Robert Siciliano

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      Robert Siciliano
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    • Title:Identity Theft Expert
    • Organization:IDTheftSecurity.com
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    How to Monitor a Cell Phone

    Friday, February 15, 2019, 11:11 AM [General]
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    Do you fancy yourself a spy and wondering how you can monitor someone else’s cell phone? You won’t get that information here, but there is some good info on cell phone monitoring if you keep reading:

    The Legalities of Tracking Cell Phones

    Generally, it is not legal to monitor a cell phone that does not belong to you. However, generally speaking, and THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE, if the account is under your name or if you have written permission from the person who owns the phone, you can track it.

    Why Monitor a Cell Phone?

    There are some situations where it is perfectly legal, and even useful, to monitor a cell phone. One good reason is to monitor your family. This is especially the case if you have a tween or teenager who has some freedom.

    Another reason you might consider monitoring a cell phone is if you have an elderly family member, like a parent, who uses a cell phone. If your loved one has dementia, you certainly should track their phone.

    Businesses also often track company issued cell phones. The main reasons to do this is to locate a device if it is ever lost or stolen and to monitor employee communications.

    The Main Ways to Track a Cell Phone

    There are three different ways that people track cell phones:

    • Through the Cell Phone Carrier – Most major cell phone carriers offer a feature that allows a person to track a cell phone that is on their account. There is a fee for this service, it is totally legal, and it’s a great way to track family members.
    • Through a Smartphone or Computer– If you have a smart phone that runs iOS or Android, you can use features like Find My iPhone, or you can use apps like Find My Friends. Just keep in mind that the phones must have GPS enabled for these to work.
    • Though a Third-Party App – To trace a phone through an app, you usually have to have access to the phone you want to track AND own it and/or written permission from the phone’s owner. Typically, both devices must have the app loaded for these apps to work. Some of these apps are free for limited features. Others come with a one-time or monthly payment for the service.
    • Through an Infected email or Text Link – This is pretty much illegal and might get you stint in the klink. Pulling this off requires special malware or spyware which can be obtained on the dark web for a price. That will mean you’d got from being legal to the seedy world of Blackhats. And as they say, once you go black, you never go back. You would then officially be a criminal.

    In most cases, it is not legal to trace or track a cell phone unless you have permission from the owner. However, each state has their own laws, so it’s very important that you understand the laws in the state you live. This way, you can avoid any repercussions.

    Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

    The Top Cyber Security Threats to Real Estate Companies

    Wednesday, February 13, 2019, 10:56 AM [General]
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    Gone are the days when hackers would only target retailers. These days, the bad guys an target businesses in any industry, especially those that aren’t quite up on cyber security.

    The real estate industry is one such group, and according to a recent survey, about half of businesses in the real estate industry are not prepared to handle a cyberattack. Federal law requires some industries, like hospitals and banks, to have some type of security in place for things like that, but the real estate industry is quite vulnerable. Here are some of the threats you should look out for if you’re in the real estate industry:

    Business Email Compromise (BEC)

    A BEC, or business email compromise, is a type of cyberattack that tricks a business into wiring money to a criminal’s bank account. The hackers do this by spoofing email addresses and sending fake messages that seem like they are from a trusted business professional, such as the CEO or a company attorney. The FBI has found that multi-billions in business losses can be attributed to BEC.

    That’s scary enough, but the FBI also says that real estate companies are specially targeted in these attacks and every participant in the real estate transaction is a possible victim.

    Mortgage Closing Wire Scam

    Prior to closing on the sale of a home, the buyer receives an email from their real estate agent, title attorney or other trusted service professional with specific details of the time, date and location of the closing. In this same email, there are detailed and urgent instructions on how to wire money for the down payment but to a criminal’s bank account. Within moments of the wire transfer, the money is withdrawn, and the cash disappears.

    A report by the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center totals the number of victims of the mortgage closing wire scam ballooned to 10,000 victims, an 1,110 percent increase in the years 2015 to 2017 with financial losses totaling over $56 million, which is a 2,200 percent increase.

    Ransomware

    Another threat to real estate companies is ransomware. This is the type of malware that makes the data on your device or network unavailable until you pay a ransom. This is very profitable for hackers, of course, and it is becoming more and more popular. All it takes is one member of your team clicking on a link in an email, and all of your data could be locked.

