Millions of Pornhub users may have been spied on following hack

A cybersecurity firm has confirmed Pornhub was affected by a malicious software (malware) for more than a year and may have affected millions of the adult website’s subscribers. Proofpoint, the cybersecurity firm, said in an Oct. 6 report it discovered the virus, dubbed Kovter, had been hiding in the website’s advertisements, the Kansas City Star … Continue reading “Millions of Pornhub users may have been spied on following hack”

A cybersecurity firm has confirmed Pornhub was affected by a malicious software (malware) for more than a year and may have affected millions of the adult website’s subscribers.

Proofpoint, the cybersecurity firm, said in an Oct. 6 report it discovered the virus, dubbed Kovter, had been hiding in the website’s advertisements, the Kansas City Star reported.

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Pornhub is the globe’s most popular website for porn and the 20th favored website in the U.S., Alexa, which gathers web traffic data, reported. The site attracts some 80 million visitors a day, the Star reported.

Users may have gotten the virus if they clicked on a tab that stated there was “a critical update” for the browser on which they were viewing Pornhub. Once a user clicked on the link, the virus was downloaded, and it could trace a person’s web history and identification.

A MASSIVE HOLE JUST OPENED IN ANTARTICA’S ICE AND SCIENTISTS CAN’T EXPLAIN IT

Proofpoint said it informed Pornhub of the malware, which was immediately removed. Researchers warned the malware could have done much worse damage and sites need to be wary of future hacks.

“While the payload in this case is ad fraud malware, it could just as easily have been ransomware, an information stealer, or any other malware,” Proofpoint wrote in the report.

"Regardless, threat actors are following the money and looking to more effective combinations of social engineering, targeting and pre-filtering to infect new victims at scale.”

Stop talking about the need for computer science and start teaching it

Until recently, the basic skills that we are all taught in elementary and secondary school have given us an adequate foundation to lead us through much of daily life.

If you could read, you could learn and follow directions. If you could do math, you could manage your finances or have a successful business. If you could write, you could communicate clearly and advocate for yourself or others.

But the world is changing so fast that these foundational elements of education are no longer enough. At a time when computers increasingly control every aspect of our daily lives – both on the job and at home – the lessons we teach students must adapt to where the world is going, not where it has been.

Because of this, computing education must be part of every core curriculum, from elementary school through college. But teaching all students computing will require a major mind-shift – mostly among educators, who have never learned the subject themselves.

At a time when computers increasingly control every aspect of our daily lives – both on the job and at home – the lessons we teach students must adapt to where the world is going, not where it has been.

A recent Gallup Poll found that 91 percent of parents want their children to study computer science. However, only one in four schools teaches computer programming.

So how do we stop talking about the need for computer science education and actually start teaching the subject?

First, we need to educate the educators about the importance of computing overall and how it can no longer only be the domain only of geeks, boys, or those who want to grow up to be software engineers.

Today, the line between white-collar and blue-collar jobs is fading fast. The tools traditionally associated with factory work, for example, are rapidly evolving from manually controlled machines to computer-enabled devices.

For example, if the heating and air-conditioning system in a house is acting up but it has sensors and sends performance data to the manufacturer, a remote technician may be able to service it from a computer rather than in person.

We’ve reached a point where every job from NASA to nursing requires a better understanding of computational processes and computer science.

The “nice-to-have” or “competitive advantage” skill is no longer an option; it’s now a requirement. This is because any domain in which people make decisions, monitor situations or take action based on information has been dramatically impacted by advances in computing.

Professionals across industries will achieve the most success when they understand not only their job function, but also the technology now required to carry it out.

Further, there is a severe shortage of computer science professionals to fill jobs like cybersecurity roles, putting both our national security and personal privacy at risk. According to Code.org, there will be an estimated 1 million more computing jobs than applicants who can fill them by 2020.

There are also more than 500,000 open computing jobs nationwide, but less than 43,000 computer science students graduated into the workforce in 2016. While this education should begin in elementary school, colleges also must align their core curriculum with this new foundational skill to close the gap.

Of course, this skills gap also applies to the K-12 teachers and we need to figure out ways – even if it involves using technology – to bring computing classes to them and their students.

Another reason why computer science education is essential for our nation’s long-term economic success is that it will drive technological awareness and advancement. Americans will need the basic knowledge of how computers process information and control the machines and the flow of information around us.

