Social Engineering at its finest!

A Password Hacker in Action

The following is from a January 2012 live chat between Apple online support and a hacker posing as Brian—a real Apple customer. The hacker’s goal: resetting the password and taking over the account:

Apple: Can you answer a question from the account? Name of your best friend?

Hacker: I think that is “Kevin” or “Austin” or “Max.”

Apple: None of those answers are correct. Do you think you may have entered last names with the answer?

Hacker: I might have, but I don’t think so. I’ve provided the last 4, is that not enough?

Apple: The last four of the card are incorrect. Do you have another card?

Hacker: Can you check again? I’m looking at my Visa here, the last 4 is “5555.”

Apple: Yes, I have checked again. 5555 is not what is on the account. Did you try to reset online and choose email authentication?

Hacker: Yes, but my email has been hacked. I think the hacker added a credit card to the account, as many of my accounts had the same thing happen to them.

Apple: You want to try the first and last name for the best friend question?

Hacker: Be right back. The chicken is burning, sorry. One second.

Apple: OK.

Hacker: Here, I’m back. I think the answer might be Chris? He’s a good friend.

Apple: I am sorry, Brian, but that answer is incorrect.

Hacker: Christopher A********h is the full name. Another possibility is Raymond M*******r.

Apple: Both of those are incorrect as well.

Hacker: I’m just gonna list off some friends that might be haha. Brian C**a. Bryan Y***t. Steven M***y.

Apple: How about this. Give me the name of one of your custom mail folders.

Hacker: “Google” “Gmail” “Apple” I think. I’m a programmer at Google.

Apple: OK, “Apple” is correct. Can I have an alternate email address for you?

Hacker: The alternate email I used when I made the account?

Apple: I will need an email address to send you the password reset.

Hacker: Can you send it to “toe@aol.com”?

Apple: The email has been sent.

Hacker: Thanks!

Passwords just aren’t safe anymore.

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Anime Review – Darker than Black: Ryuusei No Gemini

Anime

Somehow the high expectations I had awaiting the sequel to a fantastic series were not fulfilled. Ryuusei No Gemini isn’t exactly a sequel to the 1st season, but more like a separate arc in itself. It would be unfair to compare both of them as they vary in their style and storyline. For starters, the series are not bi-episodic; instead revolves around a single storyline involving a Eurasian female protagonist. Hei’s involvement through the series although significant, has not really been up to what it ought to be.

Storyline: 7.5/10

Suou Pavlichenko is a 13 year Eurasian girl whose life suddenly changes on a fateful day when she meets up with Hei. Involved in the mess of politics and war between the contractors, she seeks out on her own quest to find her missing twin, Shion. Alongside her is Hei, a drunk bastard who completely lacks the mannerism and suaveness he once had. The personality change might have been necessary in this series as it made things a bit interesting, but it didn’t seem all that good seeing him like that. The storyline in its individuality served to be interesting though. The protagonist goes through a lot of ordeals throughout her journey. The series also has some graphic and violent killings which made it a little gory at times. The series showed the birth and evolution of the contractors; something we had vaguely seen in the 1st season. The involvement of many agencies like CIA, FSB, MI6 and Section 3 was quite interesting. However, it could have made for better viewing had they had given more air time to show their involvement completely. They left with quite a bit to be said and it felt as if these names were only included to attract attention without a proper motive behind it. Also, the “Syndicate” that pretty much ruled in Kuro no Keiyakusha was nowhere to be seen. This was a disappointment as the mysteriousness behind the organization and its motives, the men leading the organization, etc. suddenly disappeared. Altogether though, despite its shortcomings it did some justice to its plot. Seeing the protagonists’ whole journey from havoc to happiness was nice. As for the name “Gemini of the Meteor”, I don’t think it was so relevant as to be put in the title (lack of imagination, perhaps?).

