any more. In truth, it has not been the case for many many years.

My first experience with backups was in the early 90’s using a pile of 5¼-inch floppy disks to back up a 40Mb hard drive. Each disk with a capacity of around 1mb. An arduous process to say the least.

Put in terms of today’s storage devices, a common size for a USB key, or an SD Card (the one that goes into your camera) is around 16 Gigabytes. This is the equivalent of a little over 16,000 of the old floppy disks or around 400 of my big heavy, clunky & unreliable hard drives.

The common size for a Hard Drive these days is around 1 Terabyte – this is 1024 Gigabytes – or 64 of those USB keys… and a touch over a million of those floppy disks that I was using back in the 90’s!

OK, enough with the numbers already!!!
Let’s just say there is a LOT of storage out there – and following Parkinson’s law The amount of data in the world will always rise to correlate with the amount of available storage.

So, what’s my point? Well, I expect that in both your personal and business lives, you have become much more reliant on your computers, and on technology in general. Notepad and pen are becoming increasingly irrelevant in the face of tablet technology.
The concept of the paperless office moves 99% of personal data, bills and other documents previously stored in physical filing cabinets to digital formats.
Perhaps most significantly, film cameras and photos have been made obsolete by Digital Cameras and Smart Phones.

10 years ago… what was the number 1 item a person would return to a burning house to save?? Their photo albums. Ask the same question now? It’s their mobile phone and laptop.

Our digital life is now something that we would risk our physical lives to save!

For this reason, backups in one form or another are, in my mind, a mandatory component of owning a computer – and yes, this includes smart phones and tablets.

Modern tradition, unlike my 90’s version, has the method of backing up as being stored on a hard drive, either internal or external to your personal computer. There are a number of applications to perform this action, and this is still a very smart and necessary action item.

backup

If you want to get really fancy with this, you can then take multiple backups, and store them “off-site” (at a friends place) so that in the event your place burns down… it is unlikely your friends place will also burn down, and so your data is saved.

This brings me to the strange new world of Cloud Storage. Of course, all this assumes that the hard drive you are backing up to is, itself, a reliable storage medium.

What is Cloud Storage? This is, in simple terms, a bunch of REALLY REALLY REALLY big hard drives in the “sky” which many people have access to.

Now, everyone’s data is kept in it’s own protected and private container. You only have access to your own data, and other people only have access to their own data. Never the twain shall meet. So you don’t need to be concerned with privacy.

Cloud based storage is offered by many companies to effectively Synchronise your important data from your many devices to the Cloud. This includes tablets, smart phones, PC’s and Macs. This way, as soon as a photo is taken on your phone, or a file created on your computer, it is immediately copied over the internet to your Cloud storage container.

Like traditional backup companies, there are many players in the Cloud storage market ready to service your backup requirements.

You may be thinking, ‘Well, now that I have Cloud based backup, why do I need a physical backup?’. This is a great question.

I personally utilise both at the same time. Why do I do this? Here are a couple of reasons.

Cloud storage comes at a cost. Usually a monthly, or annual subscription. The price varies from company to company, but the result is well worth parting with a few dollars. A good Cloud storage provider will have many forms of data security and hardware duplication in place to ensure that even if their system fails, your data will still be safe.

Traditional backup (eg internal & external hard drive) also comes with financial outlay. However, once you have purchased the software and the hardware, there are no other ongoing costs for the lifetime of the software and hardware.

In the event you experience a catastrophic system failure, a traditional backup is much more convenient than a cloud based system.

The issues with traditional backups are that it may not be as up to date with your most recent and important files and photos. Additionally, the hard drive you are using for your traditional backup may also fail when you need it the most.

The benefits of using both traditional backup and Cloud storage in combination are, for example:
If I have a full system failure, I have a nightly backup available performed by the traditional backup. I also have a synchronised copy of all the important file changes I made today, using Cloud storage.cloud_backups

In the event the traditional backup fails when the system has died, I can do a manual rebuild of my system, using the data from the Cloud storage system (although it’s not as convenient).

So there you go. Backups, the thing you never thought you really needed because it only happens to other people, are vital as we become increasingly dependant on our technological devices. The need to keep thorough back ups of our important data has increased to the point where it is just as important as security of data.

To discuss your backup needs, visit http://askkiz.com.au – http://facebook.com/askkiz.au, email [email protected] or phone 0409 905 025.