But right now we aren’t fully engaged with making the most of technology’s benefits and are certainly not challenged to continue its advancement. Our nation is one of technology consumers, but we must also be one of technology creators.

We need computational engineers, leaders and teachers to address the widening skills gap and help foster a greater knowledge of computing across industries.

Finally, by offering computer science education to all students we can improve critical thinking across the board. Computing in its simplest form addresses a problem through a step-by-step approach or algorithm that then arrives at the best answer.

By introducing computing from a young age and through the college core curriculum, students are provided with a universally applicable way of thinking critically and analyzing information.

We’ve reached a crossroads within our educational system. Just as technology has changed the way we teach, we must now change the topics we teach. Computing has to be a fundamental skill we imbue in students from their earliest days in the classroom, and one that we carry through to the college level to impact students’ preparedness for careers.

The next generations – who won’t know a world without connected, digital devices – should be in the driver’s seat when it comes to technology, not indifferently unaware of the computer science behind it.

Aaron F. Bobick is Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis, which recently hosted the annual Computer Science for All Summit on October 16-17, 2017.

8 innovative gadget gifts for the techie in your life

What will make the techie in your life happy over the holidays? Try these brand new gadgets that all have a high-end feature that sets them apart from the pack. We tested each one to make sure they perform according to the specs and meet the demanding needs of true geeks.

1. Kano Computer Kit 2017 ($150)

An innovative toy for kids over six, the Kano Computer Kit is like a Lego set for would-be engineers. You build an actual working computer, but along the way, it teaches kids about processors, memory, displays, and how to write computer code.

2. Norton Core router ($280)

Grab this high-end router — which supports speeds fast enough for 4K movies — and use it as a centerpiece in your office. Its multi-sided design makes it look like something out of “Star Wars,” but the router comes with free security software to protect any connected gadget.

3. LG OLED E7 television ($3,500)

Know this about the LG E7 television — the pixels in the OLED display create their own light. That means they can dim, brighten, and go completely black on their own. For techies, you can brag about the 4K resolution, Dolby Atmos surround-sound, and HDR color quality.

IPHONE X REVIEW: MOSTLY SCARY-GOOD BUT A COUPLE OF GRIPES

4. Focal Clear headphones ($1,500)

My favorite headphones on the market, the Focal Clear are downright cavernous with massive “memory foam” cushions that measure 20 millimeters. As reference headphones made for audiophiles, they emanate the pristine sounds of Bjork and the pounding bass of Broods.

5. Acer AH101-D8EY Windows Mixed Reality headset ($399)

This Mixed Reality headset, at only 1.35-pounds, is light enough to wear for several hours. It works with high-end Windows computers and includes two controllers. A Sony "Ghostbusters" game in VR looked ultra-convincing; expect more high-end games and apps in 2018.

6. Google Pixelbook ($999)

Windows laptops are nice for games and photo-editing. For everything else, including a quick power-up, fast browsing, and a clear and bright touchscreen, there’s the Google Pixelbook. It’s super-light (only 2.4 pounds) and only .40-inches thin.

ZTE LAUNCHES FOLDABLE DUAL-SCREEN SMARTPHONE

7. Lenovo Jedi Challenges ($200)

Everyone who tried this headset, which requires your own high-end smartphone like the Google Pixel 2 XL, jumped and freaked-out. The kit includes a toy lightsaber and a headset. Once you load the game, you slash and dash through an authentic-looking Star Wars gameworld.

8. BioLite PizzaDome ($270)

That’s right, this outdoor wood-fired pizza oven can also charge your phone or tablet. The main cooking surface measures 13.25-inches in diameter; as you cook, you can connect to a charging pod that provides five hours of phone use after 30 minutes.

Scary ransomware attacks famous North Carolina county

A major ransomware attack has forced the shutdown of a host of IT systems at Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

Officials confirmed late Wednesday that they will not pay the ransom to unlock many of the county's applications that have been frozen since Monday.

“I am confident that our backup data is secure and we have the resources to fix this situation ourselves,” said County Manager Dena Diorio, in a statement. “It will take time, but with patience and hard work, all of our systems will be back up and running as soon as possible.”

