In June, Google announced plans to limit the reach of a wide range of content on their numerous platforms, including searches and YouTube. Unsurprisingly, the creators of this content, as well as free speech activists were concerned by this decision. However, because of Google’s great size and because it is a private business, most people though there was little they could do about it.
The community on /pol/ or 4Chan’s “Politically Incorrect” board is not known from backing down from a challenge, and began devising plans to hit back. Google is an extremely profitable company, but like all media companies, derives its revenue primary from advertisements. If their ad product, “Adwords” were disrupted, Google would quickly feel the heat. An operation from /pol/ may have found a way to do just that with a new ad blocker tool called “AdNauseam.”*
To understand why “AdNauseam” is so powerful, it is important to understand the general business model of online advertising. Advertisements work on two main metrics, views and conversions. Views are how many people see an ad, and conversions are how many “clicks” turn into a useful action. The raw number of views, combined with the rate at which views turn into conversions are generally what determines the value of an advertisement. Normal ad blocking tools simply keep a user from seeing an advertisement. This lowers the raw number of views an ad will get, and can make certain kinds of targeted advertising harder. Ordinary website owners are also harmed, because with fewer ad views, the value of ads on their websites is lower.
“AdNauseam” is much more disruptive. Instead of just blocking an ad from view, AdNauseam clicks on every ad it encounters, creating a huge number of fake conversions. This contaminates the metrics used to track how effective an ad campaign is, and thus how valuable the ad placements are. For a company like Google that relies on the quality of its ad services, a tool like Ad Nauseam would be devastating. Unsurprisingly, Google has taken steps to block the tool on Chrome.
It is unclear is the /pol/ attack on Google will successful. However, with recent news about fake ad views forcing Google to refund some advertisers, it is not unreasonable to think /pol/ could do some real damage. When it comes to internet fights, it is never a good idea to bet against /pol/.
*Springfield Daily does not endorse or support the use of “AdNauseam” or any other software that violates Google’s “Terms of Service.” Always check the terms of service before installing or using web extensions.
How Often Do You Think About Cybersecurity? An Insight Into a Hackers Mind
We sat down with Francisco Saravia one of the founders of SpringfieldConnected , The Incubator , FitTube to talk about Cybersecurity and gain inside access to a hackers mind. In this Article we will go in depth to find out what motivates hackers to hack. He will also answer 14 questions about Cybersecurity for us and tell us about himself. The questions are at the bottom of the article
Francisco learned how to use computers when he was back in his home country, Chile. He says he stills remembers when a group of people came into a newly constructed computer lab at the school he was attending. There he saw for the first time what computers were capable of, soon the school installed internet and that was where Francisco’s mind took off and ran, and when I say ran that is because it never stopped.
Francisco says he is writing a book so he will try to summarize a little of his personal story and how he came about being a hacker. He remembers when he first discovered “Search Engines” it was probably Altavista.com, “I could not believe I could access all the information in the world, that blew my mind. I was never the same.” There after conducting a few searches and learning how a local-area network (LAN) operates. Francisco realized all these computers were interconnected so he started conducting more web searches. All the information was in English so with the help of search engines he taught himself computers and basic English.
The First Operation
The first operation consisted of learning about Trojans. The Trojan Horse is a story from the Trojan War about the subterfuge that the Greeks used to enter the independent city of Troy and win the war. After some research he took control of several school computers by sending files binded with trojans, per example he says he would send a picture to a classmate through the network and upon opening the picture, a Trojan would enter the computer which would allow him to take control of the computer. He says he enjoyed his childhood a lot by pranking friends and teachers with things like turning the monitor on and off, deactivating and activating the mouse among other fun stuff. Though he says he spent 90% of his time outside away from the computer wondering what else was out there.
The Second Operation
With his newly found set of skills Francisco got approached by a classmate with a request. Who doesn’t love a little challenge? “I remember a friend asking me and challenging me to basically steal information from the teachers computer lab.” Francisco was successfully able to access all the information on the teachers computer. This is when he first realized the importance of securing information on computer networks. “I think hacking requires a lot of social engineering, people are easy to manipulate and these are our most vulnerable subjects when it comes to keeping our information secured.” – “I had a teacher who really liked me so I used that to my advantage. She let me in the teachers computer lab where I was able to conduct the second operation. ”
The Third Operation
Francisco did not have a computer at home, many times he says he would go to school early and literally break in to the computer lab either before school or after school. He begged his mom for months until she finally decided to purchase a used computer from a friend. “I remember sitting at home wondering how could I do the same thing but not being in the same physical place”. He says he learned how to remotely hack people over the internet by sending files over email that contained Trojans that would open up ports and allow him to take control of other computers, transfer files.
