JPMorgan CEO warns he will fire any employee trading Bitcoin for being “stupid.”


 
Tough stand: Dimon has warned that he will fire JPMorgan traders who traded in bitcoin ‘in a second. For two reasons: It’s against our rules, and they’re stupid. And both are dangerous.’ — AFP

NEW YORK: JPMorgan Chase & Co chief executive officer Jamie Dimon said he will fire any employee trading bitcoin for being “stupid.”

The cryptocurrency “won’t end well,” he told an investor conference in New York on Tuesday, predicting it will eventually blow up. “It’s a fraud” and “worse than tulip bulbs.”

If a JPMorgan trader began trading in bitcoin, he said: “I’d fire them in a second. For two reasons: It’s against our rules, and they’re stupid. And both are dangerous.”

Bitcoin has soared in recent months, spurred by greater acceptance of the blockchain technology that underpins the exchange method and optimism that faster transaction times will encourage broader use of the cryptocurrency.

Prices have climbed more than four-fold this year – a run that has drawn debate over whether that’s a bubble.

Bitcoin initially slipped after Dimon’s remarks. It was down as much as 2.7% before recovering.

Last week, it slumped after reports that China plans to ban trading of virtual currencies on domestic exchanges, dealing another blow to the US$150bil cryptocurrency market.

Tulips are a reference to the mania that swept Holland in the 17th century, with speculators driving up prices of virtually worthless tulip bulbs to exorbitant levels.

That didn’t end well.

In bitcoin’s case, Dimon said he’s sceptical authorities will allow a currency to exist without state oversight, especially if something goes wrong.

“Someone’s going to get killed and then the government’s going to come down,” he said.

“You just saw in China, governments like to control their money supply.”

Dimon differentiated between the bitcoin currency and the underlying blockchain technology, which he said can be useful.

Still, he said banks’ application of blockchain “won’t be overnight.”

The bank chief said he wouldn’t short bitcoin because there’s no telling how high it will go before it collapses.

The best argument he’s heard, he said, is that it can be useful to people in places with no other options – so long as the supply of coins doesn’t surge.

“If you were in Venezuela or Ecuador or North Korea or a bunch of parts like that, or if you were a drug dealer, a murderer, stuff like that, you are better off doing it in bitcoin than US dollars,” he said.

“So there may be a market for that, but it’d be a limited market.”— Bloomberg

 

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Dengue app bad for aedes, can get updates, report dengue concerns


The ‘Predict and Beat Dengue’ app is now available on Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

Predict and Beat Dengue – Android Apps on Google Play

App for updates on dengue

PENANGITES can now download a mobile application (app) which allows its users to be part of an effort to combat dengue in the state.

Known as the ‘Predict and Beat Dengue’ app, it will alert users when they enter a dengue hotspot.

The users can also report dengue-related concerns in their areas and get the latest updates on dengue cases as among its other features.

State Health Committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin said the app is now available on Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

He said the app could help to predict a possible dengue outbreak in an area within the next 30 days.

“From there, we can carry out prevention by removing all possible Aedes breeding grounds.

“It quickens the process of detection and identifies places that require dengue preventative measures such as fogging, larvae-ciding and gotong-royong,” he said during a briefing session at Komtar yesterday.

Dr Afif said the state spent RM200,000 on a pilot study for the project which was carried out between May 1 and July 1 by the app creator, a US-based company known as Aime Inc.

“I’m proud that Penang is taking this proactive approach. We are working hand-in-hand with the Health Ministry and they are very supportive of this idea.

“We hope that it can also be carried out nationwide,” he said.

Aime president Rainier Mallol explained the workings of the app and its many features during the presentation.

Also present were Pulau Tikus assemblyman Yap Soo Huey, Batu Uban assemblyman Dr T. Jayabalan and Sungai Pinang assemblyman Lim Siew Khim.

