Fake news, piracy and digital duopoly of Google and Facebook


“FAKE NEWS” has seemingly, suddenly, become fashionable. In reality, the fake has proliferated for a decade or more, but the faux, the flawed and the fraudulent are now pressing issues because the full scale of the changes wrought upon the integrity of news and advertising by the digital duopoly — Google and Facebook — has become far more obvious.

Google’s commodification of content knowingly, wilfully undermined provenance for profit. That was followed by the Facebook stream, with its journalistic jetsam and fake flotsam. Together, the two most powerful news publishers in human history have created an ecosystem that is dysfunctional and socially destructive.

Both companies could have done far more to highlight that there is a hierarchy of content, but instead they have prospered mightily by peddling a flat-earth philosophy that doesn’t distinguish between the fake and the real because they make copious amounts of money from both.

Depending on which source you believe, they have close to two-thirds of the digital advertising market — and let me be clear that we compete with them for that share. The Interactive Advertising Bureau estimates they accounted for more than 90% of the incremental increase in digital advertising over the past year. The only cost of content for these companies has been lucrative contracts for lobbyists and lawyers, but the social cost of that strategy is far more profound.

It is beyond risible that Google and its subsidiary YouTube, which have earned many billions of dollars from other people’s content, should now be lamenting that they can’t possibly be held responsible for monitoring that content. Monetising yes, monitoring no — but it turns out that free money does come at a price.

We all have to work with these companies, and we are hoping, mostly against hope, that they will finally take meaningful action, not only to allow premium content models that fund premium journalism, but also to purge their sites of the rampant piracy that undermines creativity. Your business model can’t be simultaneously based on both intimate, granular details about users and no clue whatsoever about rather obvious pirate sites.

Another area that urgently needs much attention is the algorithms that Silicon Valley companies, and Amazon, routinely cite as a supposedly objective source of wisdom and insight. These algorithms are obviously set, tuned and repeatedly adjusted to suit their commercial needs. Yet they also blame autonomous, anarchic algorithms and not themselves when neofascist content surfaces or when a search leads to obviously biased results in favour of their own products.

Look at how Google games searches. A study reported in The Wall Street Journal found that in 25,000 random Google searches ads for Google products appeared in the most prominent slot 91% of the time. How is that not the unfair leveraging of search dominance and the abuse of algorithm? All 1,000 searches for “laptops” started with an ad for Google’s Chromebook — 100% of the time. Kim Jong Un would be envious of results like that at election time.

And then there are the recently launched Google snippets, which stylistically highlight search results as if they were written on stone tablets and carried down from the mountain. Their sheer visual physicality gives them apparent moral force. The word Orwellian is flagrantly abused, but when it comes to the all-powerful algorithms of Google, Amazon and Facebook, Orwellian is underused.

As for news, institutional neglect has left us perched on the edge of the slippery slope of censorship. There is no Silicon Valley tradition, as there is at great newspapers, of each day arguing over rights and wrongs, of fretful, thoughtful agonising over social responsibility and freedom of speech.

What we now have is a backlash with which these omnipotent companies are uniquely ill-equipped to cope. Their responses tend to be political and politically correct. Regardless of your own views, you should be concerned that we are entering an era in which these immensely influential publishers will routinely and selectively “unpublish” certain views and news.

We stumble into this egregious era at a moment when the political volume in many countries is turned to 10. The echo chamber has never been larger and the reverb room rarely more cacophonous. This is not an entirely new trend, but it has a compounding effect with the combination of “holier than thou” and “louder than thou.”

Curiously, this outcome is, in part, a result of the idealism of the Silicon Valley set, and there’s no doubt about the self-proclaimed ideals. They devoutly believe they are connecting people and informing them, which is true, even though some of the connections become conspiracies and much of the information is skimmed without concern to intellectual property rights.

Ideas aside, we were supposed to be in a magic age of metrics and data. Yet instead of perfect precision we have the cynical arbitraging of ambiguity — particularly in the world of audiences. Some advertising agencies are also clearly at fault because they, too, have been arbitraging and prospering from digital ambiguity as money in the ad business has shifted from actually making ads to aggregating digital audiences and ad tech, better known as fad tech.

And so, as the Times of London has reported, socially aware, image-conscious advertisers find themselves in extremely disreputable places — hardcore porn sites, neofascist sites, Islamist sites. The embarrassment for these advertisers juxtaposed with jaundice is understandable, but the situation is far more serious than mere loss of face.

If these sites are getting a cut of the commission, the advertisers are technically funding these nefarious activities. Depending on the type of advertising, it is estimated by the ad industry that a YouTube partner could earn about 55% of the revenue from a video. In recent years, how many millions of dollars have been channelled to organisations or individuals that are an existential threat to our societies?

Provenance is profound, and in this age of augmented reality and virtual reality, actual reality will surely make a comeback. Authenticated authenticity is an asset of increasing value in an age of the artificial — understanding the ebb and flow of humanity will not be based on fake news or ersatz empathy, but on real insight.

BY ROBERT THOMSON

Robert Thomson is the chief executive of News Corp, which owns The Australian and The Wall Street Journal. This is adapted from a speech he delivered on March 29 to the Asia Society in Hong Kong.

PETALING JAYA: The proliferation of fake news on social media has benefited publishers like Google and Facebook in terms of digital advertising market share at the expense of other media companies. News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson recently in his speech noted that Google and Facebook, for example, have close to two-thirds of the digital advertising market.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau estimates they accounted for more than 90% of the incremental increase in digital advertising over the past year, he said.