Characterization: 7/10

Anime

Ryuusei No Gemini had a plethora of characters which made it an entertaining prospect to watch. Starting off with the protagonist, Suou, a determined and strong girl entwined between living a life as a human or a contractor. It was touching to see the ordeals she and her school friends went through. Much like a supporting character, July was an example of some nice character development. His relation with Suou was charming to watch. Hei’s laid-back sake drinking attitude failed to impress me the slightest. And that he was not able to showcase his powers during most of the series made it lamer for me. The agents of Section 3 were pretty good, namely Hizaki and Genma. Hizaki’s remuneration involved kissing someone after the usage of her power added to the humor. Madam Oreille was yet promising character shown but somehow failed to make much of an impact in the Anime. A lot of interesting characters I would say. But somehow they were cramped up in a short series and there was lack of proper character development which somehow failed them. They should have been given more time for their characters to be known properly rather than just through some cameo roles.

Art: 9/10

The original characters were already pretty awesome in how they were made. The new characters were also very nicely put out. From the Russians to the CIA to the Japanese characters, all looked very original. Also the new characters gave the storyline a refreshing experience. The fights were well-coordinated and typically good to watch. Hei’s new look was intriguing; Suou’s character was pretty nicely done too. The agents looked good and the background of the Anime from Russia to Tokyo was beautiful. The characters are all very nicely drawn and the animation stands out to be pretty good as well.

Sound: 7/10

Sound was another good element about Ryuusei No Gemini. The OP was a treat to the ears. I particularly liked it. The voices of the characters were also very good. Suou sounded very sweet when she used to shout “Tanya”. As there was a mixture of cultures, it’ll be interesting to see how these voices correlate in the dubs that will be out later on. The ED was average I would say. The best thing however would be the background score during the fights. The whole beat-box thing or whatever that was being played surely pepped up the interest to watch. I loved it.

Overall: 7.5/10

If one sees Ryuusei No Gemini without having any expectations after watching the 1st season, one will find that its not bad. Although not as epic as Kuro no Keiyakusha (1st season), Ryuusei No Gemini offers an entertaining experience with some interesting character portrayals. Combined with good artwork and sound, it is recommended for those who loved the 1st season. Just keep the comparisons away while watching. ^^

Epic Rap Battles of History!

Lately things have been pretty idle in office. Some changes were happening in my team which led me to have no work for nearly two weeks. I got bored and resolved to surfing the internet to pass my time (along with playing loads of Ping Pong in my office cafeteria).

In the past few weeks I’ve seen a lot of YouTube videos, more than probably what I saw in the past 2-3 months. So while surfing randomly I came across something called “Epic Rap Battles of History – Gandalf vs Dumbledore”. At first I laughed, but after seeing the video I freaking loved it. Great Raps, great tunes and great acting by both Gandalf and Dumbledore. On further checking, I came across a lot of similar videos all titled with “Epic Rap Battles of History”. I sincerely believe everyone should check out these videos; they’re just around 2 minutes but epic as their title suggests.

After the end of each battle, the viewer is left to decide who won. In most cases the battles are typically fair, although a few taper towards one person more. After viewing (and downloading) all of them, I’m giving out my reviews and conclusion on each of these rap battles. 8)

Overall, there are 11 battles. They release around 1 battle a month (not always the case though). Without further waiting, let the Battle reviewing BEGIN!

1) John Lennon v/s Bill O’Reilly

Okay, I’m going serially. To be honest, this one was probably the least interesting out of all the 11. The fact that I didn’t really know both of these guys well kinda added to my disinterest. However, the raps were good and both put up a fair fight.

Who Won?
Tie. Both John and Bill were pretty good. And since I don’t know them well enough, I’m truly being impartial. xD

2) Darth Vader vs Hitler

OMG! Who would have thought. DARTH VADER VS HITLER. This screams epic even at the thought of it.  I guess that’s why it has the most views out of all the Battles. Personally, its my favorite choice of the 11 videos if you consider the characters. Hitler started this one off and looked good until Vader got his raps going. They were TIGHT! Frankly, Hitler was disappointing. He didn’t show up a good fight and looked more like a pansy. Darth Vader on the other side was truly DARTH VADER. The Carbonite bath part was LOL!

