close

Articles

ArticlesIIPGHInformation and Communication Technology

Social Media Identity Deception (How it Matters to You)

Social Media Identity Deception

The growth of social media platforms in the last decade has changed the way people interact with one another. However, the use of these media has also created new opportunities for individuals and organizations to deceive social media users. Deception on social media continues to be a major concern and its detection and prevention has been attracting a lot of attention by researchers. In this article, we present the motivations for deception in social media, Identity concealment type of social media identity deception, how to identify them, and how to avoid them.

Deception on Social Media: Deception occurs when one leads another person to believe something that he (the deceiver) does not believe to be true (Ekman; Miller & Stiff). Identity deception occurs when someone pretends to be someone, but he is not. The victim (receiver/social media user) is unaware that the identity of the sender (deceiver) or part of the information in a message is concealed, altered or deceptive. Some of the motives behind social media deception are relationship driven (building strong relationship) and identity driven (protecting the deceiver’s identity). There are three types of social media identity deception: identity concealment– occurs when part of the identity information or its source is omitted or altered; identity theft– occurs when a person’s identity is stolen; and identity forgery– occurs when a new persona is created along with a new history record.

In this article, we discussed identity concealment type of social media deception, which occurred on WhatsApp social media. We outlined how to identify identity and information source concealment, and provided suggestions on how to deal with it.

In identity concealment, a user of social media (sender/fraudster) conceals some of the information about himself or the original source of the information. The sender can be an individual or an organization. The concealment creates a different perception about the sender or the sending organization. Users then perceive this individual or organization as authentic. Pools of actors or social media users believe the fake identity or organization and begin to interact with this fake entity.

“Information Source Identity Concealment” is one form of identity concealment deception. Many Ghanaians have been defrauded by this type of deception. In this type of identity concealment deception, the deceiver hides the actual source of the information and then presents the information as if he or his organization is the source of the information. The deceiver acts as a “middleman”, but the recipient (victim) does not realize that. An example of Identity (source) Concealment message is a screen shot of WhatsApp message shown below.

 
Text message hiding the original source of the information

 

The Institute of Cybersecurity and Information Assurance (ICIA) of Ghana is an organization that provides cyber security and IT Audit training, consulting, and free advisory services in Ghana. On 3rd January 2018, ICIA received above text from WhatsApp user- a teacher. As shown above, the text invited experienced teachers who want to teach in the US to submit CVs to the named travel agency (named in the text not shown for privacy reasons).

How can this be an Information/Identity Concealment? The original source of this information was from US Teachers Council. The US Teachers’ Council has a J-1 Visa program which invites experienced teachers to apply for teaching position in the US. The US uses this program to attract talented and experienced teachers to the US. The application form is available on US Teachers Council’s web site, and it is free of charge. Candidates first submit requested information (found on their website) for initial screening. If a candidate is successful, he is contacted and taken through series of interviews until candidate is finally selected. The program does not require “middlemen” or agents. The text is concealment because the sender (deceiver) hid the actual source of the information (US Teachers Council Teaching Program) so that users have limited knowledge about the program.

Why Does This Matter? It matters because many fraudsters are in this type of business, and are making money from this type of deception. Hundreds of Ghanaians have fallen for it- like the US DV lottery program.

How do we identify identity concealment and deal with it? Some of the ways of identifying identity of a sender of a text has been concealed are as follows:

  • The sender gives users or readers limited time to respond to the text. Readers are not given enough time to research about the authenticity and source of the text. When you are being rushed in a text you have interest in, stay calm and do research about it. In the above text, the “LIMITED SLOTS AVAIALABLE” texts let readers “rush”, to register for the program without verifying the source and the authenticity of the text or information.
  • The sender uses the information in the text to advertise himself or his company than the actual source of the information. In the above text, the sender announces his company as: “T***** and T*** B***** (Full name is masked for privacy sake) is a subsidiary of Belcom Ghana Group”. This announcement has no link with the whole text-which invites teachers to apply for the program. We did not find the identity of this company when we did name search from Registrar General Department’s website.
  • The text does not contain the source’s information. Check and see if the text contains the website or company’s information of the information sent to you. In the above screen shot, we expected the fraudster to name the organization that is recruiting teachers-US Teaching council, but he did not.
  • The fraudster directs readers or users to himself or his organization than the true source of the text. In the above example, the fraudster gave his email address and his phone number and directed all applications to himself or his organization.
  • Sender hides source of the information, but does not give reasons for hiding the actual source of the information. When a reason is given, check and see if the reason makes sense to you.
  • Some senders (fraudsters) may include the actual source of the information, but may tell users to register through them. When the source of the information is given, take time and do “cross validation”. Cross validate by researching for the phone numbers and email contact of the actual source, gather information from there, and compare it with the original text message.
  • If cross validation becomes a problem to you, but you are interested in the information sent to you, consult IIPGH (org) or ICIA (myicia.com). They will do research and give you a feedback within 24 hours at no cost.