Attackers gave a deadline of 1 p.m. ET Wednesday for payment of the ransom, according to news reports.

SHIPPING GIANT HIT BY CYBERATTACK, REFUSES TO PAY HACKERS' RANSOM

The hackers have demanded for the payment in bitcoin. One bitcoin is worth approximately $13,000.

Fox 46 reports that hackers froze a number of servers in the attack, preventing county official from accessing the information stored on them.

Systems affected by the shutdown span human resources, finance, parks and recreation, social services, deeds registration, assessor’s office, tax office and Land Use and Environmental Services Agency (LUESA).

In a statement released on Wednesday, the county explained that departments have implemented paper processes and other solutions to continue serving customers.

HACKER TARGETS SACRAMENTO REGIONAL TRANSIT, DELETES 30 MILLION FILES IN RANSOMWARE ATTACK

“There is no evidence at this time that personal, customer or employee information or data has been compromised,” it said. “The County is consulting with Federal, state and private stakeholders, including the FBI and Secret Service, while the County works to restore services,” it added.

Fox 46 reports that the county backs up all of its files, so information frozen by the attack will eventually be retrieved. “At this point in time, backups seem to be highly effective,” explained a Mecklenburg County official during Wednesday’s press conference.

The attack reportedly unfolded after a worker at Mecklenburg County clicked on an infected email.

HUGE 'PETYA' RANSOMWARE ATTACK HITS EUROPE, SPARKS MASS DISRUPTION

A growing number of organizations and municipalities are being targeted in ransomware attacks. U.K. shipping giant Clarkson, for example, recently fell victim to a cyberattack, but vowed not to pay a ransom to the hackers.

A hacker recently deleted 30 million files in a ransomware attack on Sacramento Regional Transit. The hacker demanded $7,000 in bitcoins via SacRT’s Facebook page, which the agency did not pay, opting instead to back up the data.

Last year, a Los Angeles hospital paid a ransom of nearly $17,000 in bitcoins to hackers who infiltrated and disabled its computer network.

Uber recently came under fire for its reported payment of $100,000 to hackers.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

Tech company using facial recognition technology to combat revenge porn

Darieth Chisolm was moving on from a year-long relationship when she got a chilling message from her ex last year.

“He said to me: ‘I will shoot you in your head and stab you in your heart if I don’t come back to the relationship. And if he wouldn’t do it he would find someone that would,” Chisolm, the founder of “50 Shades of Silence,” told Fox News.

His threats didn’t end there, she said. Chisolm, a former news anchor, became the latest victim of revenge porn. Within weeks, he began texting her lewd photos and videos he had taken of her while she was asleep. He threatened to make them public – and then followed through on his threats, creating a website full of naked images of her.

She grew frustrated because, for months, there was nothing she could do about it. A new app and search engine aims to help women like Chisolm by helping them find all their images on the web – and, in some instances, helping them pull them from the Internet.

“The quicker you can get the photos, the content, the harassing memes, whatever it is removed,” Chisolm said, “obviously, it can spread quickly so you want to move.”

“They (victims) need to be heard,” Hagege said. “They need to get the justice they deserve.” (Fox News)

The app, FacePinPoint, launched three months ago and claims to be the first of its kind. It uses facial recognition technology to track down a victim’s intimate photos and videos online.

Chisolm said the site, which she did not use but endorses, is designed to give a voice to victims of cyber harassment and other online crimes. And, she added, it helps victims trace content they may not know existed.

“With his app, at least with this facial recognition for some people, particularly those whose content has been imported on to a porn website, you’re able to use his app and hone in and hopefully track it down and possibly get it removed,” Chisolm said.

In Chisolm’s case, she said she reached out to GoDaddy.com, the webhosting company where the images were displayed, but the company said she had to get a court order to have them removed. Months later, she is still in court.

"If we can independently confirm a violation of our terms of service we will take action," Godaddy.com representative Nick Fully told Fox News. "However, this is not often the case, such that we rely on due process afforded by the courts to dictate the appropriate course of action."

She now travels the world giving speeches and helping other victims of revenge porn through her site, 50ShadesofSilence.com.

Many sites require the original photo in order to have it removed, making it difficult for victims to have them removed if they did not take or have access to the photo. FacePinPoint uses a profile picture that clearly shows the victims face to find the explicit content.