Source: The Star/ANN

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Six simple steps to defend your data from ransomware


Ransomware blackmails Internet users by encrypting the files on their computer or mobile device and demanding payment, generally in the virtual currency bitcoin, to unlock them. — dpa

Recent ransomware attacks have rattled internet users around the world. This malicious software blackmails users by encrypting the files on their computer or mobile device and demanding payment, generally in the virtual currency bitcoin, to unlock them. But these six simple security measures can significantly reduce the risk of a computer being hit by an attack.


1. Regular updates
: Software updates for browsers and operating systems don’t just add new functions – they also install security patches to protect computers against the latest malicious software.

The German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) recommends enabling automatic updates on a device and advises against the use of older operating systems such as Windows XP, for which Microsoft has stopped providing regular security updates.

Microsoft will also discontinue updates for the operating system’s successor, Windows Vista, this summer – all the more reason to replace it with a newer version.

2. Be vigilant: Don’t trust anyone, says nomoreransom.org, a website run by IT security companies and European law enforcement. Never open email attachments from suspicious accounts, don’t click on questionable links and don’t download unverified software.

Even emails from friends and co-workers should not necessarily be trusted. Before opening an attachment or clicking on a link, always take time to consider whether the sender’s online account could have been hacked or their computer software infiltrated by malicious software.

3. Antivirus software: Enable all the security applications in your operating system, advises the BSI. Reliable antivirus software can provide further protection, but must be kept up-to-date.

4. Back up data: Creating digital duplicates of your files can protect your personal information from disappearing forever. In the event of an attack, you can just transfer over your back-up files.

Windows (Backup and Restore) and MacOS (Time Machine) have in-built applications for backing up your data, but they might not be accessible in the event of an attack. A more secure option would be to save your files in an external device, such as a hard disk drive, solid-state drive, DVD, or in the cloud.

To reduce the risk of spreading viruses, only connect the external drive to a device during file transfers. As an extra precaution, save your data in two separate external hard drives.


5. Fight back
: If you happen to accidentally install malicious software or receive suspicious messages, immediately disconnect your device from the internet, instructs  nomoreransom.org. to be decrypted. This will prevent the infection from spreading.

You can then run a clean installation of your computer software, and transfer over your back-up files. For some types of ransomware, there are techniques to unlock the content on your computer.

The latest malware outbreak “Petya” can be stopped by creating the read-only filetype “C:\Windows\perfc.dat,” which prevents it from scrambling your files. An initial report on the antidote published on the site bleepingcomputer.com has since been confirm by several IT security companies.

6. Never pay: A blackmailer’s demands should never be met, says the State Office of Criminal Investigation (LKA) of Lower Saxony. There are several reasons for this, the LKA reports. First, even if you pay the ransom, there is no guarantee that you will regain access to your files.

Second, by paying the attacker, you are supporting the growth of a criminal industry. Every payment finances new attacks. In the case of the recent Petya outbreak, the payment system is useless, because only one email address was provided, which has since been shut down by the provider. — dpa

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Six simple steps to protect your data from ransomware

Six simple methods to save your information from ransomware http://www.techagentmedia.com/six-simple-methods-save-information-ransomware/ via @techagentmedia
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Hello, Penang police calling … Macau Scammers reap RM2.7mil


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Scammers busted: Penang CCID chief ACP Abdul Ghani Ahmad, flanked by DSP K. Balachandran and DSP Shamsul Farid Abdul Rani, showing seized passports, a photocopy of a MyKad and a letter during a press conference on the Macau Scam syndicate in George Town.
But the ‘officer’ on the other end of the line may well have been a member of a Macau Scam syndicate, which cloned the phone number of the state police headquarters to use in its con game. The operation, believed to have netted RM2.74mil so far, was smash

Syndicate cloned police phone number to trick 82 victims this year.

GEORGE TOWN: A Macau Scam syndicate has duped victims of more than RM2.74mil, using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to replicate the telephone number of the Penang police headquarters to con victims.

No fewer than 82 people had fallen prey to the scam since February.

The syndicate used a three-storey bungalow as its training centre before the members were deployed to Japan, Cambodia, Thailand and other Asian countries.