 

Samuel Owusu- Institute of Cyber Security and Information Assurance, Ghana-ICIA (Affiliate: Institute of ICT Professionals, Ghana)

 

 

read more
ArticlesBlogReligionViews of Kwame Krah

Time with the Atheist Who Owns Churches

Atheist who own churches

Somewhere middle of last year, I had the opportunity to attend an entrepreneurial conference and as part of my usual stuff, I made time to build networks. I met Mr. A (hypothetical name), a relatively younger and well-grounded businessman who was part of the guests.

I chose to meet him because his delivery was catchy and convincing; the overriding theme that characterized his speech was “SMARTNESS”. If there’s anything I remember him for, it certainly is the concluding part of his presentation–“I am not rich; I am smart. If you take all my wealth away, I could create it back within a flash so far as my head still functions. If you’re rich without a resourceful brain, you lose hope at a flinch of misfortune”.

Now let me quickly expose you to my personal observation about speeches delivered by businessmen and motivational speakers. On the real, majority of them mostly end up wasting productive time and as well brag with theories without making any practical headway. Apart from the usual “save money” advice that even the layman could give, these supposed business minded people mostly fail to state categorically, a well-developed pragmatic start-up plan required to fuel an infant  business.

With that in mind, I chose to relate with Mr. A on a later date to get specific details about the master plan with which he broke through and made his money. My knowledge in human relation has actually helped me to build a good rapport and quickly familiarize myself with him. With time, we became close friends and actually relate on personal grounds.

Few months into our friendship I got a rumour he’s an atheist which I didn’t believe because I knew him as a very religious person. Since I don’t work with speculations, I’ve decided to test him with either “God bless you” or “Jesus is coming soon” statements.

Now, if you’re familiar with or has ever had a typical atheist as a friend or relative, you’ll get to know the magnitude of hatred they have for those statements. If you receive a favour from a Gnostic atheist and you make the statement “God bless you”, you better pray for the intervention of the spirit of tolerance. If not, gentleman, you’ve marred your relationship with him.

Second, if you put the anger of an intrinsic atheist to test, with the “Jesus is coming soon” statement, and that particular atheist is not a prodigal one, he will not under any circumstance argue that with you. He will throw a usual dare by asking you to “take a marker and write Jesus is coming soon on his wall; when you’re 60 and He (Jesus) doesn’t, he will bring you back to buy a paint and clean the nonsense”.

I tried the second with utmost caution but it backfired. He predicted it and we both laughed it off. He then set a later date to feed my curiosity which I honoured and he opened up.

“Kwame; when I finished my first degree and completed my service, things were so tough. I wrote numerous application letters seeking jobs that never really existed. I took thousands of aptitude tests but couldn’t get a call up. After three (3) good years, I realized I was lacking hence an urgent need to take an action. My course of study taught me to utilize my environment to my benefit so I did few visibility studies and discovered what actually sells in Ghana: religion and politics. They sell faster than anything.

Politics requires connection and demands money relative to religion. I chose religion and started with few friends (atheist). We pooled resources together, started a fifty (50) member capacity church and recruited a pastor. Within six months, we were able to expand it. It went on and on till where we are now. We have 3 major branches operated by well-trained pastors and accountants on regular salaries. We only supervise, take the cash, renovate and build new structures.”

On What Happens When the Members Get To Know They Are Not Believers?

“….religious people hardly change their minds on things they believe. It’s not a possibility but if it does we would have captured a lot of grounds and built structures. It’s a whole project and we’ll easily convert it into a business and employ them back. They don’t have a choice. We actually built other businesses from what we made from the church where some of them actually work. It’s a huge business on its own and it fetches a lot. It’s just a thing about business; you should be smart.

On Ideological Conflicts:

Yes we are aware we don’t like anything religious but there are exceptions when it comes to business. The fact is, the atheist community knew that religious people don’t listen to anything apart from their respective doctrines so instead of engaging them in a fruitless argument, play their card by acting like one of them. We don’t have the time to argue, we do business with them. It makes more sense.

On Sharing This Mind Blowing Discovery in a Write-Up:

You can but I’m trusting your words not to disclose to anyone my identity or that of the church–aside that, I’m cool. They should be smart and make good use of their environment too.