“FacePinPoint is the best insurance to make sure your content is not online and if it is online, then you’re going to find it before someone that you know is going to use that to jeopardize your reputation,” FacePinPoint Founder Lionel Hagege told Fox News.

Once the user's identity has been confirmed – using photos and metrics – the website uses facial recognition to search for inappropriate images.

‘When we find those naked pictures, we store the face,” Hagege said. “We store them in our database and after, as a user, you just have to visit FacePinPoint.com.”

Hagege says facial recognition is very accurate unless there is excessive weight gain or loss.

“We measure the distance between your eyes, your nose, your forehead, everything. So, basically we not looking for your face, we are looking for the measures of your face,” Hagege said. “…if it’s like a couple pounds it will work fine.”

Hagege says if there is a match, the customer will get results in their user interface and a link where they can locate the photos online.

But experts question how effective these types of technology will be given that many of these revenge porn photos are posted in subscription sites – which are difficult to track down.

Facebook is developing its own revenge porn service, which is now being tested in Australia. Google Image Search could also be used.

Archie Agarwal, CEO of ThreatModeler, a cybersecurity firm, said regardless, finding the images is easy – it's taking them down from the web that is difficult.

“In my opinion, this type of service may not be worth using because it is unclear how accurate it will be and in the end, it’s not finding the images that is the problem, it’s getting the sites to take them down,” Agarwal said.

FacePinPoint does provide a network of pro-bono lawyers and psychologists, but only in five states. They are hoping to extend this service to the one in 25 Americans who are victims of revenge porn across the US by the end of 2018.

“They need to be heard,” Hagege said. “They need to get the justice they deserve.”

Terace Garnier is a Fox News multimedia reporter based in Columbia, South Carolina. Follow her on twitter: @TeraceGarnier

5 incredibly useful tools for your digital spring cleaning

Spring has traditionally meant cleaning, organizing and mops. But in our increasingly high-tech households, your hard drive, phone or tablet may need as much attention as your broom closet and stove.

It’s not just stuff. Your privacy needs a cleanup too. You’d be shocked at how much Google tracks you, including when and where you have been. Click here to see how much Google knows about you and how to remove the data.

Here are five tools that can help you organize your virtual (and real) environments.

1. Clean up your browser

Cookies are like the gunk in your roof gutters: you can’t see them, but they’re there, clogging everything up and keeping your computer from running fluidly. The same goes for download history.

A free program called CCleaner helps you sort out the cookies and archives you don’t really need. When you download the app, you can focus on a specific browser that you would like to clean up. CCleaner analyzes its backlog of information and lists the data that seems unnecessary.

Click here to get the details and links your need for CCleaner.

2. Speed up your smartphone

Most of us already know about cluttered desktops, but what about smartphones? Our phones are essentially handheld computers, and when they overflow with useless information, their operations can also slow down. These aren’t necessarily apps, but overburdened call logs, search history, and saved texts.

For Android users, there’s 1Tap Cleaner, an app that earns its name. The app gathers that data in one place, letting you decide what to keep. Most of us are surprised by how many outdated messages and URLs get archived, a data stream that we will probably never refer to again. Then again, you do want to make sure irreplaceable bits (landmark texts, unsaved photos) survive the deep clean.

More on this…

  • Smartphone app might offer new way to measure blood flow
  • Computers can’t keep shrinking, but they’ll keep getting better. Here’s how
  • iPhones don’t have an equivalent app to 1Tap Cleaner, so you’ll have to remove the surplus manually. Luckily, iPhone makes it pretty easy.

    Click here for the steps to clean up your iOS tracks and also, 1Tap Cleaner.

    3. Remove redundant images

    Digital photos are easy to shoot, upload and copy, which is handy in almost every respect, especially if you grew up lugging rolls of film to the one-hour photo lab. The downside is that you may end up with multiple copies of the same picture. If you’re shooting with a decent camera, each shot could take 10MG or more of space. This volume adds up.

    The trick is to safely delete redundant photos without losing the original image. This is the premise behind Duplicate Photo Fixer, which is designed to filter through your photo collection in search of double takes.

    The program is compatible with Windows, iOS and Android. Not only can Duplicate Photo Fixer find identical photos on your hard drive, but it will also match similar photos — so don’t worry if you cropped an image or tinkered with its brightness and contrast.