The only cost of content for these companies has been lucrative contracts for lobbyists and lawyers, he added, noting that the social cost of that strategy is far more profound.

Thomson said this during his speech to the Asia Society in Hong Kong on March 29.

News Corp is also the owner of The Australian and The Wall Street Journal. “Google’s commodification of content knowingly, wilfully undermined provenance for profit. That was followed by the Facebook stream, with its journalistic jetsam and fake flotsam.

Together, the two most powerful news publishers in human history have created an ecosystem that is dysfunctional and socially destructive,’’ he said.

Both companies, he said could have done far more to highlight that there is a hierarchy of content, but instead they have prospered mightily by peddling a flat-earth philosophy that doesn’t distinguish between the fake and the real because they make copious amounts of money from both.

“It is beyond risible that Google and its subsidiary YouTube, which have earned many billions of dollars from other people’s content, should now be lamenting that they can’t possibly be held responsible for monitoring that content. Monetising yes, monitoring no – but it turns out that free money does come at a price.

“We all have to work with these companies, and we are hoping, mostly against hope, that they will finally take meaningful action, not only to allow premium content models that fund premium journalism, but also to purge their sites of the rampant piracy that undermines creativity,” Thomson said.

In his speech, he also said although “fake news” has seemingly, suddenly, become fashionable but in reality, the fake has proliferated for a decade or more.

But the faux, the flawed and the fraudulent are now pressing issues because the full scale of the changes wrought upon the integrity of news and advertising by the digital duopoly — Google and Facebook — has become far more obvious, he said.

Thomson also highlighted on the urgency of algorithms. Another area, he said that urgently needs much attention is the algorithms that Silicon Valley companies, and Amazon, routinely cite as a supposedly objective source of wisdom and insight.

“These algorithms are obviously set, tuned and repeatedly adjusted to suit their commercial needs.

“Yet they also blame autonomous, anarchic algorithms and not themselves when neofascist content surfaces or when a search leads to obviously biased results in favour of their own products,’’ he said.

A study reported in The Wall Street Journal found that in 25,000 random Google searches ads for Google products appeared in the most prominent slot 91% of the time.

“How is that not the unfair leveraging of search dominance and the abuse of algorithm?” he asked. All 1,000 searches for “laptops” started with an ad for Google’s Chromebook – 100% of the time.

And then there are the recently launched Google snippets, which stylistically highlight search results as if they were written on stone tablets and carried down from the mountain. Their sheer visual physicality gives them apparent moral force, he said.

“The word Orwellian is flagrantly abused, but when it comes to the all-powerful algorithms of Google, Amazon and Facebook, Orwellian is underused,’’ he said.

Thomson said: “What we now have is a backlash with which these omnipotent companies are uniquely ill-equipped to cope. Their responses tend to be political and politically correct.

Regardless of your own views, you should be concerned that we are entering an era in which these immensely influential publishers will routinely and selectively “unpublish” certain views and news.

He also faulted ad agencies as they have been arbitraging and prospering from digital ambiguity as money in the ad business has shifted from actually making ads to aggregating digital audiences and ad tech, better known as fad tech.

“Provenance is profound, and in this age of augmented reality and virtual reality, actual reality will surely make a comeback. Authenticated authenticity is an asset of increasing value in an age of the artificial – understanding the ebb and flow of humanity will not be based on fake news or ersatz empathy, but on real insight,’’ he added.

Sources: Starbiz

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 ‘Essential to tackle fake news correctly’

 
KUALA LUMPUR: Your office is swamped by phone calls from impatient customers, asking why they have yet to receive their free plane tickets as promised for ha­­ving participated in a survey.

You find out later that they had completed the survey which was featured on a dubious website.

Or, when you come to work, you see a horde of unhappy customers waiting outside the building, demanding to know why they were not informed that they would have to pay a fee if they did not get their membership cards renewed by the month’s end.

Apparently, there had been a Facebook posting about the new fee ruling.

The above two incidents happened in Kuala Lumpur over the past year.

In the age of scams, fake news and “alternative facts”, such cases are getting more frequent.

A recent incident involved shoemaker Bata Primavera Sdn Bhd, which was accused of selling shoes with the Arabic word “Allah” formed in the pattern on the soles.

Bata ended up removing 70,000 pairs of the B-First school shoes from its 230 stores nationwide.

It was a step which cost them RM500,000 in losses.

The shoes were returned to the shelves only after Bata was cleared of the allegation by the Al-Quran Printing Control and Licensing Board of the Home Ministry on March 30.

In February, AirAsia came under unwanted attention when its brand name was used in a purported free ticket survey and fake ticket scam.

Back in 2014, the airline had also asked its customers to be wary of an online lottery scam which made use of its name to solicit personal information from them.

What is more astounding is that the e-mail highlighting the lottery had been circulating since 2011.

And in January last year, Public Bank saw a rush of customers crowding its branches to renew their debit cards.

A Facebook post that had gone viral claimed that they would be charged a RM12 fee if they did not renew it by Jan 31.

What are the dos and don’ts for companies under attack by fake news?

“A quick and concise response is the way to go,” said AirAsia’s head of communications Aziz Laikar.

“Be prepared. The more high profile the brand is, the quicker the response should be.”

The communications team have to be able to draw up a statement fast to deal with the issue head on before it grows to a full-blown crisis, Aziz said.

He listed out four steps that a company could take.

“Start by immediately responding with facts via a short statement to the media, as well as on social media platforms,” he said.

Aziz also advised companies to lodge police reports and to make use of the chance to educate the public that they should always refer to announcements made via official platforms.