On Saturday, the syndicate was crippled by police following the arrest of 50 people, including three women.

Penang Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) chief Asst Comm Abdul Ghani Ahmad said the suspects, aged between 17 and 42, were arrested at the bungalow in Taman Damai Utama in Puchong, Selangor, at about 8am.

“Intelligence gathering was carried out for about a month after we received a police report from a woman in Balik Pulau, who transferred RM5,000 to an account given by the scammers,” he told a press conference at the state police headquarters in Penang Road yesterday.

“She was told that her bank account would be frozen by Bank Negara Malaysia.

“The scammers promised to return the money to her a week later after the ‘investigations’ were over, but she did not get her money back.”

ACP Abdul Ghani said police investigations revealed that one of the suspects would pose as a bank officer and tell the victim that he or she had a loan with a particular bank.

If the victim denied it, the scammer would give them the contact number of a “Bank Negara officer” – another scammer – to check out the claim.

Those who are still not convinced would then receive a call from 04222 1522, which appeared to be the general line of the state police headquarters but had been replicated or cloned using VoIP technology to appear as such.

ACP Abdul Ghani added that another scammer, posing as a CCID officer, would then tell the victim that his or her bank account had been misused for criminal activities and was frozen pending investigation.

“The scammer will then ask the victim to transfer money to a specific account, and that would be the last they see of their money,” he said.

ACP Abdul Ghani added that 82 reports were lodged nationwide on this scam so far this year.

He said police also seized five mobile phones, a laptop, photocopied MyKad, photocopied passports, a set of scripts on what to say when posing as a police officer and bank officer, and 31 Malaysian passports.

In Police Custody: Some of the passports and Mykads seized from the Macau Scam syndicate being displayed at the state police headquarters in Georgetown.

“We are also checking if the mastermind was among the suspects arrested,” he said.

ACP Abdul Ghani added that the suspects were remanded for three days until today and would be brought to the Balik Pulau court for remand extension pending investigations under Section 420 of the Penal Code for cheating.

Nobody knows exactly how the term “Macau Scam” came to be used.

However, former Interpol president Tan Sri Khoo Boon Hui has been quoted as saying that the scam apparently originated from Macau and was operated from other countries such as Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand.

Another version circulating was that the first victims were in Macau, but the Macau police have declined to comment.

Source: The Star by crystal chiam shiyingandmuhammad nazrul haffiz salim

Remand of Macau Scam suspects extended

BALIK PULAU: Fifty suspects of the Macau Scam syndicate have their remand order extended by another three days by a magistrate’s court here.

Sirens from four police cars blared as two trucks arrived at the courthouse at about 8.40am yesterday.

Dressed in purple lockup T-shirts, the suspects, aged between 17 and 42 who include three women, hid their faces when they saw the press corp.

They are believed to be part of a Macau Scam syndicate which used Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to swindle 82 victims of more than RM2.74mil since February.

It was reported that the syndicate used VoIP to replicate the hotline number of the Penang police headquarters to trick victims.

They were arrested at a bungalow in Taman Damai Utama in Puchong, Selangor, at about 8am on Saturday after a woman from Balik Pulau lodged a report, claiming she had been duped into transferring RM5,000 to an account.

Police are investigating the case under Section 420 of the Penal Code for cheating. – The Star

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WannaCry ransomeware attacks, how to prevent it?


Source: Intel.malwaretech.com

WannaCry has spread to Malaysia; two companies here were stricken by the ransomware virus that has infected a massive number of computers across the globe since Friday. Hackers use the virus to hold a victim’s data to ransom – pay up or lose all your information – and the victims overseas include hospital networks, businesses and government agencies.

PETALING JAYA: All governmental agencies have been told of the WannaCry ransomware outbreak and have armoured themselves against attacks.

“All government agencies at federal and state level have been alerted and ensured that their computers have been patched accordingly,” said CyberSecurity CEO Datuk Dr Amirudin Abdul Wahab.

Dr Amirudin said the WannaCry ransomware exploited vulnerabilities of the Windows operating system, especially on Windows XP which has stopped receiving updates since 2014.

