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Investigation-Sourcing & Technology: Crime Fighting In the 21st Century

Investigation-Sourcing & Technology: Crime Fighting In the 21st Century

Advanced technology and online social networking is changing nearly everything about the way people interact – including how criminals pull off illegal stunts, and how law enforcement responds to these acts. In light of the Boston bombings, which blew up in a flurry of public involvement and social media leads, it’s worth taking a look at how crowdsourcing has spurred crimesourcing, and subsequently, what is now being called investigation-sourcing, or the collective detective.

The Rise Of Crowdsourcing

The advent of crowdsourcing – obtaining services, ideas or products from a large, undefined group, primarily online, rather than a singular traditional outlet – pulls together the resources of the many to benefit a clearly outlined project or goal. First coined in a 2006 edition of Wired magazine, the term crowdsourcing has caught on like wildfire and is now used to describe familiar phenomena like Indiegogo and Kickstarter campaigns (crowdfunding), Threadless.com T-shirt competitions (crowdvoting), reality TV shows like American Idol and even information shared in online message boards and forums.

Some of the most notable examples of crowdsourcing in action:

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  • In 2006, Netflix started a campaign that invited the public to develop a more accurate way of recommending movies based on similar tastes. Three years later, a company called BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos cashed in Netflix’s $1 million promise for the algorithm that is well known by Netflix users today.
  • One Canadian gold mining company called Goldcorp was facing bankruptcy in 2007 when it put out a call to the public to help locate the gold within its mines. After posting its full datasets online, a member of the public employed never-before-used gold mining techniques to find the gold, save the company and take home the $500,000 reward.

The Cons Of Crimesourcing

Yet, for all the progress made by crowdsourcing, a dark side has also arisen. The streamlined collaboration that seamlessly emerges due to the nature of crowdsourcing has unfortunately also led to what is being called “crimesourcing.” As easily as companies, governments or entrepreneurs can tap into the genius of the crowd, so, too, can criminals. Crimesourcing denotes the process by which criminals, including hackers, mobsters and bank robbers, convince or, more often, con a group of citizens into playing a role in their devious scheme.

Marc Goodman, the LAPD cop who started the county’s first Interpol system in the 1990s and founder of the Future Crimes Institute, says cyber criminals are a lot like start up companies – they want money, they want a challenge, and they want to leverage their skills. Unfortunately, cyber hacks are all too common and criminals can “crimesource” by using the anonymity of the Internet to get unwitting bystanders to be accomplices in their plot. Sometimes, the crime is as typical as hacking into an account, and sometimes crimesourcing can be more creative.

Some of the most ingenious ways criminals are crimesourcing:

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  • Like the recently popular “flash mobs,” people are organizing online anonymously to decide a time and place to descend upon a designated store to collectively rob the establishment. Sometimes these “flash robs” will happen in broad daylight, end up injuring bystanders and allow for most of the perpetrators to escape.
  • In one particularly clever escapade, one bank robber in Seattle posed as an employer on Craigslist and convinced a group of people to dress in their construction gear to apply for a high-paying job, all at the same time at the exact location of the bank he was robbing. Of course, he was dressed in the same gear and got away, as a dozen decoys were already in place when the cops rolled in.
  • Dealing in the online realm, one ploy to break into Yahoo email invited users to break CAPTCHA codes in order to receive free pornography; the hacker devised it so that every CAPTCHA code that someone cracked spilled the secrets to another’s sensitive information.

Even amidst the chaos of the Boston manhunt, hackers were taking advantage of the sensationalism in the media, sending out emails with subject lines like “Explosion at Boston Marathon” and “Boston explosion caught on video” that unleashed a virus onto the victim’s computer. The Associated Press’s Twitter account was also hacked in the middle of the week, falsely tweeting that the White House had been attacked, causing the stock market to drop in response.

In a time when technology can allow for great innovation but also great crime, law enforcement is employing some 21st century strategies for catching these smart cyber criminals.

Investigation-sourcing & The Boston Marathon

Is crimesourcing giving way to investigation-sourcing? While there surely is a catchier name for it out there, investigation-sourcing is precisely what the FBI employed to catch the Boston bombers. Using a mixture of social media leads, video camera footage and citizen responses, law enforcement optimized crowdsourcing to jump straight onto the trail of the two bombers.

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The Boston bombing is the largest crowdsourcing police operation to date, with floods of information swarming the FBI offices. Though the vast waves of information that were collected during the Boston manhunt culminated in a successful capture, a lot of misinformation was spread, too. Outlets like Reddit, Twitter, The New York Post and even CNN reported falsely accused suspects, while the Boston police Twitter was oversaturated with Tweets and AT&T had to issue a warning that their cell towers were getting overloaded.