“Also, disseminate the information internally to your colleagues. Every employee should be a brand messenger.

“They are a powerful force to spread the correct message.

“The best way to effectively ma­­nage an issue is to make sure the entire company is aware of the situa­tion and able to communicate it correctly,” he said.

Ogilvy account director Clarissa Ng said that loyal clientele and employees were usually a company’s “first line of defence” and must be treated well.

Ng, who has handled the case of a client hit by rumours of exploding phones, preferred a “low profile” approach in dealing with such fake news.

She opted by focusing on promo­ting the phone’s safety features.

The campaign reassured consumers that the phone underwent rigorous testing in their laboratories in Shenzhen, China, and how its electrical current would be cut off automatically to prevent the gadget from exploding.

“Sometimes, the more you explain, the public will demand more answers. How we handled it was to remain low profile,” she said.

Source: By ADRIAN CHAN The Star

 Related story:

Expert: Building trust with audience reduces impact of false news


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  expertshttps://youtu.be/AkwWcHekMdoNews outlets have trained      staff and trump social media on factual accuracy Traditional media  contin…

Beware of fake news! Traditional media still the best and credible, says experts


News outlets have trained staff and trump social media on factual accuracy

Traditional media continues to be a reliable source of information for the public who have grown wary of fake news littering social media.

Paul Glader, an associate professor at the King’s College in New York, pointed out that traditional newsrooms often earn their brand value by their integrity and edito­rial practices.

“This means they have copy editors or copy desks to verify facts. It means they have seasoned journa­lists as editors who question and bullet proof big stories, sometimes running such stories by lawyers. It means they apologise for any errors by running corrections,” he said.

Glader said while social media can disseminate news more quickly at times than traditional media, it does not have the accuracy checks and the principle of verification.

One example of this, he said, was during the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. He said everyone in the United States had followed the incident via Twitter and many facts emerged before being reported in mainstream news outlets.

Worse, people in the crowd were accused of being the culprits while the real bombers were at large.

“Those identified by the mob were innocent and could have been badly hurt because of the false information,” he said.

Advertising industry veteran Khoo Kar Khoon said the public is bombarded with information over social media with no way of telling if it’s true or not.

Khoo, who is a non-executive director of publishing conglomerate Media Chinese International Ltd, said traditional media are licensed and had to be accountable, adding that journalists had to verify information with authorities.

Verifying information, he said, was important for issues which could impact public health, safety and the economy.

Infrastructure University Kuala Lumpur’s (IUKL) Prof Dr Faridah Ibrahim said established media had a responsibility to sieve out the truth.

“Accuracy should not be compromised for speed, facts must be double and triple checked,” said Dr Faridah, the executive dean for IUKL’s Faculty of Arts, Com­muni­cation and Education.

The Communications and Multi­media Ministry recently advised social media users not to add fuel to fire, following the ongoing diplomatic row with North Korea.

This followed a false claim over Facebook of a massacre of Malay­sians in North Korea.

On Tuesday, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) launched fact-checking website sebenarnya.my for the public to both check the authenticity of information.

Assoc Prof Dr Judith Clarke said that very often, information may go viral before anyone bothered to check it.

“They may quickly become accepted knowledge, whether true or not,” said Clarke, who is with Hong Kong Baptist University’s Department of Journalism.

“Some academics are calling for schools to teach news literacy cour­ses to build up the public’s news judgment,” she said.

Readership and circulation of The Star had increased following the assassination of Kim Jong-nam.

The Star Online saw its number of visitors surge to an all-time-high of 7.9 million.

The website also saw 5.7 million new users while the number of followers on its Twitter account surpassed 1.1 million people.

Source: by Neville Spykerman The Star
 

 

Government launches ‘Tidak Pasti, Jangan Kongsi’ to stop spread of false information

CYBERJAYA: A fact-checking website, sebenarnya.my,, has been launched to curb the spread of fake news.

The website will allow members of the public to both check the authenticity of a news item or a piece of viral information. It will also submit the information if it is found to be false.

Multimedia and Communications Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak said the website was much needed as many Malaysians had the habit of spreading information without verifying the news.

“They would share certain information and claim that this is dari group sebelah (from another group) and then say minta pencerahan (seeking clarification).

“They should verify first and only share if it’s true,” said Dr Salleh after launching the website at the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) auditorium here yesterday.

The website’s tagline is Tidak Pasti, Jangan Kongsi (Do not share if unsure).

Asked if it was set up with the general election in mind, Dr Salleh said: “Not at all. In fact, if opposition members find fake news being spread about them, they can submit it to the website, too.

“The website belongs to all Malaysians. It does not belong to the Government.”

Malaysians, said Dr Salleh, should be discerning enough to tell between real and fake news.

“Spreading fake news will not only cause public confusion but can lead to unrest and cause unnecessary threat to the country’s security.”

MCMC, said Dr Salleh, discovered some 1,000 incidences of fake news that had gone viral on the Internet.

“This is also happening outside Malaysia,” he said.

A check on the sebenarnya.my website showed that there were 155 articles that had been uploaded, debunking various “news items” or social media posts.

The latest is that of a Facebook post about a soldier purportedly injured in a bomb explosion by terrorist groups, which the army later clarified to be a re-enactment during a training camp in Negri Sembilan.

Source: by Joseph Kaos Jr The Star

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SEBENARNYA.MY portal launched for checking validity of news

The tyranny of Pokemon Go, more addictive than other games


It’s repetitive. The ‘game play’ is puerile. But it does cast a spell on players.