“The malware exploits a flaw in the network protocol called the Server Message Block. Unlike former malware cases which is localised to a single computer, WannaCry exploits the operating system’s vulnerabilities and spreads it across PCs in the network.

“This is why it spread at such speed and range. Realising this, Microsoft came out with the MS17010 patch to stop this particular malware from working and spreading,” he said in a phone interview.

The patch was first rolled out in March this year but was not available to Windows XP, Windows 9 and Windows 2003 until May 12, after WannaCry’s outbreak.

According to the Microsoft Security Response Centre, Windows 10 users were not targeted by the attack.

To protect themselves against any malware attack, computer users were urged to back up their files, avoid clicking on suspicious links online or download attachments in e-mail messages sent by strangers.

“Apart from preventive measures, if you think you have been infected by the malware, please report to us at cyber999@cybersecurity.my or call us at 1300-882999,” he said.

In response to a question, Dr Amirudin said it was not an obligation under the law for anyone to report any security breach.

“It is not mandatory in Malaysia, unlike in some other countries,” he lamented, pointing out that when people made a report to CyberSecurity, their confidentiality would be paramount.

“We can also provide assistance,” Dr Amirudin added.

As of 6pm yesterday, CyberSecurity has yet to receive any report on infected computers in Malaysia.

“It does not mean that infection will not happen. At present, however, the situation is manageable and under control and we are always on the alert,” he said.

When contacted, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission and CyberSecurity Malaysia also said they had not received any report of a WannaCry infection in Malaysia.

Ransomware: how hackers take your data hostage

Screens of NHS computers with images demanding payment of US$300 (RM1,302) in Bitcoin (Bitcoin, digital currencies rally, caution prevails; virtual currency in property), saying: “Ooops, your files have been encrypted!”

It demands payment in three days or the price is doubled, and if none is received in seven days the files will be deleted, according to the screen message.

“Ransomware becomes particularly nasty when it infects institutions like hospitals, where it can put people’s lives in danger,” said Kroustek, the Avast analyst.

A hacking group called Shadow Brokers released the malware in April claiming to have discovered the flaw from the NSA, Kaspersky said.

Although Microsoft released a security patch for the flaw earlier this year, many systems have yet to be updated, researchers said.

“Unlike most other attacks, this malware is spreading primarily by direct infection from machine to machine on local networks, rather than purely by email,” said Lance Cottrell, chief scientist at the US technology group Ntrepid.

Some said the attacks highlighted the need for agencies like the NSA to disclose security flaws so they can be patched.

G7 finance ministers meeting in Italy discussed the attacks and were expected to commit to stepping up international cooperation against a growing threat to their economies. — AFP

Massive Ransomware Attack Hits 99 Countries

PHILADELPHIA (CNN)–Tens of thousands of ransomware attacks are targeting organizations around the world on Friday.

Cybersecurity firm Avast said it has tracked more than 75,000 attacks in 99 countries. It said the majority of the attacks targeted Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan.

What is it?

The ransomware locks down all the files on an infected computer and asks the computer’s administrator to pay in order to regain control of them.

The ransomware, called “WannaCry,” is spread by taking advantage of a Windows vulnerability that Microsoft released a security patch for in March. But computers and networks that haven’t updated their systems are at risk. The exploit was leaked last month as part of a trove of NSA spy tools.

“Affected machines have six hours to pay up and every few hours the ransom goes up,” said Kurt Baumgartner, the principal security researcher at security firm Kaspersky Lab. “Most folks that have paid up appear to have paid the initial $300 in the first few hours.”

Sixteen National Health Service (NHS) organizations in the UK have been hit, and some of those hospitals have canceled outpatient appointments and told people to avoid emergency departments if possible. Spanish telecom company Telefónica was also hit with the ransomware.

Spanish authorities confirmed the ransomware is spreading through the vulnerability, called “EternalBlue,” and advised people to patch.

