Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown has 22 articles published.

Antonio is a freelance contributor who primarily writes about crypto-technologies and the internet. Antonio Brown is a pseudonym.

How Do You Know If Someone Is Watching You Through Your Phone?

in Hacking/Privacy
how do you know if someone is watching you through your phone

The unfortunate reality is that your phone camera can be accessed and switched on without your consent. How do you know if someone is watching you through your phone? Find out in this article!

How Do I Know If Someone Is Watching?

It is not easy finding out if someone can see you through your phone camera. The methods used to hack your phone to install spyware are not easily discovered. It takes specialized software applications to detect spyware on devices.

However, there are a few things you should look out for.

1. Your Camera Is Acting Weird

If, for some reason, your camera is acting out of the ordinary, that may be a red flag.  

Things that show your camera has been compromised include sudden photographs in your camera app you did not take yourself. Further, your camera app appears in recent apps even though you have not opened it.

The camera is very sensitive since it works hand-in-hand with built-in microphones and speakers on your phone. Access to your camera by hackers makes it easier for someone to watch you through your phone.

2. Strange Files

can someone see you through your phone camera

Beyond identifying unexpected videos and images among the files on your phone, other strange files signify a compromise. If you see files with unusual extensions you did not install yourself, you should be alert.

You should always check out for files you did not create since hackers need to install software on your device to make their work easier. 

For instance, an app on the ethical hacking platform Kali, called Metasploit, uses Adobe Reader 9 (a very popular document reader) to gain access to devices. 

The hackers behind the program found a way to exploit file installation loopholes to have remote access to devices. 

Hackers can use this method to steal documents, photos, and videos, and upload incriminating content to your device. Always delete strange files as soon as you identify them on your phone.

3. Apps Running in the Background

In some cases, malware is attached to regular looking applications. 

This has happened more frequently on Android devices as bad actors have managed to slip bad applications into the Google Play Store. Also, don’t download apps from unsecured or random websites.

When you identify apps running in the background for no reason, it might be a sign that someone is watching you through your phone.

Apps in the background are also characterized by sluggish device performance, high data usage, mysterious pop-ups, and a decrease in battery life.

Now that you have identified what to look out for, the next step will be what to do to prevent someone from watching you through your phone. 

How to Prevent Someone From Watching You

someone is watching you through your phone

The best solution to preventing phone spies will be to stay away from all applications you are not sure of. However, you cannot be too careful since these attacks evolve frequently.

Here are some ways you can prevent someone from watching you through your phone.

Scan Frequently

It is best practice to scan your device regularly to check for potential compromise or unknown software. For things like this, a manual scan will not be enough.

You will need specialized software like antivirus applications to detect spyware. You should also note that some applications that claim to be antivirus software are spyware themselves. Only use apps that have been reviewed and verified by industry experts.

Check App Permissions Frequently

App permissions have been prioritized by the most popular mobile operating systems, Android, and iOS. These permissions are displayed before you download the app or right before the app is about to use it.

Sometimes app permissions that have been granted in the past are used by applications to track you through your phone. Permissions like access to the camera and location can be used in the background by apps for tracking.

To prevent this, you should reduce permissions granted to apps you do not use frequently. Also, you can disable permissions for apps when you are not actively using them.

In conclusion, it will be very difficult for hackers to gain access to your device if you take your cybersecurity seriously. In the event that the unfortunate happens, being alert will help you detect any changes on your phone. 

Finally, putting small stickers on your phone’s camera lenses is a simple and cheap way to prevent anyone from looking at you through your phone’s camera.

3 Reasons Why You Should Never Order a Dark Web Mystery Box

in Deep Web
Dark Web Mystery Box

Dark web mystery boxes have become a thing on YouTube. While most of these videos are fake, you can purchase a dark web mystery box on some darknet marketplaces.

In this article, we look at three reasons why you should never order a dark web mystery box.

What is a Dark Web Mystery Box?

A dark web mystery box is a box of unknown items that you can buy from a darknet marketplace. Buyers usually acquire them for their surprise element and shock factor.

While they may be intriguing, buying these boxes can put you in danger and/or lead to legal repercussions.

Below you will find a list of three reasons as to why you shouldn’t order a mystery box on the dark web.

You May Not Get Anything After You Pay

After ordering your dark web mystery box, chances are that you may never receive the item. There is no consumer protection on the dark web. People who offer services on the deep web intentionally use that to stay anonymous and avoid tracking.

You may spend a small fortune on “rare” dark web mystery boxes and never receive them. You won’t also be able to get your money back too.

