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3 Truly “Free” Privacy Protection Resources

privacylostThe fact is…. we live in a post-privacy era!

Daily headlines around the world confirm our greatest fears about privacy being an “endangered species”.  As most folks who reside in cyber-space already know, privacy as we knew it is dead!

Data breaches including Anthem, Sony, Home Depot, Target, JP Morgan/Chase, Uber and the U.S. Defense Department, remind us that even those with virtually unlimited financial resources cannot contain this fire.

These breaches leak our vital information and place it into the hands of fraudsters around the globe. The risks are often referred to as “asymmetrical”, because our exposure is much greater than an anonymous thief’s chances of getting caught.

Open source software and NSA oversight have left privacy advocates gasping for air in search of our long lost right to God-given privacy. Even Adam and Eve had fig leaves and loin cloths, but because of the delicate balance between privacy and security, our modern back doors are open and the front doors are open too!

Here are 3 terrific free privacy protection resources which the unscrupulous “privacy peddlers” can’t charge for. Continue Reading…

Will EMV Cards Protect Your Wallet?

Dollar Finger PrintThat old-fashioned magnetic stripe on the back of the credit and debit cards in your wallet is about to exit stage left.

The size, scope and cost of the Target breach is forcing the U.S. retail and banking industries to grudgingly adopt a newer data security standard that has already been embraced by our friends across the pond for many years now.

Cards that store personal data on high-tech embedded smart chips, will still look and feel the same as the old cards. As consumers in dozens of countries have already discovered, so-called “smart cards” will deliver the same convenience but with greatly reduced vulnerability for point of sale transactions.

Credit cards with the embedded chips will also require the user to input a unique PIN number. This creates the sort of two-factor authentication that renders fraudulently cloned mag-stripe cards useless.

American retail and banking systems have already begun (with Target leading the way) to invest in safer smart card technology that will be ready to deploy by October 2015.

The Charlotte Observer reporting on a Bloomberg editorial had this to say: Continue Reading…

9 Steps To The Target Hack

TargetStore.jpgBlack Friday 2013 was the beginning of a crazy shopping season for consumers and hackers alike.

Consumers snapped up holiday shopping deals across the retail spectrum and hackers snapped up the data from credit card magnetic strips. A good time was had by all.

Security experts have now begun to piece together the identities and methods of the actors behind the Target breach.

The stolen data began popping up for sale in black market underground chat rooms almost immediately, just like fresh caught fish that needs to be purchased and consumed it before it begins to stink!

Fearless former Washington Post columnist Brian Krebs, was the first to report on the breach. Krebs has been infiltrating and reporting on criminal activities in underground online chat rooms since 2005.

According to Krebs:

“Key information that informs some of my best scoops is just as likely to come from people actively engaged in cybercrime as it is industry experts working to fight fraud. So, once again, a sincere thank you to all of my readers — lovers and haters alike.”

The investigators’ reports are in. I’m a risk management guy, not a computer engineer so here’s a layman’s list of 9 steps revealing: “How the attackers did it”. Continue Reading…

Why Cyber Threats Will Grow In 2014

speedometer of the new yearHoping for a brighter, more profitable 2014? Cyber crooks are too!

But despite growing security awareness in businesses and at home, experts predict that we’re in for an even larger privacy battle in 2014.

As the recent Target data breach (and the subsequent flooding of personal data onto the internet black market) is proving, cyber attacks are BIG business.

Steve Wexler is a technology and security journalist at IT-TNA (IT Trends & Analysis). In a recent article published in PC World magazine, Wexler commented: “One would expect doom and gloom forecasts from security vendors – and IT industry analysts – and you won’t be disappointed.

In his IT-TNA blog, Wexler cites fear as one of the contributing factors for increased vulnerability: Continue Reading…

Fighting Scary Cyber Threats

PumpkinThis is that time of year when we turn to fall sweaters, football and pumpkin pie.

Its also time to get off the couch for a moment and recalibrate our Cyber security awareness meter. The bad guys are out in force and they are organized, ruthless and hungry.

They attack on every front and in every sector. Industry, government, large businesses, small businesses, students, families or any target connected to “the grid” is open game.

Once again, the Department of Homeland Security kicked off their annual Cyber Security Awareness Month to help raise awareness in this cyber community we have all become attached to and somewhat dependent upon.

“Everyone has to play a role in cybersecurity. Constantly evolving cyber threats require the engagement of the entire nation — from government and law enforcement to the private sector and most importantly, the public. Cyberspace is woven into the fabric of our daily lives and the world is more interconnected today than ever before. We enjoy the benefits and convenience that cyberspace provides as we shop from home online, bank using our smart phones, and interact with friends from around the world through social networks.” Continue Reading…

New Study Verifies Uptick In ID Theft

Upward TrendFor those who continue to ignore the threat of identity theft, listen up.  It’s getting serious. Really!