    Click here to learn more and download Duplicate Photo Fixer.

    4. Catalogue all your physical belongings

    We see household objects every day, but what do we actually own? You may be the type of person who likes to keep track of every ironing board and lampshade in the house, or you may want to compile a report for insurance companies, so there is no question whether something has been stolen or lost.

    The Encircle app works on both iOS and Android and was created to take inventory of your worldly possessions. Just take a photo of each valuable object, then attach notes to the image, including its original cost, relevant serial numbers, and even appraisals. Makes the process super easy.

    Click here to learn more and download Encircle.

    5. Sell your secondhand stuff online

    Every time I clean my house, I discover something I never use and want to throw out. But sometimes that knickknack has monetary value, and I could probably make a little money off it. Craigslist isn’t very dependable these days, with all the scams and false advertisements going around, so where can you offer your old television to the highest bidder?

    There are several online markets I recommend, which are considered more trustworthy than Craigslist, but are still free and user-friendly. (Note: Scams can happen just about anywhere, so keep an eye out, even on these sites).

    Like eBay, in OfferUp you sift through commodities and make an offer. Unlike eBay, OfferUp isn’t an auction site, and you don’t have to wait for a clock to tick down. Also, OfferUp uses the TruYou system, which confirms the identities of buyers and sellers. Your junk may just prove to be someone else’s treasure.

    Some folks would balk at the idea of purchasing used clothes. But others have made a career out of browsing vintage stores for incredible finds. ThredUp is much like those stores, because qualified fashion experts determine whether items fit their quality standards. If you have a smart leather jacket or a pair of dress shoes, you might consider putting them up for sale.

    Lots of us like the old-fashioned garage sale, and we skip the virtual bazaar altogether. GSALR helps you find those backyard events, based on the location you enter into the website. You’ll find a map with all the garage sales happening locally, or you can list your own.

    Click here for more information about ways to sell stuff online that's safer than Craigslist.

    What questions do you have? Call my national radio show and click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.

    Copyright 2018, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.

    Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.

    Speed up Internet, find forgotten passwords, convert VHS tapes, and more

    Accelerate Internet

    Q: I heard you say on your national radio show that you can double your Internet speed by making one change and it has nothing to do with paying for more bandwidth. Can you please tell me more? That sounds terrific to me!

    A: I’m glad you caught that, and yes, there is a setting that you could change to speed things up. Before you dive in, there are some caveats: First, the setting might not work as you expect in the beginning. Fiddling with your Internet settings is all about trial and error. Second, there are lots of ways to improve your Internet speed which is also simple and relatively easy to test. Click here to get the scoop on how to change this one setting and double your Internet speed.

    Speed up an old PC

    Q: My PC is older and I cannot afford a new one right now. How can I speed this old boy up?

    A: There are lots of ways of speed up your desktop: Scan for viruses, check your hardware, or reinstall Windows, for starters. Start using the same approach to your PC as you would a cluttered desk — straightening things up. The more extra files and unused start-up programs your PC holds, the more its processor will lag. At the same time, you have to be careful about the programs you delete because other programs might require a seemingly useless piece of software to operate. And what about media files, like photos and video, you want to archive, but you don’t necessarily want to keep on your desktop? There’s a place for that, too. Click here for nine ways to make your old PC faster.

    Deduce Wi-Fi password

    Q: How can you look up a Wi-Fi network password? My long-gone techie set up my network and now I need the password.

    A: When it comes to social media or online banking, you can usually retrieve your password in a minute or so. Wi-Fi is a different story. You can’t just have the password sent to your email account, and most passwords are a convoluted string of letters and numbers. Luckily, there are a few clever techniques you can use to figure out that essential code. Click here to hack a Wi-Fi password.

    Digitize VHS tapes

    Q: I have boxes of old VHS tapes of my kids. How do I get the videos to my kids so they can see the videos online?

    A: In their heyday, VHS tapes were cheap, durable and easy to stick into a camcorder. You could record hours of home videos, and when you ran out of tape, you could amble down to the nearest pharmacy and pick up another pack. Several major companies can easily make the digital conversion, and you can probably find one of these stores in your neighborhood. The service is reasonably priced. Just imagine the time capsules you’ve had sitting in your attic all these years. Click here for three easy to ways to modernize your old videotapes.