Most payment processors do not work with stores on the dark web or linked to it. That means payments are made through unconventional methods, like cryptocurrencies.

When you make payments in bitcoin on the deep web, you will be unable to get it back in case you get scammed.

You May End Up With Illegal Items

darknet mystery box

The dark web is a fertile ground for criminal activities due to the difficulty involved in tracking users. Ordering a dark web mystery box, therefore, puts you at risk of participating in illegal activity.

You may receive a stolen item, contraband, or something that was used in a crime. As a result, you may end up on the wrong side of the law. And law enforcement may come knocking on your door since your address and purchase may link you to criminal activity.

For instance, combined operation in March 2019 by law enforcement in the United States, Europe, and Canada led to the arrest of people that traded on the dark web. The operation – dubbed SaboTor – gathered intelligence information through different channels, according to Europol and the FBI.

Sharing Your Information on the DarkWeb Is Not Safe

Besides illegal marketplaces, the dark web is also known as a farm for personal information.

Under regular circumstances, you will have to share some sort of personal information with the site or store to receive your order at your doorstep. This process means that you share your data with a random person on the most dangerous part of the web.

Giving people on the dark web access to your data allows them to sell it to other bad actors. Also, they could target you for attacks or use it as a leverage for blackmail.

There have been stories of people tracing people and showing up at their houses from the dark web. Further, hackers could use your information to steal your accounts online or engage in phishing attacks.

In short, you are better off without your data in a dark web store’s database.

Dark web mystery boxes may seem like an intriguing thing to explore. However, purchasing these surprise items may put you at risk.

OnlyFans Hack: Did the Popular New Platform Get Compromised?

in Hacking

OnlyFans has become one of the most popular sources of adult content, and just like other sites in the space, it might have suffered a breach. The reported OnlyFans hack is not close to other major adult site hacks like Ashley Madison or WifeLovers. However, it entrenches the narrative that these sites are major targets for hackers and need to work on their security.

In this article, we look into the OnlyFans hack claims and what that means for users.

Did OnlyFans Get Hacked?

In February this year, over 1.6 terabytes of content from OnlyFans appeared online from what looked like a hack. The majority of the content came from female pornographic content creators.

Journalist Vonny LeClerc was first to mention the issue. LeClerc, in a now-deleted tweet, pointed to a link where people could view the stolen data.

Head of marketing at OnlyFans, Steve Pym, responded to Vonny LeClerc’s tweet to explain the situation:

“We have investigated claims of a site wide hack and found no evidence of any breach of our systems,” he said. “The content contained in the supposed ‘leak’ seems to be curated from multiple sources, including other social media applications.”

The leak includes several videos and images from OnlyFans specific creators.

OnlyFans has become the new heaven for online adult content creators. It allows influencers, models, artists, and even ordinary people to share content for pay. It rose to prominence after similar platforms stopped operating due to the FOSTA federal bill.

The OnlyFans hack or leak will affect the revenue of creators. Several victims rely on their exclusive OnlyFans content as their significant revenue stream. Unfortunately, the premium content that was exclusive to OnlyFans is now available for free.

A couple of Twitter users attempted to profit from the OnlyFans leak by selling the stolen content at a discount. Further, Twitter was quick to suspend such accounts to prevent further damage.

Is OnlyFans Free Of Blame?

Other reports also claim the leak included up to four terabytes of content with the username of creators attached. To clarify, it seems to be a collection of content from OnlyFans content creators across several platforms into one large free file.

OnlyFans’ claim that it was not breached may be valid. Regardless, it shows that there are vulnerabilities with the distribution methods of the platform. Sites that sell video and images usually make it hard for these media to be downloaded. Some platforms make it impossible for you to take screenshots or screen record.

At the time of the leak, OnlyFans did not have these strong measures in place to protect content on the site.

OnlyFans sent notices to platforms where the stolen content was being hosted to take it down. What’s more, OnlyFans is providing support to victims of the leak.

How to Conduct Dark Web Research Without Going to Jail

in Deep Web
darknet research

The dark web has gained notoriety for being a haven for illicit marketplaces, illegal pornography, and traffickers. As a result, accessing specific sites and content can get you into legal trouble even if you are only conducting dark web research.

In this article, you will learn how to conduct dark web research within the bounds of the law.

Is the Dark Web Truly Anonymous?

Dark Web Research

The dark web is a hidden section of the deep web that can only be accessed through an anonymized network. You have to use specialized browsers such as Tor, I2P which enable you to surf the dark web anonymously. The browsers route data being sent from your computer through a series of network relays, building up layers of encryption. In theory, this means your browsing activity on the dark web is invisible to prying eyes.

