Beware of cyber mafia and blackmail

 
I blog, therefore I am” is a great and dangerous fallacy as well. Since there are no hard and fast online rule books on blogging, many bloggers instead of getting their message across the web often unknowingly become victims of cyber criminals. 

“An amateur blogger is often tempted to put up everything without having a second thought . It’s in this state of mind, blogging can turn the blogger into a victim even without his or her knowledge,” says Nelson Varte, Assistant Professor of Computer Application at Assam’s Jorhat Engineering College.

Blogging can be useful to treat one’s emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual life if done under a controlled situation. However, there have been many instances of bloggers turning victims. Sometimes, photos posted on blogs are used by the cyber mafia to backmail innocent bloggers.

In worst cases the blogger’s data are copied and put up on websites the blogger may never come across. Many women bloggers who have posted their photos on their blogs complain that their pictures are being misused on pornographic sites. Even in India many bloggers have claimed copyright infringements not only by fellow bloggers but also by mainstream newspapers. “Our leading dailies make a business out of the photographs clicked by many of us. And they have the audacity to use them without permission,” writes ‘twilightfairy’, who claims her photo was ‘stolen’ by a leading daily. Similarly, Archana also claims that a major daily ‘stole’ her photos from rang-thecoloursoflife.blogspot.com. She is suing the company for damages.

Some people also blog their daily routine little knowing that they are opening doors to cyber criminals. Something as simple as: “Lily and I went to Cubbon Park today as usual. We always go there from Monday to Friday between 4 and 5 pm before we pick our son from school...” could become a tip for criminals. Your home could be robbed or the criminals could come to the park to kidnap you and your lady.

Teenaches

Millions of teens pouring out their hearts and minds on blogs reveal vital information such as address, phone numbers and other details. The common practices include complaining about parents and school/college activities and posting of pictures. Many ‘brave’ bloggers also wax eloquent on their ‘sexploits’. These details shared on blogs are accessible to anyone and an open invitation to cyberstalkers - anonymous people on the lookout for victims.

Office secrets

“Since bloggers usually provide personal details, cyberstalkers and paedophiles can easily pin-point their next target,” says Varte, citing a study by the Children's Digital Media Center at Georgetown University this year. The study said two-thirds of bloggers provided their age and at least their first name while 60 percent gave their location and contact details.

Besides these, a working person, even with good intentions, blogging about his/her workplace culture can also get into trouble. A blogger can be accused of revealing the company’s secrets or mouth bashing co-workers. The first known case was that of Mark Jen who worked for Google. Jen had a blog where he described what he did, the way the company was managed and other details about the workculture. He was fired for “leaking sensitive information”. 

In extreme cases, a blogger can also become an unwitting victim when hackers inject SQL codes into their blog pages without the blogger ever knowing it. “Hardcore security hackers also use SQL injection ‘filled with’ virus, malware etc.,  that will collect personal info such as passwords and email IDs,” cautions Varte. Under these circumstances, blogging becomes a ‘live and learn’ experience. Until people update themselves and obey the law, it’s better to be careful of what you blog.

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