At some point Francisco discovered his favorite search engine, Google. He says he prefers Google because he understand how to conduct searches and get exact answers out of it. “I think using Google is a skill and not very many people use it, it is crazy to me that you can just use your voice now to ask questions and get answers”. Francisco realized most of these companies were being created in the United States , after using Google to learn English he took a leap of faith and moved to Springfield, Illinois to live with his aunt Rosa. He says he loves his aunt because she showed him what work ethic and hard work can do for you.
Fourth Operation – Moving to the United States
At the age of 16 Francisco decided to move to the United States and work on the fourth operation. “I couldn’t really speak English so I had to do what a hacker does best, HACK” . He recalls his first day of high school and having to pick and choose classes. What class do you think he got into? Of course! You guessed right, he got into the computer class that allow him to be in control. “I remember security was tight so I couldn’t just break into the computer lab, plus I did not want to risk my stay in the country. I was planning on staying for a while.” After much trial and error Francisco said he finally was able to access all the information from the networks database. At some point he even recalls having access to all the lockers information and even all of the photos from the students ID’s. He disclosed the vulnerability and shredded the information.
Fifth and Final Operation
After graduating high school Francisco did not attend college. “I was working 3 jobs and flipping burgers while bettering my English. I wanted to communicate loud and clear what my ideas were but without the language I was not able to.” After he felt confident enough to speak English he taught himself computer lingo and started working at the Geek Squad. After spending some time there he went to work for a debt collection company where he saw a guy smoking a cigarette taking a break. ” I was tired of making calls, though I was good at finding people to tell them they owed money, I knew how to work the internet, I would call people’s job and tell them they owed money. Most of the time I got them to pay. We called this technique “Skip Tracing” .” He asked the guy smoking a cig if he was the IT guy and if he would let him work there behind the scenes, to his surprise their IT Tech was leaving so it worked out perfect for him. There he says he crafted his art, the IT guy was a truck driver and he was very strict with his personal information.
Turning from Black Hat Hacker to White Hat Hacker
After learning the laws Francisco started looking at information in a different way. Now he spends his time protecting the information at all cost. I think one of the major flaws in the system is the “default” username and password used by security companies. Per example he says the other day he was at a friends house and told his friend that he could probably access his security cameras because obviously his security company left the default user name and password (this is a local security company) in place which allowed him to view the cameras. “This and many more other vulnerabilities can be exploited” he says. His main recommendation would be to change any default username and password in your home and business” . Francisco says he would like to eventually start a Cybersecurity company to help people protect their information from hackers that want to use it for malicious purposes.
- If there is one myth you could debunk in cybersecurity that you could debunk, what would it be?
I feel like the biggest myth is that you are protected or that your internet service provider is doing something to protect you. The answer is no, they aren’t doing anything but selling your information and not fixing vulnerabilities on their equipment, routers and modems etc.
- What is one of the biggest bang-for-the-buck actions that organizations can take to improve their cybersecurity posture?
I think the answer is training your staff to recognize what a phishing attack looks like per example. I email the people I work with every week with information to let them know of certain attacks or breaches. If your IT designated person is not doing that, maybe start there.
- How is it that cybersecurity spending is increasing but breaches are still happening?
I believe that we are spending too much money on cybersecurity. Mainly missing the mark because hackers will use all kinds of techniques and social engineering to gain access to a network. Train your staff, more money should be spend there.
- Do you need a college degree or certification to be a cybersecurity professional?
Years ago, the answer would have certainly been, “Yes you need a college degree”. I grew up being told I needed to go to college. I never did, I would certainly recommend it but it is not necessary. There are so many ways to show actual experience that I would say No, Yes, Maybe.
- How did you get started in cybersecurity field, and what advice would you give to a beginner pursuing a career in cybersecurity?
I taught myself but I would recommend finding certifications and using the information that is readily available online from the comfort of your home.
- What is your specialty in cybersecurity? How can others gain expertise in your specialty?
My specialty is hacking and social engineering. How can you gain expertise? Hacking, reading, learning, executing what you have learned. My advice would be to try hard to validate your knowledge so that others will give you a chance.
- What is your advice for career success when it comes to getting hired, climbing the corporate ladder, or starting a company in cybersecurity?