However, this does not mean browsers like Tor are fully anonymous. Over the years, law enforcement has become adept at unmasking nefarious activity in the dark web. Through a combination of cyber enforcement tools, and surveillance, law enforcement has penetrated illegal dark web markets.

Normally, in such cases, authorities make little effort into separating perpetrators and innocuous visitors. For dark web researchers, this state of affairs makes it difficult to browse dark web markets and forums for informational purposes, and still remain anonymous in the eyes of the law.

How to Research the Dark Web Safely

deep web research

Use a VPN

Internet service providers and sites can detect Tor being used since the node IP’s are visible to everyone. While your identity cannot be traced from the node IPs, ISP’s can determine that you are using Tor. This alone can draw their attention and lead them to take action, including alerting law enforcement about ‘suspicious’ online activity.

Therefore, you are advised to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) if you want to use Tor privately. The VPN will successfully hide your Tor node connection from ISP’s through an encrypted tunnel to a VPN server.

Take Precautions to Remain Anonymous

As a researcher, you can safely browse dark web sites and hidden wikis. But if you plan to go further, you need to safeguard your identity.

For instance, if you plan to purchase something on a dark web marketplace for examination or fact-finding purposes, you will need to create a fake identity. This will entail setting up an encrypted email and creating a new email address. You may even need to go further and register a pseudonym, encrypt your messages with PGP, and disabe Javascript in the Tor browser.

To make any purchases, use privacy-focused cryptocurrencies like XMR, or set up an anonymous bitcoin wallet.

Verify Your .onion URLs

It is important to ensure your .onion URLs are typed correctly. Onion URLs generally comprise of a string of random numbers and letters. Additionally, once you are sure of the URL, save it using encryption so that Tor will not cache it for later.

Also, be very careful when using publicly posted .onion URLs. A number of dark web sites and marketplaces act as honeypots for law enforcement.

URLs posted on the clearnet are often malicious, and can leave you open to scams, phishing sites and malware. Considering there is very little use of HTTPS on the dark net, verifying whether a site is authentic using a SSL certificate is not practical.

Don’t Be Careless

While Tor maybe a wonderful too for anonymous browsing it will be ineffective if you are careless, and end up making silly mistakes. Even all your safety precautions are worth nothing if you use a regular site like Reddit, tell everyone how smart you are, and leave metadata on your photos. In this scenario, you may end up finding out the hard way that enforcement agents use Reddit too.

Ultimately, anonymity and common sense are paramount for those browsing the dark web. The government and internet service providers may not be able to view your activity on the dark web, but they most likely know you are using the Tor network. This alone can be used as a probable cause to investigate you as was denoted by a recent judgment in the US Supreme court, allowing enforcement agents to search and seize any computer on the basis of suspicion only. Therefore, deploy all safety precautions while browsing the dark web.

Additionally, make sure to avoid platforms that publish illegal content. The simple act of viewing such sites is breaking the law. If your work as a dark web researcher does involve researching illegal platforms, get legal advice on how to handle this situation. That way you can ensure that you don’t end up on the wrong side of the law by accident.

What the Fappening 2.0 Can Teach Us About Personal Cybersecurity

in Hacking
the Fappening

A major hack that led to the release of intimate photos of celebrities resurfaced again in 2017 dubbed the Fappening 2.0.

In this article, we look at the event and what it can teach us about personal cybersecurity.

What is the Fappening 2.0?

In 2014, a major leak occurred that included several intimate photographs of celebrities and other known people. The unfortunate event repeated itself in 2017, leaking private photos of hundreds of celebrities.

Fappening 2.0, also known as Celebgate 2.0, started with the circulation of private photos of Emma Watson and Amanda Seyfried on the dark web. Later, these images found their way to 4Chan and then to Reddit. According to a report by Softpedia, the Fappening 2.0 affected several dozen other celebrities.

Rose McGowan (actress), Paige (WWE star), Katie Cassidy (actress), Alyssa Arce (model), Rhona Mitra (actress), Analeigh Tipton (figure skater & actress), Kristanna Loken (actress), April Love Geary (model), Iliza Shlesinger (comedian), and Lili Simmons (actress) were among the victims.

Just like the first Fappening event, these images were stolen by targeting cloud accounts containing pictures of these celebrities. 

One of the hackers arrested concerning Fappening 1.0, Edward Majerczyk, revealed the method through which he obtained these pictures. According to Majerczyk, he sent phishing emails to his victims that appeared to be security messages from Internet Service Providers.