    Fix slow Wi-Fi

    Q: My 4,500 square foot home Wi-Fi is so very slow! What can I do to speed things up?

    A: You may be familiar with mesh networks. Basically, you can connect additional units to your router to spread the signal around your space. Whether you want to expand the Wi-Fi coverage in your home or office, mesh networks are extremely effective, and the investment is very reasonable. This is just one of several ways you can maximize your current Wi-Fi signal. You might also consider the location of your router, the architecture around you, and even the position of certain furniture, which may all impact your signal. Click here for 10 ways to fix your home Wi-Fi problems.

    What questions do you have? Call my national radio show and click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.

    Copyright 2018, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.

    Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.

    Hasidic leaders sharply limit members’ web, smartphone use: ‘It’s like we’re in North Korea’

    This is the second of a three-part series on insular enclaves of ultra-Orthodox Jews, the struggles they face and the controversies that follow them.

    The father of five was summoned to a meeting with leaders of his ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jewish sect in Kiryas Joel, N.Y., a village of some 22,000 about 50 miles north of New York City.

    The Satmar Hasidic leaders, a council known as the Vaad — wanted him to understand they knew he was on the internet, even though he was posting messages under a fictitious name.

    The point: No matter what he did, the Vaad was on top of it. The father got a warning familiar to many in Hasidic communities: If you do not abide by the rules governing nearly every facet of your life, your children will be denied enrollment in our private Jewish schools (yeshivas).

    Within this deeply religious community, families send children to yeshivas, where they are taught traditional religious texts. Yeshiva expulsion – virtual excommunication – would bring intense shame to a Hasidic family.

    “It’s the Vaad. They don't let you have smartphones, computers, laptops, DVD players," said the man, a Kiryas Joel resident who spoke to Fox News on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. "I wasn't even saying anything bad on social media. I was asking a question. But you are not to question anything" concerning Hasidism.

    PART 1: INSULAR HASIDIC JEWS STRUGGLE TO PRESERVE CUSTOMS AS LEGAL AND SOCIAL PRESSURES BUILD

    In many Hasidic enclaves, such as this one in Brooklyn, signs warning about smartphones and the Internet are common. (Benjamin Nazario)

    Many Hasidic communities, though not all, are highly insular, determined to shut out as much of the outside world and its perceived deviancy as possible. Education at yeshivas emphasizes the Torah and other religious teachings, particularly for boys, who are being prepared for possible futures as rabbis. This faith-centric instruction doesn't leave vast amounts of time for math and English.

    For the rabbis, who can wield enormous influence over the smallest details of followers' lives — including such intimate matters as the use of contraceptives, which is nearly always prohibited — technology is a threat: It enables personal connections and access to views and information from non-Hasidic sources.

    Five years ago, a rabbinical group, Ichud Hakehillos Letohar Hamachane, sponsored a seminal event for ultra-Orthodox Jewish men at Citi Field stadium in New York that drew tens of thousands of people. Speakers emphasized the “filth” and “evil” of the internet.

    The spokesman for the event, Rabbi Eytan Kobre, told reporters at the time that the internet and smartphones posed “the most difficult spiritual challenge” for Orthodox Jews, not just those who are Hasidic.

    Video

    Watch: Community in Conflict: Hasidic Jews & Education

    Kobre, who is not Hasidic, told Fox News in a recent interview that quite simply, to Orthodox Jews, there is no need to surf the Internet or explore a marketplace of ideas, because the truth is right there in the Torah.

    Kobre said that technology is “doing damage to relationships, privacy, human dignity, the ability to succeed in school and at work.”

    Ultra-Orthodox Hasidic sects typically see technology and electronics as doorways to destructive behavior and forbid their practitioners from having such things as television, smartphones, and computers. (AP)

    “The environment of the digital age is far more conducive to addiction than anything humans have experienced in their history,” said Kobre, who writes about the issue for Mishpacha magazine, a leading publications for Orthodox Jews worldwide.

    As a result, many Hasidic communities have developed rules specifically banning the possession of electronic devices, making exceptions only under special circumstances – like, say, needing these tools in order to run a business. Even then, use is tightly restricted and closely monitored.

