Tag: Debarati Halder

Beware of predators in the guise of information seekers


This afternoon I got a call from a sweet female voice. The girl claimed to have called from a nationalised bank and wanted to give me a good news. When I looked at the phone screen again I found that the number from where she is calling resembles the district code and also the area code of the central area of our city. When I concentrated again in her message she told me that my “son” had participated in a drawing competition and the bank authorities would like to come over to my home to present the certificate. I told her that I don’t have any son ! The voice from over the line politely confirmed “no it is your child”. I knew the whole episode is going to set another example of probable phishing activity or simple phone harassment and I grew more interested to learn how she did her home work. I firmly told there is no possibility of such participation from my “child”; she quizzed me on whether my child studies in the same school (she did very good homework regarding this), whether my house bears the same number (well she gets the full mark here to) and whether my husband is Jaishankar (full marks again) or not.. For a second I was dumbstruck… such a good home work !!!! I said “good, so you seem to know me so well .. now what do you want”?  The voice, which became a little shaky, said “we want to know when will you have free time so that we can come over” ? I stated “you can always see me here with my full battalion. And if you need any specific information why don’t you try calling my husband”? She was visibly taken aback and cut off the phone.
My dear readers, have you ever encountered such situations? I am not surprised by the informations this caller had gathered regarding my child’s school, my home address or even my own phone number; for in the era of informations technology, almost all of us are ‘open books’ about ourselves. I keep my Facebook, Orkut and Twitter accounts absolutely private; beyond my virtual friends, who are over 3 or 4 years old in having friendship with me, I don’t discuss anything about my child’s activities.  But you are bound to get shocks and even more shocks when these well kept ‘private’ informations are well ‘digested’ by strangers from various cloud sources; which may include friends of our ‘close friends’, postings in group walls of social networking sites, blog feeds about ourselves, emails and messages which may have been accessed from the recipient’s accounts if the said account is unauthorisedly monitored or hacked, or even phone hacking which is becoming tremendously popular now a days. Frightening…..isn’t it? For a moment I feared are they going to kidnap my child? Well, any mother would think so when the information about the child reaches back to the mother in polished or unpolished manner.  The next moment I knew what is was likely about, especially when I called back the number and I got to hear that this number is provided by some other private service provider and not the regular government supported telecom service provider. Praise the intelligence of the racket leader; the number which is being used in this fraud game is so accurately chosen that any layman would believe that this is from a land line telephone connection and may also be from the same “office” from where the caller claimed to have called.
What could be the result if I would have given the details of my stay at home? Well.. any unwanted thing could happen if such details are divulged; theft or  robbery, when the house is empty; forceful breaking in and physical assault, even rape of the woman of the house if the mischief mongers target a silent and lonely afternoon; physical phishing attack, i.e, the mischief monger comes over to house in the guise of a sales man or low level corporate staff and induces the inmate of the house to part with money by promising some good fortune or by handing over fraudulent certificate etc,.   

  Since past two three years, criminologists, researchers in the behavioural patterns of information technology users, lawyers etc have started vehement campaigning about related dangers that can happen from the excessive and unmonitored usage of  geo-location features  in the social networking sites such Facebook and also Google maps etc. Not to forget, one of the executing ‘device’ for creating/producing such dangerous situations can be the poor little hand phone also. In my book Cyber crime and the Victimization of Women: Laws, Rights, and Regulations. Hershey, PA, USA: IGI Global. ISBN: 978-1-60960-830-9 , I had stated that the third type of crime that can affect women especially besides non-sexually crimes and sexual crimes, is cyber assisted offline crimes (pg 20). This has been proved repeatedly………………….and I vouch from my own experiences now.       

Please Note: Do not violate copyright of this blog. If you would like to use informations provided in this blog for your own assignment/writeup/project/blog/article, please cite it as “Halder D. (2012), “Beware of predators in the guise of information seekers through phones ”, 24th April,2012, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com/

How secure are female cyber crime counselors?


This blog is dedicated to all female cyber crime counselors who may have come across numbers of harassments in the cyber space for their noble fights to help other victims.
Way back in 2007 when I started experimenting my writing skill with the e-journals and mags ,I never thought what I may have to face finally. I was a very new writer and I approached a cyber law magazine named “Cyber lawtimes.com” for publishing my thoughts. The editor, Ankur Raheja,  an accomplished lawyer himself, was very kind to give me some space in his new venture, the law magazine, to express my ideas about cyber crime against women. Couple of days after my article was published; I started getting mails from individuals asking for “help” and “suggestions” for their own problems in the cyber space. I thank each of these individuals because they were the very first persons to make me understand how grave the problem of cyber crime against women could be. I started developing my own interest in the subject and started my own independent research. I came across numbers of blogs, as well as personalities, professors, lawyers and human right activists who are working on prevention of cyber crime all over the world. I started following blogs and write ups of several female cyber crime activists like Jayne Hithcock, Parry Aftab, Emma , Lynn Roberts, Citron ……to name a few and I was more surprised to see how many of such women activists had been attacked in their personal lives because they are women and they work against cyber criminals. Well, I too have joined the gang of these brave and bold  women and I did taste how it feels to be wounded in their way.
            I read Jayne’s experiences in the cyber space in many of her interviews and her own website @ http://www.jahitchcock.com/. Well it was not because she was a “she” that victimization took place in many occasions, but her being a “she” also contributed to a certain extent in the victimization process. Citron in her article “Cyber civil rights” wrote about numerous law students and female activists who were “Man- handled” for their works in the cyber space……The story actually begins here ……as cyber crime counselor and cyber right activists, many women had to sail  in the rough weather. The very common of all these harassments is probably receiving threatening mails from anonymous individuals. Next in line are obviously defamatory and bullying messages, of which I myself am a victim. Many times my husband, who himself is very much into cyber security issues, has to hear “made up” stories and ‘complains’  about me. Fortunately I haven’t come across any severe cyber sexual threats still now, but the story may not be the same with other female cyber activists. The other big disturbing factor is getting to hear not –so- funny comments about our own ability to carry on the mission because we are “women after all”.  It is really disheartening to see such messages in the inbox or message boxes ……many of you there would be smiling now , thinking “weird …..how come such silly teasing-remarks   can become crime?”…….. well, off course it is “wrong” to insult any woman in this way. Some call it “gender harassment” and  I love to term it “unwanted harassment”.
            Women are not safe….. even if “she” is into prevention /protection unit. Funnily enough, men and women both ‘love’ to  harass women cyber crime activists when it comes to save their own misdeeds .I had  mentioned in my earlier blog in  “When men turn victims  and women the offenders”, (March 2010, published in http://cybervictims.blogspot.com) as how women also become “cyber harassers”. However,as it has always remained….when a woman cyber crime counselor/activist boldly brings up the issue to the law and justice machinery, often “Lady Justice” turns a mute spectator initially,  because  the reporting agency may never understand what the hell has happened that this woman is making such a big fuss out of that small issue…………Well….blame on us ‘human beings’…..we really never think it is not always the children who need protective internet laws but also adults who need little sense of understanding and decency to not to play with fellow human beings with internet as a weapon.
Please Note: Do not violate copyright of this blog. If you would like to use informations provided in this blog for your own assignment/writeup/project/blog/article, please cite it as “Halder D. (2010), “How secure are female cyber crime counselors?” March 2010, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com”