The Department of Justice reported that “Majerczyk accessed at least 300 accounts, and at least 30 accounts belonging to celebrities” from November 2013 to August 2014.

Anyone could be in this situation due to the general lack of security consciousness among internet users.

The rest of this article looks at measures we can take to avoid being victims of hackers.

What the Fappening Can Teach You About Cybersecurity

the fappening 2.0

People use the internet for several things, and one of them is to share private information like photos. However, sending private information across the internet is risky without the appropriate protection.

When you share information, the protection of the data depends on the parties you share them with. This is very true for private content usually shared among couples. Your other half is required to protect the data as much as you do to prevent loopholes that can be exploited by bad actors.

One of the effective ways to ensure security on both ends is to use applications that exist for the private exchange of information.

Chat applications like Signal and Telegram (secret chat feature) provide better security for intimate conversations.


Signal is a privacy-centric messaging app that uses end-to-end encryption by default. Moreover, Signal doesn’t store any message metadata or use the cloud to backup messages like What’s App.

Using this application for general chats, especially private chats, is a better option than using most apps. For instance, the European Commission asked staff to move all instant communication to Signal in February 2020.

Telegram Secret Chats

Telegram’s secret chat is popular among young people for intimate conversations. This feature is different from regular chats and requires you to start a new “secret chat” conversation with people to use it.

Secret chat uses end-to-end encryption by default and leaves no trace on Telegram servers. Also, you can’t message forwarding from secret chats, and you are informed of any screenshots or screen recordings done by the other party.

More Steps to Protect Your Privacy

Beyond using private chat platforms, there are other steps to take to ensure that your private data is protected.

Avoid Auto Backup of Photos on Cloud

Do not backup intimate photos on the cloud. In most cases, you do not intentionally save these photos or videos to the cloud as back up to cloud storage is mostly automatic.

To avoid saving unwanted photos to your cloud storage, disable automatic backups, or frequently check your cloud storage application to remove unwanted images permanently.

Use Strong Passwords

Always us strong passwords set for your personal accounts like email and social networks.

A strong password can not be guessed easily based on your personal information. Also, avoid using the same password for all accounts on the internet.

Additionally, a second layer of security makes it more difficult for hackers to access your accounts. Two-factor authentication (2FA) and security device keys are excellent tools to protect your most important accounts.

Don’t Fall for Phishing Emails

It is unlikely that you have not yet received phishing emails given their prevalency today. Most are easy to recognize as they are obviously not from a real service provider. However, hackers are getting more and more sophisticated.

To ensure you don’t fall for a phishing email, avoid clicking on links in emails and do not download attachments. Unless you are expecting an email from service provider, it is better to access the platforms directly. And not through links in an email.

The Bottom Line

The burden to keep yourself safe on the internet starts with you. Something like the Fappening could happen to you too if you fail to take personal cybersecurity seriously.

If you decide to keep private information online, make sure you take the neccessary steps to ensure that bad actors can’t access it.

More importantly, if you want to be sure that private pictures cannot leak online, you simply shouldn’t take any.

You should also read our article on the Top 5 Privacy Tools You Can Use To Protect Yourself Online.

How an Adult Website Hack Exposed 1.2 Million Wife Lovers

in Uncategorized
Wife Lovers

On October 18, 2018, a hacker compromised the database of the adult entertainment website Wife Lovers.

In this article, you will learn about the Wife Lovers hack and how you can protect yourself from this type of data leak.

The Wife Lovers Hack and Response


Wife Lovers’ site owner closed the site three days after receiving a notification that the site has been compromised.  

A notice was immediately placed on the site warning users to change passwords on other sites, especially if they were identical to the passwords on the hacked site.

The site had been operating for 21 years until the hack. According to Robert Angelini, Wife Lovers and the seven sites had less than 107,000 people posting to the site frequently.

In an email responding to the hack, Angelini said:

“It doesn’t matter if we are talking about 29,312 passwords, 77,000 passwords, or 1.2 million or the actual number, which is probably in between. And as you can see, we are starting to encourage our users to change all the passwords everywhere.”

A notice on the website explained that the compromise was noticed when an “unnamed security researcher” exploited a vulnerability to download message board registration information.

The researcher informed Angelini that they were not going to publish the information but ended up doing that to identify the breached websites. A seemingly white hat hacker turned out to be a black hat hacker in disguise.

