Cyber Safety Part III – Ashtad Rustomji

More information on threats to our computers, these are things we are hearing a lot more of these days as the criminals move ahead of the game.


 Hacking is a term used to describe actions taken by someone to gain unauthorized access to a computer. The availability of information online on the tools, techniques, and malware makes it easier for even non-technical people to undertake malicious activities.

  • They find weaknesses (or pre-existing bugs) in our security settings and exploit them in order to access our information.
  • Install a Trojan horse, providing a back door for hackers to enter and search for our information.


Malicious software that infects our computer, such as computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware, and adware.

  • Intimidate with ‘scareware‘, which is usually a pop-up message that tells us our computer has a security problem or other false information.
  • Reformat the hard drive of our computer causing us to lose all our information.
  • Alter or delete files on hard drive.
  • Steal private information.
  • Send emails on our behalf.
  • Take control of our computer and the softwares running on it.


A means to point us to a malicious and illegitimate website by redirecting the legitimate URL. Even if the URL is entered correctly, it can still be redirected to a fake website. Copies the original site down to it’s smallest details to get us to enter our personal details.


Fake emails, text messages and websites created to look like they’re from authentic companies. They’re sent by criminals to steal personal and financial information from us. This is also known as “spoofing”.

  • Trick us into giving them information by asking us to update, validate or confirm our account. It is often presented in a manner than seems official and intimidating, to encourage us to take action.
  • Provides cyber criminals with our usernames and passwords so that they can access our online bank account, shopping accounts, etc. and steal our credit card information.


Ransomware is a type of malware that restricts access to our computer or our files and displays a message that demands payment in order for the restriction to be removed. The two most common means of infection are via phishing emails that contain malicious attachments and website pop-up advertisements.

Two types of ransomware;

  • Lockscreen: displays an image that prevents us from accessing our computer.
  • Encryption ransomware: encrypts files on our system’s hard drive and sometimes on shared network drives, USB drives, external hard drives, and even some cloud storage drives, preventing us from opening them

Sometimes the notification states that authorities have detected illegal activity on our computer, and that the payment is a fine to avoid prosecution.

Paying doesn’t help.

Regularly back-up data with a removable external storage drive.


Mass distribution of unsolicited messages, advertising or pornography to addresses which can be easily found on the Internet through things like social networking sites, company websites and personal blogs.

Phish for your information by tricking you into following links or entering details with too-good-to-be-true offers and promotions.

Provide a vehicle for malware, scams, fraud and threats to your privacy.


Cyber Safety Part II – Ashtad Rustomji

Safety on Facebook

There are many things you can do to keep yourself safe from potential threats and cyber criminals on Facebook.

1- The most important thing to do is to never make any personal photos public, especially of your kids wearing any swimming clothes. Your photos be used by predators to sell them to certain kinds of websites and are also sold to highest bidders. They can also use these photos to estimate and track your location, if you don‘t already have it mentioned on the profile.

2- Don’t make your day-to-day activities public and avoid posting updates about when and where you are traveling. If you do want to post them, make it private or for friends only, but that may not work, as if you add someone, they can now view your activities and jobs, etc. getting all they wanted from your profile.

3- Which brings me to my third point, never accept friend requests from individuals who you don’t know or haven’t spoken to. Especially avoid individuals with no profile pics or only a handful of friends when they’ve been members for years. Some of the fake profiles usually just spam search. It’s done by typing in the most common names, when the results show up, they send friend requests to all. Then when their request gets accepted by target, they get to their friends list as well and most accept requests due to them being mutual friends with someone they know and trust. Plus, there’s also a possibility of a sex offender or a PI creating a fake profile to see your ‘friends only’ posts.

4- Never post personal likes and dislikes as this can be used against you. Once an individual knows what you like and don’t like, whether it’s food or a movie or anything, they can use that data to either direct you to a phishing website if they’re a cyber predator or if they’re a predator who searches their victims online, they can strike up a conversation with you basing it on common grounds.

5- Don’t use the same password you did for you email and other accounts, for your face book account. In fact, never have the same password for all accounts as a general rule.

