Posts

Don't Get Cyber-Scrooged on Cyber Monday!

Why fight parking-lot-road-rage, UFC-sanctioned-psycho-shoppers and 12 a.m.-midnight-start-times on Black Friday when you can shop from the comfort of your laptop or iPad while sipping eggnog on the couch (or more likely, from your office desk)? I’m talking about Cyber Monday, of course – the day that online merchants heavily discount their products and generally give free shipping as well. By shopping online, you get most of the same deals and discounts (some of them better) without the breakneck competition common in stores the day after Thanksgiving.

Online shopping during the holidays is a convenient, green, inexpensive way to celebrate the season with less stress. In fact, it’s such an efficient way to buy gifts that cyber shoppers will spend close to $2 Billion this coming Monday. If you are one of them, take a few steps to add peace-of-mind to your peaceful holidays.

How to Protect Your Private Data Online on Cyber Monday

  • Never Shop on a Public Wi-Fi Connection – Although you may trust the baristas at your local coffee shop, you can’t always trust the person sitting next to you. Hackers can easily tap into Wi-Fi connections at public hot spots to steal your identity information. This can be especially dangerous when you are making purchases with your credit card on unsecured connections. Options: surf at home or set up Internet Tethering between your smartphone and laptop or tablet so that you are always surfing on an encrypted connection. Unlike most hot-spot transmissions, your mobile phone communications are encrypted and will give you Internet access from anywhere you can make a call.
  • Never use a debit card online – If your card information is compromised, funds can be withdrawn from your bank account without your knowledge. Federal law states that your bank can take up to 2 weeks to investigate fraudulent activity before returning the funds to your account, which means you have nothing to spend in the meantime.  In fact, if you don’t report the missing funds quickly, you could potentially lose all the money on deposit with your bank.
  • Monitor Your Accounts – While you are doing a lot of shopping – online and in the store – it is good to keep an eye on your bank and credit card accounts. Match your receipts up to your statement to make sure that they are correct and there are no fraudulent charges. Keep an eye out for small charges, sometimes that is how crooks test to make sure they have a good card. For convenience, set up credit card account alerts that automatically email or text you every time you make a purchase. It makes detecting fraud a snap.
  • Consider using a virtual or single-use credit card – Some card issuers offer virtual credit cards or single-use card numbers that can be used online. Virtual credit cards use a randomly generated substitute account number in place of your actual credit card number.
  • Never “recycle” a password – Most online shopping sites encourage you to establish a user name and password. Password-protected sites are becoming more vulnerable because people regularly use the same user names and passwords on multiple websites. But do you really want an online retailer to know the password to your online bank account?  If you are using the same password across many sites and your password for one site is breached, everything else is at risk. If you do decide to create a user name and password, make sure it is adequately strong. To assist the creation and safe storage of different passwords, use a password protection software like 1Password.
  • Protect your passwords and personal data – Do not share your passwords with anyone and never provide your social security number, birth date or mother’s maiden name in an email.
  • Only Shop on Trusted Websites – Don’t just let the search engine pick the site for you, make sure you are using a trusted and well-known website. Type in the direct web address for the stores you are familiar with, and don’t shop on price alone.
  • Look for Signs They are Protecting Your Data – On the Web page where you enter your credit card or other personal information, look for an “s” after http in the Web address of that page and a secured padlock (as shown below). Encryption is a security measure that scrambles data as it travels through the Internet. 
  • Make sure all of your security software is up-to-date before you shop online – That includes anti-virus software, anti-spyware and firewalls.

Take a break on Black Friday. Who knows, maybe you’ll start to think of it as White Friday.

Egypt Going for Total Information Control

,

The Egyptian government has reportedly cut all access to the internet, extending their earlier restrictions on Twitter, Facebook, BlackBerry service and other forms of mass communication. The ban is likely to be in response to the use of social networking sites to organize pro-democracy, anit-Mubarak demonstrations in Egypt and other countries.

Internet access issues in Egypt have coincided with mounting demonstrations in the country, many of which were organized via social-networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Thousands poured into the streets of Cairo starting Tuesday to protest failing economic policies, government corruption, and to call for an end of the nearly 30-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak. -PC Magazine

Pro-gun lobbyists worry about enforced gun registration because it could possibly give the government a way to confiscate all firearms. That’s child’s play compared to their ability to shut down access to the critical tools we use every day: the internet, email, Facebook, Google, text, cell phones – the information arsenal that we all tend to take for granted. Egypt understand the importance.

And so does the Obama administration, according to this WSJ Post:

At the State Department, spokesman P.J. Crowley expressed “deep concern” after Mr. Mubarak shut down the Internet and mobile phone service in Cairo. On his Twitter account, Mr. Crowley wrote: “Events unfolding in #Egypt are of deep concern. Fundamental rights must be respected, violence avoided and open communications allowed.”

Information is power, and Mubarak is playing offense in this game.

John Sileo trains organizations on Information Offense Strategies to stay ahead of the data theft, social networking and intelligence control curve. Learn more at ThinkLikeASpy.com.

Identity Theft Statistics: Online Shopping & Cyber-Intrusion

,

According to a new survey, most online consumers are not taking the proper precautions when shopping online, putting them at a far higher risk of cyber-fraud. 75% of participants thought that a firewall alone could protect them while online. 62% of those polled thought that anti-virus software was enough protection to stop spy-ware. Are you part of these statistics?