 

Richard Kwame Krah

read more
Anthony Kweku AnnanArticlesGhanaPoliticsSocial Issues

Arms in Private Hands

Arms in private hands

There are periodic reports of discovery of arms and ammunitions being conveyed from one point to undisclosed destinations in this country. Consignments of guns and cartridges, explosives and other lethal weapons are uncovered at the borders, hidden in travelers’ luggage or specially-contrived compartments on vehicles.

It always takes a lot of intuitive diligence, and sometimes tip-offs, to come upon such hiding-places of deadly weapons being smuggled into the country or being transported inland. Sometimes the smugglers manage to escape detection and payment of duties when then they use unapproved routes, to avoid Customs and Preventive officials at the border posts. All the same, some of them are eventually caught at Police and/or Customs road blocks.

We also have locally-manufactured shotguns of various sizes, usually small and handy. These are normally patronized by hunters and farmers. The trade in arms and ammunitions has been a genuine or legal business in the past. Licensed Arms Dealers could import shotguns (usually long, single- or double-barrel models), into the country. Buyers were/are required to acquire Police Permits to possess and use them for specific purposes such as hunting.

Keeping shotguns for self-defence was hardly a remote objective, because self-defence or ‘Security’ had not been a major concern until the recent thirty or so years, when armed robbery has been on the upsurge. Another burning concern has been the presence of Fulani herdsmen who are armed to the teeth with AK47s originally supposed to be used by the Police and special Security operatives. One really wonders how such people manage to come by those weapons.

The arrest of a Ghanaian in the United States of America who, allegedly, had hidden a number of firearms and stuffed canvas boots with thousands of US dollars, in fridges intended for shipment to Ghana, has hit the headlines and social media this week. Initial reports indicated that the suspect was still being quizzed for the needed information on the prospective consignees in Ghana, or any others behind the transaction.

The incident has a lot of significance at a time the Nation is preparing for Elections in less than six months. Again, we had witnessed a situation whereby one of the major Political Parties had attempted to train a group of people to protect some of its leading personnel before, during and after the Elections.

Also, an exercise carried out by the Electoral Commission of Ghana, to register potential voters who had attained 18 years or had not registered before, turned violent in certain areas. People brandishing dangerous gadgets caused mayhem and inflicted wounds on others.

The need for extra vigilance by the Security Agencies cannot be over-stressed. Already, we have pockets of hotspots in some parts of the country. There are frequent clashes between neighbouring ethnic groups and even clans, over deep-seated issues which seem not to be settled satisfactorily. Attempts at peace efforts have had to be re-visited at short intervals.

Surprisingly, groups and individuals, including very influential opinion leaders, are clamouring for violence in their utterances on air and in public pronouncements, trying to justify self-defence. There is a lot of suspicion, distrust or lack of confidence these days among people and in the operations of some Public institutions. This is very unfortunate for our present Democratic dispensation. The up-coming political campaigns and the Elections should take place without any form of intimidation from any quarters.

We should recall the unpleasant consequences of situations in other countries all over the world. Meanwhile, Ghana has been blessed to have survived some near-explosive periods till now. We should cast our eyes and minds back to experiences elsewhere, such as Liberia and nearby La Cȏte d’Ivoire, The Rwanda massacre as well as the massive migration resulting from the pogrom in the Middle East are also glaring. The lessons of the horrific internal political strife are not far to see and we should not be seen to invite catastrophe upon ourselves.

Our Security Forces should gird their loins and live up to the assurances they are giving us in the face of such challenges, not only for the impending Elections, but all the time. After all, Elections are not the ultimate in life. We should be able to live in total guarantee of peace to go about our daily affairs and routines.   Hoarding guns, missiles and other lethal weapons will not solve any problems; they will rather aggravate the security situation in this country.

read more
ArticlesBlogGhanaReligionViews of Kwame Krah

Recent Craze for Doom Prophecies: The need for Standards to Regulate and Promote Decorum

Prophecies of Doom

The idea of taking undue advantage of people’s vulnerability to the fear of the unknown to spit out anything that comes to mind will only end up subjecting the practice to ridicule. The recent craze for death threats, curses and what have you as a way of persuasion is just unreasonable and I think it’s about time the Christian council define standards to regulate the outburst behaviour of some of these religious leaders/bodies.

