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!
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
- 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.
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.
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.
5. Bananatag sends notifications to Gmail when a contact opens your email or clicks a link.
6. MailTrack tells you who opens your emails with a double green “read” checkmark.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.