Former FBI Chief and manager of Kroll’s cyber-investigations practice, Timothy Ryan, said in an interview that it’s better to over-collect information than to under-collect. Now, with citizen journalism ramping up, as evidenced by the outpour of crowdsourced police data, it’s time to refine the methods even further.

Growing Trends & New Strategies

Smart technology is making detective work smarter, faster and more reliable. It was pretty incredible that the Boston bombers were identified in such a short period of time and caught within one week, but what if, amidst all the data, computers were able to sift through the evidence rather than use the immense manpower it must have required? A Silicon Valley company is working on developing technology that does just that. Crowd Optic is an app that uses visual mining technology to compile images and determine the most popular photos at an event – a helpful analytical tool in emergencies such as the Boston bombing.

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Another innovative tool is from Topsy Labs: they’ve got a database of every Tweet ever created since June 2010, as well as the ability to search old Tweets for catchphrases like “bomb,” for example, and then use geo-referencing to pinpoint the locations of these conversations. This is one way that investigators are able to leverage technology to “pull signal from the noise” and hone in on perpetrators of crime.

Call it the “collective detective” or call it “investigation-sourcing,” either way, technology is ramping up to help the FBI catch on to criminals quicker and quicker. Some theories are going around that eventually, predictive analytics will allow law enforcement to predict crimes before they happen, not using psychics like in Minority Report, but just really, really smart technology. Along with this theory and current technology on the market, of course, there are concerns about authorities becoming too much like “Big Brother.”

Hopefully, smart technology will be used for catching criminals and not abusing power. So far, it doesn’t seem like many people are upset that the Boston bombers could be captured so quickly, nor was there a lack of people contributing evidence to the case. Crowdsourcing technology is just at the beginning of its stint in law enforcement; the Boston manhunt really opened the door to using “collective detective” tools for help in solving other crimes – like finding missing children, for example.

Online Tools & Personal Protection

As for protecting yourself online from getting duped by these super smart and sneaky cyber criminals, there are a few tangible actions you can take.

  1. Protect your identity. Never give out personal or sensitive information online, even to someone claiming to be an employer or an official. Oftentimes, cyber criminals will pose as others to get this information out of you.
  2. Don’t download anything from an insecure connection or an untrusted network. Even if the website tells you that you need to download a bot for a program to work, make sure the domain is familiar and trusted.
  3. If you’re really interested in working with someone online, ask for their full identification and do a criminal background check through an online service like Instant Checkmate to verify their legitimacy. Cyber criminals won’t always give you correct information, but if they hesitate to provide these details in the first place, that’s a clear red flag.

From crowdsourcing to crimesourcing to the collective detective, interactive technology is laying the groundwork for some innovative, as well as challenging, opportunities to connect online. The bottom line is that as technology progresses, all sorts of people will find all sorts of uses for it, so it’s important to stay ahead of the curve. Every action will have a reaction, and it’s an exciting time to be navigating the novelty of crowdsourcing technology.

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Published on November 9, 2018

How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

Technology has taken the business world by storm. People and businesses are progressively reliant on technology world these days. As a result, the people with impressive knowledge and experience with a computer are in demand.

Considering this growing market trend, if you too wish to bag a profitable job, this article is apt for you. Here, we will dig deeper into the business and technology world to look into what are the best computer skills one should invest in and what resources to get help from.

So, are you ready? Here we begin.

6 Most-In Demand Computer Skills This Year (and Beyond)

When talking about computer skills, following are the 6 computer skills that can fill your mailbox with endless job opportunities (besides, having an English and Hindi typing speed of 40+ WPM):-

1. Spreadsheets and Databases

Considering the treasure trove of data companies are handling these days, Spreadsheet and Database management skill tops the list. It is considered the most wanted job skill in the market, with a salary of around $53,129/yr for an entry-level position. However, the spreadsheet skill does not confine to auditing data from cells.

To get hired based on this computer skill, you need to become a Spreadsheet ninja. From storing data to organizing them, applying complex mathematics formulas, and creating complex macros, you need to be an expert at all.

In other words, you need to have an expertise at working with:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Access
  • Statistics
  • Data Analytics
  • Adobe Campaign
  • Quickbooks
  • XML Database management system
  • Filemaker Pro
  • MATLAB
  • Hive
  • FORTRAN
  • RDBMS (Relational Database Management System)
  • SAS

2. Social Media, Email, and Blogging

Though people are socially active, not everyone knows how to use the social media tools on the professional front. In such a scenario, having an expertise at writing engaging yet professional emails, writing blogs, and managing social media activities is a ticket to entry in reputed organizations.