Who Won?
Darth Vader. You gotta admit, this was a bit easy to decide. Hitler’s raps just didn’t have it in them to defeat the original “Dark Lord”. xD

3) Abe Lincoln vs Chuck Norris

Another awesome set of characters. Now this is a battle you’d be interested to see. Random but epic. Abe Lincoln (Nice Peter) personally did a great job acting out as Lincoln. And one would think Chuck Norris wins by default, but not quite. Abe’s raps were kick-ass while Chuck was talking more about himself and what all he’s done. The part where Chuck says “I’m Chuck FUCKING Norris” was damn funny. At that single moment, you’d think, “Damn, HE IS CHUCK NORRIS. WIN”. But without being all Chuck Norris about this battle, the verdict was a bit simple.

Who Won?
Abe Lincoln. But I guess Chuck allowed him to win. 😛

4) Sarah Palin vs Lady Gaga

Another very random battle, but a GREAT one. Sarah Palin was awesome in this and so was Lady Gaga. Both had really good raps, but some facts about Sarah really helped out here. 😛 Killed a moose with her bare hands is like.. wow. @_@ I loved how Lisa Nova (Sarah Palin) acted, especially when she said “Having sex with a frog”, xD. All in all, this was a bit difficult one to decide.

Who Won?
Sarah Palin. You gotta hand it to her. Her raps had more of an effect to Gaga, with the transvestite, and not being a lady and a lot of other stuff. Sorry Gaga fans 😛

5) Hulk Hogan and Macho Man vs Kim-Jong-Il

A tag-team rap battle sounded pretty interesting. Although, this was one of my lesser favorites. Kim-Jong-Il was unexpectedly awesome in this. Hulk Hogan’s raps were good although he kinda self-pwned with the check bouncing line. Macho Man Randy Savage FTW! but sadly his raps didn’t really have much effect. Kim-Jong-Il went hard with his raps and kicked ass.

Who Won?
Kim-Jong-Il. Not being partial. Just telling it like it is. His raps owned.

6) Justin Bieber vs Beethoven

This one is my personal favorite. I got to see Justin’s ass kicked. I got to see Beethoven kick Justin’s ass and the background music was just lovely (courtesy Beethoven again). Although, not to be partial, Justin himself was pretty good. His start-up line was great, although he kinda failed with his “Kim Kardashian on my bed backstage” line. Although, I loved how Nice Peter (who played Beethoven) gave an interested look after Bieber said that. This rap was epic alright, and the background music was tight. Beethoven FTW!

Who Won?
Beethoven. His raps were great and he avoided making stupid comments like Justin did.

7) Einstein vs Stephen Hawking

Woo Hoo! A battle of 2 science geeks. This one is actually the slowest of all the rap battles, but I loved it nonetheless. Einstein really went hard on Hawking, I loved a few of his lines. Stephen responded well but there were only a few lines that were truly epic. In the 2nd verse, Einstein kept up his ownage. However, HAWKING came back, “There are 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 particles that we can observe. Your mamma took the ugly ones and put them into one nerd.” LMAO! This line had ownage written all over it. However, that was all there was to it for Hawking.

Who Won?
Einstein. His raps were consistent throughout. Although, Hawking’s epic line deserves a special mention.

8.) Genghis Khan vs Easter Bunny

Ha ha. I really liked this one too. I love how random they are during battles. Surprisingly, the Easter Bunny did give Khan some competition, though Khan ruled. The Easter Bunny started his first verse really well, but his 2nd one was nothing great. Khan, on the other hand started good and got even more ownsome in his 2nd verse. I loved the background tune in this one too, really suited the battle.

Who Won?
Genghis Khan. His DNA is in dudes from New York to Japan. XD Owned!