6- If you access Facebook on your phone, log out of the Facebook app you use, after each visit.

7- Post nothing on Facebook that you wouldn’t want anyone to know about. Nothing, once it gets on the internet, is safe or private, especially on a social networking site like Facebook.

8- Be sure to have a good anti-virus installed. There is a possibility of a virus infecting your email list, the virus then sends friend requests to everyone in your email contacts, infecting them with the same virus as well. IIRC, this is done to gain access to not only your personal email, but other email addresses as well, it also leads you to a fake site to get your personal information that you may enter in the form.

9- Report suspicious profiles.

10- Be careful of external and third-party applications and websites asking permission to access your Facebook account information. Once you have given the permission to access your Facebook account, the website or application now has access to all of your personal information, including email, number, posts, address, job and location. Never accept it, unless you are absolutely 100% sure that you trust the application and it is reputed as safe to use.

11- Visit the help center for more information on Facebook safety.

12-  Some good tips are mentioned here in this info graphic;

Safety on Twitter

The following are some simple tips to stay safe on twitter.

1- Whenever you tweet, never add your location to it. Turn off the ‘add location to tweet’ option from the settings. You can also remove all location information by clicking ‘delete all location information’.

2- Strip geo-tag information from your photos before tweeting them. When a photo is tweeted, the location information that many camera phones add to the metadata of the photo file would be provided to anyone viewing the photo, any EXIF viewer software/application that can read the location information embedded in the photo would be able to determine the location of the picture. There are apps available that strip the geo-tag from the pictures; deGeo, metapho and pixelgarde are some of them.

3- Enable security and privacy options. The ‘HTTPS Only’ option ‘Settings’ menu will allow you to use Twitter over an encrypted connection which will help protect your login information from being hijacked by hackers using packet sniffers and hacking tools.

4- Twitter is actually more public than facebook, which means that you have to keep your personal information very minimal to virtually none. I.e. No phone numbers, no emails and no address in the location section.

5- Avoid using any third party apps on twitter. If you have any unrecognized app or an app you don’t remember installing, remove it by revoking its access to your account information from the app tab in your ‘settings’ menu.

6- Turn on the ‘protect my tweets’ option. This is a helpful tool when it comes to preventing unwanted individuals from following you on twitter. Once turned on, it will only show the tweets to people that are approved by you. This will not stop the current followers, it’s only for the future ones.

7- Remove unwanted or unknown followers. Delete the follower from your Followers list by blocking their account. The user is not notified when you block them, but your tweets no longer show up in their searches or timeline.

Here are some good sites with much more information about safety on twitter.




Cyber Safety Part I – Ashtad Rustomji

Being Safe From Identity and Personal Data Theft

1- The most important thing and the most common sense thing to do is to not put up any private info, including your full name, date of birth, or even address on any public forum.

2- Never give any of your bank information or credit card/debit card information to anyone who claims to be calling from the bank or from the credit card company. This can also happen if you get a call from one of your currently subscribed magazines, etc. If you want to renew the subscription, do it from the website itself, by typing the address in the address bar, never do it over the phone.

3- Never post any of your private pictures or family photos, photos of your home online or in a cloud storage, they can and have been easily hacked. (Example is the leaked celebrity pics scandal). Store them offline and off computer.

4- If you have any passwords written down, always store that file offline and off computer, store it in a usb drive and connect the usb only when you’re offline and encrypt the usb storage with  strong password. There are softwares available that help you create strong passwords.

5- Never give out your primary email. Always use a secondary email with not much information in it (like your name, address, location, etc, while signing up), to sign up to websites, etc. It’s called a dummy account. This can also help with avoiding spam emails in your main email inbox.

6- Always make sure to check the validity of the secure encryption certificate on websites, while making any transactions online. Usually if you have an anti-virus installed, it warns you of fake pages.

7- Always password protect your data with a strong password that contains letters, numbers and symbols.

8- Install a strong anti-virus that gives you protection from the latest threats and protects your offline data as well.

9- Never check your emails in a cyber café.

10- If you use Wi-Fi, make sure the connection is secure and password protected.

These are some simple tips to protect your data and online identity.