“It is going to spread far and wide within the internal systems of organizations — this is turning into the biggest cybersecurity incident I’ve ever seen,” UK-based security architect Kevin Beaumont said.

Russia’s Interior Ministry released a statement acknowledging a ransomware attack on its computers, adding that less than 1% of computers were affected, and that the virus is now “localized.” The statement said antivirus systems are working to destroy it.

Megafon, a Russian telecommunications company, was also hit by the attack. Spokesman Petr Lidov told CNN that it affected call centers but not the company’s networks. He said the situation is now under control.

“We encourage all Americans to update your operating systems and implement vigorous cybersecurity practices at home, work, and school,” the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said in a statement released late Friday. “We are actively sharing information related to this event and stand ready to lend technical support and assistance as needed to our partners, both in the United States and internationally.”

Kaspersky Lab says although the WannaCry ransomware can infect computers even without the vulnerability, EternalBlue is “the most significant factor” in the global outbreak.

How to prevent it

Beaumont examined a sample of the ransomware used to target NHS and confirmed it was the same used to target Telefónica. He said companies can apply the patch released in March to all systems to prevent WannaCry infections. Although it won’t do any good for machines that have already been hit.

He said it’s likely the ransomware will spread to U.S. firms too. The ransomware is automatically scanning for computers it can infect whenever it loads itself onto a new machine. It can infect other computers on the same wireless network.

“It has a ‘hunter’ module, which seeks out PCs on internal networks,” Beaumont said. “So, for example, if your laptop is infected and you went to a coffee shop, it would spread to PCs at the coffee shop. From there, to other companies.”

According to Matthew Hickey, founder of the security firm Hacker House, Friday’s attack is not surprising, and it shows many organizations do not apply updates in a timely fashion. When CNNTech first reported the Microsoft vulnerabilities leaked in April, Hickey said they were the “most damaging” he’d seen in several years, and warned that businesses would be most at risk.

Consumers who have up-to-date software are protected from this ransomware. Here’s how to turn automatic updates on.

It’s not the first time hackers have used the leaked NSA tools to infect computers. Soon after the leak, hackers infected thousands of vulnerable machines with a backdoor called DOUBLEPULSAR.

Source: CNN’s Clare Sebastian contributed to this report.

WannaCry strikes two Malaysian companies

PETALING JAYA: Two local companies have been hit by the infamous WannaCry ransomware, three days after the malicious software was released, infecting 200,000 computers in 150 countries so far.

According to IT security services company LGMS, the first case in Malaysia involved a director of one of its clients who came across the dreaded ransomware on his personal laptop on Saturday morning.

LGMS founder C.F. Fong said the data in the laptop had to be erased as the person did not intend to pay the US$300 (RM1,300) ransom.

The same ransomware appeared in the machine of an automotive shop on Sunday morning.

“The company didn’t have any backup and might pay (the ransom),” said Fong.

Besides disconnecting compu­ters from the network, there was not much else they could do, he noted.

As of 3pm yesterday, a website tracking incidences of WannaCry infections started showing blips in the Klang Valley area.

The website displays a blip whenever an infected computer pings its tracking servers, thus allowing it to map out a geographical distribution of the WannaCry infection.

Fong added that any machine infected by WannaCry should not be connected to a public or cor­­porate network.

“Once you plug into any network, it will start spreading,” he pointed out.

Fong said none of LGMS’ clients, which include major banks in Malaysia, had reported any pro­blems so far, adding that he was quite confident that those who re­gularly updated their computers would not face any problems with WannaCry.

He said ransomware was not new but WannaCry had caused worldwide alarm because of how fast it was spreading.

“We have seen worse and devastating ransomware attacks before but WannaCry’s infection rate is one of the fastest ever as it exploits the vulnerability that exists in Windows,” Fong said.

Security companies all over the world are reporting an unprecedented wave of WannaCry ransomware infections since Friday when more than 150 countries were hit by it.

The ransomware encrypts the data on an infected computer, preventing users from accessing it.

