The Scariest Stuff Online

Computer Security (Photo credit: Don Hankins
By Carl Weiss

Want to see something really scary? Well you don't have to prowl the streets on Halloween in order to see the kind of things that give you goose bumps. All you have to do is trawl the Internet's back-channels for an hour. Once there you will discover creepy crawlies galore, including a search engine designed for and by hackers, a black hat (not cat) convention in Las Vegas, and ghost sites that will creep you out. Below is our list of the top ten scariest sites on line.

10. What Happens in Vegas

Around since 1997, the Black Hat Convention held yearly at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas is the place where hackers hang their hat. Interested in learning how to carry out cyber-spying on cellphones? No problem. Want to know what it takes to bypass traditional malware detection measures. Piece of cake. This convention is a veritable candy store where everyone from security experts to nerds looking to take down a small government come to hone their skills. After the now defunct Silk Road website the black hat convention is one of the scariest in-your-face threats to national security that is not only officially sanctioned but wildly popular. To quote the site,

Courtesy of
Black Hat USA is the show that sets the benchmark for all other security conferences. As Black Hat returns for its 16th year to Las Vegas, we bring together the brightest in the world for six days of learning, networking, and skill building. Join us for four intense days of Training and two jam-packed filled days of Briefings.”

9. Don’t Want to Wait for the Movie?

Then read the book, Hacking for Dummies, now in its 4th edition. Why travel to Vegas when everything you need to start hacking can be found online? This book is designed to show you the ins and outs of what it takes to get started as a hacker.
As an information security professional, your toolkit is the most critical item you can possess — other than hands-on experience and common sense. Your hacking tools should consist of the following (and make sure you're never on the job without them):
Courtesy of

  • Password cracking software, such as ophcrack and Proactive Password Auditor
  • Network scanning software, such as Nmap and NetScanTools Pro
  • Network vulnerability scanning software, such as GFI LanGuard and QualysGuard
  • Network analyzer software, such as Cain & Abel and OmniPeek
  • Wireless network analyzer and software, such as Aircrack-ng and CommView for WiFi
  • File search software, such as FileLocator Pro and Identity Finder
  • Web application vulnerability scanning software, such as Acunetix Web Vulnerability Scanner and WebInspect
  • Database security scanning software, such as SQLPing3 and AppDetectivePro
  • Exploit software, such as Metasploit
8. Want to Know How the World Will End?
Just in case the specter of cyber terrorism doesn’t put the fear of God into you there’s a website called Exit Mundi, that catalogs dozens of ways in which the world as we know it could meet its end.  Everything from asteroid strikes to gamma ray bursts, to nuclear terrorism, to a drug that would render the human population certifiably insane (too late) is described in detail on this site.  So if there isn’t enough stress in your daily grind, here’s the place to help you ring the bell the next time you get your blood pressure tested.

7. Like Alien Abduction Sites
Alien Abduction
Alien Abduction (Photo credit: Eric Leslie)
As if we don’t have enough problems on Earth, there are sites that show you how to deal with threats from beyond the solar system.  We’re talking alien abduction here and there are a number of websites devoted to this phenomenon.  Googling “Alien Abduction Sites,” returned 7,580,000 results.  So despite government denials, this is a hot topic.  Scanning the first few pages of the results I noted everything from a wiki where you could share your abduction recollections( to the 
International Center for Abduction Research, which offers information that offers "Straight Talk About UFO Abductions" 
If the threat of being abducted by aliens causes you to lose sleep at night, fear not, because there is a website called that shows you how to make a “Thought Screen Helmet,” designed to foil those insidious intergalactic interlopers.
6. Ghost Sites
Wikipedia defines a ghost site as “A Web site that remains live but is no longer updated or maintained or only done so very infrequently.”  However, if you Google the term you will find tons of sites more inclined to Ghost Busters than webmasters.  Included is everything from that lists everything from ghost hunter sites to occult and paranormal investigation sites.  There was also listed on the first page of the search a spooky website that hit close to home, literally. listed a number of spooky things such as UFOs over Jacksonville to something called the Florida Skunk Ape, which is purportedly “The Southernmost Bigfoot in the USA.”

