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Is The iPhone Fingerprint Scanner Hackable?

sugar temptation

Yes, but not so fast. What’s that got to do with handfuls of candy (see photo) you ask?

Apple just announced that their newest iPhone has a security feature  called       ‘Touch ID’. This new biometric tool allows users to store their fingerprint data inside the phone as an added security measure.

Many are questioning whether this technology improves the iPhone or if it can be easily hacked or bypassed. The company that developed the iPhone technology (Authentec) was gobbled up by Apple in one of their most expensive acquisitions ever.

Security technologist Bruce Schneier recently pointed out that fingerprint readers have a history of vulnerability and some systems can even be fooled by a simple photocopy of a fingerprint. Schneier says that a German researcher once fooled a system using a fake print made of the same gelatin-like ingredient in Gummy bears! Not so sweet. 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 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…

5 Twitter Hack-Prevention Tips for 2012

Twitter now claims to have 50 million active users every single day!

Recently, a colleague complained that his Twitter account had been hacked not once, but twice in the past month!

There is really no reason for anyone to be that vulnerable to attack.

With 2012 upon us and the explosive growth of Twitter, I think the New Year is an excellent time for a review of easy, effective Twitter privacy practices.

5 easy (and tweetable) tips for better privacy protection.

1. Use a strong password that is at least 8 characters long and includes both numbers and symbols. [tweet this]

To avoid the simplest intrusions, make sure your password is not a word that appears in the dictionary. So called computerized “dictionary attacks” are easily capable of targeting and exploiting those words literally within a few seconds. For a great article on password tips and advice, check out this informative article from the folks at Google.


2. Make sure that is in the address bar whenever you log into your account. [tweet this]

Bogus sites, malware, spyware and viruses are often disguised as common links. Be cautious about clicking on any links in Twitter messages you read or receive, especially from people you don’t personally know and trust.

Hint: Any words that may appear between the word twitter and the are indicators that you are not connecting to Twitter!
(example – Not so subtle now, is it?


3. Revoke all access for any suspicious, unrecognized or untrusted third-party Twitter applications. [tweet this]

Just go to “Connections” under the “Account Settings” menu and click “Revoke Access.”

Trusted apps should include only ubiquitous, reliable and trustworthy providers such as Facebook, TweetDeck and Hootsuite etc. Programs and applications built by 3rd party developers can be easy and convenient, but should be used with great care. A recent article in PC World magazine reported that Twitter may have solved this problem by rendering all 3rd party apps obsolete, thanks to their newly re-designed iPhone and Android apps.


4. Stay updated with the latest patches and updates against spyware, viruses and adware. [tweet this]

Keep all your computers, smartphones, tablets, and browsers continuously safeguarded with the latest patches and updates against malicious or harmful software. If you are not getting these updates DAILY (while you sleep) you are vulnerable.


5. Twitter will never email request personal info. If you receive such a request, its the boogeyman! [tweet this]

According to Twitter’s blog:

If we suspect your account has been phished or hacked, we may reset your password to prevent the hacker from misusing your account. In this case, we’ll email you a link to where you can reset your password. Again, this link will always be on the website, and we will never ask you to email us your old password.


Twitter says their goal is “increased security and a better experience.” The folks at Twitter may have taken a page right out of the TSA’s manual for handling airline passengers.

Fly little Twitter birdie, fly!

What Twitter safety practices could you share? Leave a comment!

[Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for frequent privacy tips!]

Don’t Let Smartphone Hackers Ruin Your Holidays

According to data from Neilsen, approximately 38% of American adults now own an iPhone, Blackberry or other mobile device that runs the Android, Windows or Web OS operating system.

Your digital productivity is an attractive lure for financial attackers looking for easy pickings. The more connected you are, the more attractive your data and devices are. Your phone now contains your contact list, your documents, your photos, your history of conversations and a chance for a peek inside your wallet.

One persistent challenge is this; the security holes that leave you vulnerable, often go undetected and create a gaping hole in your mobile security armor.

Because many smartphone devices do double duty both at home and in the workplace, web security firms and company IT departments are hard at work guarding corporate
firewalls from the army of employees who innocently use their smartphones for both company business and personal pleasure.

What can the average smartphone user do to effectively fight the battle against financial data thieves during the busy holiday season? Continue Reading…