Safety tips to secure your wireless connection.

Without going into too much technical details, I’ll make this category simple and direct to the point as if I did go into details, you‘ll have to spend a whole day on the internet googling the terms. So to begin;

1- Turn on WPA2 Encryption on Your Wireless Router. If you have an older router, it will have an older encryption which is easily hackable. You’ll need to upgrade your firmware to WPA2.

2- Use the most unique and uncommon name for your network. If it’s one of the common names, you will be on the list with the most common names and will be more susceptible to your password being cracked. According to some sources, even WPA2 may be vulnerable to this kind of hacking.

3- This connects to the above point. Use a long and unusual password for your wireless network. The longer the password, the harder it is to crack using the rainbow tables. The max password limit is 64 characters, so go crazy. Wi-fi devices usually store the password as cache, you will have to do this only once, when you connect a new device.

4- Turn off the admin via wireless option. What this will do is restrict the hacker’s access to your wireless router’s administrative settings.

5- Enable firewall (If your router has it built-in, most do).

6- If you are in a smaller house, but the range of the wireless connection is high, reduce it. Decrease the signal range or hide it in a box or in any enclosure that could restrict the signal direction.

7- Be careful of something called piggybacking.


Training realistically? Are you thorough? – Ashtad Rustomji

When most people, especially instructors are asked whether they train realistically, their answer is usually ‘yes’. But when you see them do their “realistic” “stuff”, it seems pretty far and out of touch from reality. It seems that their concept of reality is different from the actuality of it.

Recently, I asked an individual a simple question, “How, would you say, a real violence training should look?”  The individual replied in a very cliched way and went on about how the opponent should come at you aggressively, yelling and stuff, etc. I asked him in return, “Would you see it coming?” He didn’t have a proper answer, but yet tried to say something and ended up saying just “Yes”.

Now, here’s the first problem of things with this. Most tend to see these things from a purely physical perspective. Not many seem to focus on the pre-violence situation. No verbal cues, no physiological changes, etc. etc. In fact, most don’t even acknowledge it even exists. Which kinda poses a problem when we are “training for violence”, doesn’t it? I mean if you don’t train to see it coming, what are you preparing for? To get out barely alive and half dead?

So, realistic training? What does that entail? Well, if you ask me, the drills should focus more on the pre-violence cues than anything really, physical aspect of it should not be choreographed, no matter how “aggressive” the other guy is, (let’s be honest here, he‘s really not truly angry or aggressive in most cases). Superficial aggression is utterly useless, you don‘t have to kill them, but all of the pseudo aggressive and “hard” movements are nothing but taps in actuality, are you really gonna learn how it feels to get hit by being tapped on your chest?. For real? No. No no… Just no.

Let’s take a situation here, if I am in a big fancy Martial Arts studio, and I’ve been told to rush and charge this guy in order to demonstrate “the harsh reality of violence”, and I charge at him, but the guy knows I‘m coming, ‘cause, you know, He Told Me To! He‘s READY for his “moves”, there is no sudden jolt to his nervous system, no emotional stress, and I didn’t try to get a rise out of him by calling his mom an individual who asks money for pleasure, not to mention, I‘m not gonna actually make contact here, it‘s gonna be an acting show, a choreography with taps that look “hard”.

So my questions are, “Is that really reality?” and “Are we really showing the actuality of it or are we just showing what we think and we want people to think is reality?” I mean in a real assault or an attack, very rarely people do see it coming, and even when they do, they’re still overwhelmed by the sheer aggression, it’s sudden, our hands are shaking, our legs feel weak, our stomachs are churning and we’re basically too busy crying and asking ourselves questions like, “What the hell is happening?” and “Why the fuck is this happening to me?”

I’m pretty sure, that most who just train for their kind of “reality”, where the guy they know is coming, charging at them without any purpose, without thinking about any of the events leading up to the escalation of the situation and violence, that kind of individual will not only, not see the threat coming, but they will crumble under pressure due to the aggressive nature of the actuality and suddenness of violence, as they won‘t see it coming like they did in their fancy studio. Not to mention, fail miserably to deescalate the violence in the first place due to lack of verbal skills necessary to not provoke the guy even further by challenging or insulting him.