Malaysia, a plague has just arrived in your land and, if the rest of the world is any indication, it will infect every corner of your society. I’m talking of course about the infectious tyranny that is Pokemon Go. Really.

This is a game with very little in actual game play. You throw Pokeballs at Pokemon that spawn seemingly all over your neighbourhood, on your friends, and even in your own home. You capture them to fight other Pokemon, then you wash, rinse, repeat.

The battle aspect comes down to swiping right and tapping your screen a bunch of times. It’s not exactly the most nuanced or skilled or even fun game play in the world but yet, Pokemon Go has taken over the world.

I didn’t quite understand it until it arrived in Hong Kong, but suddenly on the street people were face down in their phones even more so than usual. And whenever I snuck a look there was a little critter bouncing around on their screens that they were trying to capture by tossing Pokeballs at it.

Silly. Ridiculous. So of course, yours truly had to try it.

And of course, yours truly got addicted just like everyone else.

Really, the game should be called Pokecrack or something a little more indicative of its addictive nature. Walking the dog at night, I seek out the local gyms – Pokemon Go locations where you can train or battle other Pokemon, but only at certain locations in the city – see, that’s why it’s got the “Go” in its name, this isn’t a game you can play from home – and at all these locations, even at midnight, I find people milling around in their pyjamas outside, with their faces stuck to their phones. Me included.

I went to a bar to meet a friend the other day and of course we started hunting Pokemon while there, which quite a few others were already doing. On the way out to the pay the bill the barkeep invited us back on Saturday because they would be “buying lures all day to attract more Pokemon”. Yes, Pokemon is now a way to attract people to your business.

Pikachu, I choose you.

But why is this game so addictive? I just said the game play was infantile. So simple that it boggles the mind. And it is. But everything in Pokemon Go centres on the rewards of new and exotic Pokemon and levelling up.

Basically it’s a game that hinges on the Random Reward Schedule.

The Random Reward Schedule is a tenet of behavioural psychology. It’s a form of reinforcement. Reinforcement, of course, “strengthens an organism’s future behaviour whenever that behaviour is preceded by a specific antecedent stimulus”. That’s a mouthful.

Basically, what it’s saying is that you will continue to do a thing if you get positive feedback.

This all goes back to the research of B.F. Skinner, who noted that the variable reward schedule or the random reward schedule resulted in the most compulsive and addictive behaviour in mice. Basically, mice were trained to press a lever that would dispense treats.

The mice that were rewarded with a treat every time were less inclined to keep pressing the lever, than the mice that were rewarded with a large treat at random intervals. The idea being that when a mouse thinks there could be a nice reward just around the corner, it will keep performing the same action.

The same goes for humans.

In Pokemon Go you’re constantly checking for Pokemon appearing in your vicinity. Most times they are common ones like Pidgeys or Caterpies, but every once in a while, you find something exciting like a Vaporean or an Electabuzz. And yes, I know how nerdy this sounds right now. Those rare and exotic Pokemon are just like large treats to a mouse.

The random reward schedule is linked to the Hook Model which is a technique employed by social media and mobile game designers and, of course the designers of Pokemon Go. Its mission – the name gives it away – is to hook you.

It goes beyond simple reinforcement of behaviour; it’s all about creating habits so that we’ll continue doing something the designers want us to do. In this case, it’s to continue searching for Pokemon and hopefully spend a few of our hard-earned dollars for gear that will help us do just that.

Pokemon Go also employs another aspect of the model, and that is our need to hunt. In the evolutionary sense, we are hunters, hunting for food in the wild. Pokemon Go employs a tracking system to find those rare and exotic Pokemon so that we are literally hunting down little virtual critters. All. Day. Long.

But we’re not hunting for sustenance, now we’re just hunting for the sake of hunting. Our genetic urges are misfiring all over Pokemon Go.

And knowing that I’m being manipulated on the most fundamental level by this game, I’m still checking my phone periodically to see if any rare Pokemon have showed up. And it’s not even fun.

So what to do, now that Pokemon Go has come for … to us? It really depends. It does make you walk more, and it can make your daily commutes a little more enjoyable (depending on your definition of enjoyable) – but if you don’t like having your face stuck in your phone, then you’re better off treating Pokemon Go like drugs, and not even trying it.

By Jason Godfrey –

Catch Jason Godfrey on The LINK on Life Inspired HD (Astro Ch 728).

More addictive than other games

CATCHING virtual critters on Pokémon GO has a tendency to be more addictive than other online games.

Experts say the risk of being addicted to the highly-popular game is increased because it is a feast for the senses.

This is especially since it is an augmented reality game, which requires players to have a live direct or indirect view of their physical surroundings.

“The risk of addiction is increased as there are multiple sensory bombardments that sustain playing Pokémon GO.

“Such sensory bombardments are continuous, leading to pleasure and satisfaction highs once players level up in the game and are motivated to continue,” explains Universiti Sains Malaysia criminologist and psychologist Dr Geshina Ayu Mat Saat.

She says this can be dangerous as it makes individuals dependent on the game for pleasure or happiness and some people may confuse the two.

“It could also lead to despair when the game is concluded, when they experience problems, or when a level objective could not be met.

“These are similar responses that an addict experiences. Normal functioning is disrupted, the least being in terms of sleeping and eating patterns,” Dr Geshina says.

Other aspects that could be affected are family interaction, work-life balance, carrying out responsibilities and daily tasks.

Dr Geshina finds that there are pros and cons to playing the game.

“On one hand, players will get more physical exercise, apply problem-solving skills, and have some social interaction when they meet other players in real life,” she says.