    Take smartphones, for instance: These handhelds are allowed for men as long as they are inspected by rabbis and registered by what some call, with sarcasm that is considered a major act of insubordination, the "technology police" or "thought police."

    Women are allowed to have “basic” or flip phones, but not smartphones.

    The Vaad deactivates web browsers and installs filters on phones to inhibit access to such things as Google, YouTube, many Wikipedia pages and porn websites, among other content.

    "It's like we're in North Korea or China," said the Kiryas Joel resident, who has a second phone that Vaad enforcers do not know about.

    On at least one occasion, in 2015, rabbis from Kiryas Joel sent parents a contract to sign, declaring that their phones “are in accordance to the rules of the community and yeshiva,” and adding, “We also confirm that we do not possess in our home another cellphone/smartphone, except for the ones mentioned above.”

    Another nearly-all Hasidic town, New Square, N.Y., makes parents vow to obey bans on technology in writing when they register their children for school.

    Hasidic communities' tech limitations are not just in small towns like Kiryas Joel and New Square that are situated far from big cities, though.

    In Brooklyn, for instance, posters blamed "mothers with smartphones" for teens who have strayed from Hasidic life.

    Of the more than a dozen Hasidic rabbis and yeshiva officials Fox News reached out to for comment, none responded. One man,  working at a front booth at a small building in Kiryas Joel where smartphones and other gadgets are checked for compliance with the restrictions, took a message from a Fox News team that made a personal visit. But there was no subsequent call or email message.

    Orthodox leaders outside the Hasidic enclaves have defended the consequences that schools impose.

    “They consider technology to be an area of danger which requires limits and standards,” Kobre, the rabbi, said of the school leaders. “If we just limit the availability of technology for students, and say, ‘You can’t have a smartphone but your folks can have them,’ what are we really saying? Do as we say, not as we do? It would be educationally inappropriate. It would backfire.

    "We have to have the appropriate home environment, otherwise we’re setting ourselves up for failure and hypocrisy.”

    He rejected any suggestion that enforcing standards –whether they be about dress codes or having a television set or the internet — are oppressive. Critics, he said, seem to want "educational anarchy."

    Another rabbi who is Orthodox but not Hasidic said avoiding temptations that lurk on the internet is best accomplished by not wading into the technology pool at all.

    “It’s not easy for us, it’s a sacrifice,” said the rabbi, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “We’re holding on tight; we have to have the moral courage" to steer clear of tech.

    “Whatever I don’t want to do, I’m going to leave out of my arm’s reach, I’m going to remove the temptation,” he said. “As far as our community leaders, they feel an enormous responsibility to use the wisdom that they have, and which guided Orthodox Jews for thousands of years, to see through this infatuation with this untested medium.”

    Nuftuli Moster, who grew up as one of 17 children in a Hasidic home in Brooklyn and now advocates for more secular studies in Hasidic schools, said the perceived overreach by community leaders stuns even him.

    "I myself am taken aback," Moster said, adding that he gets calls from parents who have received letters, delivered to them by their children, informing them that having internet access on their computer, or a telephone without the filter, puts the youngsters' yeshiva enrollment at risk.

    "They force you to use their filtering system. They make it challenging for parents, they have a grip on them when it comes to the children and schools. Parents say the [leaders] sent them a letter that said they don't have a filter on their phone.”

    "Parents ask me: 'How do they know? What do I do?'"

    Moster, who founded Young Advocates for Fair Education (YAFFED) six years ago to push for more secular studies in yeshivas, said: "It's ridiculous how far they go with it. They know how to manipulate people and force them to do what they want."

    Technology’s numerous and alternative sources of information threaten the nearly absolute power that rabbis and the Vaad are accustomed to having, experts say.

    “The internet poses an unprecedented challenge,” said Samuel Heilman, chairman of Jewish studies at Queens College in New York and author of "Who Will Lead Us? The Story of Five Hasidic Dynasties in America.”

    “But this is violated all the time,"  he added. "It’s like the three staircases in the Jewish play ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ where one staircase was just for show but went nowhere.”

    Heilman said that many Hasidic people have a rabbi-approved phone "for show," but also an unfiltered one they regularly use. He also said he has often seen Hasidic men in public libraries going on the internet or reading books that are forbidden by their religious leaders.

    “When I walked in, they quickly look at me to make sure I am not someone spying on them.”