    Ransomware doesn’t just target computers though. It can target any device that is connected to the internet including smart locks, smart thermostats and even smart lights, which are gaining a lot of popularity in American homes. When digital devices get infected with ransomware, they will fail to work.

    Generic Malware

    Though most people hear about ransomware these days, there are other types of malware out there that hackers use, too. For instance, you have probably heard of Trojans a.k.a. Spyware or Malware, which is very much still around. These can be used by cybercriminals to spy on their victims and get a person’s banking information or even wipe out their accounts. Malware can also be used to steal personal information and even employee information, such as client data, credit card numbers and Social Security numbers. Again, real estate companies are not exempt from this type of attack and are now even bigger targets.

    Cloud Computing Providers

    If you are part of the real estate industry, your business is also at risk of becoming a victim thanks to cloud computing, which is more economical these days. A cyber thief doesn’t have to hack into a company to get its data; all they need to do instead is target the company’s cloud provider.

    It might seem that by using a cloud company you are lowering the risk of your business becoming a target, but the truth is, the risk still lies with your company, how secure your own devices are and how effective passwords are managed. In most contracts with cloud computing companies, the customer, which would be your business, is not well-protected in the case of a cyberattack.

    Protecting Your Real Estate Company from Becoming a Victim of a Cyberattack

    Now that you know your real estate company is a potential target of cybercriminals, you might be wondering what you can do to mitigate this risk. Here are some tips:

    • Create New Policies – One of the things you can do is to develop new policies in your agency. For example, in the case of BEC scams, if you have a policy that you never wire money to someone based only on information given via email, you won’t have to worry about becoming victimized in this type of scam. Instead, you should talk to the person sending the email in person or via a phone call just to confirm. Make sure, however, that you don’t call a number from the suspicious email, as this could put you right in touch with the scammer.
    • Train Your Staff – Another thing that you should consider is better staff training. Most hacking attempts come via email, so by training your staff not to blindly open attachments or click on any links in emails, you could certainly save your staff from these scams. Check out our S.A.F.E. Secure Agent for Everyone Certification Designation course, which is a marketing differentiator that offers ideas and methods to promote proactive strategies to ensure incident-free results. Learn how to develop client-centered procedures customized for safety and security.
    • Train Your Clients – Mortgage closing wire fraud scams can be manageable if not preventable. Inform your clients that in the process of buying or selling a home, there will be many emails to and from your real estate agent and other service professionals including your attorney, mortgage broker, insurance companies and home inspector. Tell them: Call Your Agent: Under no circumstances and at no time in this process should the client or service professional engage in a money wire transfer unless the client specifically speaks to the real estate agent in person or over the phone to confirm the legitimacy of the money wire transaction. Email Disclosure: Clients should always look for language in the real estate agent’s email communications stating the above or a similar facsimile.
    • Back Up Your Systems – It is also very important that you always back up everything. This way, if your system does get hacked, you won’t have to pay a ransom, and you will be able to quickly restore everything that you need.
    • Better Your Cloud Computing Contracts – Since you know that cloud providers don’t really like to take on the responsibility in the case of a cyberattack, you might want to start negotiating with the company in question about what you can do about that. This might include getting better security or adding some type of notification requirements.
    • Consider Cyber-Liability Insurance – You also have the ability to get cyberliability insurance. This could really help you to cut the risk to your real estate business. There are all types of policies out there so make sure to do your research, or better yet, speak to a pro about what you might need.

    Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

    How to Block Spammy Scammy Telemarketing Calls

    Thursday, January 24, 2019, 1:03 PM [General]
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    Are you getting a lot of scammy, spammy telemarketing calls? If you are, you know how annoying they can here. Fortunately, there are some apps out there that can help. Here are a few worth looking into:

    CallApp

    You can use CallApp to lookup numbers, and then decide if you want to answer it or not. It collects data from users, and then gives you this information when a call comes in. You can get CallApp Crawler for Android phones.

    Call Control

    This app offers reverse look up, call blocking, and it can even blacklist any unwanted texts, too. It is very easy to use, and it relies on the community to collect spam numbers and submit them to the company. You can get Call Control on iOS and Android phones.

    Calls Blacklist

    You can use Calls Blacklist to block calls, but there are also other features like scheduling ability or filtering by number prefix. This means you can block numbers that start with a certain combination of numbers, i.e. 803. This app is only available for those with Android phones.

    Hiya

    Hiya used to be just a reverse look up method, but now it also blocks calls and offers caller ID. This app has access to more than three billion records, but like TrueCaller, your number also goes onto that list. You can get Hiya for both iPhone and Android phones.

    Norton Mobile Security

    Norton Mobile Security is not necessarily a call blocking app. Instead, it’s a security app that has call blocking as one of its features. This app is perfect for anyone who wants a full security suite on their mobile phone. You can get this app for both iOS and Android.

    Safest Call Blocker 

    Though Safest Call Blocker is simple, it is quite effective at blocking any unwanted numbers coming from robots or telemarketers. Currently, this app is only available for those who use an Android phone.

    Should I Answer?

    This app blocks calls, looks up numbers, and then categorizes them for easy filtering. It tracks about 500,000 numbers and is available for both iPhone and Android.

    TrueCaller

    TrueCaller is a popular app, and it holds more than two billion phone numbers. This makes it great at identifying a spammy number. The one caveat of TrueCaller is that it adds your number to the list of numbers it tracks. You can get it for iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, and even BlackBerry.

    Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

    How To Determine a Fake Website

    Tuesday, January 22, 2019, 11:40 AM [General]
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    There are a lot of scammers out there, and one of the things they do is create fake websites to try to trick you into giving them personal information. Here are some ways that you can determine if a website is fake or not:

    How Did I Get Here?

    Ask yourself how you got to the site. Did you click a link in an email? Email is the most effective ways scammers direct their victims to fake sites. Same thing goes with links from social media sites, Danger Will Robinson! Don’t click these links. Instead, go to websites via a search through Google or use your bookmarks, or go old school and type it in.

    Are There Grammar or Spelling Issues?

    Many fake sites are created by foreign entities using “scammer grammar”. So their English is usually broken, and they often make grammar and spelling mistakes. And when they use a translating software, it may not translate two vs too or their vs there etc.

    Are There Endorsements?

    Endorsements are often seen as safe, but just because you see them on a site doesn’t mean they are real. A fake website might say that the product was featured by multiple news outletsfor instance, but that doesn’t mean it really was. The same goes for trust or authenticating badges. Click on these badges. Most valid ones lead to a legitimate site explaining what the badge means.

    Look at the Website Address

    A common scam is to come up with a relatively similar website URL to legitimate sites. Ths also known as typosquatting or cybersquatting. For instance, you might want to shop at www.Coach.com for a new purse. That is the real site for Coach purses. However, a scammer might create a website like //www.C0ach.com, or //www.coachpurse.com.  Both of these are fake. Also, look for secure sites that have HTTPS, not HTTP. You can also go to Google and search “is www.C0ach.com legit”, which may pull up sites debunking the legitimacy of the URL.

    Can You Buy With a Credit Card? 

    Most valid websites take credit cards. Credit cards give you some protection, too. If they don’t take plastic, and only want a check, or a wire transfer, be suspect, or really don’t bother.

    Are the Prices Amazing?

    Is it too good to be true? If the cost of the items on a particular page seem much lower than you have found elsewhere, it’s probably a scam. For instance, if you are still looking for a Coach purse and find the one you want for $100 less than you have seen on other valid sites, you probably shouldn’t buy it.

    Check Consumer Reviews

    Finally, check out consumer reviews. Also, take a look at the Better Business Bureau listing for the company. The BBB has a scam tracker, too, that you can use if you think something seems amiss. Also, consider options like SiteJabber.com, which is a site that collects online reviews for websites. Just keep in mind that some reviews might be fake, so you really have to take a broad view when determining if a site is legit or one to quit.

    Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

    Your Kids Digital Lives Are in Shambles

    Thursday, January 17, 2019, 10:45 AM [General]
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    If you have a teenager, you probably have a battle in play: do you or do you not manage your teens mobile devices. Though some parents see this as an invasion of their child’s privacy,(which, frankly, is stupid) there are many reasons why you should start managing what they are doing online.

    Some of these reasons make a lot of sense. Mainly, what your kid does at age 17 and under, is your responsibility, or in essence, your fault if they screw up. If they send a nude photo, that’s child porn, and that will come back to bite YOU and them.

    And, the research data is out there, for instance, a teenager who has limits on how long they can sit on their phone will be better prepared to get into the real world because they can focus and unplug. Many people believe and research strongly suggests that too much screen time leads to addiction, which could definitely negatively affect the life of the child. There is also the fact that spending too much time on one activity, such as watching endless YouTube videos, causes other responsibilities to suffer. This leads to poor time management skills.

    Time management is crucial for a child to develop in the younger years. Even the CEO of Microsoft believes that people are spending too much time focused on the screen. Microsoft actually did a study that showed the average attention span of a human is only about 8 seconds; shorter than a goldfish.

    What does this tell you as a parent? It means that it might be time to teach your kids how to better manage their time and to avoid distractions from their cell phones. The best results start when they are younger, but it could still be worth it trying to enforce this as they get older. If not, you could see that your kids are being passed by others as they get older; others who know how to focus their attention.

    Most parents don’t enforce these types of things because they don’t want to fight with their kids over it. They know that there is going to be a battle, and they are probably fighting their kids about other things, too, so they don’t want to add onto that.

    If you are thinking about doing this, but having second thoughts, don’t think about it as a punishment for your child. Instead, think about it as time that they will have to focus on other things. You also might want to try it yourself and spend more time with them. Though you might not even realize it, many adults have issues with too much screen time, too, and this change could be positive for your entire family.

    Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

    Your Real Estate Agent May Have a Gun

    Tuesday, January 15, 2019, 9:54 AM [General]
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    If you are thinking of buying a house, and you start going to open houses, you might be surprised to learn an interesting fact: the real estate agent might be carrying a gun. Some of you reading this might have jumped to this article looking for a fight, because in M’erka guns are a controversial subject and why shouldn’t your real estate agent have a gun?

    Real estate agents find themselves in precarious situations all of the time. They also might have to travel into neighborhoods that aren’t as safe as your typical bedroom communities. There are wayward dogs to contend with, random robberies, and the chance that a visitor to an open house has malicious thoughts. A real estate agent was killed in Maryland not too long ago and his killer stole his laptop and phone. He was killed for $2,000.00 in hardware by this shithead with the money on his face.

    When you think about it this way, it’s no wonder that a real estate agents might feel the need to protect themselves.

    The Statistics

    Let’s look at some statistics: The National Association of Realtors released a report that states 25% of real estate agents who are male carry guns when on the job. Other real estate agents report that they carry other weapons, too, even if they don’t carry guns. Whether you are a fan of guns or not, you can certainly see why some Realtors feel the need to protect themselves.

    The fact that 25% of male Realtors carry a gun is only the tip of the iceberg. The NAR report also says that more than half of all Realtors, both male and female, carry a weapon of some type to every showing. Here’s a brief synopsis:

    • Pepper Spray – 27% of female Realtors and 5% of male Realtors
    • Guns – 12% of female Realtors and 25% of male Realtors
    • Pocket Knife – 5% of female Realtors and 11% of male Realtors
    • Taser – 7% of female Realtors and 2% of male Realtors
    • Baton or Club – 3% of female Realtors and 3% of male Realtors
    • Noisemaker – 3% of female Realtors and 0% of male Realtors

    Why are Realtors Afraid?

    So, why are so many Realtors afraid enough to carry a weapon? First, there is the fact that approximately 3% of Realtors report being physically attacked when on the job in 2016. Though may that seem like a low number to some (too high for me), you have to understand that the overall rate in the country is about 2%, which means Realtors have a higher chance of being physically assaulted when compared with the average US citizen.

    The reasons real estate agents feel the need to protect themselves is even more clear. In fact, many Realtors report that they are fearful of going to work each day. An astounding 44% of female Realtors told the NAR that they were worried about going to open houses in model homes and vacant lots.

    Here’s some more stats:

    • 44% of female Realtors were afraid at some point in 2017 when on the job
    • 25% of male Realtors were afraid at some point in 2017 when on the job
    • 38% of all Realtors were afraid when in a small town
    • 35% of all Realtors were afraid when in a rural area
    • 39% of all Realtors were afraid when in an urban area
    • 40% of all Realtors were afraid when in a suburb

    Knowing this, it’s certainly not surprising that a Realtor would carry a gun. HOWEVER, the problem with all this gun slinging is most people, regardless of their profession aren’t properly trained to “fight” with a gun. That means being trained to use a firearm under duress. I’m not talking about gun safety or target shooting, I’m talking about if you are being attacked, do you know how to respond with a gun if someone is coming after you? So to my Real Estate Agent friends and all others, seek out “Stress Response Training” and Firearm and get properly trained.

    Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

    Serial Killer Claims 90 Lives

    Friday, January 11, 2019, 10:08 AM [General]
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    This story is entirely messed up. A man was recently convicted of three murders in California, and he is suspected of being involved in several more. He claims that he has been involved in killing 90 people across the county over almost 40 years.

    This man, Samuel Little, is now 78-years old, and was booked into jail after being indicted in the death of a Texas woman in 1994. He was brought to Texas from California to face charges. While in Texas, investigators from across the county have come to talk to Little about other murders. Though he claims 90 murders, right now, investigators can connect him to about 30.

    If he truly has killed 90 people, it would make him one of the most, if not the most, prolific serial killer in United States history. Even Ted Bundy’s and John Wayne Gacy’s killings were numbered in the 30s.

    There are links from Little to murders in Kentucky, Florida, Ohio, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, and Texas.

    The Texas Rangers are now focused on the case and say that Little has admitted to about a dozen killings in Texas. They are holding Little in a Texas jail on murder charges, and he has a court hearing scheduled for November 26th.

    Interestingly enough, Little got away with these murders for decades. It wasn’t until DNA evidence was collected from old crime scenes did investigators start to connect the dots. He was first convicted in 2014 for killing three women in California. Local Los Angeles detectives believed that Little was, indeed, a serial killer at that time, but he had previously only been convicted of other crimes, including armed robbery, drug violations, burglary, and assault. Until the DNA evidence was available, they could not connect him to the crimes.

    Little focused on both men and women victims but had a common method of killing the women. He would knock them out by punching them, and then begin strangling them to death while pleasuring himself. WTF! When the women were dead, he would dump the bodies and immediately leave town.

    He has lived a life of crime. He was raised by his grandmother, and his first arrest, which was for burglary, occurred when he was 16-years old. Though he has had many convictions for crimes since then, he has always denied killing anyone…until now. Investigators believe that Little figures he has nothing to lose at this point, since he is already serving a life sentence in California. Since there will probably be more charges coming to Little, hopefully investigators will find out the truth of his crimes.

    Some people just cone out their momma BAD.

    So what to do? Recognizing risk begins with “recognizing risk”. In other words, it can happen to you and you should be proactive and do something about it opposed to saying “it can’t happen to me.” Once you engage in the fundamentals of personal security, your risk is reduced.

    Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

    Should You Worry About Contactless Credit Card NFC Skimming

    Wednesday, January 9, 2019, 11:11 AM [General]
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    If you have a contactless card, you might have worries about skimming. A contactless card or “frictionless” or “tap and go” is a card that has technology in it that allows payment over secure wireless like Apple Pay, Android Pay etc. Basically, this is where a criminal literally digitally pickpockets you by scanning things like your debit card or passport. What’s scary about this is that anyone can get an app for their phone that will allow them to skim. Is there protection for this? Maybe.

    But before you freak out, you probably don’t even have a contactless card. Very few cards deployed in the USA are contactless, so that sleeve you use doesn’t protect you from anything. Now if you are overseas or even in Canada, then look at your card and if there is a WiFi looking logo on there, you have contactless.

    The way that the bad guys skim this information is by using RFID, or radio-frequency identification. There are RFID signal jammers out there, but the question is this: do they work and are they necessary?

    RFID Signal Blockers

    If you put some time into it, you will find a number of RFID signal blockers on the market. Some of these are small and slip right into your wallet. Others are passport sized. There are also RFID signal blocker wallets on the market.

    The Test

    A blogger recently put these RFID signal blockers to the test…on the London Underground, one of the most crowded places in the world, especially during rush hour. He set up the test by asking one person to place a debit card in their pocket, and then another person used a mobile phone with an RFID signal scanner. The result was that the phone could scan and record the number on the debit card and the expiration date, simply by holding the phone really close to the pocket.

    The blogger took the test a step further and tried to block these signals with RFID blocking technology. Even though the experiment was very unscientific, the blogger found that the blocker stopped the skimming.

    Protecting Yourself

    There are some things you can do to protect yourself from this. First, check your passport. It should have a chip in it. This chip is in all US passport that have been released since 2007. Now, someone can still take information from your passport using RFID skimming, but they have to actually be on the page where the photo is, and it’s pretty rare that they would have access to that.

    You can also use a shielding device. They can certainly work, and some people have even found great results by using tinfoil. This will further help to protect your accounts.

    Finally, even if you are using an RFID shielding device, make sure that you are checking your statements for anything suspicious. This is especially the case if you often find yourself in crowded places, like the subway.

    Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

    Protect your USPS Mail from Getting Stolen

    Thursday, December 20, 2018, 10:57 AM [General]
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    USPSID stands for U.S. Postal Service Informed Delivery. It is a good thing to sign up for because it informs you of your expected deliveries.

    But there’s a problem: Someone ELSE could pose as you and sign up for this service, getting your mail before you have a chance to.

    In fact, it has already happened. Crooks have signed up as other address owners and collected their mail.

    This can lead to credit card fraud if some of that mail includes new credit cards or credit card applications.

    And what if the mail includes a check? The thief could find a way to get it cashed. What a thief could do with your mail is limited only by his or her imagination.

    Krebsonsecurity.com reports that seven crooks in Michigan used the USPS to, not surprisingly, apply for credit cards via those applications that we all get.

    Then they waited for the new cards to arrive. They knew just when they’d arrive, too, and planned to raid the owner’s mailbox on that date. Of course, the owners never even knew that the cards were applied for.

    The crooks obtained the cards and spent a total of about $400,000. Needless to say, they didn’t bother stealing the bills.

    Though a key on your mailbox will surely help, you can add an extra layer of protection by emailing eSafe@usps.gov to opt out of the service. This will prevent anyone from using it in your name.

    KrebsOnSecurity reports that this email address may be inactive. So at least have your mailbox fashioned with a lock – even if you do get a response from that email address.

    Another thing you can do is get a credit freeze, though this doesn’t guarantee 100 percent that a thief won’t be able to sign up your address with the USPS, but the freeze will prevent new credit cards being opened in your name.

    What Else Can You Do?

    • Check your existing credit card statements every month for any odd or unfamiliar charges and report them immediately even if the amount is small.
    • Contact credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) and sign up for alerts to any changes in your credit report.
    • Can’t be said enough: Get a locking mailbox, there’s simply too much sensitive information not to.

    Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

    How to Create Bulletproof Passwords

    Tuesday, December 18, 2018, 10:41 AM [General]
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    It is a hassle to keep track of all of your passwords. So, many people use the same username and password combination for all of their accounts. This, however, is a big mistake. All it takes is one hacker getting ahold of one of your accounts, and the rest of your accounts are now compromised. Thankfully, there is a pretty easy way around this…One way is a password manager and for those who don’t trust them, try below.

    Creating Passwords that are Unique

    The best passwords are 14 characters. Passwords that are shorter are statistically much easier to guess. If a site doesn’t allow a password that is 14 characters, you can adapt the following to fit:

    Make a list of all websites you have a username and password for, and then make lists categorizing them. For instance, put all of your social media sites together, your email sites, your shopping sites, and banking sites.

    Next, create an eight-character password. This will be used as the first part of every password that you create. For instance, it might look like this:

    H76&2j9@

    Next, look at your categories. Create a three-character password for those. So, you might do this:

    • Social media sites – SM$
    • Email sites – @eM
    • Shopping sites – $ho
    • Banking sites – BaN

    Finally, the last three characters of the 14-character password will be specific to the website.

    Let’s say you are creating a password for your Facebook account:

    Eight-character + three-character (category) + three-character (unique to site)

    So, your password for Facebook would be:

    H76&2j9@SMSg5P

    This is now a very strong password ad for some of you that is much easier to remember. But not me, above doesn’t work for me. More in a minute…When you have to change your password in the future, you can keep the final six characters and just change the first eight.

    So, how do you remember the first part of the password? One way is to just write it down in a secure location. Don’t keep in near the computer, though. Another thing that you can do is to create a passphrase, which makes it easy to remember a password.

    Let’s use this phrase

    “My sister asked me for milk and butter.” If you take the first letter of all of those words, you would have this:

    MSAMFMAB

    This could be used as your eight-character common denominator.

    You can even go further and make it more secure by swapping out some of the letters with numbers or symbols:

    M3AM4MA8

    Now, the common part of the password is even more difficult to guess, yet still fairly easy to remember. You can also use this method for the shorter part of the password, or even come up with your own methods for password success.

    Oh and that “in a minute” comment…just use a password manager and forget the above madness. My password manager created this: *zWo5j!wUxCVWV and it means nothing and I’ll never remember it because my password manager serves as my memory now.

    Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.


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