Monday, February 21, 2011

Corruption & Punishment

A Raja, the former telecom minister accused of short-changing the nation by Rs17.6 lacs and Ashok Chavan, former Maharashtra chief minister accused of facilitating his relatives’ getting flats meant for war widows, can both take comfort in the fact that in India, there has historically been a big difference between being an accused and being imprisoned. Raja has been arrested only for interrogation, and there is reason to be sceptical.
The Congress party is probably using this as a bargaining chip for seat-sharing negotiations with alliance partner DMK ahead of the Tamil Nadu polls in April-May; and Raja remembers former Sanchar Bhawan occupant Sukh Ram, whose conviction took 17 years and who has still avoided jail time. Chavan need only recall other CMs named in major scams-Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mayawati, Jayalalithaa and Arjun Singh -and ask: What, me worry?
The CBI’s newfound diligence may give the ruling UPA relief at a time when even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s image has been tainted. It might even answer the open letter on “governance deficit” recently signed by top industrialists. Yet one cannot help but worry that at the end of the tortuous legal process, both Raja and Chavan may have the last laugh. There is a need to guard against this outcome. The CBI’s work has actually only just begun.
It needs to ensure that its case leaves the court no choice but to hold each high official guilty and punish them. There have been infuriating delays but thanks to the Supreme Court, the CBI has stuck to its task. Seeing it through will be a step towards restoring in some measure people’s faith in governance.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Security Tips for Browsing at Cyber Cafes

  • Restart your PC if this is already turned ON
  • If the machine that already was ON, there could be running background applications that jeopardize our security, such as keyloggers or trojan. We do not know if the person using the machine had previously installed virus inadvertently or deliberately, especially if the machine does not have a reliable antivirus.
  • Access the Programs from Windows Start Menu
  • It is not recommended to start an application by double clicking the desktop shortcuts and other executables that can reference and does not necessarily indicate its icons. Yahoo! Messenger icon on the desktop may be a Trojan left by the previous user. The best practice is accessible from the Windows menu: Start-->> All Programs.
  • Do Not Type Your Password Continuously
  • While typing in your password in public computers do not type in your password continuously, if your password is "roottomail" then first type "root" then type some random letter "feythuca" anywhere else again come back to the password field and type in the rest letters "tomail". By doing that the keylogger will log your password as "rootfeythucatomail" and you can easily fool the hacker.
  • Do not save your passwords or usernames in login pages.
  • By default, AutoComplete is enabled in Web browsers to store entries on webpages and suggest matches for you in next time. It will list possible matches from entries you have typed before.
  • Don't click on the unfamiliar alert messages.
  • Maybe the antivirus / antispyware you use on the machine is very good, but unless we have sufficient knowledge of threats on the Internet, clicking on the unknown alert messages may enable the implementation of a malware or spyware that tries to take our information.
  • Do not use it for banking or sensitive information
  • Ultimately, a public computer is never going to be anywhere close to completely secure, so there are some things you just shouldn’t use them for. If you are to make any bank transfer/ RLY ticket booking, it is not appropriate to use these public systems, as the implicit danger that may exist in the system, perhaps infected PC can be catastrophic. For such transactions use a trusted machine.
  • Take precaution while typing your passwords.
  • Shoulder surfing is the name of the hacking technique that involves spying on the victim physically. As its name implies, this practice tends to make watching over his shoulder. So, you should be especially careful and always watch your backs when you type your passwords.
  • Beware of the physical information that you discard
  • When we use cabins, sometimes we need to make temporary notes, which may be discarded in the trash cans of the same booths. If it's something sensible, such as personal information (names, addresses, phone numbers or worse, passwords) it is best to take the paper dispose it at home or other place where we have more certainty that no one can be misusing it. In fact there is even a kind of hack that is to review in the trash cans of the individual victim, or target, called dumpster diving.
  • Delete your Browsing History
  • When you’ve finished browsing, it’s a good practice to delete your cookies, form data, history, and temporary Internet files. In Internet Explorer 8, you can do this all at once under Tools | Delete Browsing History. In Mozilla Firefox, go to Tools | Options, click the Privacy tab, and click clear your recent history. By default, this erases your browsing history, download history, saved form information, cookies, cache, and authenticated sessions.
  • Always Logout of Web Pages and Instant Messengers and reboot
  • Many users have the habit of directly closing the browsers and messengers without properly logging out from their logins. Their sessions are still retained in the server and attackers can try Man-In-The Middle or Session Hijacking Attack. Even browsers can be set to retain the sessions. So always logout of webpages and IMs, then close the browsers and finally reboot your system.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Stay safe on Social networking sites

Social networking sites have become very popular avenues for people to communicate with family, friends and colleagues from around the corner or across the globe. While there can be benefits from the collaborative, distributed approaches promoted by responsible use of social networking sites, there are information security and privacy concerns. The volume and accessibility of personal information available on social networking sites have attracted malicious people who seek to exploit this information. 

