Robert Siciliano

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      Robert Siciliano
    • Member Type(s): Expert
    • Title:Identity Theft Expert
    • Organization:IDTheftSecurity.com
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    • Member:ProfNet

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    Beware of Rogue Cell Phone Charging Stations

    Thursday, December 6, 2018, 10:13 AM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Humans have evolved a new body part: the cell phone. One day it will be part of anatomical illustrations of the body in health and medical books probably an appendage on your head. I’m not a Dr. so don’t quote me.

    For now, we have to figure out a way to keep this appendage juiced up without being lured into a data-sucking battery-charge station.

    There’s even a name for this kind of crime: juice jacking. The kiosk is designed to appear like a legitimate battery charging station, when in fact, it will steal your phone’s data while it’s hooked up.

    Worse yet, sometimes the thief will set the station to deposit malware into your phone. The crook will then have access to all the sensitive information and images that you have on the device.

    These fraudulent stations are often set up at locations where users would be in a rush and won’t have time to check around for signs of suspicion or even think about the possibility of getting their personal life transferred out of their phone and into the hands of a stranger.

    Are these thieves smart or what?

    But you can be smarter.

    Prevent Juice Jacking

    • Before leaving your house, make sure your phone is fully charged if possible.
    • Buy a second charger that stays with you or in your car at all times, and make a habit of keeping your phone charged while you drive.
    • Of course, there will be times when you’re out and about, and before you realize it, your device has gotten low on power. And it’s time to hunt for a public charging station.
    • Have a cord with you at all times. This will enable you to use a wall socket.
    • Turn off your phone to save batt. But for many people, this will not happen, so don’t just rely only on that tactic.
    • Plug your phone directly into a public socket whenever you can.
    • If you end up using the USB attachment at the station, make a point of viewing the power source. A hidden power source is suspicious.
    • If bringing a cord with you everywhere is too much of a hassle, did you know you can buy a power-only USB cord on which it’s impossible for any data to be transferred?
    • Another option is an external battery pack. This will supply an addition of power to your device.
    • External batteries, like the power-only USB cord, do not have data transfer ability, and thus can be used at any kiosk without the possibility of a data breach.
    • Search “optimize battery settings” iPhone or Android and get to work.

    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 Yourself From Gift Card Scams

    Thursday, December 6, 2018, 10:11 AM [General]
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    So maybe Christmas now means the very predictable gift card swap, but hey, who can’t use a gift card? But beware, there are a ton of scams. This includes physical, not just digital, gift cards.

    Regardless of who gave you the card, you should always practice security measures. Below are two common ways that fraudsters operate.

    Transform Gift Card to Cash Twice.

    If someone gives you a $200 gift card to an electronics store and then it’s stolen, you technically have lost money, as this is the same as someone stealing a wad of cash from your pocket.

    Nevertheless, you’ll feel the loss just as much. Crooks who steal gift cards have numerous ways of using them.

    • Joe Thief has plans on buying a $200 item with your stolen gift card from your gym locker.
    • But first he places an ad for the card online, pricing it at a big discount of $130 saying he doesn’t need anything, he just needs money.
    • Someone out there spots this deal and sends Joe the money via PayPal or Venmo.
    • Joe then uses the $200 gift card to buy an item and sells it on eBay
    • And he just netted $130 on selling a stolen gift card that he never shipped.

    Infiltration of Online Gift Card Accounts

    Joe Thief might also use a computer program called a botnet to get into an online gift card account.

    • You must log into your gift card account with characters.
    • Botnets also log into these accounts. Botnets are sent by Joe Thief to randomly guess your login characters with a brute force attack: a computerized creation of different permutations of numbers and letters – by the millions in a single attack.
    • The botnet just might get a hit – yours.

    Here’s How to Protect Yourself

    • Be leery of deals posted online, in magazines or in person that seem too good to be true and are not advertised by reputable retailers.
    • Buy gift cards straight from the source.
    • Don’t buy gift cards at high traffic locations, at which it’s easier for Joe to conceal his tampering.
    • Change the card’s security code.
    • Create long and jumbled usernames and passwords to lessen the chance of a brute force hit.
    • The moment you suspect fraudulent activity, report it to the retailer.
    • Spend the card right away.

    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.

    Here's What Crazy Mass Shooters Look Like

    Thursday, November 29, 2018, 8:52 AM [General]
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    Mass shootings. They happen so often these days, they are hardly making headlines, and when they do, they are soon pushed out of the news cycle thanks to what’s going on in the White House or in Russia. There are many red flags that show what crazy mass shooters look like.

    Look at this:

    According to reports, the Thousand Oaks shooter assaulted his track coach. The Florida high school shooter was accused of threatening, abusing, and stalking people he knew. People say that the Las Vegas shooter was verbally abusing his girlfriend while in public. What do you see here? A pattern.

    The FBI is on the case here, but that’s hardly comforting due to the sheer volume of unstable people out there. Earlier this year, the FBI released a report that shows the “pre-attack behaviors” of people accused of or convicted of mass shootings. Here’s another takeaway: 63 percent of them were white, and 94 percent of them were male. The report concludes with a takeaway that shows a very troubling and complex view of the people who have failed to positively handle the stressors in lives. In addition, they all display several concerning behaviors, they plan and prepare, and they often share their intent to attack with others.

    It often takes several people to spot every red flag that a potential mass shooter displays, according to the FBI. These flags often include violent behavior, abuse, bullying, and harassment. To get even closer to what a mass shooter looks like, take a look at the following stats:

    • 57% of shooters have shown “concerning” behaviors
    • 48% of shooters have talked about suicide
    • 35% of shooters have made threats
    • 33% of shooters have a history of physical aggression
    • 33% of shooters have anger issues
    • 21% of shooters have used firearms inappropriately
    • 16% of shooters have used violence against their partners
    • 11% of shooters have been accused of stalking

    The FBI report also shows that most shooters spent at least a week planning their attacks, and they often give their family and friends some type of “preview” of what’s to come. If people do become concerned about a future mass shooter’s behavior, it’s rare for them to go to the police, and they often become targets of the shooter, themselves.

    It’s easy to make a report, however, so if you feel that someone you know might have the makings to be a mass shooter and made threats, you can report this to the FBI online. Finally, there are 13 states where “red flag” gun laws are in place. This means that a person’s guns could be removed if they are showing a high risk of violent behavior. These states are:

    • California
    • Connecticut
    • Delaware
    • Florida
    • Indiana
    • Illinois
    • New Jersey
    • Maryland
    • Massachusetts
    • Oregon
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    • Washington

    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 Protect You Frequent Flier Miles NOW

    Thursday, November 29, 2018, 8:50 AM [General]
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    Social Security numbers and credit card numbers are not the only types of data that hackers are after. Now, they are looking at frequent flyer accounts, and they are stealing reward miles, and then selling them online.

    How do Hackers Steal Frequent Flyer Miles?

    As with other types of ID theft, hackers use info that they have illegally obtained to access frequent flyer accounts. With more data breaches happening than ever before, hundreds of millions of records are exposed, and thus, hackers have great access to the personal info they need to get into these accounts.

    What do Hackers Do with Frequent Flyer Miles?

    It is hard for hackers to use these miles on their own because often, the travel has to be booked in the name of the owner. However, it is very easy to transfer these miles to other accounts or to use the miles to purchase other rewards. Usually, no ID is needed for a transfer like this. This is also difficult to track because hackers use the dark web and VPNs to remain anonymous.

    Hackers also sell these miles, and they catch a pretty penny. For airlines like British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Delta, they can get hundreds, or even thousands of dollars for their work.

    In addition to transferring these miles from one account to another, hackers are also selling the account’s login information. Once someone buys this, they can now get into the owner’s account and do what they want with the miles.

    Protecting Your Frequent Flyer Miles

    There are some things that you can do to protect your frequent flyer miles. You should check your frequent flyer accounts regularly using your airlines mobile app. Change all your airline passwords and never re-use passwords and set up a different password for each account.

    Other things that you can do include the following:

    • Protect your personal information by making sure every online account has a unique and difficult to guess password.
    • Use a dark web scan. This will show you if any personal information is out on the dark web.
    • If you do find that your miles have been stolen, it also is probable that your personal information has been compromised, too. Monitor your credit report and check it often for anything that looks odd. This is a big sign of an issue.

    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 Your Username Can Be used to Track You

    Wednesday, November 21, 2018, 2:36 PM [General]
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    You probably have a few usernames, or you might have just one that you use for every site. Either way, your user names can be used not just to identify you online, but it can also be used to track you and find out information about you. How do people track you based on your user name? They do the following:

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    They Start with a Google Search

    The first thing people do to track your username is do a Google search. You will be amazed by all of the information that is out there. However, Google is not the only game in town, so the best scammers will search on other search engines, too, including Bing,  USA.gov, various information broker sites and within social media.

    They Then Move on to Social Networks

    With so many people on social networks, it is a good possibility that a scammer can find you there, too, especially if they know the username that you use over and over again. It’s easy to find someone on sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram, and in many cases, this is a gold mine of information for them.  Once they find your account, they can do any number of things like save your profile image, and then do a reverse image source. This often helps them find even more information.

    Don’t Forget the Blogs

    Savvy searchers will also do searches of a username on blogging sites like Tumblr, Blogger, and LiveJournal. Unless your blog is locked down, and most are not, they can read them.

    Do a General Sweep of Username Searches

    There are other sites, too, that allow people to search by username. For example, you can search for a username on Spotify. This could tell them what types of music you like. They also might look on a site like Reddit, and they can see any comments you have made. They aren’t done yet, though…you can even search for usernames on sites like Amazon.com and eBay. As you can imagine, once they go through all of these steps, they can know a ton about you.

    You might think that this is an invasion of privacy, but all of this information is totally legal, totally available, and totally free.

    And many of you are TOTALLY putting it ALL out there!

    If you put your information out there, it is there for anyone to look at and use as they will. So, consider changing up your usernames, and while you are at it, take a look at your accounts and content to make sure nothing there’s going to get you in trouble, and beef up the security options.

    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.

    Beautiful Buxom Brunette Lures Boxer to His Death

    Friday, November 9, 2018, 10:44 AM [General]
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    Eddie Leal, 23, was an up-and-coming professional boxer who gave free boxing lessons in his garage to down-and-out neighborhood teens. He was a good guy. And like most young men, was looking for a girlfriend.

    One day he saw that a young woman, Rebecca Santhiago, was asking for a friend request on his Facebook page.

    The brunette bombshell with fashion model looks said she was 21, liked to party and was attending college.

    What Eddie did: He accepted the friend request.

    What Eddie should have done: right-clicked on the profile image and then selected off the drop-down menu, “Search Google for image.” He would have discovered that the results were suspicious for a stolen image, and that Rebecca Santhiago – at a minimum – did not look like her profile image.

    The next move would have been for Eddie to ask Rebecca to post a picture of herself holding up a sign with her name or his name – or a recent newspaper – because “I googled your profile image and it’s on other sites.”

    Few young men would have the nerve to do this, fearing it would end the correspondence. But if it ends it, this likely means that the woman was fraudulent. Better to learn this early on, right?

    A correspondence – only via Facebook, ensued. Rebecca said she had no phone.

    WARNING! A 21-year-old college student with no phone?

    What Eddie should have done: Requested she borrow a phone so he could communicate by voice or use Skype to see her as well. This request would have ended the correspondence. And saved Eddie’s life.

    One evening he agreed to meet Rebecca at 2:00 in the morning at a nearby park – her idea.

    WARNING! What woman in her right mind agrees to meet a man, whom she’s never seen nor heard speaking, at 2 AM at a park? Okay, a few oddballs out there might, but Rebecca’s request should have set off sirens.

    What Eddie did: Drove to the park to meet her near a dark street corner, per the plan.

    What he should have done: Insist that they meet in the middle of the day for lunch at a café. This request would have ended the correspondence. And kept Eddie breathing.

    The meeting took place a few weeks after the Facebook correspondence began. When Eddie arrived and waited in his car, a young man appeared and shot him point-blank in the head.

    Who was Rebecca?

    She was Manuel Edmundo Guzman, Jr., 19, one of the teens who had once shown up to check out the free boxing lessons.

    Extensive forensic investigating revealed that the Facebook messages had come from Manuel’s computer, and that the image belonged to a model unrelated to him. He murdered Eddie for the thrill of it.

    Impersonating someone else via cyber communication is called catphishing. Manuel’s fake FB page included friends whom he may have acquired simply by inserting himself into cyber conversations and then making friend requests. Anyone can build a fake Facebook page. Usually it’s done for non-homicidal reasons, but you now know the warning signs of a homicidal catphisher.

    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.

    Financial Preparedness in a Disaster

    Tuesday, November 6, 2018, 10:50 AM [General]
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    You have probably heard that it’s important to be prepared for a disaster. You might have a first aid kit set aside, food and water, or a battery-operated radio. But, are you financially prepared?

    Creating an Emergency Fund

    It might be tough but try to set aside some money a little at a time. Even if you can put $10 a week in an envelope, it’s better than nothing. Saving change can really add up quickly, too. Keeping a credit card available is also a good idea, but remember…in a disaster situation, it might be very difficult to use a credit card. Here’s a few more ways to save some cash in the event of a disaster:

    • Limit or Quit Habits – If you smoke, drink fancy lattes, or even love your extravagant dinners, consider limiting them or even quitting them. Let’s say the latte you get every day before work is $6 once you pay for the tip. If you stop doing that, or even make them at home, you could save $1000 to $2000 or more over the course of a year.
    • Pay Bills When They are Due – You might not even realize it but paying your bills on time can also help you save money. Each late fee adds up, and so does interest. Most major lenders and utility companies allow you to schedule payments in advance, so if you are sure to have money in the bank, this is a great idea.
    • Get a New Gig – Finally, think of things that you can do to earn more money. Do you have a hobby you like, such as woodworking or knitting, that you could do for profit? Do you write? There are easy to find writing jobs online, too. If you have a skill like that, or something similar, consider looking at freelance sites like Fiverr. Can you cook? Bake and sell your creations to family and friends. All of these things can bring extra cash in; cash that you can use in the case of a disaster.