5. The 20 Scariest Street View Sightings
Mashable collected the 20 scariest sightings posted on Google’s Street View that includes everything from what looks to be the climactic scene from the Alfred Hitchcock blockbuster “The Birds,” to a bizarre group of Japanese citizens who were spotted as they walked down the street sporting pigeon heads. (Don’t ask.)

4. Seeing is Believing
If you think that Google Street View has cornered the market on weird things that happen every day you’re wrong. There are literally millions of websites and videos that show everyone just how weird the world really is. One site called is a collection point for bizarre-but-true stories that get little attention from the media. A recent headline includes, “Melting Starfish and Odd Orca Behavior in the Pacific Ocean,” that quotes a Seattle biologist that describes some of the bizarre changes in the sea life in the area that alludes to the fact that since the Fukushima Reactor meltdown in 2012 that the environmental impact to the Pacific Ocean has been nothing short of catastrophic. The blog also states that, “There are other reports of seals with what appears to be radiation burns on their skin and Polar Bears showing signs of large hair loss.”

Conspiracy Theory Overlap Diagram (Photo credit: Vince_Lamb)
3. Conspiracy Theory Sites

Of course, conspiracy theory sites thrive online. This can make it tough to weed out the chaff from the wheat. For every site that purportedly sheds light on some facet of society that could turn around and bite us, such as the recent revelation that the NSA has been spying on the phone calls, internet searches  and financial transactions of millions of American citizens, there are also sites that purport that the top 3 conspiracy websites crashed at the same time that the government shutdown took place, thus proving that they are owned and operated by either the CIA or the NSA. Love them or laugh at them, there are conspiracy theory sites that claim to prove or disprove everything from government mind control to the New World Order. So if you want to go there, here are a few hot tips. But I’ll deny I sent you this if questioned by the authorities.

2.  Cooking Show Gone Bad
The Halloween episode of Man CaveMunchies purports to show viewers how to prepare “a dish that’s so easy it’s scary.”  However the intro to the show depicts the host as a meat cleaver wielding ghoul that could put you right off your diet. Check it out if you dare. 

You think that a meat cleaver wielding zombie chef is scary?  This is nothing when compared to a site that has put the fear of God into hundreds of millions of citizens of the USA.  This government owned and operated site starts off with the innocuous motto, “Find Health Care Coverage that Works for You.”  Then it stubbornly refuses to let the majority of people sign up, much less find coverage of any kind.  Worse yet, for those who either refuse to sign up or just plain can’t sing up, there is the threat of a stiff monetary penalty.  While the press refers to this system as Obamacare, I think a more appropriate term would be "ObamaScare."

In this article I discussed an eclectic variety of scary subject found on the internet. I have covered the gamut from cyber security to critical government website that just don't work (plus they cost us hundreds of millions of dollars). This article contains all manner of creepy, scary and treating topics take the reader on a very wild ride. If you liked this article, pass it along to your friends. If you have, a comment or other ideas leave them in the comment section. If you want to contact me, my contact information is listed below.
If you like this article, you can find more by typing “scary” in the search box at the top left of this blog. If you found this article useful, share it with your friends, families and co-works. If you have a comment related to this article, leave it in the comment sections below. If you would like a free copy of our book, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century", fill out the form below.

Birth of the Bionic Man

Lee Majors
Cover of Lee Majors

By Carl Weiss

“Astronaut Steve Austin, a man barely alive.  But we can rebuild him.  We have the technology.”

Or so the story goes in the TV series starring Lee Majors that ran from 1974-1978.  The stuff of fiction in the 20th century, during the past few years many of the innovations portrayed in the original series have gone from science fiction to science fact.  There are now such things as prosthetic arms and hands with tactile
sense, rudimentary bionic eyes that help the blind see, and cochlear implants that help the deaf hear.  While we don’t yet have the ability to equip amputees with fully functional legs that can go from zero to sixty in five seconds, we can offer robotic exoskeletons that can help paraplegics regain the ability to walk on their own.  Plus there are other man/machine concepts that are either in the prototype phase or on the drawing board that can amp up the capabilities of us mere mortals.  In this week’s blog, we will take a look at these technologies, as well as the ramifications of enhanced human beings who will soon make Colonel Austin seem as antiquated as much of the technology of the 1970s.

Hummingbird is Nothing to Hum About!

Black-chinned Hummingbird -- Moab, Utah, USA
Black-chinned Hummingbird -- Moab, Utah, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You may have heard that Google recently released its latest algorithm update named Hummingbird.  This new algorithm hasn’t brought any smiles to advertisers faces. I haven’t seen anyone singing (or humming) Google’s praises since they announced the change. What I find interesting is that Google always seems to name its updates after cute little animals like pandas, penguins and now a hummingbird.  Meanwhile their effect on many websites is more like being attacked by lions and tigers.  That being said, what I have brought you today is a cold, hard look at when, why and how search engines of all kinds insist on playing games with all website owners and what you can do to keep ahead of changes that can leave you in the darkest regions of cyberspace.

How to Work the Web Gangnam Style

Gangnam Style

The YouTube video, Gangnam Style went viral, catching the imagination of millions of people worldwide. As a marketing professional, I endeavor to understand why such marketing events happen. What is the special spark that makes a video, podcast or eBook go viral. Where does it all start? Who influences the play and the spread of your message? Does it all happen organically or is there some technique for propagating the spread. In this article I will provide a number of useful tips as to why internet posts go viral. I will provide a list of elements that all viral posts have in common and I will provide you with a road map so that you can create your own viral post. Soon you too will be working the web Gangam Style.

What Makes a YouTube Post Go Viral?

Let's start off by defining what a viral post is. A viral post is a post that is passed beyond your direct friends, followers or social network connections. It is passed from friend to friend beyond your network and direct circle of influence. It's when your message takes on a life of its own.

 Facebook defines a viral post by comparing it to Organic Reach and Paid Reach. Here is what Facebook lists as their definitions:
Viral Marketing
Viral Marketing (Photo credit: Mark McLaughlin)
§  Organic reach: The number of unique people who saw your post in Newsfeed, ticker or on your Page.
§  Paid reach: The number of unique people who saw this post through an ad.
§  Viral reach: The number of unique people who saw this post from a story published by a friend. These stories can include liking, commenting or sharing your post, answering a question or responding to an event.

A great viral post will either be entertaining, funny, amazing or compelling in some way. It will provide useful information that most viewers/readers need or want. It also makes the person sharing the post look good to their followers for passing it on.

Keeping an Eye on the Trend

Viral posts are often tracked by the various social media networks. These tracked posts constitute trends. The media refer to this term as "trending". You will often hear the phrase that a video is “trending.” Trends are often grouped or aggregated via special markers. The most common is the hashtag (# symbol), which was started by Twitter.
English: The Logo for the TV show What's Trending
English: The Logo for the TV show What's Trending (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hashtags are now used by most social networks including Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook,  Pinterest  Instagram and even Google Search. To use a hashtag, just add the # symbol in front of the word you want to be grouped and tracked. For example: "Check out this video on #Viral Social Media, it's great.  Please RT and share." You normally only use one hash tag per post since using too many hashtags is considered poor form.

Video is more likely to go viral than any other type of post. In fact, video is five times more likely to be clicked on than any other published message. These statistics vary from network to network but video is king in the viral realm. Video with text is followed by pictures with text, then audio with text and text only posts. Facebook statistics show that videos are ten times as likely to be shared than links alone and photos are five times as likely to be clicked on than links alone.

What Elements are You Leaving Out?

Next let's look at the elements that all viral post have in common. Whenever possible create a short video to go with your post. If you aren't willing to create a video make sure you have a compelling picture or an audio file to go with it. As stated earlier videos have the highest click through and share rates.
Use Hashtags (#)on all your posts. Follow accepted norms when using hashtags and make sure they are used the same way on all your posts. Also add hashtags such as #viral and #whatshot to connect to other items that are trending. Also remember that you are not limited to publishing your post only once. I normally post a subject three to four times in a week if I'm trying to start a trend.
The elements of your post should be friendly, familiar and resonate with the general public, not just a select few. Posts need to be designed so they can be safely viewed at work or in mixed company. These types of posts will go viral the quickest. 