According to a report in The Guardian, the ransomware uses a vulnerability first revealed as part of a leaked stash of NSA-related documents, which infects machines running Windows and encrypts their contents before demanding a ransom to decrypt these files.

The perpetrators promise to release the data once a ransom of US$300 (RM1,300) is paid.

In just two days, computer networks of Britain’s National Health Service, Russia’s interior ministry and international shipper FedEx, among others, were affected.

The website tracking incidences of WannaCry infections was created by a 22-year-old British re­sear­cher known only as MalwareTech, who was credited with being an “accidental hero” after discovering a “kill switch” that halted WannaCry’s outbreak.

Cyber security expert: WannaCry ransomware has … – The Star Online

Malaysia also hit by WannaCry ransomware – Nation

Singapore not affected by cyber attacks

How to Remove Ransomware. – Ransomware Removal Instruction

Police raid CYL office, seize items

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

Bitcoin is not money, judges rules in victory for backers


 

Ruling means no specific licence needed to buy or to sell crypto-currency

Bitcoin, a Florida judge says, is not real money. Ironically, that could provide a boost to use of the crypto-currency which has remained in the shadows of the financial system.

The July 22 ruling by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Teresa Pooler means that no specific license is needed to buy and sell bitcoins.

The judge dismissed a case against Michel Espinoza, who had faced money laundering and other criminal charges for attempting to sell $1,500 worth of bitcoins to an undercover agent who told the defendant he was going to use the virtual money to buy stolen credit card numbers.

Espinoza’s lawyer Rene Palomino said the judge acknowledged that it was not illegal to sell one’s property and ruled that this did not constitute running an unauthorized financial service.

“He was selling his own personal bitcoins,” Palomino said. “This decision clears the way for you to do that in the state of the Florida without a money transmitting license.”

In her ruling, Pooler said, “this court is unwilling to punish a man for selling his property to another, when his actions fall under a statute that is so vaguely written that even legal professionals have difficulty finding a singular meaning.”

She added that “this court is not an expert in economics,” but that bitcoin “has a long way to go before it is the equivalent of money.”

Bitcoin, whose origins remain a mystery, is a virtual currency that is created from computer code and is not backed by any government. Advocates say this makes it an efficient alternative to traditional currencies because it is not subject to the whims of a state that may devalue its money to cut its debt, for example.

Bitcoins can be exchanged for goods and services, provided another party is willing to accept them, but until now they been used mostly for shady transactions or to buy illegal goods and services on the “dark” web.

Bitcoin was launched in 2009 as a bit of software written under the Japanese-sounding name Satoshi Nakamoto. This year Australian programmer Craig Wright claimed to be the author but failed to convince the broader bitcoin community.

In some areas of the United States bitcoin is accepted in stores, restaurants and online transactions, but it is illegal in some countries, notably France and China.

It is gaining ground in countries with high inflation such as Argentina and Venezuela.

But bitcoin values can be volatile. Over the past week its value slumped 20 percent in a day, then recouped most losses, after news that a Hong Kong bitcoin exchange had been hacked with some $65 million missing.

Impact across US, world

Arthur Long, a lawyer specializing in the sector with the New York firm Gibson Dunn, said the July court ruling is a small victory for the virtual currency but that it’s not clear if the interpretation will be the same in other US states or at the federal level.

“It may have an effect as some states are trying to use existing money transmitting statutes to regulate certain transactions in bitcoin,” Long told AFP.

Charles Evans, professor of finance at Barry University, said the ruling “absolutely is going to provide some guidance in other courts” and could potentially be used as a precedent in other countries to avoid the stigma associated with bitcoin use.

Bitcoins can store value and hedge against inflation, without being considered a monetary unit, according to Evans, who testified as an expert witness in the Florida trial.

“It can be used as an exchange,” he said, and may be considered a commodity which can be used for bartering like fish or tobacco, for example.

Evans noted that “those who are not yet in the bitcoin community will be put on notice: as long as they organize their business in a particular way they can avoid the law.”

But he added that “people who are engaged in illegal activities will continue to do what they are going to do because they are criminals.- AFP”

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