Not only is financial crime growing by leaps and bounds, but we are entering a new age of breaches, hacks, mischief-ware (great new word) and privacy vulnerability.

The once encouraging two-year downward trend has now dramatically reversed itself  and is headed into dangerous new territory according to the folks at Javelin Strategy and Research.

An unnerving 12.6 million Americans were victimized by ID Theft in 2012, up dramatically from 2011. New account fraud made up the largest percentage of reported crimes, by targeting the personal information of victims and opening new credit cards and other kinds of loans. Continue Reading…

5 Tips To Avoid Tax Scammers in 2013

scamTax time us upon us once again, and the tax scammers are out in force!

This is certainly the season to be on the lookout for scams and schemes which offer to help you reduce or eliminate your tax debt.

Many consumers are unaware that the IRS has a division called the Taxpayer Advocate Service. This is a division within the IRS that is designed to assist consumers who have trouble getting certain tax issues resolved with the IRS. One of the tough issues that could complicate your relationship with the IRS is tax-fraud.

Tax related identity theft places an unusual burden on both the taxpayer and the IRS:

According to the IRS’s Taxpayer Advocate Service:

“Resource constraints also are limiting the IRS’s ability to assist victims of tax-related identity theft. Tax-related identity theft typically arises when an identity thief uses the Social Security number of another person to file a false tax return with the intent of obtaining an improper refund. Identity theft can impose a significant burden on its victims, whose legitimate refund claims are blocked and who often must spend months or longer trying to convince the IRS that they are, in fact, victims and then working with the IRS to untangle their account problems.”

Here are 5 scams to watch out for this tax season. Continue Reading…

A Few Privacy Protection Tips For 2013

NewYearsClockAs we roll into 2013, the world continues to look and feel like a potentially dangerous place to live.

This sense of danger applies not only to the real-world of evil and senseless violence, but the virtual-world of lurking cyber-thieves,  electronic eavesdropping and privacy risks to both individuals and organizations.

Thanks to a few “clues” from an updated consumer awareness list published by the Federal Trade Commission, we can all start the new year with a focus on continuing to deter, detect and defend from what has become America’s fastest growing crime for 12 years in a row.

A Few Clues That Someone Has Stolen Your Information: Continue Reading…

5 Smartphone Protection Tips To Execute Now

For years, we’ve heard the debate over which computing platform is safer, PC or Mac.

As the story goes, the more popular the platform, the more vulnerable it is to attack.

If you own a smartphone however, the debate is over and the jury is in. They’re all popular and they’re all vulnerable.

During a recent trip to Palm Springs, I was reminded that our daughter lost her iPhone there last year. She called the high-end resort where she left her device, only to be told it was not found by the housekeeping department.

Thanks to her enabled device, our daughter not only tracked it down within minutes, but got an apology from hotel management for the “oversight”!

In the world of cyber-security, user-initiated prevention and preparation planning is the most effective defense against the wide variety common threats lurking in our exploding mobile landscape.

Big data’s new promised land,  “the cloud” isn’t the safety mecca it was initially thought to be either.

According to Kaspersky Labs:

“The continuing development of “cloud technologies” also contributes to potential data losses: there is now an extra target for the cybercriminals to attack, i.e. the data centers where various companies’ data are stored. Data leaks from cloud services could deal a serious blow to the perception of the technology itself and the idea of “cloud storage” that largely rely on users’ trust.”

Here are 5 smart tips to adopt now. Continue Reading…

ID Thieves Rob Treasury Blind

News flash…..Over five billion of our tax dollars are not hard at work, they’re missing!

Alarming details surfaced this week about a report from the Treasury Inspector General For Tax Administration involving massive tax-refund fraud. Watching a flurry of reports come across the newswires about this travesty has been dizzying and alarming. U.S. taxpayers have a right to expect our legislators to weigh in on this one.

It seems that the government is aware of certain mailing addresses in the U.S where billions of dollars (that’s billions with a “b”) worth of refund checks generated by fraudulent tax-returns  have been mailed out. Sadly, many observers in the press are quietly reporting this story without the outrage and sense of personal and mutual financial loss that this debacle deserves. These are OUR tax dollars that have been stolen by modern day bank robbers/mail thieves.

We can only hope that the Feds throw as much energy and resources at bringing both current and future tax fraudsters to justice (and recovering OUR loot) as they do chasing the average Joe for his last hard-earned taxable dollar.

Continue Reading…

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