Tech Talk: Technology – friend or foe?

Today cyber criminals can hack into our computers and smartphones from anywhere around the world.

March 18, 2015 09:43
new tech

AGROLAN KNOWLEDGE and Input Ltd. displays their new advanced camera system that enables agriculturalists to monitor growth in their fields remotely, transmitting images to a dedicated website.. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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While it’s obvious to most of us that technology has improved our lives, we aren’t always so quick to notice the dangers that lurk close behind. Whereas in past eras, criminals had to be physically present at the scene of the crime, today cyber criminals can hack into our computers and smartphones from anywhere around the world.

‘Big Brother’ comes to agriculture

At the upcoming 19th International Agricultural Exhibition & Conference in Tel Aviv next month, Agrolan Knowledge and Input Ltd. from the Golan Heights will present their new advanced camera system that enables agriculturalists to monitor growth in their fields remotely, transmitting images to a dedicated website. Farmers can then look at these high-quality images and the data regarding temperatures and the weather, and decide whether they should consult an expert to address a problem or question. This close monitoring can help save entire crops (and thus huge sums of money) well before more serious damage occurs.

Agrolan cameras can, for example, determine whether fertilizer and pesticides are working properly, monitor the germination and absorption of seedlings as well as detect disease and pests early on before they cause much damage. The cameras use solar panels and batteries to take automatic pictures in vegetable fields, fruit orchards and vineyards.

Another advanced technology product is a flying insect trap that transmits images to farmers’ computers and smartphones. This product is especially helpful when dealing with the Mediterranean fruit fly, which has caused serious damage to crops. This computerized system can identify which insects did not appear in the previous frame, and can know if harmless insects are being trapped. Users can upload images, sketches and notations to Google Maps, thereby receiving a broader picture of the situation. The traps provide real-time data, which is a tremendous improvement over current traps that farmers can only examine at intervals on site. By using this hi-tech trap, agriculturalists can identify sudden and drastic increases of insects, which helps them deal with the situation immediately before severe and irreversible damage can occur.

Cyber crime

According to a study that was carried out by Intel Security, cyber criminals are using innovative techniques to illegally withdraw information from computers. What these criminals do is convince users by email to unwittingly offer up personal information (sometimes even including bank details), which many times leads to great financial loss. In a phenomenon known as phishing, more than two-thirds of all emails that circulate around the world are spam designed exactly for this purpose. McAfee Labs alone has identified more than 30 million suspicious URLs. More than 80 percent of people, unfortunately, admit that they cannot always tell when an email is spam. Studies show that 18% of people open up spam they receive at work and perform whatever fraudulent action they’ve been requested to by cyber criminals.

You’ve been warned

Here is a list of reasons why so many people acquiesce to cyber scam requests: 1. Reciprocity – When people receive something (in this case an email) they feel obligated to follow through with the request.

2. Missing information – People tend to follow through with requests when they believe that an institution they are engaged with is missing information about them. For example, they’ll answer spam purportedly from their bank because they’re worried that not following through could lead to the blocking of their bank account.

3. Consistency – Many times hackers who impersonate company computer personnel succeed in withdrawing information from employees because they begin with routine, logical requests and only after they’ve gained people’s trust do they move on to more sinister demands.

4. Likability – Successful hackers tend to be charming and sweet when they call or email unsuspecting victims.

5. Authority – People tend to cooperate when they are under the impression that the person requesting the information has the proper authority. As a result, many hackers impersonate CEOs and company presidents.

6. Peer pressure – When people see that all their colleagues were sent similar requests, they feel more secure knowing that everyone else is dealing with the same issues.

Homegrown technology

CyActive is a start-up located in the Beersheba National Cyber Park that is developing a unique technology that forecasts and detects malicious software computer systems (anti-malware), thus preventing serious security breaches. It was recently bought out by PayPal, which plans on keeping its R&D center in Israel. The acquisition of CyActive’s expertise will give PayPal a competitive edge in the data security field. PayPal says its most important role is keeping the money of its millions of customers safe. It’s also interested in creating a center that will help the company improve its ability to prevent cyber crimes.

The election is finally here

For those of you who are obsessed with the upcoming election and the thought of missing out on anything election-related stresses you out, here are five apps to keep you connected on this auspicious day.

The app, and webpage, facescoop follows all the Facebook pages of MKs, politicians, media organizations and leading PR firms and summarizes this activity all together on one page. Facescoop saves, in chronological order, all the posts that get erased pretty quickly from Facebook. It also bypasses Facebook’s cumbersome search engine. There is an official Israeli government election app available on iTunes that updates viewers regarding the location of polling stations and real-time voting results. Unfortunately, the app is not available in Arabic or Russian, and as a result has been widely criticized for not being accessible to a significant number of Israeli citizens.

Free for iPhone and Android.

The Google app Running for Election is a game that lets you run the candidate of your choice for prime minister in the upcoming election. Your candidate will need to work super hard to jump over roofs and other obstacles as he or she tries to overcome all the other contenders. This entertaining game should keep you busy on your day off from work.

Free for Android.

For those of you who tend to treat elections with a bit of humor, the 2015 Election app called Gav Hauma is a great way to boost your energy this election. In Gav Hauma, each candidate will say whatever you tell them to in order to garner your vote. Just click on a candidate and record a very entertaining message for him or her to proclaim. And if you think your clip is relatively funny and clever, you’re welcome to enter it into the funny election video contest. Who knows, your clip might be chosen to air publicly on the next showing on the TV show Gav Hauma. Free for iPhone and Android.

If the thought of schlepping to the polling station makes you want to go take a nap instead, a company called Uber is here to save the day and help you carry out your national duty. Beginning an hour before the polls open, and ending an hour after they close, anybody who wants a free ride to and from their closest polling station can order free rides on Uber.

Free on iPhone and Android.

Happy voting everyone! If you run a young start-up, have developed an interesting app or have a question, please feel free to contact

Translated by Hannah Hochner.

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