I believe religion can be repackaged to project a considerable magnitude of positivism in thinking to help nurture a psychologically and emotionally healthy citizenry to drive a development agenda.
We don’t need to allow a type of religious practice that imbues fear and degrades the moral strength of people through all sorts of human fabricated obligations and unnecessary misfortune biased pronouncements in the form of prophecies.

I am not disputing the fact that there are predictions that do materialize–of course, we’ve seen lots of that in both academia and religion. We have scientific theories propounded in 17th/18th centuries that are still making contextual sense with their predictions in this 21st century.

We had great scholars ranging from Auguste Comte, Karl Marx, Adam Smith, Einstein, Aristotle, and their contemporaries who studied historical trends, socio-economic, cultural and scientific realities to draw conclusions and make predictions with accuracy or near accuracy which goes a long way to say that, religion does not have an absolute monopoly over predictions.

In the history of religion, there were great prophets who predicted and it came to pass but the difference between their practice and the current craze for doom Prophecy is that, their’s were more preventive, conditional and sensible which shared some scientific similarities.

There were instances where scientists came out with predictions of say, earthquakes or eclipse and advice appropriately like past religious prophets did with their prophecies. Scientists will tell you clearly that, at 1pm prompt, there’ll be an eclipse which will result in a total blackout so avoid driving and direct eye contact, or there will be an earthquake so move from your current position.

The unfortunate side of doom prophecy is that, if a prophet of doom has a knowledge of an upcoming eclipse or earthquake, he will predict your blindness, accident, death and pray it happens for him to gain popularity instead of telling you the available remedies.

There must be standards to regulate such occurrences to promote decorum in religious practices in this country. There should be an obligation that requires anyone that alleges or asserts anything in this country, either in the form of prophecies, voodoo pronouncement or what have you to provide the basis under which those assertions are made and attach reasonable remedies–not a solution that coerces victims to be part of the prophet’s church, cult or pay ransom amounts for redemption.

Define the standards and let them respect it.

 

Richard Kwame Krah

read more
ArticlesGhanaIIPGHInformation and Communication TechnologyTechnology

Five Ways to Hire a Good IT Professional

Five Ways to Hire a Good IT Professional

As all managers know, hiring the right people is not easy, and at the same time a very crucial process for the success of an organization. The more complex, fast changing and technologically advanced the world becomes, the more important it becomes to find the right people for the right jobs. This is in particular true for IT-personnel. In fact, in most African countries, businesses are inclined to contract IT-companies from the US or India to come and do the job as soon as things start to become risky. They are not sure they can find the right staff in their own country.

But that is not necessarily the best decision.

For example in the Netherlands, the Dutch central government has a long track record of failed ICT projects and programs. Most of them were carried out by large IT companies with a good reputation, capable to deliver large amounts of IT personnel of different kinds. Many of these projects failed, often leading to enormous losses of tax payer’s money. The conclusion of the Dutch parliament was, that ministries should start to recruit and train their own IT-professionals and IT-managers, rather than depending on these large companies, who often abused these expensive projects to cash big while using the government as the training grounds for their youngest employees.

Recently the Dutch central government decided to start a new agency, the  “Government ICT Guild”  It is a training program as well as a pool of highly qualified IT professionals, that can be hired to execute IT projects of all kinds for the Dutch government.

Recently, a director of Accra based training center Maxim Nyansa IT-Solutions, met with Mr. Mo Jaber, the founder of the agency, to exchange experiences. Both organizations have an elaborate selection process, where practical skills are tested as well as knowledge of IT.  Mr. Jaber stated: “We have even taken the technical selection process a step further. We had an assessment developed especially for us by the Software Improvement Group (SIG, Amsterdam) to evaluate the quality of someone’s code.”  Still, the vast majority of candidates are turned down by the Government ICT Guild for other reasons than the quality of their technical skills.

During the meeting, Mr. Jaber then lifted his hand and said, pointing at the five fingers: “I have come to the conclusion that there are five criteria to hire a good IT professional: attitude, attitude, attitude, attitude, and finally technical skills.”  In most cases, the technical skills can be learned. Or, as we experience, some candidates are extremely intelligent, and will be capable to do their work in only a fraction of the time of an ordinary professional. But if the person does not have the right attitude, hiring him can still turn out disastrous.

Young graduates in Ghana often wonder how they can become attractive in the job market in this country.  A master degree from the US, India or China is the magic word, but hard to get for most… But looking at the conclusion of the Dutch ICT Guild, this may not be the issue. Of course, recruiters should ask their candidates if they have been investing in personal development. There are young Ghanaians who are studying day and night online with free resources like Coursera. They show much more than technical knowledge. They show eagerness to continue to learn and meet the international standards of the industry, today, and in the future. In IT, lifelong learning is inevitable. Doing it is showing the right attitude.

