The briefing.

So, here I am posting again, after 2 long months.

Feels good to be back at the WordPress editor window.

If you’re reading this now (and if you’re not new), you may have noticed a slight blog redesign. T’was carried out this week in order to improve the stuff I care about THE most. Readability and Textual content. 

Just made a few tweaks here and there. Plus, updated the blog with a fresh typeface, that lucky font being Ubuntu’s default system one. It’s actually quite neat and easy on the eyes.

K, enough about the blog. Time for my narcissistic self to take charge.

Me.

I was finally done with my finals last week and early finals means just one thing: I got a shit-load of time.

See that’s both a good thing and a bad thing.

Good thing is, I got loads of free time to do anything I want.

Bad thing is, I got loads of free time to do anything I want.

Let me elaborate on the “Bad thing”. The Instant Gratification Monkey part of my brain has massive issues with managing the flow of time. My time is just one vortex away from being funnelled out from me. So it’s rather important that I have a super-strict schedule to guide me through this. Unplanned block of time, for me at least, would be a…

Things I’ll be focusing on…

I’m almost done crafting a semi-big article on one of my most personal topics, The Social Media. Will probably publish it this weekend-ish.

I also have come up with a few new, exciting ones. Most of them stem from random synaptic bursts. Also, some historically significant ones.

I plan to write these articles after talking to *actual* people who have gone through the experience. Really, I have personally observed this.

Researching on the Internet and quoting the appropriate sources is one thing, but field blogging is just taking it to another level. Really excited about that.

Also, there will be a guest post written by someone soon. It will either be a standalone guest-post or will have my commentary packaged along with that of the guest author. I’m sure you will love it.

Final thoughts

Though I might not have been regular, I certainly think I have a strong love for writing. Topic fragmentation is certainly an issue, as some of my own friends have mentioned sometimes, but niche is just not my thing.

Also, it’s incredibly enriching to be able to connect the dots through your vast data store of knowledge. The world just makes so much more sense.

 

Stay tuned…

 

Oh, and if you’re wondering, the feature image is not mine. It’s actually from a royalty free photo project called Unsplash!. Those guys actually have a trove of high-quality, royalty free images with which you can do anything imaginable. It’s opensource and under CC Zero license, which means you basically own the image. You don’t even have to credit the creator. Great resource for small time blogs/websites. Check it out! 🙂

Why you should occasionally Google yourself!

 

google-images-hd-wallpaper

For many, Google (which as of this post controls 71.1% of the global search engine market share) is the gateway to everything that the Web hosts. People google a website’s name more often than entering it manually (or clicking on a bookmark).

And Google’s influence is way beyond than just acting as a way-point between people and their favorite sites on the web. Google has enough power to influence user’s thoughts and behaviours, it has enough power to change the state of the race of an election by simply altering the search ranking of the candidates.

But thankfully, Google is NOT evil. In fact that’s their motto. Almost all of Google’s search results are organic, meaning only the Google’s PageRank algorithm decides the positioning of a search result on the results page.

Google and You.

So, with that said, why should you care?

In today’s online world, concealing yourself is becoming an exception than the rule. By default people assume everyone is supposed to have a Facebook account, must constantly send out Tweets from their Twitter and must constantly upload a stream of pictures on their Instagram.

People (crackers included) can find a shit-ton about you just by knowing your first and last name.

Mobile devices only worsen the problem. Nearly every photo taken on your mobile device is Geo-tagged (unless if the user has disabled it), meaning it’s EXIF file contains tags about the Geo-physical location of, when the photograph was taken.

So, the Internet is a goldmine for hackers who can then use the very same information to impersonate you by stealing your identity. And if you think companies you trust are working round the clock to keep your account safe, then think again.

But, wait, I don’t want to scare you!

Yes, the point of this post is to NOT scare you. Of course, there is some probability of you being hacked sometime in your lifetime, but that doesn’t mean you need to be paranoid about it all the time.

Taking some simple steps to gain control over your information online is a good start. That’s why you should start by Googling yourself!

Why you should Google yourself?

Google, as previously mentioned is the first destination for any hacker to gain some basic data/meta-data about you.

If for example, you maintain public profiles on a whole bunch of websites, then all of them would show up in the search results.

A hacker can then manually mine and process your information from each individual profile (such as your username, profile picture, your family connections) and fuse them together to prepare a blueprint for an Identity Theft attack!

It’s called Social Engineering.

And, it’s scary.

General tips for Googling yourself!

Now that you’ve decided to Google yourself, here are some simple tips (conjured up from my own experiences) to help you.

  • Firstly, launch your browser in incognito mode (Firefox/Edge users can use “in-private” mode) – You want to do this because chances are, you’re already signed in many of your private accounts and Google account especially. This would invariably lead to Google displaying you personalized result right on top the very page (and fool you into thinking you’re the first result in your name’s search, Omg omg I’m faaamous!, No you’re not.). So, incognito mode is recommended.
  • Start by Googling your first name and last name – Chances are, there are tons of people already named after you, so your chances of finding your profile from that haystack of profiles is minimal, unless if you have a horribly rare name.
  • Search for your usernames on different profile – If you’re creative and love continuity, chances are you have same username across multiple profile on the web. Although it makes you easier to find on the web, like for example, Googling Abhiminator throws up my profiles exclusively, because I own the username across multiple profiles, it’s a hacker’s goldmine. With this, people can also find profiles in sites you don’t want people to access *cough* reddit *cough*. If you think your search throws up results you do not wish other people to see, you have three options. 1) Make the profile private so that search engine crawlers cannot access it. 2) Change your username to something completely unrelated to delink it from your name. 3) Nuke your profile (last resort of course.).
  • Finally, reverse search your profile image –  This is the final step in Googling yourself (and in some cases optional). Sometimes, your profile picture can end up in places you wish it didn’t end up in. And to make matters worse, they aren’t even linked to your original account. This happens mostly during catfishing, where people on dating sites put other’s profile picture to fool other users, and in some cases, they can use yours. You can reverse image search by dragging and dropping your suspected profile picture into Google’s image search bar. If you do end up finding your picture in an unrelated profile, you can shoot an email to that particular website for DMCA/privacy removal.

That’s about it.

Bottomline is, there are threats that exist in this information age that were unimaginable 20-30 years ago. With each passing day, the Internet is becoming even more ingrained in our everyday life and threats lurk just around the corner. But by taking specific precautions and using some common sense, one can avoid being digitally shredded.

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Abhishek.