Some of the skills related to social media, email and blogging that will have a leg up in the hiring process are:

  • Content Management System (CMS)
  • Google Analytics
  • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
  • Email Marketing
  • Web Page Design
  • WordPress
  • Digital Media
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Campaign Management Software

3. Graphic Design and Word Processing

A solid grasp of skills to present the gained information in the much readable form is another market need. When considering this computer skill category, you need to enhance your skills at:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe InDesign
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • AutoCAD
  • CorelDRAW
  • Microsoft Visual Studio
  • Maya
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Publisher
  • Operating Digital Cameras

4. Software and Hardware Design and Development

The Software and Hardware development, in simpler language, means designing, implementing, and testing the computer software/hardware applications. It is the most profitable computer skill, with a different job opening, including Software Architect, Software Analyst, Software programmer, Hardware configuration, etc.

To be capable of developing and testing the software and hardware, you need to peruse your users’ needs and build an application that hits their pain points. You need to work with different web and mobile app coding languages for gaining the attention of your audience, some of which are:

  • HTML
  • C/C++
  • Java
  • Python
  • XML
  • UI/UX
  • LINUX
  • CISC and RISC architecture
  • Embedded Processor Hardware Design
  • Memory Management
  • PCB Layout
  • SQL

5. IT Troubleshooting

Working on computers is one thing and having a knack of looking into the associated issues and resolving them in real-time is another. There are various employees and graduates who work with computer systems in their daily lives, but get confused when it comes to dealing with frozen programs and performing routine maintenance.

So, if you are familiar with the basic anatomy of computers and machines and know the tricks to perform such tasks to streamline the working process, enter the IT support arena. The prime IT troubleshooting skills one needs to work upon are:

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  • Backup management
  • Diagnostics
  • End User support
  • Client-Server management
  • Installation and configuration
  • Issue tracking system (ITS)
  • System administration
  • Tech support

6. Enterprise Systems

Many Enterprises have their own enterprise solutions like PeopleSoft for managing their data and operations.

Becoming a master at using the enterprise solutions mentioned in their ‘Requirements’ area can also lessen the barrier to get a job.

The Roadmap to Excel Your Computer Skills

Now that you know the 6 most popular computer skills in the market, the first decision, you need to take is which computer skill you want to work upon. All the skills are equally considerable for making a career ahead. So, choose one as per your interest.

Once done, look forward to the following resources for boosting your computer skills and getting a reputed, handsome job.

Depending on the computer skill you opt, here are the online courses you can turn to for elevating your career opportunities:

1. Become a Spreadsheet and Database Ninja

a. Microsoft Excel Training Online Course – Basic & Advanced

Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or expert at working with spreadsheets, this online course has something new for everyone to become excel efficient users.

Divided into 48 interesting lessons, the course empowers you to learn the technique of using mathematical, statistical, logical and text functions, sorting and filtering the data, creating Pivot Tables, building macros, finding a value with VLOOKUp, and much more.

b. Excel- Online Courses, Classes, Training, Tutorials on Lynda

This is another impressive course to unlock the power of Excel. Designed for people from all walks of life and familiarity with Excel tools. This course helps you gain in-depth knowledge from the experts about this data-analyzing tool and make the magic in spreadsheet creation and management process.

c. SQL & Database Design A-Z™: Learn MS SQL Server + PostgreSQL

Build a successful career in the data analytics world with this online course.

Revolving around the two top databases, MS SQL and PostgreSQL, this course will give you a comprehensive knowledge of the working of the databases and understanding of all the related elements, including how to create, update, organize, and safeguard the data.

2. Rule the Social Media World

a. Free Social Media Course by HubSpot

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Introduced by the top experienced inbound professors from Hubspot, here you will get a comprehensive knowledge of Social media marketing.

From understanding how to build relationships on different social media platforms to creating a perfect strategy to engage them, leveraging the benefits of social advertising, and analyzing your social media ROI, this course will bring out the best out of you.

b. Write Professional Emails in English by Coursera

This online course will be the right weapon to look into the differences and similarities between different email styles, improve your English writing skills, write effective subject lines, maintain the formality tone in emails, and more to make a powerful impact on the receivers with your email.

c. Ninja Writing: The Four Levels of Writing Mastery

Founded by Udemy, this online course will excel your skills to build a masterpiece everytime you write.

Here, you will get the guidance from the editors of the top newspapers and websites, and understand what kind of words and tone to use for leaving a spellbinding impact on the readers.

3. Launch Your Own Software or Hardware Equipment

a. Hardware and Software Courses by Coursera

From Big Data to IoT, Sensor Circuit Design, Embedded Software and Hardware Architecture, and Motor Control Circuit, this course will give you a glimpse of all the hardware devices, equipment, and programming languages to build wonders.

b. Free Software and Web Development Certifications Online by Alison

Become the software developer market demands with Alison’s Java, C#, Python, R, PHP, or MySQL database course. From backend to frontend development and software testing.