So what other attitudes should you look out for?

Beyond any doubt, reliability is the number one. Reliability implies being a person of integrity. A reliable person will always tell you the truth, is transparent about his intentions, and normally does what he has promised.

Goal-orientation is also very important. A purposeful person has a clear goal in mind and will always tune his actions to deliver the product that you want, working hard to get things done.

Finally, time management is key. In the international job market, being on time for appointments and meeting deadlines are the norm. In the Ghana of 2018, this should no longer be an issue.

Mr. Mo Jaber of the ICT Guild in the Netherlands is expecting to build an inspiring new agency, and be an attractive employer for talented young people. Hiring IT professionals in this way, he is probably going to succeed. Smart young graduates with the right attitude will just love to work there.

 

Diana van der Stelt, Trinity Software Center Kumasi (member: Institute of ICT professionals Ghana and managing board member at Maxim Nyansa IT Solutions).

read more
Anthony Kweku AnnanArticlesGhanaSocial Issues

Climate Change and Sustainable Development

CLIMATE CHANGE AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

It will be recalled that in December, 2015, over one hundred and ninety delegates, including Heads of State, met in the French capital, Paris, to deliberate on Climate Change. What has come to be known as CAP21Paris was a Forum on Sustainable Innovation which prepared a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change for eventual ratification by member-states.

The Forum sought to ensure that steps to reduce carbon emissions are to be enshrined in laws of participating countries. It was targeted to hold global warning to a level below 2Celsius for industrial countries and between 1o and 1.5C for Least Developed Countries (LDCs). The Forum also sought to ensure that countries agree to a new global deal to tackle Climate Change. There was the need to embed Climate Change legislation into national action and equity differentiation between developed and developing countries.

The Agreement to curb carbon emissions was signed by 165 countries at the United Nations Headquarters, New York, (22nd April, 2016), including about ¾ of governments of African countries. The World Bank was expected to spend 28% of its investments on projects directed towards limiting planet heating and control or mitigation of the effects on the ecosystem in the form of desertification. The Bank is supposed to be insistent on the search for renewable energy.

It is significant to remark that the United States and China, which are the world’s most polluted countries, readily joined the other signatories to ratify the deal into action. According to a statement before the signing ceremony, the President of the Grantham Research Institute, Lord Nicholas Stern, emphasized that the investments to be made by the World Bank must be in transport, energy, water, buildings and land utilization and management. He warned that, otherwise, we are doomed to a situation where people can neither move nor breathe in our cities and to ecosystems that will collapse.

To that effect, more than USD100 billion yearly will have to be invested in infrastructure globally for the next 20years, if the commitments made in the agreement are to be fulfilled. Meanwhile, in the past decade or so, poor countries have not been able to benefit from a Green Climate Fund (GCF) created to give small, developing countries direct access to finances to protect themselves from risks due to Climate Change, like flooding and desertification. Such vulnerable nations include islands such as Tonga, the Comoros, Grenada, etc., which have been confronted with complicated bureaucratic and accreditation processes.

The documentation on a 52-page application dossier includes the GCF fiduciary and gender policy standards as well as how relevant environmental and social safeguards against corruption and complaints have been handled in the past couple of years, among others. The accreditation process has thereby been described as an ‘excruciatingly painful’ document.  Least Developed Countries in vulnerable situations have had to resort to contracting international financial institutions and NGOs to access the maximum of USD300,000, after complying with the relevant guidelines.

At the next meeting of the Forum, in Marrakesh, Morocco, COP22 is expected to highlight African problems relative to Climate Change as over 250 million people are displaced annually as a result of floods and desertification. For the meantime, the signatory-member-states of the UN are required to redeem their pledges while cumbersome procedures for accessing the Green Climate Fund would have to be reviewed. Countries would have to adopt projects and accelerated action plans for early-warning predictions. At the individual levels, we are obliged to co-operate in the way we consume products of non-replaceable fossil energy.

Lifestyle changes would have to be evident and taken seriously by citizens of Least Developed Countries as our personal contribution towards a sustainable development and the limitation of the effects of Global Warming or Climate Change.

The Government of Ghana should join the other signatories to come out with precise action plans embracing long-term projects to protect water bodies, forests and other elements of our environment. The benchmarks set in the Global Agenda for Sustainable Development may only succeed if the ordinary citizens see themselves as the beneficiaries in the long run.

 

read more
1 2 3 6
Page 1 of 6
%d bloggers like this: