Robert Siciliano

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      Robert Siciliano
    • Member Type(s): Expert
    • Title:Identity Theft Expert
    • Organization:IDTheftSecurity.com
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    Mobile Phone Numbers Are as Sensitive as Your Social Security Number

    Thursday, April 19, 2018, 9:44 AM [General]
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    All of us have cell phones these days, and if you are like the vast majority of the population, you access everything from social media to banking information right from your mobile phone. However, if you do this, which everyone does, you are putting yourself in the position to get hacked. With only your mobile phone number and a couple other pieces of information, a hacker can get into these accounts and your life could drastically change.

    How does this work? If a hacker already has your mobile phone number, they can get other information, such as you address, birthday, or even the last four digits of your Social Security number, through social engineering schemes via email or on social. Once they have this information, it’s like handing your phone over to them and letting them do as they please, including accessing your accounts.

    The scam may not even begin with you, it may begin with the mobile phone companies themselves. There have been many incidents where the carriers are scammed into handing over troves of personal identifying information to scammers posing as the victim. In many cases the phone companies are even allowing the scammers to get phones with the actual victims phone number by transferring everything to a new phone the perpetrator charges to the victims account.

    Here are some things that you can do to keep your mobile phone number safe:

    Use Your Passcode – You can and should put a passcode on your phone, you should definitely do it. This isn’t totally foolproof, but does give you an extra level of protection.

    Add a Passcode – Your mobile carriers online account should have an additional second passcode to make any changes to your account. This additional passcodes works with both the web and calling customer service. Nothing happens unless this additional passcode is presented.

    Disable Online Access to Any Mobile Phone Account – This is frustrating, of course, but it certainly can protect you. If you need to change your account, you should go to the store or call your provider.

    Use Google Voice – Google Voice is an excellent choice for many, and you can even forward your current number to your Google Voice number. This helps to mask any call you make, which means no one can have access to your real number.

    Access Your Cell Phone Account with a Carrier-Specific Email Address – Most of us use our email addresses and phone numbers to access our online accounts. However, you should really have three separate emails. One should be your primary email address, one should be only for sensitive accounts, like your bank or social media accounts, and one for your mobile phone carrier. This means, even if your main email is hacked, the hackers cannot get into your other accounts.

    Talk to Your Carrier – Consider asking your carrier to make a note in your account to require a photo ID and special passcode before any changes are made. Though it’s possible that a hacker could pose as you with a fake ID, the chances are quite low that this would happen.

    Use Complex Passwords – One of the best ways to protect online accounts is to use complex passwords. Or at least a different password for every account. You should also use a password manager. If you don’t, make sure your passwords are very random and very difficult to guess like “58&hg#Sr4.”

    Do Not Be Truthful – You also might want to lie when answering your security questions. These are easy to guess or discover. For instance, it’s probably easy to find out your mother’s maiden name. So, make it up…just make sure you remember it!

    Don’t Use Your Phone Number for Important Accounts – Also, make sure that you aren’t using your phone number for any important account. Instead, use that Google Voice number.

    Use a Password Generator – This is part of two factor authentication. Protect yourself by using a one time password generator, as part of a two-factor authentication process. It may be your mobile or they look like keyfobs and produce a new password very frequently. The only way to get the password is to access the generator or your mobile.

    Use a Physical Security Key – You should also think about using a physical security key. To use one, you must enter your password into the computer, and then enter a device into the computer’s USB port. This proves that you are the account owner. So, even if a hacker gets your password, they must also have the physical security key to access the account.

    Think About Biometrics – Finally, to really protect your accounts, when available, use biometrics. You can buy biometric scanners that read your fingerprints, your iris, or even recognize your voice. When you use these, you cannot access any account until you scan your finger, eye, or speak.

    Yes, it’s true that some of these seem time consuming, it is much more time consuming to have to deal with getting hacked or a stolen identity. So, take these steps to remain as safe as possible.

    Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

    Self-Defense Options You Might Not Know About

    Tuesday, April 10, 2018, 11:23 AM [General]
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    If you are like most people, you probably haven’t done a lot of thinking about what you would do in a situation involving physical assault. Why would you? I mean, it’s unpleasant and scary. Further, depending on your physical makeup, you may think you’d probably lose anyway. However, you don’t have to have an MMA fighter’s body to defend yourself.

    Attackers often look for targets who are unsuspecting. One of attackers “tools of the trade” is the element of surprise. So, live like your heads on a swivel which means be aware and do things like park your car or walk only in areas that are well-lit. You should also avoid parking next to a large truck or van where an attacker might pull you in

    When you are in a parking lot, keep your largest house or car key poking out between two of your fingers. This makes a good weapon. If a bad guy approaches you and asks for your purse or wallet, give it to them. Your life isn’t worth whatever is in your wallet or purse.

    If the attacker grabs you, scream as loud as you can. Tell him to “Get the F— away” as loud and angrily as possible. Profanities are fundamentally offensive and color the way we are viewed by others. This is no time for niceties; you should sound like a thug. This will alert anyone around that you need help.

    Running away to a safe place should be your first choice when possible. Otherwise if you are backed into a corner, Do what is necessary to escape. That may mean fight like an alley cat or a junk yard dog.

    You should push him, bite, knee, poke, gouge and whatever is necessary to inflict not just pain, but debilitating pain and continue screaming. You should make sure it hurts, so go for the ears, neck, nose, eyes, legs, and of course, his groin.

    Don’t move any closer to your attacker unless you have no choice. Try to aim at a place where you can hurt them, but don’t have to get close. For instance, kick him in the knee instead of stepping close to poke him in the eye. If aiming at the upper body, use your hands; the lower body, use your feet.

    Here are some specific areas to focus on:

    Eyes

    • Gouge, poke, dig, or stab the eyes with your fingers or nails. This is disabling for several moments, especially if you do it several times.

    Nose

    • Use your palm, elbow, forearm to push the nose upward, and use all of your body weight.
    • If the attacker is behind you, use your elbows and aim for the nasal bone.

    Neck

    • Try to focus on the side of the neck where the body’s major blood vessels are located. If you hit the side of the neck with your hand or elbow, you can even knock someone out.

    Throat

    • Blunt force trauma to the larynx or digging into the trachea makes it very difficult for the attacker to breath.

    Knee

    • Even the largest, most burley men can be brought down by kicking him in the knees. Try to drive the foot into the side of his knee, which forces him to lose his balance and possibly tear an ACL.

    Groin

    • Try to hit the groin with anything you can. Your hands, knees, elbows, feet, or even your head. Do it as hard as you can and do it as often as you can.

    Normal people aren’t interested in fighting, for any reason. But in the unlikely event you are confronted by what turns out to be a dangerous person, fight like your life, or the life of a loved one depends on it.

    Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this video.

    The Term "Identity Theft Protection" is Often a Lie

    Thursday, April 5, 2018, 11:32 AM [General]
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    If you are working for an IT security company, I have a message for you: the term “identity theft protection” is way overused and even abused as a marketing term. We know that this term is used to sell services and products, but does it really protect a user from being the victim of identity theft? No.

    This is no different than labeling a food as “natural,” even though it is not actually “organic.” At best, this is incorrect information. At worst, it’s a total lie.

    Every company with security solutions out there claims that they can protect identities. But, a firewall does nothing to protect a person from getting their identity stolen. The same goes with an encrypted thumb drive, antivirus software, or even phishing alerts.

    Only true identity theft protection services monitor your identity. They do this by checking your credit report and scanning the internet for any sensitive personal info. It also looks for information such as the Social Security number, and if there is an issue, the service helps you solve the problem.

    If you have identity theft protection right now, you might get an email like this each month:

    We have been monitoring your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union, and we are pleased to inform you that we did not notice any new activity. As a user of our services, we will continue to check your credit report each day for your protection. We help to protect you from any financial losses and hassles that are associated with identity theft. You can log into our website and review your status at any time. Please click here and enter your username and password to get started. As always, our staff is standing by to assist if you notice any suspicious activity.

    This is what you should get when you opt for identity theft protection. Don’t fall for the fancy marketing that security solutions companies throw at you.

    At its basic level, this is what identity theft protection looks like:

    • Monitoring: continuous monitoring of your identity, privacy, and credit
    • Alerts: warning system rapidly notifying you when your personal information is at risk
    • Recovery: experts providing comprehensive, 24/7 recovery services taking care of paperwork, calls, and every detail to restore your identity

    Do your research and don’t believe everything you see or read. Take the time to understand what you are spending your hard earned money on.

    Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

    Don't Overlook Basement Security

    Thursday, March 29, 2018, 10:00 AM [General]
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    If you are like most of us, you probably don’t think much about the security of your basement. However, you might want to start doing that. Why? Because burglars love to get into homes by crawling into the basement. They know that most people don’t put a lot of security there, so it gives them easy access. Here are some tips to ensure your basement is locked up tight:

    • If you have a door leading to the basement, make sure there is a good lock on it. Also, get a good, solid door. If the door is hollow, it’s very easy to kick in. Try to install the door so that it opens outwards. This way, it’s very difficult to kick in.
    • Speaking of kicking in, if your door opens inward as most do, you need to reinforce that door and the door frame. Check out the Door Devil door reinforcement kit. It makes kicking in a door extremely difficult.
    • Make sure all windows to the basement are visible from the outside. Windows hidden by shrubbery are perfect windows for burglars to get into since you can’t see them. A dark night paired with dark clothing with the covering of a shrub makes a burglar almost invisible.
    • Speaking of the windows, you should also consider placing bars across basement windows. There are different types of bars on the market, and some are quite beautiful. So, you can improve the look of your home while also securing it.
    • If bars aren’t your thing, you can also install security film onto the windows. This way, if a burglar tries to break the window, the glass will remain in place. You can install this film yourself quite easily.
    • If you have a security system or motion sensors, which you should, make sure that the basement windows and doors are covered by them. Make sure that your basement windows are also monitored for glass breaking, too. Also, consider putting a sticker on those windows to let burglars know that your home has a security system in place.
    • Secure your home from the inside by keeping things like chairs or ladders away from windows. Even if a burglar gets through the glass, they might think twice about jumping several feet down onto the basement floor.
    • Keep valuables out of site. Don’t showcase all of your belongings to just anyone who looks in the window. Burglars often target homes when they can see the valuables inside. If they can’t see anything of value, it’s often not worth the risk. So, put valuables away or move them to an area of the basement where they can’t be seen. Also, consider putting up curtains or frosted glass sheets so burglars can’t see inside.
    • If your basement is the equivalent of a man cave/sports bar equipped with neon lights, know you will be a target. So do everything above.

    These are just a few tips to help keep your basement, and ultimately, your home, as safe as possible by simply utilizing the practices above, you can greatly decrease the chances that a burglar could get into your home through the basement.

    Robert Siciliano is a home and personal security expert to DoorDevil.com discussing Anti-Kick door reinforcement on YouTube. Disclosures.

    45 Home Security Tips That Help to Keep Burglars Away

    Tuesday, March 20, 2018, 11:59 AM [General]
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    If you have a home, you should be worried about burglars. Here are 44 home security tips that you can use to keep the burglars away:

    1. Keep your doors locked all of the time.
    2. Use a deadbolt on every door.
    3. Don’t leave ladders outside.
    4. Teach young kids NOT to answer the door.
    5. Make sure there are no valuables sitting out that someone could see from the window.
    6. Keep curtains and shades drawn tight at night.
    7. Install a peephole.
    8. Don’t answer the door unless you expect someone.
    9. Cover all windows with an anti-penetration film known as shatter proof window film.
    10. Put a “beware of dog” sign in the front and back of your property.
    11. If you don’t have a dog, make it look like you do. Drape a large leash over your outdoor furniture, place a large food bowl with water outside, and even throw some dog toys in the yard.
    12. Don’t leave the garage door open or unlocked, ever.
    13. Put your valuables in a sock and hide them under your bathroom vanity. Burglars don’t often check bathrooms.
    14. Even better, put it in a fireproof safe.
    15. Make sure all of your window locks work, and make sure to lock all windows at night.
    16. Don’t allow bushes to grow too high near the home. These offer hiding places for burglars.
    17. Plant thorny bushes around the windows and doors.
    18. Teach your family about fire escape, and then conduct “home invasion drills”
    19. If there are no men in the house, create the illusion of one. Place old, worn men’s work boots by the door along with a tool box.
    20. Make sure all of your window screens are in excellent condition, not torn.
    21. Use stoppers or Charlie bars in all window tracks.
    22. Get a new security system, and make sure it includes motion sensors and cameras.
    23. Place a video surveillance camera, or even a fake one, above the front and back door where it is always visible.
    24. If you are planning a vacation, talk to a neighbor about parking their car in your driveway. Also, ask someone to mow your lawn.
    25. When away, put a hold on your newspaper and mail delivery.
    26. Set up a system that turns on lights inside and out when you are home or away. This way, it looks like you are home.
    27. Don’t post about your vacation on social media until you get home. Burglars look for those posts.
    28. Put decals from a security company on your windows and front door.
    29. Put a security system sign in both the front and the back yard.
    30. Don’t talk about your travel plans with preachers, service people, survey takers, or salespeople. They may not have bad intentions, but people talk too much.
    31. Install a lockbox for spare keys.
    32. Consider building a “safe room.”
    33. Make sure your home’s address is large and very visible from the street.
    34. Put your name inside opposed to outside the mailbox. No need to broadcast it to buglers
    35. Don’t say “We aren’t home right now” on your voice mail recording.
    36. Check all windows after you have a service person in your home. Sometimes, they leave windows open so that they can get in later.
    37. Consider keyless smart locks.
    38. Get a protection dog.
    39. Take a self defense course.
    40. Don’t leave any packages sitting outside of your house. Instead, schedule packages when you can sign for them or use a sign-for service.
    41. Have a phone on your night stand.
    42. Install a good door reinforcement system. Door Devil is a good one.
    43. If you leave the house, turn off the ringer of your home phone. This way, burglars won’t hear it ring without anyone picking it up.
    44. Give a key to your home to a trusted neighbor. Don’t ever leave it under a plastic rock, welcome mat, or a flower pot.
    45. Assume that the guy who knocks at the door representing your alarm company who just shows up wants to rob you.

    Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

    Use a Password Manager Or You WILL Get Hacked

    Monday, March 19, 2018, 9:17 AM [General]
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    Do you ever use the same password over and over again for different accounts? If so, you are not alone. However, this is quite dangerous. It’s best to use a different, unique password for each account, and to make it easier, you should use a password manager.

    According to surveys, people understand that they should use unique passwords, and more than half of people get stressed out due to passwords. Furthermore, about 2/3rds of people said that they had forgotten a password or that a password issue had cause problems at work.

    However, a password manager can easily solve the issues associated with passwords. A password manager is a type of software that can store login info for any and all websites that you use. Then, when you go to those websites, the password manager logs you in. These are safe, too. The information is stored on a secure database, which is controlled by a master password.

    Using a Password Manager

    Most people have more than one online account, and again, it’s so important to have a different password for each account. However, it’s very difficult to remember every password for every account. So, it’s not surprising that people use the same one for all of their accounts. But, if using a password manager, you can make it a lot easier.

    • When using a password manager, you can create a password that is safe and secure, and all of your passwords are protected by your master password.
    • This master password allows you to access all websites you have accounts on by using that master password.
    • When you use a password manager, and you update a password on a site, that password automatically is updated on all the computers that use your password manager.

    Password Managers Can Ease Your Stress

    When you first start using a password manager, it’s likely that you’ll notice you have fewer worries about your internet accounts. There are other things you will notice, too, including the following:

    • When you first visit a website, you won’t put your password in. Instead, you can open the password manager, and then there, you can put your master password.
    • The password manager you use fills in your username and password, which then allows you to log into the website with no worries.

    Things to Keep in Mind Before You Use a Password Manager

    Password managers available on the internet from many reputable security companies. However, before you pay for them, there are some things that you should keep in mind:

    • All of the major internet browsers have a password manager. However, they just can’t compete with the independent software that is out there. For instance, a browser-based password manager can store your info on your personal computer, but it may not be encrypted. So, a hacker can might that information anyway.
    • Internet browser-based password managers do not generate custom passwords. They also might not sync from platform to platform.
    • Software based password managers work across most browsers such as Chrome, Internet Explorer, Edge, Firefox and Safari.

    Password Managers are Easy to Use

    If you are thinking about using a password manager, the first step is to create your master password.

    • The master password has to be extremely strong, but easy to remember. This is the password you will use to access all of your accounts.
    • You should go to all of your accounts and change your passwords using the password manager as an assistant. This ensures that they are as strong as possible, too.
    • The strongest passwords contain a combination of numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and symbols. Password managers often create passwords using this formula.

    Managing your accounts online is really important, especially when you are dealing with passwords. Yes, it’s easy to use the same password for every account, but this also makes it easy for hackers to access those accounts.

    Don’t Reuse Your Passwords

    You might think it would be easy to reuse your passwords, but this could be dangerous:

    • If your password is leaked, hackers can get access to all of your sensitive information like passwords, names, and email addresses, which means they have enough information to access other sites.
    • When a website is hacked, and all of your passwords and usernames are discovered, the scammer can then plug in those passwords and usernames into all of your accounts to see what works. These could even give them access to your bank account or websites like PayPal.

    Ensuring Your Passwords are Secure and Strong

    There are a number of ways to ensure your passwords are secure and strong. Here are some more ways to create the best passwords:

    • Make your passwords a minimum of eight characters long.
    • Mix up letters, numbers, and symbols in the password, making sure they don’t spell out any words.
    • Have a different password for every account that you have. This is extra important for accounts containing financial information, like bank accounts.
    • Consider changing your password often. This ensures your safety and security.

    If you have a weak password, you are much more susceptible to hacks and scams. So, protect your online existence, and start utilizing these tips.

    Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

    Is Your Bugout Bag Ready to Go?

    Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 10:30 AM [General]
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    It seems like there have been a number of natural disasters hitting the US over the past couple of years…hurricanes, wild fires, floods…the list goes on. If you are caught in the face of a survival emergency, do you have supplies? Consider a bugout bag. These are sacks that you can take with you in the outdoors to help you survive. Here’s what you need for a three-day bugout bag:

    • Water – At least a liter per person each day.
    • Food – Pack backpack meals or energy bars.
    • Large cup or small pot – This is for boiling water, but if you have iodine tablets, you might not need this.
    • Clothes – Pack pants, two shirts, sturdy footwear, two pairs of non-cotton socks, long underwear, a wide-brimmed hat, and rainwear jacket and pants.
    • Tent or tarp with a sleeping bag.
    • First aid kit – you can build one, you don’t have to buy one. That way, you know what’s in it.
    • Fire starters
    • Poncho
    • Survival knife
    • Two flashlights with extra batteries
    • Small mirror – you can use this to get the attention of airplanes
    • Weapon – pepper spray is a good thing. If you want to carry a gun, make sure you have the right training.
    • Sunscreen and sun glasses
    • GPS or similar in case you get lost
    • Baby wipes to clean yourself
    • Paracord

    That should be enough to get you through three days. There are obviously other things that you can put into your bugout bag, too. Depending on where you live and your skills, you might want to put in a compass or a snake-bite kit. Small plastic bags and shoelaces are also important, as you can use them to trap water from non-poisonous plants. If you want to create a seven-day bugout bag, make sure to add enough to survive.

    Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

    Protecting Yourself from a Data Breach requires Two Step Authentication

    Thursday, March 8, 2018, 11:13 AM [General]
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    Have you ever thought about how a data breach could affect you personally? What about your business? Either way, it can be devastating. Fortunately, there are ways that you can protect your personal or business data, and it’s easier than you think. Don’t assume that protecting yourself is impossible just because big corporations get hit with data breaches all of the time. There are things you can do to get protected.

    • All of your important accounts should use two-factor authentication. This helps to eliminate the exposure of passwords. Once one of the bad guys gets access to your password, and that’s all they need to access your account, they are already in.
    • When using two-factor authentication, you must first enter your password. However, you also have to do a second step. The website sends the owner of the account a unique code to their phone also known as a “one time password”. The only way to access the account, even if you put the password in, is to enter that code. The code changes each time. So, unless a hacker has your password AND your mobile phone, they can’t get into your account.

    All of the major websites that we most commonly use have some type of two-factor authentication. They are spelled out, below:

    Facebook

    The two-factor authentication that Facebook has is called “Login Approvals.” You can find this in the blue menu bar at the top right side of your screen. Click the arrow that you see, which opens a menu. Choose the Settings option, and look for a gold colored badge. You then see “Security,” which you should click. To the right of that, you should see Login Approvals and near that, a box that says “Require a security code.” Put a check mark there and then follow the instructions. The Facebook Code Generator might require a person to use the mobile application on their phone to get their code. Alternatively, Facebook sends a text.

    Google

    Google also has two-factor authentication. To do this, go to Google.com/2step, and then look for the blue “get started’ button. You can find it on the upper right of the screen. Click this, and then follow the directions. You can also opt for a text or a phone call to get a code. This also sets you up for other Google services, including YouTube.

    Twitter

    Twitter also has a form of two-factor authentication. It is called “Login Verification.” To use it, log in to Twitter and click on the gear icon at the top right of the screen. You should see “Security and Privacy.” Click that, and then look for “Login Verification” under the Security heading. You can then choose how to get your code and then follow the prompts.

    PayPal

    PayPal has a feature known as “Security Key.” To use this, look for the Security and Protection section on the upper right corner of the screen. You should see PayPal Security Key on the bottom left. Click the option to “Go to register your mobile phone.” On the following page, you can add your phone number. Then, you get a text from PayPal with your code.

    Yahoo

    Yahoo uses “Two-step Verification.” To use it, hover over your Yahoo avatar, which brings up a menu. Click on Account Settings and then on Account Info. Then, scroll until you see Sign-In and Security. There, you will see a link labeled “Set up your second sign-in verification.” Click that and enter your phone number. You should get a code via text.

    Microsoft

    The system that Microsoft has is called “Two-step Verification.” To use it, go to the website login.live.com. Look for the link on the left. It goes to Security Info. Click that link. On the right side, click Set Up Two-Step Verification, and then follow the prompts.

    Apple

    Apple also has something called “Two-Step Verification.” To use it, go to applied.apple.com. On the right is a blue box labeled Manage Your Apple ID. Hit that, and then use you Apple ID to log in. You should then see a link for Passwords and Security. You have to answer two questions to access the Security Settings area of the site. There, you should see another link labeled “Get Started.” Click that, and then enter your phone number. Wait for your code on your mobile phone, and then enter it.

    LinkedIn

    LinkedIn also has “Two-Step Verification.” On the LinkedIn site, hover your mouse over your avatar and a drop-down menu should appear. Click on Privacy and Settings, and then click on Account. You should then see Security Settings, which you should also click. Finally, you should see the option to turn on Two-Step Verification for Sign-In. Turn that on to get your code.

    These are only a few of the major sites that have two-step verification. Many others do, too, so always check to see if your accounts have this option. If they don’t, see if there is another option that you can use in addition to your password to log in. This could be an email or a telephone call, for instance. This will help to keep you safe.

    Amazon

    Amazon’s Two-Step Verification adds an additional layer of security to your account. Instead of simply entering your password, Two-Step Verification requires you to enter a unique security code in addition to your password during sign in.

    Without setting up Two Step authentication for your most critical accounts, all a criminal needs is access to your username, which is often your email address and then access data breach files containing billions of passwords that are posted all over the web. Once they search your username/email for the associated password, they are in.

    Two factor locks them out.

    Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

    Should You Fight or Take a Flight When Being Attacked?

    Tuesday, March 6, 2018, 10:46 AM [General]
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    I am a big believer that people should run away from an attacker. If a bad guy gets into your home and he often wants to cause you pain, RUN as quickly as you can to the nearest door. If you are in a corner or you have to protect a loved one, you might have to fight him.

    Most of us are taught to not hurt other people. We teach our children to have manners and to be kind to others. This is a process known as “civilized conditioning,” and it allows us to live in a civilized society.

    However, sometimes violence occurs regardless of this civilization. In fact, there are millions of people out there who are uncivilized and fully capable of doing terrible things to other people.

    When you think of it, civilized conditioning is a type of double-edged sword. Yes, it helps to prevent us from being violent to each other for no good reason. But, it also prevents us from being violent with another person if we need to. Because of this conditioning, you might panic, stop breathing, or even freeze when someone attacks you.

    Do you know what you would do if a bad guy confronts you? Would you freeze? Fight? Run?

    If you are a parent and someone attacks your child, you would probably defend your son or daughter with a vengeance. But, what about when it comes to your own safety?

    Here are some tools that you can use to overcome civilized conditioning when you need to:

    • Understand that no one has any right to harm you for any reason.
    • Realize that fighting back and resisting is the best way to remove yourself from a situation that is dangerous.
    • Ask yourself “What if” questions, such as “What if, as I walk through this parking lot, there is someone hiding behind that van?” This helps to prepare your body and mind to quickly respond in the face of danger.
    • Practice visualization to try to create potential scenarios in your thoughts, and then think about your response.
    • Take self-defense classes. This helps to give you a different perspective on your situation.
    • Have an awareness of your situation and environment no matter where you are or what you are doing. If you feel like something is wrong, it probably is.
    • If you are attached, run to a safe place, such as to a store, a home, or any other populated area.
    • Install home alarm systems in your home to further protect yourself from the bad guys.

    And, when it’s all said and done, don’t worry about any of this. BUT, you need to know your options and you need to do something about it if a bad guy enters your life.

    Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

    14 Social Media Disasters Ready to Strike

    Friday, March 2, 2018, 10:26 AM [General]
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    There are many ways that you or a small business could get caught up in a social media disaster. Can you think of any off the top of your head? If you are like most of us, probably not. Here are 14 ways that you could be in danger:

    1. A Terrible Online Reputation – Do you keep a watchful eye on you or your business’ Facebook page? Are people posting to it? Are your staff? Even things that seem good-natured at first can be taken the wrong way by friends or potential customers.
    2. Racy Images or Text – If you or your employees are sharing racy text or images on social media, it could negatively affect your life or business. Though you definitely can’t control what they are posting, you can certainly educate them on the smart use of social media. Typically, these things happen because someone is ignorant about it, not feeling malicious. Even something as innocent as sharing a scantily clad photo of themselves while at work or play could give you or your company a bad name.
    3. Imposters – You might be surprised, but there could be someone out there posing as you or your business. So, make sure to patrol the internet to see if anyone is using your company’s logo or name. This even includes phony websites. Set up a Google Alert to notify you if your name or your business name appears online.
    4. Financial Identity Theft – It might seem harmless to post a photo of your employee’s puppy on your company website, but it could lead to financial identity theft. How? Well, if you post the photo, you surely would post the name of the cute little guy, and many people use their pet’s names as their passwords or answers to security questions. With that name, now identity thieves could have one more piece of the pie that they will use to hack into a financial account. Post pics of puppies all day long, just don’t use their names.
    5. Photo Geo Tracking – When you post photos, make sure that the GPS technology is off. This way, criminals can’t use it to find you or your employees addresses. Yes, GPS technology can save lives, but it can also ruin them.
    6. Robberies at Home – Make sure to educate your family or staff about the dangers associated with posting business or vacation travel information on social media. Burglars often use social media as a way to find a good house to break into. If they know Bob in accounting is out of the office and on vacation, they also know that he is likely not home, making his house a target.
    7. Corporate Snoops – It’s also possible that a spy could set up a page on Facebook, post as an employee of a well-known company or other branch, and then attract your real employees to a fake group. This way, he knows that they could give him sensitive information about your business, as they see him as trustworthy.
    8. Sex Offenders – Know who you are talking to online. Also, make sure to tell your staff to be careful when communicating with someone new. This person could be a sex offender, or worse.
    9. Attack of the Badmouth – At some point or another, you will get a disgruntled employee. Perhaps this person believes that they were unjustly terminated, or maybe they still even work for you. Employees who believe they have been “picked on” might try to get revenge by posting a bad review or blog about your company.
    10. Bullies – You might also find that one of your friends or employees is a bully. Are they posting bullying comments on your social media sites? If so, it could be bad for business.
    11. Government Spies – Even if it seems outlandish, many reports say that there are certainly law enforcement agents of the U.S. government that use social media to learn more about criminal suspects.
    12. Fake Sites – Someone could set up a fake site and pretend that they are from your business. When customers go to that site, they unknowingly give information about themselves, such as account numbers, email addresses, and phone numbers. Now, the bad guys have access to this information.
    13. Account Takeovers – You might remember when the show 60 Minutes, the Associated Press and others had their Twitter account hacked. The AP tweet that got out, claimed that then President Obama had been attacked at the White House. The stock market dropped significantly causing billions in losses as a result. If it can happen to the AP, it can certainly happen to you.
    14. Liability – Though you can use Facebook’s privacy settings to hide posts, that doesn’t mean that they can’t be used in some type of legal case. And studies show that Facebook is being used as evidence in 1 out of 5 divorce cases.

    What is the takeaway here? It’s that there is no such thing as a fully private Facebook page just because you might have all of the privacy tools in use. A person with bad intentions, or your own ill conceived posts or a skilled hacker can still get in and ruin your good earned reputation.

    Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.


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