Category: information

The Instagram Effect

Would you take pictures inside someone else’s home then put the pictures on Instagram and claim it’s your house?

A recent survey showed that one in six of us have done just that – posted pictures of other people’s better homes and pretended it’s theirs.

More than a quarter of the 2,000 people polled at the Ideal Home Show admitted to being so envious of images of friends’ properties on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, that it made them miserable.

It is sad that so many people are affected in this way, especially as much of what you see on social media is faked.

Nearly half of 25- to 35-year-olds confessed they would buy an item purely on the basis of how it would improve their home’s appearance on social media. Some even admit to buying desirable objects including furniture for their home, taking pictures for Instagram then returning the items.

17 per cent said they would pay more for a home they thought would impress their friends.

It’s clear that social media is making people feel the need to not just keep up with their friends but to keep up with people they don’t even know across the world.’

The vast majority of the photos on Instagram are genuine in that there is a real object being photographed but a significant minority are created by Photoshop type techniques or are amended so much so as to provide an unrealistic image.

The things you covet on Instagram may well be fake.

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How Fake Social Media Profiles Are Created

It is very simple to create fake social media profiles and takes little effort. You make or buy a new email address and a phone number, fill in the registration screen and that’s most of it done.

However, making them believable takes more time and effort.

Some scammers take the time to do this as part of what are usually phishing scams – aimed at gaining people’s confidential data for sale to other criminals.

Criminals create these fake profiles on social media for a variety of reasons, including:-

  1. A profile for phishing
  2. Support profiles to make the master profile more believable
  3. For advertising of scam products
  4. To build up lists of people on social media, to sell to other criminals

Generally, the key is to create subsidiary profiles to support the central one (master profile) and these need to have a reasonable level of information and posts but not in great detail as they are only to support the master profile.

The master profile needs to be as detailed as possible – full education history, current and previous occupations, qualifications, pastimes etc. Then register that profile with Facebook groups or similar on other platforms and so on.

Once the hackers have built this information, they may be ready to launch their attacks – Phishing or otherwise.

If you are contacted by someone you don’t know and feel there is reason to check if they are genuine then look in detail at dates the information was added and if it’s all recent – that’s a warning flag. Check their friends, employers etc.

For most of us this level of investigating is not needed, but if you have access to sensitive information or think someone may try to steal your identity – then take care.

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Are Companies That Only Use Paypal Untrustworthy

When you come across a business that only accepts payment by PayPal, this may be fine or may make you wonder why they cannot accept credit or debit cards. Is it to avoid extra costs and complexity in their business or is there a more shady reason?

A company may choose to only allow payment by Paypal for a variety of reasons, such as :-

  1. They are a single person business and don’t want the complexity of a payment system other than the simplest, which is PayPal
  2. They may only operate on eBay or ETSY or similar auction sites / niche retail sites and not be able to offer other payment options
  3. They are a small business with plans to grow but don’t want the overheads of multiple payments systems until essential
  4. PayPal charges area a lot less than credit card charges.
  5. They are a scam operation and are likely to disappear after taking in customer payments.

Plus, Paypal payments release the money immediately to the retailer whereas payments by credit card take time to be completed.

Many small businesses find it difficult to pay the costs of having a credit/debit card payment system. Also, PayPal was started in conjunction with E-bay, so is well trusted by buyers and holds the money until the buyer verifies the quality and condition of the item.

It is easy to integrate PayPal with most website and a lot of hosting services offer Paypal integration without charge.

Adding a facility for taking card payments does cost – possible $25 – $50 per month from a merchant provider and the banks do often charge more for credit card transactions.

If you want to buy from an online business but are worried by the lack of alternatives payments to PayPal then research the business and check for online of their products and the business and then make your choice.

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Unwanted Spam Links

This is not about spam emails or scam emails with dodgy links in them.

This is about finding that someone has added spam links into your website without permission.

Hackers can insert spam links into your website – to gain a better ranking on search engines. The more inbound links a site receives, the higher the placement of the target web site in search results. Spam links are typically inserted into the database content in plain text, though they can also be deliberately obscured to make finding them more difficult.

Spam links can be inserted in site files or databases, so determining if your site is infected can often be done by simply reading the pages and looking for  inappropriate links.

The most common spam links are:-

  • Prescription drugs
  • Online gambling
  • Essay writing services
  • Film & TV downloads
  • Fake designer goods
  • Weight loss products
  • Adult content

Finding and Removing Spam Links

This means painstaking review of the code to find the inserted links. The links may be  inserted as typical hypertext links or they may be disguised by JavaScript for example. Determine which links are not relevant to your site and remove them.

For hackers to have inserted these links into your website means there must be vulnerabilities that they exploited. You need to find these vulnerabilities and fix them or the hackers may return.

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The Honey APP

A lot of people collect discount coupons – from newspapers and magazines but increasingly from coupon websites. There are numerous websites promising to give you the latest and best discount coupons off products at your favourite stores and it can take a lot of time searching for the discounts you want.

An entrepreneur tired of that process and created Honey.

It’s not an APP in the usual sense – it’s a browser extension so it adds on to your browser and it watches the stores you visit and the products you buy and finds and applies the relevant discount coupons automatically.

Honey is a free browser extension that automatically finds and applies coupon codes at checkout for over 30,000 shopping sites. It also instantly find better prices on Amazon and offers Honey Gold at many stores for it’s U.S. members.

Once Honey is installed, you will see the Honey icon in the top right corner turn orange on Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Edge when you’re on a shopping site that is supported by Honey.

That seems straightforward but there is also Honey Gold for US users.

The idea is that Honey makes money by getting a commission from merchants and then giving a portion of it back to the users as points which can be redeemed for dollar amounts credited to gift cards for stores such Amazon, Walmart, Target, eBay, Nordstrom, and Sephora.

User reviews say Honey does work and saves them money on shopping online.

It doesn’t work with all stores of course and you may not want a browser extension to be watching your shopping habits even though they emphatically say they do not sell or share customer data in any way.

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Stupid Automated Comments

Anyone with a website that allows people to make comments, is likely to be familiar with comments appearing that make no sense.

May be these are from people struggling with a second language or maybe from idiots, but quite often they are from automated systems that churn out comments from sets of standard phrases and try to load them on websites against old blog posts, articles etc.

Why do they do this?

Mostly to try to get web links onto Internet sites – maybe to their own website or blog or to one they are being paid to get links for. People pay only a few dollars for hundreds of back links so it cannot be a careful process and the comments must be mass produced and automated.

Here’s a few examples from recent stupid comments.

  • It’s not my first time to pay a quick visit this web site, i am browsing this site dailly and get nice facts
    from here daily.
  • This slot game has 5 reels and a massive 20
  • I need to to thank you for this fantastic read!! I certainly loved every little bitof it. I’ve got you bookmarked to check out new things you pos
  • I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good.I do not know who you are but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already  Cheers!
  • I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up!I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back in the future. All the best
  • Hey there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my Facebookgroup? There’s a lot of folks that I think would really  appreciate your  Please let me know. Cheers

The comments are always against old posts as they know that Google will largely ignore comments against new blog posts so as to stop people over populating their own posts with comments.

The comments are anything the scammer thinks will be accepted. But never accept such comments or you may find your site is deluged by random meaningless comments and that will annoy any genuine readers.

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