9) Napoleon (Dynamite) vs Napoleon (Bonaparte)

Alright, I didn’t know who Napoleon Dynamite was but I wiki-ed him and watched the video again. This battle is also one of my personal favorites. It was very well fought from both the sides. The background music for both those guys were great too. Dynamite’s raps were kick-ass and so was Bonaparte’s. TILL THE VERY LAST LINE, I was unsure of the winner. Both were epic. But then, Bonaparte just KILLED it with his last line. “You’re the only type of Dynamite that’s never going to bang.” OMG! OMFG! OMFFGG! LMAO! I laughed my ass out. xD

Who Won?
Napoleon Bonaparte. ONLY because of his last line. It was pretty equal otherwise. That last line KILLED IT. XD

10) Billy Mays vs Ben Franklin

I only started loving this one, after a few views. I liked the background music on this one. Benjamin Franklin was great and so was Billy Mays. During the 2nd guy, the Sham Wow guy took over and was great too. I loved the transition and the music that was played just before Sham Wow took over. xD This one again, was particularly tough to decide. However, we always have a winner.

Who Won?
Benjamin Franklin. Benjamin won by a whisker. His raps just had that little extra.

11) Gandalf vs Dumbledore

Wow! Gandalf vs Dumbledore was something I actually thought of as a battle. It was awesome to see both of them battle it out. The start was great from Gandalf but Dumbledore followed equally. Both of them fought like true Wizards. Although, I didn’t like how they made Dumbledore appear gay.

Who Won?
Dumbledore. Tough. I don’t really know why, but I think Dumbledore just had that attitude to him that made him won (or I’m just being partial xD).

That concludes the Epic Rap Battles so far. I’m looking forward to see the next one out. All of these videos are uploaded on the “NicePeter” channel. Most of the characters have either been played by Nice Peter or Lloyd Ahlquist. Personally, they’ve done an epic job.

That’s it for now. Thankfully, things at office have been resolved and I find myself with loads to do again. Will keep the blog updated whenever I can. ^^

Current Trends in Social Networking

Facebook and Twitter rule the roost when it comes to Social Networking. But recently, Search Engine giant Google came up with its own Social Networking Platform, aptly named Google+.

Google Plus is “a social platform that rests atop the web and brings all of Google’s existing technologies (plus some new ones) into one place to make it easier, faster, and more fun to share what you’re doing online with just about anyone else”. Sounds interesting. In simpler terms, its a new social networking site created by Google which currently aims to not only compete with Facebook, but many other social sites by combining pretty much every technology Google has, thereby creating the most ultimate experience for any social networking “dude” out there.

This seemed pretty enchanting. Shifting focus back on Facebook, I’ve always wanted to create one of those random popular pages that get about a million likes just because its something new or something cool. Google+ was both of this. Hence, I recently created a Google+ Page on Facebook and started inviting all my friends there. I even posted a few links, added photos to make it look all “official”. I was pleasantly surprised to see that within a week the member count went beyond a 100, just through a simple network of friends. I also started inviting people who wanted to join the page and members kept pouring. It stands at 250 now, which is pretty good. However, by this time some bigger geeks created auto-invite mechanisms and Google+ pages kept pouring in. Others became more popular and got around 10k Likes. I guess it was then that I decided to leave my page as it is.  My purpose behind the page was to test out a few things, and I’ve got my results. Heh heh.

Anyways, it seems that the advent of Google+ has really shaken Facebook to some extent. Google already has its Gmail users who will be a part of Google+  automatically whether they want to or not. I had filled out something called as a “Google Profile” months back and now I see that its purpose in itself was to be integrated with G+. With the already enormous database of existing Gmail users, Google+ will have the the most rapid growth in terms of members compared to any Social Networking Site. It’s estimated to have 20 million users by now. And it’s just been a little more than 2 weeks since its launch, not counting the fact that they’re still not completely open to the public yet.