The hack was possible due to the DEScrypt algorithm used by the sites to encrypt user data. The encryption mechanism was extremely weak, according to hacking experts. 

DEScrypt was created in the 1970s and was adopted by the National Security Agency (NSA), who made some modifications to their version. The regular version makes it nearly impossible for users to use strong passwords. 

Security researcher Troy Hunt analyzed the hack. He tweeted the details.

It took password cracking expert Jens Steube seven minutes to decipher the given hash on Twitter.

The breach only affected free users of the site because the site stores details of paid users separately, according to a company statement.

What Could This Mean For Users?

wife lovers hack

Adult sites like Wife Lovers are prime targets for hackers due to what they can do with such information.

For instance, the 2015 hack of Ashley Maddison led to several follow up attacks. The breach made the intimate details of 36 million accounts public. The following weeks saw victims receiving emails threatening to inform their spouses and loved ones about their infidelity.

Although the Wife Lovers hack may not be as massive as the Ashley Maddison, the consequences could be more damaging.

An examination of the exposed data by Ars Technica revealed the potential damage that it could cause. A web search of some private emails in the breach shows a connection with Amazon, Instagram, and other big sites. These connected accounts gave away the user’s real name, geographic location, information about family members, and other personal details.

With this information, bad actors can target victims and blackmail them. In some cases, hackers also use such details for identity theft. 

What Should I Do If I Ever Face This Situation?

To avoid this situation entirely, you should use different emails for non-essential platforms. Furthermore, to avoid panic during a site compromise, passwords should be different across sites to prevent a situation where a breach of a single account can lead to many more.

However, if you fall victim to such a hack, the best step to take is to update your passwords on all sites. Also, change your usernames on other sites if it is similar to the hacked website.

The most important tip to follow while you surf the web is to avoid sites that have poor user data protection. If you don’t trust the website to protect your data, don’t give it to them.

Learn more ways to protect yourself online by reading our article on Top Privacy Tools To Protect Yourself Online.

How Do Bitcoin Mixers Work?

in Deep Web
bitcoin mixer

You may have heard that bitcoin transactions are anonymous, but that is absolutely not the case. 

In this article, we take a look at how bitcoin mixers can be used to increase transactional privacy for bitcoin payments.

What is a Bitcoin Mixer?

A bitcoin mixer, also known as a tumbler or mixing service, enables Bitcoin users to mix their coins with other users to preserve transactional privacy.

Conventional bitcoin transactions are not anonymous. Instead, they are pseudonymous. They do not disclose your real-world identity but your addresses can be linked to your identity.

For example, exchanges require you to provide your identification papers. What this means is that cryptocurrency sent to or from your account can then be linked to you.

Also, blockchain analysis companies can tell how much bitcoin you own and who you transact with by tracing your linked accounts using a range of deanonymization methods.

The translucent nature of bitcoin transactions makes it a problem for protecting your privacy and information about your personal finance. Fortunately, you can avoid tracking of your bitcoin transactions and maintain absolute privacy using bitcoin mixers.

What Do Bitcoin Mixers Do To Your Coins?

Bitcoin Mixing

Cryptocurrency transactions start from the sender’s wallet and end in the receiver’s wallet. This direct route can be traced easily using the blockchain. 

However, transactions made using bitcoin mixers break the link.

When you send your bitcoin to a bitcoin mixer, the service then combines your coins with that of others and takes them through several internal transactions that generate a long trail of addresses.

At the end of the process, when coins are finally sent to your destination of choice, the recipient will receive the coins from an address that cannot be traced to yours.

Factors that determine the level of anonymity you receive from bitcoin tumbler:

  • Firstly, the longer a mixing platform takes to scrumble coins, the harder it is to trace transactions.
  • Secondly, the number of separate wallets and addresses used in the mixing process makes transactions more opaque. Some platforms even split your funds during mixing to make it harder to track.

The amount of coins you can mix depends on the platform you select. Most bitcoin mixers do not accept huge sums of bitcoin though.

Why Do People Use Mixers?

bitcoin tumbler

There are several reasons why people use bitcoin mixers, but at the heart of all the bases is privacy and security.

Bitcoiners use mixers to prevent the exposure of their personal financial decisions. Every time you perform a transaction with a party, they gain information about your bitcoin holdings. They can check your bitcoin address on the blockchain and see how much you own, past transactions, and who you transacted with.

In extreme cases, people can monitor all inputs and outputs from your wallet to find other addresses you own. Bitcoin mixers make it effectively impossible for other parties to track you after transacting with them.

In a world where censorship is not reserved for any particular group and could happen to anyone, having protection over your bitcoin is very important.