But on the other hand, too much focus on their phones may narrow their perception, leading to selective attention on the immediate environment to fulfil the needs of the game rather than a genuine appreciation of the outdoors.

“Social interaction may be limited to brusque questions of where the characters are, rather than polite or pleasant queries to initiate meaningful conversation,” says Dr Geshina.

She also notes that there is also a possibility that players, especially children, will be unable to separate between reality and the game as it blurs the lines and makes players a living game avatar.

Malaysian Mental Health Association deputy president and consultant psychiatrist Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj Chandrasekaran says people are generally eager to embrace new technology and will surely warm up to augmented reality games like Pokémon GO.

Describing the game as “taking it one step further”, he says one positive point of the game is that it can motivate people to get out more and connect with others with common interests.

“This is particularly relevant to people with introverted personalities and those suffering from depression.”

Dr Andrew, however, points out that the game can be a double-edged sword and could also work negatively in making people more engrossed in their phones.

“Ultimately, technology must be embraced for the right purpose – be it for recreational, therapeutic or competitive purposes.

“Technology can also be harmful, destroy interpersonal relationship, affect social cohesion, blur the lines between appropriate and inappropriate behaviour and cause confusion between reality and the virtual world.

“Knowing how to embrace technology in a balanced manner is the answer,” he says.

Sources:  The Star/Asia News Network

Take precautions on public wifi, hackers are watching you, travellers !


Video:  //players.brightcove.net/4405352761001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5066118149001

http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/08/01/take-precautions-on-public-wifi-cybersecurity-firm-hackers-can-gather-sensitive-data-via-unsecure-co/

KUALA LUMPUR: If you are surfing the Internet on a public Wi-Fi, always assume someone is watching you out there.

Better yet, do not connect to any public Wi-Fi at all, said LE Global Services (LGMS) executive director Fong Choong Fook, whose private cybersecurity firm employs hackers to test the network security of the country’s major banks.

“I would never use a public Wi-Fi,” he said.

“Even an IT person may not be able to tell if the access point he is connected to is safe or if the activities are being watched.

“There may be signs like your Internet is slowing down but hackers can make it so elegant that you won’t even notice,” he said in an interview.

Malaysia’s national cybersecurity agency CyberSecurity Malaysia (CSM) said hackers could position themselves between a person’s device and the Wi-Fi router and are able to record sensitive data that the surfer is keying into his device.

Hackers can also “create” their own Wi-Fi and trick people into thinking they are connected to a credible public access point like the one from a restaurant, airport or office – when in actual fact these devices are connected to the criminals’ hardware.

Thus, they would be able to remotely watch everything a person is sending out on the Wi-Fi like passwords, e-mails or credit card information.

As frightening as these attacks may sound, Fong said this had been going as early as the 1990s.

Demonstrating to The Star how a hacker could steal information, LGMS set up an “evil twin” Wi-Fi using a laptop and named it after a famous franchise restaurant just below its office in Puchong, Selangor.

Fong connected two devices to this Wi-Fi and proceeded to log into social media, e-mail and Government websites.

Within seconds of logging in, the hacker’s computer began recording the activities in both devices in the experiment – recording every e-mail address, username and password that was keyed in.

Though the demonstration was only meant for the devices in the controlled environment of the LGMS office, three other users got connected to the dummy Wi-Fi, thinking they were linked to the franchise restaurant’s Internet, during the experiment.

“Hackers can target one specific person or they can target everyone in a cafe to get their devices to send all their data through their dummy Wi-Fi

“When they have your information, they can steal your identity. They can pose as you on Facebook, or send out e-mails to your contacts under your account,” he said.

Fong advised users to avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi or to only limit their browsing to Internet searches if they must connect to one.

The firm also suggested users to subscribe to VPN (virtual private network) technologies to secure their traffic.

VPN encrypts data on devices, making it hard for hackers to spy on the user’s online activities. Most VPNs are available on a subscription basis, much like an anti-virus programme.

So far this year, CSM has recorded eight instances where private Wi-Fi networks were hacked and 1,462 cases of online intrusions have been reported, which is nearly double the number of incidents compared to the same period in 2015.

It advised users to keep their Internet browsers up to date and to disable the feature which automatically saves password in the cache –as it makes it easier for criminals to steal.

by Nicholas Cheng The Star/Asia News Network

82% of travellers would use public Wi-Fi

 

KUALA LUMPUR: You are on a holiday in a foreign country. Naturally, you want to upload pictures to your Facebook or send messages to your friends back home or trawl the Internet for places to visit.

Chances are there is no Internet data connection where you are and you would search for whatever free Wi-Fi there is at the airport, hotel or cafe to stay connected.

An estimated 82% of travellers would choose to connect with unsecured public Wi-Fi, a practice which could up risks of cyberattacks, said Kasper­sky Lab.

The cybersecurity company surveyed 11,850 people worldwide and found that people on holiday would be carefree when it comes to their personal data protection.

The study found that 42% of travellers said they were less likely to care about the credibility of the Wi-Fi when they were on holiday compared to on business travels.

A third (33%) admitted to visiting websites of sensitive nature using foreign Wi-Fi, while almost half of the respondents conducted online banking (48%), shopped online (46%) and made private calls (35%) when they were abroad.

In a separate study, it found that at least 22% of travellers who conducted transactions online had experienced money loss while 8% had had a credit card compromised while in a foreign country.

Most of the time, victims do not even know they are being watched.

CSM advised users to keep an eye on their devices’ firewall alerts. Any trigger may indicate that a third party may be trying to access their devices illegally.