While firewalls and anti-virus software are two important aspects of protecting yourself online, there is much more you need to do to keep yourself safe.

Here are additional statistics from the survey:

  • While online, 45% of consumers are most concerned about identity theft,  41% about privacy,  and 45% about computer viruses.
  • While 28% of consumers thought that their identities were secure on mobile devices, most are more aware that their mobile devices are also vulnerable to malicious cyber-crime.
  • 85% of those polled knew that they were being profiled by advertisers through their internet activity. This shows how high our tolerance is for cyber-intrusion into our private lives.
  • 85% also said they were aware they were actively being stalked by cyber-criminals. It amazes me that the awareness can be so high and yet people continue to utilize the internet without a great deal of real concern.

Here are a few tips to help you protect your Identity online.

  • Have a plan that includes privacy and identity protection (perhaps [intlink id=”2172″ type=”post”]identity monitoring[/intlink]) , computer system ssecurity software, browser protection, and a fraud alert service.
  • Hide your IP address. An IP address reveals seemingly harmless information such as your city, state, zip code, and what browser you’re using, which can be exploited by online thieves. Consider installing software that hides your IP address, and therefore your identity and online activities, from criminals, search engines, and advertisers.
  • Use Wi-Fi protection. Virus protection and protection against malicious software don’t protect you from cyber-criminals who might be lurking on unsecured connections. Make sure that you don’t reveal any sensitive identity information (passwords, bank account numbers, etc) while on an unsecured Wi-Fi connection.
  • Think twice before you type. Posts are permanent, public and exploitable! Sometimes by talking about your cat, Mr. Kitty you are revealing more than just his sleeping patterns, you may be revealing your email password.

John Sileo speaks on information control, identity theft prevention and data breach avoidance. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To learn more, contact him directly on 800.258.8076.

Big Brother Lives in Your Browser

The world is spying on you, and you don’t really even know it. A recent investigation by the Wall Street Journal concludes that spying on consumers in order to sell their data is one of the fastest-growing internet businesses. Here is a summary of the most striking findings:

“The Study found that the nation’s 50 top websites on average installed 64 pieces of tracking technology onto the computers of visitors, usually with no warning… the Journal found new tools that scan in real time what people are doing on a Web page, then instantly assess location, income, shopping interests and even medical conditions. These profiles of individuals, constantly refreshed, are bought and sold on stock-market like exchanges.”

The tracking software records and analyzes your browsing patterns. It knows if you’re surfing porn sites, researching bipolar disorder or watching teen movie trailers. With startling accuracy, it interpret’s these patterns and sells the information to websites, sometimes within seconds, that want access to your wallet. What’s the big deal, you ask? Why not let them market to us in highly targeted ways?

That seems reasonable, within limits. According to John Sileo, Identity Theft Expert and author of the newly released book on information survival, Privacy Means Profit, “We are all slowly being boiled like frogs. This month, Big Brother knows which movies I ‘Like’,  what keywords I typed into Google and what books I checked out at the library. Next month they’ll attach our name, address and credit profile to the database so that they can instantly evaluate whether I should be their customer. Because they erode our privacy over time, we don’t notice that we’re being boiled alive!”

According to the Journal, if the tracking software estimates that you are a low income individual, you will likely be shown a higher interest rate credit card when you visit the Capital One website. If you’ve been researching bipolar disorder on Dictionary.com (which downloads 234 tracking programs onto your computer without alerting you), the next insurance website you visit might no longer have a policy that fits you. In another example listed in the article, banks are beginning to consider looking at the credit worthiness of your social networking friends to determine your credit worthiness.

“We can’t just blame this on the businesses that want to market to us,” says Sileo. “They exist to make money and strive to advertise to us in the best way possible. But we don’t have to just sit around and give away all of our precious information.” Sileo recommends a handful of steps we can take to keep our selves out of the hot water, including:

  • Delete the cache of tracking cookies on your computer that share information without your consent
  • Customize the privacy settings in your browser to minimize information leakage and to regularly delete tracking software like cookies
  • Use the “Private Browsing” feature in Safari, Firefox and IE when you don’t want your browsing history stored on your computer
  • Lock down your social networking profiles so that marketing companies can’t skim your personal information
  • Consider using anonymizing software like the Tor Project, Abine or Better Privacy
  • Understand that when you are on the Internet, you are being tracked, and surf accordingly

John Sileo’s identity was used to commit a series of felonies and steal more than $300,000 from his business customers.

His story and how you can avoid the same are detailed in his new book, Privacy Means Profit (Wiley, August 2010).

John speaks professionally to organizations that want to protect their profits against identity theft, social media exposure and corporate espionage. His recent clients include the Department of Defense, FDIC, FTC and Pfizer.

Learn more at ThinkLikeASpy.com.

Google Dashboard Calms Privacy Critics

,

google-logoGoogle introduced the Google Dashboard on November 5th to help calm privacy critics. This provides a summary of the application data associated with your Google account.

Users are able to see what sites they visit, how many Docs they have created and share, how many iGoogle gadgets they are using, Google Reader info, Profile info, Tasks and YouTube history. This is great way for users to be able to see and control their data. It makes people more aware of what they put out there and allows them to set certain privacy settings. The Google Dashboard is currently available in 17 languages and you can Click Here to Read More.

John Sileo provides identity theft training to human resource departments and organizations around the country. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To learn more about having him speak at your next meeting or conference, contact him by email or on 800.258.8076.