Security and privacy related to social networking sites are fundamentally not technology, but behavioural issues. The more information a person posts, the more information becomes available for a potential compromise by those with malicious intentions.Below are some helpful tips regarding security and privacy while using social networking sites:
  • Think about how different sites work before deciding to join a site. Some sites allow only a defined community of users to access posted content; others allow anyone and everyone to view postings.
  • Ensure that any computer you use to connect to a social networking site has proper security measures in place. Use anti-virus software and keep your web browser and operating system up-to-date. Install software updates so that attackers cannot take advantage of known problems or vulnerabilities. Many operating systems offer automatic updates. If this option is available, you should enable it.
  • Use caution when clicking a link to another page or running an online application, even if it is from someone you know. Many applications embedded within social networking sites require you to share your information when you use them. Attackers use these sites to distribute their malware.
  • Use strong and unique passwords. Make sure that your password is long, complex and combines, letters, numerals, and symbols.  Using the same password on all accounts increases the vulnerability of these accounts if one becomes compromised. Ideally, you should use a different password for every online account you have.
  • Be careful who you add as a "friend," or what groups or pages you join. The more "friends" you have or groups/ pages you join, the more people who have access to your information.
  • Do not assume privacy on a social networking site. For both business and personal use, confidential information should not be shared. Do not post information that would make you vulnerable, such as your address or information about your schedule or routine. You should only post information you are comfortable disclosing to a complete stranger.
  • Be wary of publishing any identifying information about yourself. In particular things like: phone numbers, pictures of your home, workplace or school, your address, birthday or full name.
  • Pick a user name that doesn’t include any personal information. For example, “senthil_saidapet” or “priya_madivala would be bad choices.
  • Consider not posting your photo. It can be altered or broadcast in ways you may not be happy about.
  • Be wary if a new friend wants to meet you in person. If you decide to meet them, meet in a public place, during the day, with friends you trust. And tell a responsible adult where you're going.
  • Set up a separate email account that doesn’t use your real name and use that to register and receive mail from the site. That way if you want to shut down your connection, you can simply stop using that mail account.
  • Use discretion before posting information or commenting about anything. Once information is posted online, it can potentially be viewed by anyone and may not be retracted afterwards. Even if you delete the information from a site, older versions exist on other people’s computers.
  • Configure privacy settings to allow only those people you trust to have access to the information you post. Also, restrict the ability for others to post information to your page. The default settings for some sites may allow anyone to see your information or post information to your page; these settings should be changed.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Power of Compounding

Imagine two investors A and B. Assume that investor B starts earning at the young age of 19 and decides to put aside Rs 20,000 every year till the time he turns 26. And that's it. He doesn't invest a penny afterwards. Now, let us consider investor A. Unlike B, investor A starts investing Rs 20,000 only after he turns 26. But does so dutifully every year till the time he reaches 65 years of age. Both of them are assumed to earn 10% per annum on their investments.

Now here comes the real shocker. We know that investor B has made only seven contributions while A has made around 40 contributions towards his portfolio. Despite this, you'd be amazed to know that B will end up with more money than A when both of them turn 65. In other words, while A's money has grown around 11 times, B has been able to grow its money a whopping 66 times.

The above example clearly highlights the magic that the process of compounding works on one's portfolio. Just by letting his money compound over a slightly more number of years, investor B was able to make more money than A even though he made far less number of contributions. And therein lies the biggest secret to becoming rich we believe.  

Investment returns over a long period are not dependant as much on the amount of money one puts aside. They are more a function of letting compounding work its magic by starting to invest as early as possible.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Rural India Growing

The rural India no longer needs to migrate to the cities to gain employment. New sectors like telecom, microfinance, rural BPOs, etc. are providing them with lucrative opportunities in their own home towns. In earlier days big cities like Delhi and Mumbai were the hot destinations for the youths of the rural world, especially for the educated ones. However, very few of them did well. Higher cost of living ate into their incomes leading to lower standards of living and almost negligible savings.

With the new wave of rural BPOs and micro financing, companies in these sectors are now actively seeking people in the smaller towns. Even telecom companies are providing opportunities to the rural community in the form of managing and maintaining their numerous telecom towers. If this continues, then soon the migration from rural to urban India would stop. And the economic divide between the two would start to even out.