So, my opinion here is that, the best training is something that encompasses every subject related to violence, which includes not only physical, but verbal, psychological, emotional, biological, societal, moral, consequential, tactical and a very important aspect; Legal.

As far as the physical training goes, scenario training is great, but without purpose, it loses it’s purpose, which is to mold your brain to handle and resolve or combat threats if/when you come across them by utilizing our brain’s neuroplasticity. Blindly creating aggressive scenarios without any situational context and escalation, is just inviting more trouble and is not training for the actual thing, it’s just training for more senseless violence. So please, Train smarts and common sense, rather than senseless violence.

Finally, my question to you, the reader; What are you gonna train for? ‘The reality of violence?’ or ‘The actuality of it?’.

Optimist, Idealist, Pessimist, and The Fourth Kind – Ashtad Rutomji

Today I’m going to write a post based on my personal experience in life. No research material, no past cases of others, just my life, what I have lived through during my journey.

When I first started my training in Kyokushinkaikan Karate, I was this excited little 8 year old who was going to have this amazing experience, which I did, as time passed, the novelty wore off, as it does with everything and everyone, then I moved on to boxing and so on. The only thing that remained was my passion to train and learn more about different styles and systems and methods and principles, etc. then when I became a teen, my something else was added in my interest of learning, that was to know and understand the reality of violence, and I aggressively pursued that thirst for knowledge, I researched everything I could about that subject and I still do and find something new every time, well, sort of new anyway, I even had my own experiences with violence, but I don‘t talk about them much as they were far from something I want to brag about and in fact were quite traumatizing and brings up bad memories for me, I do use them as a learning example though.

That is what I lived through ‘on paper’ so to speak, whenever I’m asked of my history, that is what I tell everyone, but what I don’t ever mention are my struggles during the period of my training, my transition to what I do now and who I am today. I will share some of it here today for the first time, hoping it will help someone in someway. I’ll include only enough to get the point across, as I‘m not used to being very public with my personal life.

Here it goes, I started my training when I was 8 so most of my life has circled around my training, but that does not mean that the following can’t be applied in day-to-day life.

When I started training, I had this optimistic and idealistic concept of what Martial Arts training is and should be like, I was just a child living in a fantasy of wanting to be a “cool-ass” “superhero“. You see most people start out with that kind of thinking, regardless of age, not just with Martial Arts or fitness training, but with almost everything they do in life.

Now mind you, being optimistic is not a bad thing, but always being too much of an optimist, creates an idealistic mindset in which the individual always thinks that things will go a 100% according to their plans and nothing will ever go wrong, they feel like they’re untouchable and indestructible, everything is fine and nothing is or ever will be otherwise, an illusion which, when they face reality of things, comes crashing down on them. A thing that happened to me, when my bubble burst of what Martial Arts training and life beyond the comfortable world my mom created for me was supposed to be about. The lesson I learnt was so harsh that I almost quit my training…Almost, Lucky for me, more on than below.

After the harsh lesson that taught me that Martial Arts were not so you can become some super acrobatic badass who kills “bad guys”, no, they only exist in the movies, after my lesson, I was so in shock, I lost my optimist mindset and became a complete pessimist, a mindset, which I still sometimes lean towards, but not let it take me over.

Becoming a pessimist, I started viewing the world from a completely different perspective, I saw a world in which no good existed, only evil, only selfish people existed, everything was wrong and destructive, I found this world and society disgusting, including myself for being a part of it, I alienated most of my friends that I met during my travels and the ones I had in my hometown and messed some other things up quite bad too. Pessimism made me think that nothing good can ever happen to me and that there is no point to life, no point in living, it made me go numb, at one point I had no emotions at all. I was borderline suicidal, I wouldn’t socialize, I don‘t much now either, but this was way worse, I isolated myself from the world, I slowed down my training and my research, thinking it’s always the “same crap“, it almost stopped, without realizing that even from that “same crap“ I could learn something new, something I missed. I was borderline depressed.