The course helps you to learn how to design, develop and test software and working in a team while contributing to the team success.

c. Free Online Software Development and MOOCs Course by Class Central

The Class Central online course will make you a master of software development. Here, you will learn the basic concepts of development like Agile, Design Patterns, and Version Control with Git, along with gaining experience of working with the top programming languages.

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4. Live and Breathe Creativity

a. Udemy: Introduction to Graphic Design

It is a top-rated program for the new learners and designers to explore the Graphic Design world.

From the history of communication to the design principles, the course will help the students to learn everything specifically and implement in the real world.

b. Canva Design School

From a beginner to advanced level, this course will provide you with an elaborated and comprehensive knowledge of graphic design. In the form of 4 modules, this course will help the interested graphic designers to try out their skills at Graphics, ranging from fonts to colors, backgrounds, images, shapes, and layouts.

c. Microsoft Word – Basic & Advanced

62 personalized lessons, premium video tutorials, and unlimited tests and quizzes – this certified course has everything that will make your entry to the business world easier.

d. Microsoft Office: Word, Excel and Access Productivity Bundle

The course will make you productive in Word, Excel, and Access through video lectures, articles, and various other supplemental resources.

Besides, it will offer you exclusive tips and tricks to enhance your skills at using Microsoft office.

5. Raise Your Reflexes to IT Troubleshooting

a. IT Troubleshooting Skill Training by Udemy

IT Troubleshooting Skill Training will upgrade your logical concepts over technical components to find and repair faults.

It will provide you with a methodological approach to learn the basics of troubleshooting, practice them via exercises and drills, and enhance your IT troubleshooting intelligence.

b. IT Help Desk Online Course on Lynda

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The Lynda’s IT troubleshooting online course will train you how to respond to the issues related to Windows 10, Office 365, JIRA software, and more, from a local as well as a remote location.

Mobile Apps and Websites to Enhance Computer Skills

The aforementioned online courses will undoubtedly train you for a successful career ahead. But, in case you want a long-term support, turn towards the following websites and mobile apps:

  • Duolingo – Duolingo app will improve your spoken and written communication skills in different languages. With the magic of gamification added to the study, the app will make learning a fun and addictive task.
  • Hemingway – Hemingway app defines the length, complexity, and common errors associated with the sentences. In this way, it helps you to write effectively and go ahead in the career.
  • Udemy – The Udemy, with its 2000+ courses, is a great platform to master new skills, advance your career and explore the newer technologies and programming languages. Enrol a course as per your budget and make a brighter future.
  • eDX – eDX is yet another commendable platform you can look forward to. The platform offers you the best of the tutorials prepared by the business professionals and technology experts, ensuring a great boost in your computer skills.
  • Excel Easy – Excel Easy, as the name depicts, will make working with Excel easier for you via their detailed tutorials and 300+ real-life examples.
  • GCF LearnFree.org – It is a one-stop platform for accelerating your future in the computer world. From graphic design to Microsoft Office, resume writing, enhancing adaptability, and much more, the top experts will guide you with everything on this platform.
  • QuarkXPress – The QuarkXPress will aid you to add soul to your design with its unparalleled collection of font style, size, and typography. The best part is that it is avails all the options in different languages, including English, Spanish, German, French, and Italian to name a few.

Bonus: Tips to Accelerate Your Approach For a Better Career Ahead

Though these resources will make you stand out from the crowd and get hired at once, you need to focus on various other things, such as:

1. Practice, Practice, Practice

It is common to forget what we learn. To ensure that you do not miss any opportunity just because you forgot, keep practising.

Make it your routine. Polish your computer skills and you will surely end up getting an offer letter from a recognized firm.

2. Work on Your Efficiency

Remembering what you learned is not enough; practice to enhance those skills to do better.

For example, if you take around 50 minutes to create a design, target for 40 minutes.

3. Look for Shortcuts

Smart work rules over hard work more often. So, look forward to learning shortcuts to do any task. This will increase your chances to crack an interview and get selected.

4. Apply for an Internship

Last but not the least, apply for an internship to see what’s trending in the market and how much you are ready for it. While doing an internship, pay attention to your weak points and work on them. This will ensure a success when you apply for your dream job.

By the late, it’s never too late to be an intern or grab whatever opportunity to learn something new! Here’s how:

How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

The Bottom Line

Seeing the current market scenario, it is evident that having computer skills is a boon for a better career ahead.

So, rather than struggling with thousands of other things and trying to crack interviews, focus on the computer skills mentioned in this article. Utilize the resources and experts’ tips shared and look forward to having a successful and prosperous future.

Featured photo credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters via unsplash.com

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