My advice would be to reverse engineer job postings, there is a shortage of cybersecurity professionals going into 2019 so its a prime field to get in. Create a resume that mirrors what they are asking, if you do not have the skills I recommend using your free time to learn those missing skills by reading. I used my lunch hour to read and learn for the past ten years. I know it is possible.
- What qualities do you believe all highly successful cybersecurity professionals share?
Curiosity is a must. Without curiosity you will be limited in your choice. Humans forgot how to be bored and how to have curiosity because we have everything in the palm of our hand.
- What is the best book or movie that can be used to illustrate cybersecurity challenges?
My favorite is “Hackers”. Is an old school movie but I like it. Really any movie that portraits hackers and technology is a good one. A book that is a must read is “How To Stop Worrying And Start Living by Dale Carnegie”. A great takeaway from the book is learning how to plan for the worst. Also Gary Vee is a great motivational speaker, he says “its not what is going to happen, It’s what are you going to do once it happens”
- What is your favorite hacker movie?
The Matrix. Of course
- What are your favorite books for motivation, personal development, or enjoyment?
I am currently reading “Tribe of Hackers” I would recommend it. It is the reason I wrote this blog post
- What is some practical cybersecurity advice you give to people at home in the age of social media and the Internet of Things?
Keep your systems up to date, patch them, hire a hacker or IT Guru. Change passwords often.
- What is a life hack that you’d like to share?
That lunch time you get use it wisely. I have used every minute of it in the past ten years. Spend time alone, listen to instrumental music, don’t listen to the haters.
- What is the biggest mistake you’ve ever made, and how did you recover from it?
I gave myself backdoor access to an organization that I worked for in the past. I regret it, nothing happened because I deleted my credentials and moved on.
Bonus question: Favorite website?
Francisco is an Information Technology Director and Entrepreneur who resides in Springfield, Illinois. He spends his time writing music, spending time with friends and surfing the web. His favorite activities are of course hacking, and understanding why people think the way they do. You can find him hanging at The Incubator on his days off and after work. Francisco says he can work from home but prefers to go to The Incubator where he gets to meet other entrepreneurs and learn about other ideas. He says he sees a lot of potential in Springfield and wants it to be a successful city that people talk about and want to visit.
If you are interested in a Cybersecurity seminar let us know! contact@SpringfieldDaily.com
Vitamin Water will pay 100 thousand dollars to anyone who does not use a smartphone for a year
Would you be willing? Me neither.
How many dollars do you need to stop using your cell phone for 365 days, without accessing anything? For me, I think there would not be enough dollars.
But that’s what Vitamin Water (from Coca-Cola Company) wants to find out, which will select a “lucky” one, who must spend a year with a flip phone that only receives and makes calls. Note: not text messages either.
— vitaminwater® (@vitaminwater) December 11, 2018
The challenge #NoPhoneForAYear already has several trying to be selected for it. Some claim that it is very little money, others say it would be very easy, but what would it be like for you? Note that this also means not using a tablet. Maybe you can “get the urge” to check your social media with a computer, but not much more.
Do you want to try to be selected? You have to upload a photo with the corresponding hashtags that will surprise the VitaminWater team enough to really think you need a break from your mobile.
You have until January 8.
Hey Facebook, are you listening? Woman claims she has PROOF her phone is spying on conversations
It is not the first time that this topic is put on the table. Many people in fact, are sure that Facebook listens to the conversations they have live with their friends or relatives, all in order to direct publicity towards them.
And it is that for coincidence, it is too much. The reality is clear: to many it has happened that we chatted with someone about such product or place (without doing Google searches or anything similar, all in person), and when you open Facebook you start to see advertising that has everything to do with the talk that you just had Scary.
Adelaide Bracey is originally from Australia. She was chatting with a friend of his in person about going some day to relax in a sauna. Then he opened his profile and of course he did: advertising about saunas in his area. So random everything. What are the possibilities?
I did not search it on Google, and then it appears as an ad on my Facebook. It’s really creepy, the girl commented to The Australian.
Facebook itself has repeatedly denied it uses microphone recordings to target ads.
“Facebook does not use your phone’s microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed,” a company spokesperson said.
“Some recent articles have suggested that we must be listening to people’s conversations in order to show them relevant ads. This is not true.
“We show ads based on people’s interests and other profile information – not what you’re talking out loud about.
“We only access your microphone if you have given our app permission and if you are actively using a specific feature that requires audio.
“This might include recording a video or using an optional feature we introduced two years ago to include music or other audio in your status updates.”
Do you think your phone is spying on you? To believe them or not to believe them?