A report by MasterCard estimates that 10.9 million Malaysians travelled for overseas holidays in 2014, with the numbers expecting to hit 15.2 million by 2020.

The Kaspersky study also found that people were more likely to throw caution to the wind while on holiday with respondents saying they were 18% more likely to let strangers handle their smartphones to take pictures, 28% more likely to leave their devices unsupervised, 18% more likely to contact strangers online and 6% more likely to engage in “sexting”.

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Hackers in your heads, Cybercriminals preying on gullible


 

Cyberscammers tapping into minds – Conmen get personal data from social media

<< You’ve been had: A user checking an SMS alert about an unauthorised credit card transaction.

PETALING JAYA: Cybercriminals are getting into your head.

Realising that victims are no longer falling for the ‘I’m a Prince who wants to deposit US$50mil (RM199mil) into your account’ e-mail, these syndicates have enlisted psychologists and behavioural experts to launch targetted attacks on companies, groups and individuals.

By going through their victims’ social media accounts, they learn more about their targets and are able to craft attractive e-mail, prompting them to respond.

Clicking on the link in the e-mail will download malware that encrypts your device. Computers, smartphones, smartwatches and any other network-connected device, can be locked by cybercriminals who will only release it for a fee, or “ransom”.

Such ransomware has reached our shores, with a total of 5,069 attacks in Malaysia last year, according to cybersecurity company Symantec Corporation.

“The new modus operandi uses social engineering, with the e-mail being crafted by Malaysians who know the local scenario and how to trigger emotional reactions,” Symantec (Asia Pacific and Japan) cyber security services senior director Peter Sparkes told Sunday Star.

For example, if they find out from Facebook that you went shopping, you could get an official-looking e-mail from a trusted source like a government body or postal department saying: ‘You’ve received a free gift from shopping at our KL outlet. Click this link to trace your parcel’.

“Or if they see you at a cycling event, the e-mail could say: ‘Thank you for participating. Click on the link for photos and videos of the ride’,” he said.

“To decrypt your device, they’ll ask for about US$200 (RM782) in virtual currency like Bitcoin, to bypass the banks,” Sparkes added.

Acknowledging this new threat, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) strategic communication head Sheikh Raffie Abd Rahman urged the public to be more alert.

He said one of the most commonly used social engineering techniques was phishing attacks targetting online banking customers.

Such cases would be investigated by the police under the Computer Crimes Act 1997 or the Penal Code.

A total of 1,311 phishing websites have been blocked by the MCMC between last year and March 8.

This includes fake pages created to acquire personal information such as usernames, passwords, banking information and credit card details by masquerading as a trusted entity in an electronic communication.

CyberSecurity Malaysia (CSM) chief executive officer Dr Amirudin Abdul Wahab said the number of incidents reported to the CSM indicates the growing threat of ransomware here.

Revealing that local businesses are also targeted, he said the CSM will work together with international communities to share current information on ransomware threats and disseminate them to the public.

Malaysian Mental Health Association deputy president Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj said cybercriminals have become more sophisticated in their approach by enlisting psychologists.

“But whichever methods they use, there is an underlying modus operandi of appealing to human emotions of fear, greed, curiosity, loneliness, compassion or even spirituality,” he said.

By Christina Chin Yuen Meikeng The Star

Cybercriminals preying on gullible

Users beware! With cybercriminals leveling up, ransomware attacks are expected to spike here. Malaysians shouldn’t let their guard down when it comes to personal information and should be on the lookout for online scams.

HE wasn’t the fastest, but Eugene (not his real name) feels like a champion after finishing his first marathon.

Posting a selfie he made public on his Facebook account, the 28-year-old later receives an e-mail congratulating him on the feat. “Click on this link to see more pictures and videos of the event,” says the e-mail, which appears to be sent from the organiser of the run.

Curious and hoping to see images of himself, Eugene clicks open the link on his laptop but instead, gets a message telling him his device is now locked. All his files have been encrypted and he can’t access them, including his work document to be submitted on Monday.

The only way he can retrieve them is to pay a hacker a ransom of US$300 (RM1,181) in Bitcoin currency. Such an incident, known as a ransomware attack, could very well happen to you if you are not careful.

To top it all off, these cases are expected to increase this year, with “very specific ransomware targeted very specifically at Malaysians” being detected, says Symantec (Asia Pacific and Japan) cyber security services senior director Peter Sparkes.

According to cybersecurity company Symantec Corporation, Malaysia ranks 47th globally, and 12th in the Asia Pacific and Japan region, in terms of ransomware attacks.

Last year, there were 5,069 ransomware attacks or 14 per day in Malaysia. But Sparkes foresees that these numbers will surge.

“Ransomware is very attractive because it makes lots of money. It’ll be big here in the coming months, probably averaging 20 attacks per day.

“We’ve seen a lot of smartphone attacks recently. They love WhatsApp because the best way to get someone to click on a link is if it comes from someone you know,” he says.

Sparkes describes such crypto ransomware as the latest, and most dangerous malware threat because it’s near impossible to get rid of.

He adds that the experience is very emotional because many people do not back up their data.

“For individuals, losing personal data like photos and videos is traumatic so most victims will pay. Some will even tell you how to infect your friends to decrease your ransom,” he reveals.

Ransomware hackers are also using help from psychologists and behavioural experts to study their victims on social media before sending them personalised messages to trigger a response.

But it is not just ransomware that needs to be taken seriously as Malaysians need to be vigilant over social media scams, with these two being named as key trends in the country now by Symantec Malaysia systems engineering director David Rajoo.