Its been awhile since Google has come up with own brilliant thing, the previous one being AdWords launched a decade or so ago. Google+ is set to become the creation that is set to make another booming impact to the Internet world, more specifically the Social Networking scenario. They were unsuccessful before with some of their previous endeavors, namely Google Buzz and Wave. Google Wave at least looked promising, but couldn’t really deliver and lacked performance. Buzz was something I didn’t even glance at; it just looked annoying to me. These technologies did lead critics to do what they do best – criticize Google for exhausting their think tanks while making profit from taking over companies who worked on Blogger, Orkut and YouTube. I think Google+ should shut those critics up.

Google+ is growing like a weed.

Talking more about Google+, there are Sparks, Circles, Hangouts and Streams. People who have heard of Google+ will probably know what they are. To those who don’t, Google it. =P Personally, the Hangout feature looked most pleasant and appealing. The Streams are informative and serves as a good source of knowledge for friends who view your streams. The Google Plus One plugin has already integrated itself with most sites and is rapidly being integrated into others (see the chart above). To combat the Google+ “Hangout”, Facebook has collaborated with Skype and introduced Video Chat. Skype users can hook up with Facebook friends using Skype, while Facebook friends can video chat on Facebook now through Skype. This was released just a week after Google+ was made open by invitation, though Facebook claims that they’ve been developing the video chat feature with Skype for 6 months now. I guess had they released it a week earlier, it would have looked much better. Google gained the preemptive advantage.

One would think that Google+ would have stirred up Facebook in some way. Of course, this was sudden and nobody knew about it, unlike Tulalip by Microsoft whose news has already been leaked to the public. Very recently though (and god knows why), Facebook changed their chat system and completely screwed things up for themselves. In the new chat, you cannot see all of your friends online, just a select few. These select few are chosen by Facebook by analyzing your profile and determining the friends with whom you interact the most. The analysis however, has been a complete fail because the results are completely not what one would expect. Instead of showing the friends I interact with the most, it showed me a list of random friends with whom I have just talked a few times, or newly added friends. Count on Zuckerberg to anger members, especially at such a crucial time:

If you’re angry with the new chat system and wish to express your opinions, join this Facebook Page: Petition to get the old chat back.

I think its pretty clear now that Google+ has become a real competitor to Facebook. Pretty soon, even if you want it or not, you WILL be on Google+ simply because you’re already using Google in some way or the other. Be it the Google Search Engine, Blogger, YouTube, Gmail, Buzz, Wave, Google Docs or even its browser Chrome, there is no escape from Google.

It’s just a matter of time before Google integrates some of these features into Google+ and a user will then, TRULY be endowed with a social networking site that provides, literally, everything.

I recently saw a video which I believe explains my ideology pretty well:

 

So is it a goodbye Facebook? Give your opinions here. 🙂

Hello World!

That is how most of my programming in B.Sc. I.T started off with. Whether it be C, C++, or Java, the first thing we ever practiced was to type out the message “Hello World!” on the screen. This is how I’d like to start proceedings for my “blog” too. Hello World! – Welcome to my Blog. ^__^

The ones who know me don’t need my introduction. To those who don’t, I’m Abhishek Sayan, a 20 year old guy living in Mumbai, India. I’ve recently graduated from College and am working as a Business Development Specialist at a web presence company called Directi. Life has been great for me, and I’m enjoying this journey thus far.

My interests mostly include surfing the Internet, Information Technology, Writing, watching Japanese Anime, reviewing them, Website Development, etc. You’ll find me writing about these in my blog. I’ll also be writing about myself, my friends, and some random funny stuff I come across from time to time. xD

The idea behind creating a blog came from a few of my friends. They liked to read whatever I used to write. I felt good hearing that. Most of my time on the net was spent on Orkut Forums before, debating about any topic we could find. I then made a personal blog where I used to write some private stuff before. I thought it’d be good to have a public blog for my friends to read. I could write about anything I like or came to know about, and since I love writing, this seemed like a good idea. I was on Blogger earlier which was alright until I saw WordPress’s dashboard and found it much better. I think I’ll enjoy writing here. So far, so good.

Well, I guess that about covers it for an introductory post. Hopefully, you shall see more of my posts in the near future. =P ^_^

~ Abhishek Sayan