But universe, being as generous as it is, gave me a second chance via a wake up call, it was subtle but was enough of a jolt for me to snap the hell out of it. My passion of what I do was reignited, that’s when it clicked, majority of my choices of my mindsets were based on being too extreme, I was always on either spectrum, being too much of an annoying optimist, which made me develop and idealistic thinking and then when the bubble burst, I jetted to the other side of the spectrum, landed on borderline depression and became a nightmarish pessimist. While all I had to do was practice what I always preach now, ie; being balanced. In this context, all I had to do was be a Realist. To see that there is no good or bad, but just what we make of things. Now the ‘good people’ and ‘bad people’ “debate” is something for another day and another article as it‘s a whole other topic, so I won’t go into much detail about it here.

The point that I’m trying to make here is, all I had to do was have a positive mindset, work hard, learn to love, love what I do and not let anything stand in my way to get what I want, at the same time not let my expectations get so high, that they’d always be out of my reach and if I do hit an obstacle, all I have to do is be strong and push through it.

As far as setting goals in my life goes, I learned that only when I reach the next level in my life, should I aim higher than I did for the last goal. Taking one baby step at a time to achieve what I want. I’m still on that journey, still setting realistic goals and doing my best to achieve them, then moving up a level when I do and I’ll continue to do so.

There will always be ups and downs in life, but it’s up to us to not let the downs get the best of us and let the ups take us as high as they can, then go higher than that and always keep moving forward in life by being smart with our decisions, hard work and persistence.

Set the goals you know you can achieve and then act on your plans.

Since the day I started being a realist and setting goals that I could achieve, I’ve gained more than I ever thought I could, I still have a long way to go no doubt, and even though there will be difficulties and obstacles, all I have to do is push through them or just be patient, take a little longer and get around them instead.

I know it’s easier said than done, and that’s where a realist mindset helps you. You anticipate the hardships and make plans that would get you through them, it helps you be prepared and not be brought down when you‘re faced with a problem that seems difficult and it probably is, but remember, it isn’t impossible to solve that problem either.

Finally, being a realist in life not only helps you solve problems, but it’s quite effective when it comes to ignoring the negativity that you don’t need or want in your life. It was a real helpful mindset for me to have when I had to overcome depression.

For example, if you have someone who is always insulting, discouraging and belittling you, having a realist mindset, you’d know that you can’t stop people from saying or doing things to you that you don’t want them to, I mean there are “ways” you can “stop” them, but some of those “ways” are considered quite illegal in the court of law, so…yeah! It’s better to just ignore and pity them instead.

The thing is, there will always be individuals like them and they will be virtually everywhere, they enjoy doing it or they simply hate you, and you can’t make someone like you, unless you brainwash and condition them to, from their birth, and even then, it might not work, so might as well just ignore them and surround yourself with those who do bring positivity in your life, not ‘yes men and women’ but those that genuinely do care and want you to be happy and successful in your life and would gladly share the joy of life itself with you. The rest, is up to you.

That’s it for this post. Be realistic, Be positive, Be happy, Thank you for reading and I wish you all success in achieving your goals.

Maintaining Balance – Ashtad Rustomji

In almost every field of study or work, there are various areas with focus on different aspects of that subject. These areas are meant to achieve a specific purpose in a specific aspect of that subject.

For example, what comes to your mind when I say ‘Fitness’? Now when I say ‘Self-Defense‘ ‘Self-Protection‘ ’Conflict Management‘ etc. what areas of studies come to your mind? Does one specific thing come to your mind or more than one? There are many other similar fields of study like physics and engineering that focus on various areas of those subjects.

Now, let’s take fitness for example, it’s not just about lifting weights or “just”  running or “just” yoga, stretching, etc. No, in biological terms, Fitness is an organism‘s ability to survive in a particular environment. Of course it can also be described as being competent enough to fulfill a particular task. It also can be described as a condition of being physically strong, athletic and healthy.

