Making an addiction universal

Say goodbye to BlackBerry’s exclusivity on mobile messengers, relieve yourself from the pressure of owning a BB…Whatsapp is taking over and it is available on almost every smartphone. RIM, the people who brought you the BB, did not foresee the potential market of mobile messenger service beyond their phones. Had they stepped in and sold or developed their messenger on other devices’ platforms, there would not be Whatsapp today or to say the least, Whatsapp would have struggled to penetrate and differentiate itself in this service. To all non BB users, there is no need anymore to buy a BB and pay a subscription charge to benefit from a messenger service! To BB users, a gradual migration from BBM to Whatsapp will gain pace as users grow tired of the small circle of the BB. Universality in tomorrow’s mobile apps is the name of the game and Whatsapp has set a beautiful example.

I like the Whatsapp experience and its simplicity…after all, it’s a messenger built for phones, unlike other messengers (MSN, Gtalk etc.) who moved from p.c. to phone.  In contrast to BBM, I don’t have to memorize complex pin numbers to add contacts and I can quickly tell who from my mobile contacts uses the application and reach them.

What worries me on the other hand, is that as we use this service more, we will be talking less and we’ll be spreading the “BB like addiction”, the one Jerry Seinfeld brilliantly mocked. So going forward, expect less phone calls and more “heads down” and if you’re a Whatsapp user, my remedy advice to you is to create a new status: “socializing…will get back to you when done”.




Houston…do you read me?

Write on my wall, tweet me, tell me where you are,  like me, connect with me, tell me what’s hot what’s not??, tag me, comment on my post, follow me, react to me, chat with me , poke me, google me, disqus me, quora it, email me??? (dying I know), flicker me…ok, enough I think you get my point. The internet has leapfrogged into a whole new jargon and meanings that no one would have been able to interpret just few years ago and its new tools that are built around the new digital social fabric are becoming more powerful and creative by the day, empowering us and leaving a high impact on whatever we do in our life, be it for business, fun or any other purpose.

What we are living today in my opinion is the climax stage of the information age. Just twenty years ago, we had to go to a library to do our research, we had to use costly mediums to market to a limited audience and we had to call friends to invite them to a party…examples just to name a few. All three activities can be taken care off today from the comfort of one’s house without the need to go out, to talk to humans,  to see the sun.

Although we are getting more and more into the eye of the revolution in this information age, we are starting to miss out more on the human factor. Gradually, we are satisfying more needs that involved frequent interactions and communication with others by clinging to our laptops, ipads, iphones, etc. and exploring what the web with its fantastic offerings has for us everyday.

I am no social psycho analyst trying to see the measured effect of this trend on every one’s life. That requires years of research. However, it all starts for me from personal awareness on how we should think in the future about managing our new life while making best use of the digital world and leveraging the importance and sheer joy of engaging in direct human relations . So instead of going through your friend’s 500 photo album for 1 hour tonight, call him/her and go for a coffee.

Cybercrime is your friend

Cybercrime in progress

Last night, while still in my lazy Sunday mood, I received a message on my mobile asking me to send a message to a number in Swaziland before transferring 20 million pounds to my bank account. Ok, I didn’t wait to finish the story before deleting it. These messages/ spam emails have been around for a long time and their success rates have declined as people have become more informed about them. Yet, just like an animal adapts to live in a particular place and in a particular way, cyber crime can do the same. Cyber criminals in this regard, are no exception.

In Beirut, a new group of cyber criminals has found a new way to pick pockets. How? by being your best friend! It all begins with stealing your identity or credentials, talking in a friendly way to your contacts and finally asking them for “favors”.   It later turns out that they have asked many other friends the same favor, that is (in our case here) to buy them recharge cards for their prepaid mobile phones.

Many victims may have responded positively and handed over their wallet, albeit in a new form, to those criminal hackers. Ok, so you might be thinking that it will be easy to track those “bad guys” down by providing the police with the serial numbers used. The answer is more complicated since there is no cyber crime police to call in Lebanon and because the criminals might be using a more innovative way for cleaning their stolen values of recharge cards by transferring the risk to other users.

Therefore, a possible scenario of how those cyber criminals are benefiting is as follows: A hacker uses your msn account and asks your friends to buy him a recharge card worth $ 100. Given that the hacker had access to your emails, chat history, etc. he will be able to relate with them to gain their trust before asking them (in your own words) to buy him a $100 card. Provided your friends believed the hacker, and sent him a serial number of a card, he will have two options: a) use it on his mobile for his personal use (highly unlikely given that he can be tracked sooner or later) or b) transfer or sell the value of the card to other victims who will use them on their phones. In option b, chances of finding the criminal hackers are far less and take more time.

This new breed of hackers is leveraging a smarter approach in hacking and playing on the emotional side of the victims before ripping them off. I’ve heard stories of an IT expert falling victim to this scam. This is not a post to teach you about information security but it’s just a reminder that cybercrime is evolving into a more personal level. Therefore, always check and double check your friends’ identity and honesty of their request before kissing your money goodbye.

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