Money has become a political tool used to fund campaigns and operations. In authoritarian regimes where all transactions, even those on the blockchain, are under the microscope, bitcoin mixers serve a vital utility.

Political groups attain full privacy of their funds by using bitcoin mixers for transactions. People who fund these groups also protect themselves through bitcoin mixers. This prevents a situation where governments can target people who fund or run these groups by tracing their wallets. 

Finally, blockchain analysis companies spring up more often these days. What that means is that there are more eyes watching transactions on the blockchain. These eyes are always linking accounts and transactions to real identities.

Users concerned about their privacy use bitcoin mixers to detach their operations on the blockchain from their identities.

If you want to mix your next bitcoin transaction to protect your financial sovereignty, check out Bitcoin Mixer.

Top 7 PayPal Scams to Be Aware of in 2020

in Cybersecurity
PayPal Scams

PayPal scams continue to plague the internet as cybercriminals attempt to find ways to defraud individuals and businesses.

In this article, we look at a list of the most common PayPal scams and provide advice on how to avoid them.

1. Get A “Free” PayPal Account

As crazy as it sounds, one of the most popular PayPal scams targets users who haven’t signed up for the platform yet.

The scam starts with a seemingly good samaritan asking to create a free PayPal account on your behalf. It usually seems very legitimate, but there is a catch. The scammer will proceed to send you a link to a PayPal registration page that will collect your details for the creation of the account.

These sites are phishing sites that are made to look like legitimate PayPal pages. They collect very important information like your full name, location, billing address, credit card details, driver’s license number, and other financial data.

When scammers collect this much information, they could use it for anything on the internet, including identity theft and making purchases from your credit card.

2. An Advanced Fee Scam

An advanced fee scam is also popular among PayPal scams. The classic narrative includes an individual who seems to have a precious possession that they need your help to clear.

At this point, they will tell you they have to pay an advanced fee to unfreeze or clear their PayPal account, which they cannot do without you. In return, they promise to give you a large cut of the money made from the sale of the product.

3. Fake Invoice

In this PayPal scam, an invoice pops up based on something you never ordered or on a product you recently checked out. The invoice looks very legitimate and is hard to tell apart from an original invoice.

The invoice contains a link that then takes you to a phishing site that collects your data for the scammers.

4. The Shipment Never Arrived

Paypal scams are sometimes targeted at merchants and sellers. Scammers come to your site to place an order and pay with PayPal. Everything will seem alright until you lose your money and goods.

During checkout, the scammer will provide a fake delivery address that will cause the shipping company to list the product us initially “undeliverable.” Later on, the scammer will provide the right address and receive the product. However, the same person will report you to PayPal for failing to deliver the product.

Without proof on your end that you delivered it to the first address, Seller Protection will come in and release the funds back to the buyer.

5. Ship It To My Friend, It’s A Secret

This PayPal scam includes you helping a scammer surprise a “friend.” Very similar to the shipment never arrived scam, a scammer will contact you that they want to buy a product on your site.

Further, the scammer will plead with you to ship the product to a different address from their PayPal shipping address. The reason for this change, according to the scammer, is because they want to surprise a friend celebrating a birthday or wedding.

Unfortunately, if you fall for this story and you send the product to the person, the scammer will then file a report to PayPal, stating that you scammed them.

6. Fake Charities

Have you ever been hit up to send money to a “dying child in a developing country?” A lot of fake charities send emails to PayPal users claiming to be collecting money on behalf of the needy in society.

It is usually rampant during natural disasters. Scammers capitalize on the emotion of the moment to push people to give money. However, the money collected by these scammers goes straight into their pockets.

Also, unless you have given your email to a charity or NGO, they won’t send you an email. Emails from organizations you have never interacted with is most likely a scam.

7. Get Lower Fees Paypal Alternative

There are several PayPal alternatives, yet people use PayPal because it has particular features that protect the buyer.

This PayPal Scam introduces an alternative to you as a more affordable option for paying for a product. For instance, when you want to pay for a product on a site, the scammer will create an alert asking you to use another payment method like Western Union.

The usual excuse is that the alternative charges lesser fees or using that alternative gives you a discount. After making payments, the goods never arrive. You won’t be able to get your money back because the payment system doesn’t have a fail-safe system like PayPal.

How to Prevent PayPal Scams

PayPal Scam

Protecting your account against PayPal scams is as important as recognizing these scams when they hit you. Basic things like “avoid sharing your PayPal account details” is something every user is aware of.

Here are more ways to prevent PayPal Scams:

1. Don’t Open Spam

Avoid opening spam messages. Especially messages that have “PayPal” in the title or are somehow linked to money.

Also, in situations where the email bypasses the spam filter, you should avoid opening suspicious links. Any PayPal activity should be done on the official website and not other look-alike sites.

2. Greed Will Cost You

We like to look for opportunities that will make us or save us money. Unfortunately, any offer that seems to be too good to be true is most likely a scam.

Be careful of the emails with language like “buy now,” “hurry up,” “get free money here,” and “claim money now.”

3. Don’t Ship To Another Address

If a buyer tells you to send goods to an address different from what is in the transaction form, you should decline it.

It is most likely a scam that will cause you to lose your money and products. Inform the buyer that you will not be able to do that and cancel their order if they insist.

Finally, check your PayPal account frequently and keep tabs on PayPal’s latest policies to avoid being outsmarted by scammers.

How to Prevent Phone Camera Hacking

in Features/Hacking
Phone Camera Hacking

Phone cameras are the eyes of your mobile devices. They allow us to capture the world around us. However, when compromised, they can be used against us.

In this article, we look at the best ways to prevent phone camera hacking.

What is Phone Camera Hacking?

Phone camera hacking happens when an unauthorized party gains access to your camera. Also, parties with authorization to your phone camera may violate your privacy, amounting to a hack.

How to Prevent Phone Camera Hacking

This type of hack can happen through various means. The most popular phone camera hack is when third-parties have access to your camera and can use it to capture your surroundings.

Some of these hackers use RAT (Remote Accessing/Administration Tools) to monitor your phone camera.

RAT allows hackers to manage your camera and take pictures of you and your surroundings. These tactics are used to spy on you and track important information such as distance, which could be dangerous.

On the other hand, a third-party application on your phone could be secretly backing up all your pictures from your camera or be recording you. 

For instance, Google recently disclosed an Android phone camera hack that allowed applications to access the camera, record video, and access geolocation data embedded in stored photos.

Ways to Prevent Phone Camera Hacking

You can prevent camera hacking through measures that defend your phone from potential attacks and remove attacks in case they bypass the defense.

Here are four ways of preventing camera hacking:

1. Frequently Update Your Operating System

Constant software updates may get annoying but are important. Most updates contain security patches that fix existing loopholes that may allow third parties to hijack your phone.

For instance, the Google Android camera hijack mentioned above was fixed through a security update sent to affected Android phones.

2. Manage App Permissions

Camera hacking may be disguised in an application through app permissions that seem harmless. Due to this, it is imperative that you always monitor every application’s permissions.

For iPhones, go to Settings > Privacy, where you’ll see a list of all apps and the permissions you’ve granted to them. On Android, you’ll find them in Settings > Apps & notifications > Advanced > Permission manager while on a Samsung Galaxy, you have to look in Settings > Apps > App permissions (using the three vertical dots at the top right).

3. Use AntiVirus Software

You have probably heard this a lot. Using antivirus software protects you from existing attacks or attacks that still manage to affect your phone camera.

What’s more, you should use antivirus software that has been tested and reviewed by industry experts to avoid having false security.

4. Don’t Jailbreak

Jailbreaking has become very popular among iPhone users who want to access software not available on the App Store. However, jailbreaking may expose you to malware and attacks that shouldn’t be possible on regular iPhones.

5. Put Stickers Over Your Camera

Putting stickers over your front and back phone cameras while you are not using them may sound low-tech but is an excellent way to protect yourself. Even the head of the FBI covers his laptop camera with a sticker, so why shouldn’t you cover your phone cameras too?

How to Know If Your Camera is Hacked

camera hacking

There are a couple of signs that may inform you that your phone has been hacked or, specifically, your phone camera.

Your phone gets very slow: If you begin to observe a sudden sluggish response when using your phone, it could be a sign. Malicious applications can run in the background and interfere with the phone’s functions. This interruption causes the phone to slow down.

Strange applications on your phone: If you notice unknown apps that you did not download yourself, especially related to the phone camera, it could be a sign.

Battery drain and hot battery: In some instances, your battery begins to drain faster than usual, and your phone remains hot for more extended periods. This phenomenon could be a sign that you have been hacked.

Data exhaustion: You may also notice that your phone is consuming more data than it usually does. Before you blame it on a hack, you should also check to see if you have not increased your amount of apps, uploads or downloads. 

Other weird activities on your phone: If you see apps opening up without any initiation from your end, it could also be a sign that someone has remotely accessed your phone. 