Examples of Great Viral Videos

Give your product a personality such as the YouTube videos commissioned by Old Spice. Sexy models telling your story can be compelling for a large audience.  Do something hysterical in an unexpected way and illustrate it with a compelling image or story. The Hamsters used in the Kia Soul videos provide a cute and funny way of connecting with the general public. Cute babies or pets performing silly or stupid tricks coupled with catchy familiar tunes can be very effective. It's OK to be a little creepy.  Many of the viral videos that really take off use music and dance at the center of their themes. The Thriller Prison Video comes to mind and of course the Gangnam Style dance craze is the quintessential example.
The inmates dancing to
The inmates dancing to "Thriller" in their YouTube video (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Now not every post has to be funny or useful. It's ok to pull on people’s heartstrings. Telling an emotional inspiring story is a great way to get people to pay attention to your plight. Provide useful and timely content. Your post must be useful in some intrinsic way. It must either be entertaining or useful to the general public. It's OK to ride the wave of some new trend. You can jump on the bandwagon and follow someone’s coat tails. After Gangam Style came out, dozens of imitators soon followed. Many famous video music artists are emulated in funny ways. These videos don't get as many views as the original but many do garner thousands of hits. Your job is to add your message as a preview or post trailer to your video, so that when the public watches your video, they also see your marketing message. Videos that garner lots of views can pay big dividends in the way of pay per click revenues.
Most of the videos, audios and eBooks that have gone viral were shared because their originators asked that they be shared. If you don't ask, you have a 40% less chance of being shared. Share your post with as many people as possible. Especially share your posts with influential followers and leaders in your industry. This includes celebrities. Also make sure you send it out to the news media. One good news story on your post and you're off to the races. Don't forget to use free PR posting sites whenever possible.

Your Road Map to Going Viral

Now let's look at a road map that you can use to get your next post to go viral. First create a list of influential followers so you can personally message them to share and repost your message. Make sure you use a hashtag and leave space for others to add their comments.
Create four types of posts, one video with text, one with a picture and text, one audio and text and one text only. Make one of them the focus of the four. I would make it the video post as it is the most likely to go viral first.
Courtesy of

Decide what your video, audio or eBook will contain. Remember it must have intrinsic value. It has to be funny, entertaining, compelling, emotionally charged or provide useful information that people need or want! Create a list of what’s needed to create your video, audio or eBook.
If this is your first try, create an eBook full of useful information. You can share important information you have gleaned from your industry. You can answer important questions that customers most often ask. EBooks are the easiest type of viral posts  to create. Now create a teaser video that provides a few of the elements from your eBook as the focus of your campaign. Find a compelling photo and create an audio from the video. Also make sure you provide a URL address where viewers can go to get your eBook.
If you're good with video or audio create that type of content as the primary piece. Just remember this is not a commercial. Your video, podcast or eBook is a soft sell at best. Even if you create an eBook as your first project you should still create a short video to go with it. Videos have the highest viral rate and it will lead people to your free eBook which in turn leads them to you. Create your video, audio or eBook and run it by some friends or coworkers who will be somewhat objective. Tweak whatever problems they point out.
Make sure that you embed ample backlinks to your website/landing page or whichever web property you want visitors to find. Also make sure these landing sites are designed to either generate leads, phone calls or sales. I often see well designed viral efforts fail because the landing site was not set up for converting visitors. Check out "The Evolution of Internet Advertising" and "Is it Still Possible to Make Money Online?" for more details.
Post your message to as many social networks as possible. Start with the top five; YouTube, Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn. I would also add Pinterest, Instagram and Picasa, especially if your product is visually oriented, requires some assembly or has special operations. If you have a blog, write several blog articles about your new post. Spread these blog posts out over several weeks. Make sure you especially ask your friends and family to share, retweet and repost your message. Send your message to your list of influential followers. Appeal to their needs and make sure you thank them personally in advance for sharing your message. Again use uniform hashtag convention and leave room for their 2 cents. Create several PR posts for your video or eBook. The press can help your post get found. There are many free PR sites. See my article "Using Press Releases to Promote your Business" for more tips and details.

In this article, I discussed what constitutes a viral marketing post, how they are spread and most importantly how they can help you get more business. It provides list of tips and techniques you can use to maximize the chances of your post going viral and It provides a road map that you can use as a model to design your next viral campaign.

That's my opinion; I look forward toward hearing yours.

If you found this article useful, share it with your friends, families and co-works. If you have a comment related to this article, leave it in the comment sections below.  If you would like a free copy of our book, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century", fill out the form below. 

Hector Cisneros is COO and director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web To Win" on, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.”

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