    For Kobre, an ordinary ride a few days ago on a New York City train summed up the perils of technology.

    The rabbi stood in the crush of humanity on the packed train and looked around him.

    “Every single person, without exception, whether they were sitting down or standing, was looking down at their devices,” Kobre recalled. “For me it was a scene out of a horror movie, a zombie movie. What could they possibly be looking at that is more important than their own thoughts, about their families, their life goals?”

    Elizabeth Llorente is Senior Reporter for FoxNews.com, and can be reached at Elizabeth.Llorente@Foxnews.com. Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Llorente.

    Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey denies using these devices

    Twitter users curious about CEO Jack Dorsey’s tech habits got some answers this week.

    Dave Gershgorn, a reporter for Quartz, tweeted at the 41-year-old Wednesday and pressed for details.

    "[Jack], serious question, do you use a computer/laptop,” he asked.

    FACEBOOK SAYS 50 MILLION USER ACCOUNTS AFFECTED BY SECURITY BREACH

    Dorsey, who co-founded Twitter, offered a short reply: “No.”

    It wasn’t long before AdWeek writer Marty Swant asked if Dorsey uses a tablet. Dorsey said he doesn't.

    A few hours later, Microsoft spokesman Paul Fabretti tried to get Dorsey to use one of the company’s products.

    “[Jack] can I get you a Surface Go?” he asked Dorsey. “Similar size, all the functionality of a great PC.”

    The tech executive, however, turned down the offer.

    IS TECH HARMING INNOVATION? ANTITRUST CHIEF ASKS IF THERE’S ‘CREDIBLE EVIDENCE’

    “Thank you but no,” he said.

    As the Press Association points out, this seems to suggest Dorsey relies on just a smartphone.

    Best streaming service, cut cell phone costs and more: Tech Q&A

    Track Emailers

    Q: I’m getting strange email. How can you find out who really sent you email? There has to traces somewhere!

    A: Remember when we would laugh at “Nigerian Princes” who wanted to give us millions of dollars and shrug off “Rolexx Waches” [sic]. Cyber-criminals have come a long way since then, and hackers have improved their English skills. It helps to know where the emails are coming from to help confirm their authenticity. Tap or click here to get the steps to learn an email’s sender.

    Budget Phone Service

    Q: My cell bill is so high! I found a lower plan with a different carrier. How can I make the switch?

    A: In the past, companies like Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T have required strict contracts, and users have struggled (and paid dearly) to break free. These days, those companies have loosened those restrictions, and it’s reasonable to terminate your service without breaking the bank. But do you get to keep your phone number? How do you know you’re making the right decision? There are a few things you should know beforehand. Tap or click here to switch to a cheaper cell phone carrier.

    Diagnose Slow Computer

    Q: My computer is running slow! How do I know if it’s the operating system or the hardware causing problems?

    A: Since the dawn of desktops, we have struggled with lots of moving parts, from viruses to background tasks to tired circuit boards. We can spend hours, or even months, troubleshooting those hundreds of moving parts. Luckily, there is a program that is specifically designed to analyze your computer for issues. You can identify every single physical part, as well as its manufacturer and place of origin. More importantly, you’ll get a detailed report about how well these parts are working. Tap or click here to make your computer good as new.

    Electric Car Costs

    Q: I keep reading about electric cars. It costs money on your power bill to charge the battery. Is this cheaper than gas or is it hype?

    A: Yes, it costs money to power your car, and the electricity isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s less expensive than gasoline. There may be certain tax incentives, and if you live in a state that accommodates electric cars – such a California – you’ll probably find a lot of convenient places to plug in. Basically, the technology is very new, but such cars are no longer the pipe dreams they once were. Tap or click here to get the whole story about whether electric or conventional cars are cheaper.

    Best Streaming Service

    Q: There’s Netflix, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Hulu and more! What’s the best streaming service?

    A: Now, I’m not going to tell you what subscriptions I have; it’s an individual choice. You’ll never be able to watch “Mozart in the Jungle” on Hulu, and you’ll never see “The Handmaid’s Tale” on Netflix. The only way to figure out which streaming services you want is to cross-reference what they offer. Tap or click here for a side-by-side comparison.

    What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call her national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen or watch to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim's free podcasts.

    Copyright 2018, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.

    Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.