In the case where you notice any of these issues, you should find the problem and remove it. This can be through an update of the operating system and a scan by an antivirus application.

What is Data Privacy And Why Does it Matter?

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Data Privacy

Data privacy has become more important than ever in today’s digital world. However, tech companies have been playing fast and loose with our data. For that reason, our online privacy is under threat.

In this article, we look at what data privacy is and why it is crucial for internet users.

What is Data Privacy?

Online Privacy

Data privacy refers to the proper handling of sensitive information. It deals with consent, notice, and regulatory obligations in data collection, usage, and sharing. 

For example, you will not mind sharing your name with a random person on the street but will get skeptical about sharing your home address and mobile number.

However, when creating accounts online or even at the bank, a substantial amount of information about yourself is necessary. Various corporations can now access things like your social security number, health records, and history with the click of a button.

Data privacy deals with how the data you have shared is protected from bad actors. Also, data privacy ensures that your information is used in ways that are not harmful to you or your family.

There are two main classifications for data privacy on digital mediums:

  • Personally identifiable information (PII)
  • Personal health information (PHI)

PPI deals with general data that can be used to identify a person such as a bank account or credit card number, mobile number, and social security number.

On the other hand, PHI deals with an individual’s health records, which contain past and present hospital visits, conditions, or disorders.

Why Does Data Privacy Matter

what is data privacy

When private data is poorly guarded, and it gets into the wrong hands, bad things happen. With the rise of the data economy, the data of individuals and companies is highly valuable.

Due to this, nefarious actors like hackers exploit loopholes to find data breaches to capitalize on. For instance, if the personal data of an individual is collected during a hack, they may lose money and their identity.

Identity theft is a widespread use of stolen data online. Hackers can pretend to be you to access your funds or put other people close to you in danger.

A string of data breaches in 2017 and 2018 opened the doors to major identity theft in the USA. Personal information of 143 million Americans was stolen during the 2017 Equifax hack. Further, over 5 million passport information and 383 million guest records were also stolen during the Marriot breach.

Hackers can also use personal health information to harm users. These harms include petty instances like hackers pretending to be your medical doctor because they have your records.

According to research by Carbon Black, health data sells for a higher price on the dark web compared to general personal data. This high demand is due to the immutable nature of people’s health records.

Beyond the stealing of data, unauthorized sharing or selling of data has also become very rampant in recent years. 

The most prominent example of such an event was the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal. During the 2016 US election, Facebook allowed Cambridge Analytica to harvest the personal information of users for political purposes.

Data privacy is extremely important for the protection of individuals and entities online. Without data protection, using the internet might turn out to be more detrimental than expected.

How the State Promotes Data Privacy

GDRP Data Privacy

Governments around the world have been racing to pass laws, policies, and regulations to ensure better data privacy. So, how exactly do states protect their citizens?

Major examples of data privacy regulation include the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by the European Union and the US Privacy Act of 1974. These regulations govern how corporations handle people’s data with emphasis on data collection, sharing, and usage.

However, there is a grey area in situations where the same government that has the mandate to protect you, disrespects your data privacy. 

Data privacy is an important feature of our rights and freedoms. Without absolute data privacy, you may not be able to exercise freedoms, such as free speech and movement due to excessive surveillance.

This unfortunate reality is the reason why you should take steps to protect your data.

How to Ensure Data Privacy

why data privacy matters

There are several steps to take to ensure data privacy online. Here are some of the most important steps to take to secure your private information online.

1. Encrypt Data

You should avoid leaving your information lying around in its raw state to prevent infiltration from preying eyes. Encryption is converting data into code to prevent unwarranted access.

Unlike the early days of the internet, encryption is now accessible to everyone. Several tools allow you to encrypt files without much hustle. 

2. Back-Up Data

A basic method of protecting your privacy is to have an extra copy of your information. Having a duplicate of your data by backing it up allows you to erase info on missing on stolen devices remotely.

Also, you should consider cloud storage for backups. Storing data on the cloud makes it harder to compromise as it is not on your hardware.

3. Regular OS Updates and Anti-malware Apps

Operating systems are a significant source of security vulnerabilities for devices. Due to this, OS providers send regular updates to fix newly identified security issues.

To always have the best security for your device, it is a data privacy standard to update your operating system regularly.

Moreover, additional anti-malware applications constantly scan the device to remove harmful content that may leak your data.

Also, some tools make it easier for you to manage your data online. Check out our article on the Top 5 Privacy Tools You Can Use To Protect Yourself Online.

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