There is no one aspect of fitness, it consists of combining different areas that focus on improving your physical abilities. The main areas include Cardio, Calisthenics, Weight training and along with them an equally important aspect would be; Diet and Nutrition. Of course there are sub-categories of the above mentioned areas that focus on and specialize in different aspects like Endurance, Stamina, Dexterity, Reflexes and Flexibility, Strength, Speed, Durability, Conditioning, but doing only one of these, won‘t mean that you have achieved physical fitness, it would only mean that you‘re not totally out of shape. Only by training every aspect, understanding it as a whole and applying the knowledge practically will you achieve a certain level of fitness and you will progress further from there. The thing is, fitness doesn’t end on the physical level, but extends to a psychological level too, there are exercises that help you be more focused, improve concentration, etc. When you train on both levels with dedication and persistence, you achieve total fitness.

Same goes with Conflict Management, Self Protection, Self Defense, etc. They’re not just one thing, they’re composed of many different aspects that address all the necessary requirements to survive violence. Focusing on just one of those aspects will not help you prepare for what you think you are preparing for, instead it‘ll just give you a false sense of security that will be destroyed when you face something you weren’t even aware was a part of it.

There are many who tend to focus on just one aspect of those subjects, resulting in an incomplete analysis of what they truly consist of, therefore not achieving effective solutions to the problems they‘re claiming to solve.

Same goes for the training balance between SD and Martial Arts. They’re not the same. Simply put, SD doesn’t take a lifetime to learn, it’s a legal term used when you need to justify your violent actions during an attack in the court of law. You simply cannot pile them together, there has to be a balance between what you train for violence and what you train as an art or as part of a skill development routine.

When learning and training in subjects like CM, SD, SP, a lot of different areas need to be focused on. They are;











These areas give an overall understanding of violence dynamics. While it is a broad subject, the physical aspects are given the most preference than any other by most. There is no balance in training for violence, it’s all about fighting for many.

But without the balance in training, the knowledge and preparation required to face and survive violence is not gained resulting in an incomplete understanding of the subject matter. When that happens the individuals involved in the violent incident have to face harsh Consequences of their actions. They don’t know when to avoid and back-off (Strategic) and they don’t know how to prevent it (Tactical), they’re not aware of the Legal, Moral or Societal Consequences of their actions, so they resort directly to (what is supposed to be) the last option, I.e. the Physical part of the subject without considering the Environment they‘re in, which either leads to them landing in more trouble than they imagined and more damaged than they expected (or didn‘t expect), not to mention the Psychological issues that occur in the aftermath of violence.

Same goes for Martial Arts too. Too many get too focused on the punching and kicking rather than focus on the responsibilities that come with being a Martial Artist and the in-depth knowledge required to actually be competent enough to utilize the techniques taught as practically as possible in the appropriate environment and to know when and how to translate them to various situations.

I’ve heard Martial Artists say that Martial Arts is a journey and yes, they’re absolutely correct, it’s just that sometimes, some Martial Artists forget where their journey is supposed to lead them, there is no destination for their journey, and a journey without a destination is just wandering around aimlessly.

Most of them just follow “What their instructors once told them“, rather than think for themselves and try to understand what the instructor meant by what they said or even question whether what they said made any sense at all in the first place. All the while forgetting to maintain the required balance between the physical aspect of Martial Arts and the non-physical ones, which in MA’s case, includes an unique aspect of; Philosophy. Many know it as ‘Budo’. Of course, it’s a Japanese term, but the philosophy itself is applied in virtually all of traditional and classical Martial Arts. It encompasses much more than physical techniques and violence, it includes self-control, self-discipline, respecting others, understanding your art in not just width, but in depth. These things, the principles, they transcend the physical aspect of Martial Arts. They’re what help a Martial Artist maintain the balance in their training.

In conclusion, Balance is a simple principle that applies to just about everything. Without balance, the desired results will not only be difficult to achieve, but almost impossible.

It doesn‘t matter how hard you train in one area of the subject, not unlike a machine, without all of the components, the knowledge will not be fully functional and effective.

Of course, I’ll add this, I’m obviously no “expert” on any of the subjects above. What I wrote, are just my opinions based on my experiences and research, you (the reader) will have to test things out for yourself to check and see if I’m b.s’ing or if these things are indeed true. After all, what good is information if you don’t test it and put it into action, right?

Well, that’s all. Thank you for reading.