Mathematics, psychology and sociology, philosophy.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Facebook, IM (chat) and IRC Phishing

2010 April 27th

I caught a Phacebook Phisher today! It was someone impersonating a friend and asking for my phone number.
Tell-tale signs:
  • A Chat or IM or IRC msg apparently from a friend, but saying nothing specific about them or about you
  • Writing in a generic style possibly atypical of your friend's normal style
  • They reply to your messages with no delay
  • Urgent or repeated requests for info (like your phone #)
  • Logs out or goes offline after only a couple minutes delay on your part
How to reply:
  • Tell them to contact you by some other means which would require them knowing something specific (like their own email password), but
  • Don't tell them that specific thing, and don't tell them what they're asking for via the IM or chat.
Likely Hacking Method
In this particular instance I believe the hacker got a Javascript running on my friend's computer. The way this can happen to you is as follows:
  • You can visit a website which runs a Javascript (typically through a banner ad) that sticks around and later acts as a "chat relay".
  • The script waits until you are in Facebook, then opens another window that is invisible (for example, hidden below the task bar)
  • Within the hidden window, it starts a Chat with any friends who are online.
  • If a friend responds, the script (running in your browser) forwards your friend's response to the hacker (who is somewhere else on the Internet).
  • Your friend can then chat with the hacker, who impersonates you.
More details of other types of phishing are at

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Five Dichotomies of Interpersonal Politics

2010 April 14th

First a couple limiting qualifiers:

  • I do not imagine these to be the only five, or the most important five, dichotomies. They just happen to have been on my mind lately.
  • By politics, I simply mean the ways in which people interact while deciding what to do.
These dichotomies exist as characteristics/traits of people, as ways of behaving or interacting, and as points of view -- and most are a combination of all three.

In no particular order, here they are:

1. The Personal vs Team dichotomy is strongest in situations where several people are working together and risk their individual well-being in order to achieve important results that benefit all. I discuss this and give examples in MCV03, Everything That Depends on You Depends on Your Well-Being.

2. The dichotomy between Individualism and Collectivism is similar but involves the tradeoffs between the individual(s) and a much larger entity such as an entire society. This dichotomy often factors in political ideologies, such as Ayn Rand's Objectivism (which falls on the individualist end of the spectrum) and Socialism or Communism. I have written a bit more on my Collectivism page.

3. There is a dichotomy between Task and Purpose, or between the means and the end, or between the method and the ultimate result. I think of this as a succession of several things connected in a chain. Roughly in order they are Task, Goal, Project, Mission and Purpose. They have a cause-and-effect relationship, in that each results from the ones that come before it in the chain. Also, at any point in the chain, there are typically several alternatives any of which can be used to achieve the next link in the chain. I have written a lot about this on my Priorities page.

4. That dichotomy relates closely to the dichotomy between One-Time Planning and Ongoing Re-Evaluation. This is a spectrum of individual preference; each person will tend to choose how much energy to spend on thinking and planning, and how much risk to take from the adverse effects of failing to adapt or to be flexible. I discuss this on my Decision page.

5. Finally, there is a dichotomy of management style between Hands-Off Management and Micro-Management. This appears when decisions are being made about what how to carry out a task or how to accomplish the results expected in a person's job. There is a spectrum, ranging from a completely worker-oriented extreme at which the person doing the job decides how to do it, to a completely manager-oriented extreme at which every detail is specified to the worker by another person, or perhaps by several or many others.