Old School vs. New School

REVISED: You can’t succeed as a private eye if you’re not constantly learning. Ditch some of your old school ways and find the new stuff!

10 Browser Extensions to Unleash Your Inner Spy

Let’s face it, keeping up with technology is tough. It’s a part-time job just trying to follow the latest iPhone updates let alone browser extensions. Lost in the shuffle of the endless barrage of new gadgets is our anonymity, and sometimes, our privacy. Nowadays, every click or page view is systematically monitored. Worse, we don’t even know it’s happening.

So, what can the average person do?

For starters, you can stay ahead of the game by understanding the array of tools out there and what they do.

We all have a web browser; there are multiple versions available like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, etc (or god forbid, Internet Explorer) that help you access the internet. Browser extensions are downloadable attachments that increase the functionality of your web browser. Simply put, extensions improve your internet experience. But they can also stop spies from accessing your personal information.

With so many gizmos out there this post is far from comprehensive, but we went ahead and collected a few tools you can install today, for free. Here are ten browser extensions that will heighten your counterespionage awareness:

Online Profile Resources

  1. Rapportive is a browser plugin that allows you to view LinkedIn profiles right in Gmail. It gives you a profile picture, social media info, job title, mutual connections – all alongside your inbox. 

rapportive spy tools extension

Picture Resource Extensions

2. Google Image Search and TinEye are reverse image searching plugins. Crucial for when you need to know if a profile picture is fake, especially if you suspect you’re being Catfished. Simply right-click on a picture to see if it’s been used elsewhere.

tineye plugin screenshot

3. PictureMate helps you find hidden pictures on Facebook (and you don’t even have to be friends). This extension pulls pictures from Facebook friends in which the person you’re viewing has been tagged.

Email Tracking Extensions

There are handfuls of email tracking services out there; some attached to customer relations management (CRM) software and others are simpler. But for the most part, they all do the same thing: track when, where, and with what device you’ve opened an email. Here are several examples:

4. HubSpot Sales (formerly Sidekick) gives you desktop notifications when the emails you send get opened or clicked in real time.

hubspot sales sidekick

5. Bananatag sends notifications to Gmail when a contact opens your email or clicks a link.

bananatag__email_tracking__scheduling__templates___attachment_tracking

6. MailTrack tells you who opens your emails with a double green “read” checkmark.

Mail track plugin

7. Yesware lets you check email open and reply rates, link clicks, attachment opens and presentation pageviews. 

8. Streak notifies you when your emails get read, when, and how many times your email was opened.

Email Tracking Countermeasures

9. UglyEmail is a Gmail extension to check if your email is being tracked. Every tracked email is marked with the “evil eye” so you can easily identify them.

ugly email gmail extension

10. PixelBlock is a Gmail extension that blocks email tracking attempts used to detect when you open/read emails. PixelBlock displays a ‘red eye’ when it finds and blocks a tracking attempt inside of an email you’re reading.

What Next?

Now that you understand what’s out there and how users of tools like these can track your email habits, online profiles, and hidden info – be careful. The next step is to check the privacy settings of your various profiles, better manage your online information, and institute strict email practices.

What tools do you use to stop people from unnecessarily invading your privacy? Share a tip in the comments below.

Good for Surveillance Purposes, Creepy for People With Suspicious Landlords.

No lens? No problem with Flat Cam. Surveillance in microform.

The reason your camera currently can’t hide in a business card or why they look awkward in the frame of those surveillance spy glasses is because of lenses.  Those lenses, no matter how small we make a camera, tend to take up a good chunk of space such that, even if the camera is hidden, it has to hide in something with at least a little bulk to it.  Or it used to, anyway.

Engineers from Rice University are taking inspiration from ancient pinhole cameras to design a new kind of camera that’s basically paper-flat and devoid of a lens.  Like a pinhole camera, it uses a hole to let in light. Unlike a pinhole camera, and to make better use of light, it has millions of holes.  A little computer science allows the camera to reconstruct one solid image from the many images let in by the numerous holes and voila, you have a functional camera that’s super thin.  So thin, in fact, you could paper an entire wall with them and have access to viewing an entire room.

A flat camera that you can basically manipulate like paper could have dozens of applications; secret body and dash cams, easily hidden security cameras virtually everywhere.  You could up the ante on the GoPro market by being able to use the cameras in far more extreme conditions, or in much crazier places.  Want to see where pizza rat is taking his meal?  Pop a paper cam on it. Or put one on a helium balloon and let it loose in a storm. Imagine the surveillance possibilities.

If you could roll out cameras like you roll out tape or paper, what could you do with them?

Tax Fraud Is on the Rise, Take Extra Care to Avoid Phishing Scams

The Internal Revenue Service renewed a consumer alert for e-mail schemes (phishing scams) after seeing an approximate 400 percent surge in phishing and malware incidents so far this tax season.

In a press release, the IRS reported:

The Internal Revenue Service renewed a consumer alert for e-mail schemes after seeing an approximate 400 percent surge in phishing and malware incidents so far this tax season.

The emails are designed to trick taxpayers into thinking these are official communications from the IRS or others in the tax industry, including tax software companies…E-mails can seek information related to refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts and verifying PIN information.

When you click on any of those email links, you’re taken to a site that looks just like an official IRS page but is actually a fraud site asking for your personal information. Those sites might also contain malware. There were over a thousand of these incidents reported to the IRS in January, compared with just 254 that same time last year.

The IRS says it typically doesn’t email taxpayers asking for any personal information, so that’s the biggest red flag right there: simply getting an email from an entity claiming to be the IRS. And here are a few recent email scam subject lines:
  • Numerous variations about people’s tax refund
  • Update your filing details, which can include references to W-2.
  • Confirm your personal information.
  • Get my IP Pin.
  • Get my E-file Pin.
  • Order a transcript.
  • Complete your tax return information.

The IRS says variations of this scam are sent via text, too. It also helps to know the common characteristics of a phone call scam, because scammers will often follow up their calls with an email. They might be able to recite the last four of your Social Security number or even spoof the IRS’s toll-free number on your caller ID. If you think you’ve been sent a scam, forward it to phishing@irs.govand, obviously, don’t click on anything in the email. You can also call the IRS directly at 1.800.829.1040 to see if they are indeed trying to reach you.

Source: Tax Fraud Is on the Rise, Take Extra Care to Avoid Phishing Scams