He says cybercrime is extremely widespread with one in three Malaysians surveyed having experienced it in the past year and 83% know of someone else who was a victim.

“Consumers here lost an average of 27 hours and about RM8.9bil over the past year, dealing with the fallout of online crime.

“The amount of personal data stored online continues to grow, and while this free flow of data creates immense opportunities, it also opens the doors to new risks,” he warns.

Cybercriminals preying on personal data are also a cause for concern here and globally.

Sparkes points out that personal assistants and those in human resources are popular targets because that’s how cybercriminals gain access into an organisation’s database.

“Take a hotel for example. I’d target the CEO’s personal assistant. All I need is 200,000 of their best guests. If I sold the details at US$50 (RM197), it’s pretty good money for a day’s work. HR staff’s another good one because they look at CVs,” he says.

Last year, 500 million personal information was breached globally. That, he says, is a conservative estimate.

Someone checks out your Facebook activities, creates a personalised e-mail to get you to click on a link, and that’s it.

Everytime you download an app on social media, you could be giving access to your life, he cautions.

Of 10.8 million apps analysed in 2015, three million were collecting way more information than necessary, Sparkes says.

“Cyber scammers are also making you call them to hand over your cash,” he adds.

They send fake warning messages to devices like smartphones, driving users to attacker-run call centers to dupe them into buying useless services.

The services industry is the most vulnerable sector in the country, attracting 72.4% of spear phishing attacks.

There was also a significant spam increase with Malaysia jumping up the global ranking from 44 in 2014 to 23 last year, he adds, lamenting how many still don’t realise that cybercrime is an industry.

Cybercriminals are professionals using very sophisticated tools and techniques.

“They work like any other legit organisation – it’s a 9am to 5pm job with weekends off, holidays and proper offices. A lot of users still think it’s 18-year-olds in the garage fooling around. Nothing could be further from truth. The guys sell info to the underground economy,” Sparkes says.

Syndicates only need three things – cheap broadband, a cyber-savvy workforce they can hire, and countries where cyber laws are weak. Asia Pacific and Japan has invested significantly to give their population access to the Internet, he adds, explaining the shocking rise of cybercrime.

“I’m particularly concerned about the senior citizens as many are just discovering the Internet. They’re very trusting and will download without questioning. People stress on being streetsmart, but it’s just as crucial to be cybersmart,” he feels.

By Christina Chin Yuen Meikeng The Star

Related story:

M’sians still giving away sensitive info

Fintech – disruptive technology


https://players.brightcove.net/4405352761001/default_default/index.html?videoId=4903561099001

http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2016/05/21/fintech-disruptive-technology/

Businesses are embracing it by coming up with their innovations and startups

A BUZZWORD growing in popularity in the financial world today is “fintech”, short for financial technology, which in a nutshell refers to the use of technology to deliver faster and cheaper financial services.

Going by some predications, fintech could take a big chunk of business away from traditional banks as it is being run by smaller more nimble start-ups. But the debate is still out there as to how much that chunk will be. In Malaysia in particular, fintech’s presence is still nascent and small. Fintech transactions totalled a mere US$6.37mil this year compared with a global figure of US$769.3bil, according to Statista, an online statistics provider.

It however predicts that fintech transaction values to grow to US$14.4bil by 2020. A significant number of fintech companies, especially those in the digital payments space, actually work alongside local banks.

Still, fintech is not to be taken lightly. Top bankers themselves are speaking of its imminent threat to their business. Former Barclays CEO Anthony Jenkins referred to it as banking’s “Uber moment” to describe technological advances that could see bank branches close down and people laid off.

Last April, Jamie Dimon the CEO of the US’ largest bank JP Morgan in his letter to shareholders warned that “Silicon Valley is coming.” “There are hundreds of start-ups with a lot of brains and money working on various alternatives to traditional banking,” Dimon wrote.

On the home front, just last month prominent banker Datuk Seri Nazir Razak echoed such views. Speaking at the Star Media Group’s PowerTalk: Business Series held at Menara Star, Nazir opined that fintech companies are disrupting banking.

“Bankers must respond to this Uber moment. People actually dislike banks today, since the global financial crisis. Recent data suggests that in the US, the cost of banking intermediation has not changed for 100 years in real terms. This simply means banks have not gotten more efficient over the years, so its right that banks get attacked by ‘Silicon Valley’, which has identified banking as an industry that is very ‘ripe’ or juicy to disrupt.”

Even the central bank is echoing these views.

In his maiden keynote address at an Islamic finance conference in Kuala Lumpur last week, Malaysia’s newly-appointed Bank Negara governor Datuk Muhammad Ibrahim gave a grim reminder to banks of the threats posed by fintech. In particular, Muhammad quoted from a report by McKinsey that 10% to 40% of banking revenue is possibly at risk by 2025 due to innovations outside banking institutions that are able to offer a significant pricing advantage and that technologically-driven applications had spread to nearly every segment of the financial sector, with the number of fintech start-ups having doubled in the last year. “Fintech is challenging the status quo of the financial industry,” he said.

To be fair, Malaysian banks are quick to point out that while fintech does represent a disruption to business, they are embracing the movement, by coming up with their own fintech innovations or by working with fintech startups.

So what is fintech?

In a nutshell, fintech is an economy of companies using technology to improve efficiencies and effectiveness in the financial services industry. To illustrate the offerings of fintech companies, consider the business model of homegrown start-up MoneyMatch, which is modelled after UK-based TransferWise which began in 2011 and today moves US$10bil a year through its platform.

MoneyMatch has created a platform to match individual buyers and sellers of currencies, with the attraction of both sides enjoying better exchange rates than what banks and even money changers offer. The rate used by the MoneyMatch site is the middle rate of the currency exchange spread. So an individual for example, willing to buy US$100 for his travels will be matched with someone wanting to change his US$100 into ringgit. The parties will be matched on this application and then proceed to make their exchange in an agreed location. MoneyMatch is also entering the area of cross border fund transfers.

“For example, someone in Singapore wishing to transfer money to Malaysia can be matched with someone here wishing to send an equal amount of money across the Causeway. Hence the parties can make the respective transfers to local accounts of their choice after an exchange of information. This means the transfer is done minus any cross-border transfer fees,” explains MoneyMatch co-founder Naysan Munusamy, who had spent many years as a forex trader with a number of banks before venturing out to start MoneyMatch.

Peer lending

One key growth area in fintech is peer to peer or P2P lending, online platforms that match borrowers with lenders, bypassing the traditional financial institutions. The business had even attracted big names such as Goldman Sachs. The most notable name in this space is Lending Club, which had launched its service as far back as 2007 and became the US’ largest technology IPO in 2014, raising around US$1bil.

Lending Club claims that its platform – which enables borrowers to get unsecured loans of US$1,000 to US$35,000 – has now helped originate close to US$16bil in loans.

Locally, last month the Securities Commission (SC) launched a regulatory framework for P2P lending, paving the way for small and medium-sized companies to access this new avenue of debt funding. Under SC’s rules though, individuals are not allowed to raise money on the local P2P platforms. Rather it is meant to only fund projects and businesses and a number of safeguards are in place. For example, those behind the operator of the P2P platform need to pass the “fit and proper” test; the rate of financing cannot be more than 18% (as that would be deemed predatory lending) and that the P2P operator has to disclose information related to the issuer and the risk assessment and credit scoring parameters adopted by the operator. There is no authorized P2P platform in Malaysia yet as parties wishing to run such platforms have to submit their application to the SC soon.

In China, P2P lending has virtually exploded. As a recent report by Citibank highlights, “China is past the tipping point”, with fintech companies having similar number of clients as the major banks. The report notes that China is the largest P2P lender in the world, with transactions topping US$66bil, compared with the US with only US$16.6bil.

Regulating fintech

But there are problems. Some unregulated P2P platforms in China had run scams. Others helped fuel an equity roller-coaster by offering funding for stock investments. This led to the Chinese benchmark index rallying more than 150% in the 12 months to last June before abruptly crashing. The Chinese authorities are now cleaning up the P2P sector.

So what are the risks of fintech regulation in Malaysia? And do companies like MoneyMatch need be regulated and licensed?

In an emailed reply to StarBizWeek, Bank Negara says: “Fintech start-ups that engage in activities under the purview of the central bank must comply with existing laws”. Bank Negara explains that regulated businesses include banking, insurance or takaful, money changing, remittance, operating a payment system or issuing payment instruments.

“A fintech company that engages in any activity that falls within the definition of a regulated business must be properly authorised to do so under the relevant laws.

“As an example, collecting deposits via a fintech platform would require approval from Bank Negara.

“A fintech company that is authorised to conduct a regulated business under the laws that Bank Negara administers will be subject to the oversight of Bank Negara pursuant to those laws.”

What this indicates is that Bank Negara is going to regulate fintechs the same way it does banks. But exactly how, it still isn’t clear.

But the good news is this: Bank Negara says it is engaging with firms in this space (and presumably that includes the likes of MoneyMatch), “to understand and where appropriate facilitate their business and provide guidance on aspects on regulation that would be applicable to them.”

Bank Negara adds that it is in the process of formulating a framework that “encourages innovation without undermining financial stability, the integrity of the financial system or the adequate protection for financial consumers.”

The SC has also been pushing for fintech innovation to develop in Malaysia. Last year, Malaysia became the first country in the region to introduce the regulatory framework for equity crowd funding. (While P2P is about companies raising debt, crowd funding is for entrepreneurs to sell equity to investors.)

The SC has also launched aFINity@SC, a fintech community aimed at industry engagement and more recently launched the P2P financing framework, which is aimed at addressing the funding needs of small businesses.

Chin Wei Min, the SC’s new head of innovation and digital strategy, says: “We think fintech can provide solutions to some of the unserved and underserved needs in the capital market.”

Chin adds: “We are also mindful of the risk, fraud and all the pitfalls. We continue to enhance our engagement model. We want to remain very close to the industry.”


Fintech’s hiccups

Some recent developments in the fintech space, however, point to weaknesses in fintech companies. LendingClub, the poster boy company for P2P lending has seen its shares tumble, wiping out about a third of its market value.

This came as it faces scrutiny after its founder and CEO resigned following an investigation into improper loan sales.

The US Treasury has released a report criticising the P2P lending business, recommending it to be more tightly regulated. Some commentators are liking P2P lending to the early days of the subprime mortgage bubble of 2006-07.

It is more likely though that the experiences of fintech in mature markets like China and the US will serve as good guides as to how this business will grow in this part of the world, with the requisite regulations put in place.

And the jury is still out as to whether traditional banks here will lose significant parts of their businesses to fintech start-ups.

Or as one industry observer puts it, fintech is more likely to usurp the business of the shadow banking market here, as some unserved borrowers now have the option to move away from loan sharks or “Ah Longs” and into the crowd funding or P2P platforms. But after that, banks could be next.

By Risen Jayaseelan, Wong Wei-Shen, a Zunaira Saieed The Star


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