3 Reasons To Care About CISPA

CapitolDomeAny current legislation being debated in Congress which affects the handling of our private information, deserves attention.

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) has recently passed the House and now awaits Senate approval. Under the provisions of CISPA, U.S. companies could hand over all of your private data  to the government, all in the name of national defense.

This information sharing would be done in the interest of “national security” and the justification for CISPA, is to help our government fight back against foreign hackers like China and Iran.

According to US News and World Report:

“A very long list of major companies – including AT&T, Verizon, Intel, HP, Time Warner Cable, IBM, Comcast, McAfee, Oracle, Google and Facebook – like CISPA because it lets them off the hook. So when Anonymous called for a blackout to protest CISPA, it fell on deaf ears to the big tech, Internet and cable companies responsible for vast swaths of the Internet.”

Three reasons you should care: Continue Reading…

3 Ways That We’re Being Tracked

Computer_PeekingAre you like me….a law-abiding citizen who has nothing to hide?  We’re being tracked anyway.

Bruce Schneier is a well-known cryptographer, internet security analyst and author. His perspective forces me to think about my own personal privacy and should make you ponder yours too!

In a recent CNN.com opinion piece, Schneier deftly points to the existence and ubiquity of the current Orwellian style surveillance state that we all dread.

The Internet is a surveillance state. Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, and whether we like it or not, we’re being tracked all the time. Google tracks us, both on its pages and on other pages it has access to. Facebook does the same; it even tracks non-Facebook users. Apple tracks us on our iPhones and iPads.”

He goes on to say:  “Facebook, for example, correlates your online behavior with your purchasing habits offline. And there’s more. There’s location data from your cell phone, there’s a record of your movements from closed-circuit TVs. This is ubiquitous surveillance: All of us being watched, all the time, and that data being stored forever.

Here are three of the ways that you and I are being tracked, whether we like it or not. Continue Reading…

What Can Cops Extract From Your Smartphone?

Fingerprint eye circuit boardAre you one of those vulnerable souls who refuses to believe that your every move and word can be traced and tracked? Think again!

At a recent speaking event, the presenter who took the stage before me was a forensic computer analyst for a local law enforcement agency. The irony is that I was at the event to share my “Identity Theft Secrets” about clever ways to safeguard private information.

My warm-up speaker was there to let the audience know that “resistance is futile” because law enforcement routinely extracts details that help them make a case or solve a crime.

Talk about taking the wind out of my sails!

The Toronto Star recently reported on a Michigan search warrant that revealed all the details which police were able to extract from a seized iPhone. A civil liberties technologist was quoted in the article as saying: 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…

3 Cybersecurity Resources For Parents

My wife and have always looked for creative and effective ways to keep our family safe.

Although the internet offers a world of opportunities for people of all ages, it can be a very dangerous place for kids especially.

The following article includes three informative and relevant online resources for parents. This was originally written and posted by Nikki Junker at the Identity Theft Resource Center blog. It is reproduced here with permission.

There was a time when every parent knew what to tell their children to be safe. Children knew not to take candy from strangers, or go swimming right after eating. These days the rules have all changed and children have a new playground on which they must be trained in order to stay safe.
The cyberworld takes up a huge amount of children’s time and, unfortunately, is very dangerous. Sitting a child down and explaining to them about protecting their private information online or staying away from child predators is not easy. Here are some fun ways to teach your child cybersecurity. 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…

4 Reasons Not To Stand In Line For An iPhone 5

Wonder why all those shoppers are standing (or in many cases camping) in those long lines outside various cell phone stores?

Apple’s highly touted and greatly anticipated iPhone 5 is set to go on sale on the 21st of this month and the buzz is deafening! Well….sort of.

Other buyers around the world will get to stand in line after the initial launch in the first five countries which include: the U.S., Japan, Germany, France and Britain.

Here are 4 reasons you don’t need to stand in line for this greatly improved Apple device. 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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