    There is not a solution here that will work for every family, but you should be able to think of some way to help you put away a little money. You also might be able to do two or three things. Some people believe we are close to some type of world disaster, like, I dunno, our government is taking about building short range nukes again. GREAT IDEA! So you might want to be ready just in case.

    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.

    It Should Be Illegal for Teen Girls to Give Rides to Strangers

    Thursday, November 1, 2018, 10:59 AM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    If only. But that’ll never be.

    Brandi Hicks, 17, and her high school friend, Liz Reiser, exited a video store at 9:30 pm, where they were approached by Matthew Vaca, a creepy acting stranger.

    He asked them for a ride to his house. At first they refused, but then he offered $20 for gas. The ID Channel re-enactment portrayed Vaca as stating that his home was “just down the road,” that he had been “walking all day,” and that he wanted to get home before his kids went to bed.

    The girls were sold and told him to get into the backseat.

    What Brandi, the driver, should have done: Refused, possibly gone back into the store (with Liz) until Matthew left, or possibly asking the store manager to call the police.

    The “down the road” seemed nowhere in sight as Matthew told Brandi to keep driving. Then he told her to pull over. He got out, during which the girls really began feeling fearful, discussing whether or not they should just leave him.

    What Brandi should have done: Left him.

    But Matthew got back into the car, and shortly after, threatened her with a gun, directing her to take the car into a wooded area.

    He ordered both out, took Brandi’s shoelaces and bound her to the steering wheel, then ordered Liz to go off with him, eventually stabbing her to death.

    He returned for Brandi, untied her and led her away, beating her, then using a shoelace to strangle her (it’s not known why he didn’t have the knife).

    What Brandi should have done during the strangulation: Play dead.

    What Brandi did: Play dead!

    Faking death, she was pushed into a nearby river, and somehow while Matthew loitered nearby for an hour, pretended to be dead while floating in the water.

    Once he was gone, she climbed to land and flagged down the first car she saw, which was a police officer’s.

    We need to track back to the beginning, because once in the woods, victims don’t have too many options unless they are trained in self-defense tactics.

    If you’re ever tempted to give a stranger a ride because he’s giving a story (“I’ve been on my feet all day”), remind yourself of some facts:

    • If he’s able-bodied and lives “down the road,” he doesn’t need ANY ride.
    • If he appears injured or sick, call him a cab, especially if he has $20.
    • If you refuse him a ride, what’s the worst that could happen to him if he’s truly harmless? Aching feet.

    Bottom line: Under NO circumstances give a stranger, including a female, a ride. If she looks pregnant, she could be using pillows. Women, too, can be vicious.

    Matthew Vaca will die in prison.

    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.

    How to be a Grandma Identity Thief Murderer

    Wednesday, October 31, 2018, 10:17 AM [General]
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    Lois Riess is a woman from Minnesota who police say shot her husband, went on the run, and then killed a woman in order to take on her identity. Here are some shocking facts about her:

    Riess Looked Like her Victim

    The woman Lois Riess killed, Pamela Hutchinson, looked like her. This is why Pamela lost her life. When the body was found, police said her ID, credit cards, cash, and car was gone. Police put out an arrest warrant for Riess, and then started hunting for her. Police say the women did not know each other.

    Lois Riess Allegedly Killed Her Husband, Too

    Pamela Hutchinson wasn’t the only one who has allegedly died at Riess’ hand. Lois’ husband, David Riess, is also dead. He was found in the couple’s Minnesota home with several gunshot wounds after two weeks of not showing up at work. David’s car was missing, as was $11,000 out of his business account. It is believed that Lois used the same gun to kill both of her victims. Though Lois originally took the couple’s Cadillac, it was found abandoned in Florida several days later.

    Pamela Hutchinson and David Riess

    Though she was killed in Fort Myers, Pamela Hutchinson didn’t live there; she lived in Bradenton, FL. She was in Fort Myers to spread the ashes of her husband who had recently passed away.

    David, Lois’ husband, owned a commercial worm farm. He was a Navy veteran and loved boating, fishing, hunting, and spending time with his grandkids.

    Lois Riess was a Gambler, and She Had an Interesting Nickname

    According to reports, Lois Riess was a gambler, and had an addiction to gambling that eventually destroyed her family. It is said that she stole more than $100,000 from her sister, and had the nickname, “Losing Streak Lois.”

    Lois Took a Road Trip After the Killings

    After killing Pamela, detective believe that Lois left Florida and traveled through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. She was driving Pamela’s car, which she took after shooting the woman.

    Before Lois was even captured, she was charged with the murder of both her husband, David, and Hutchinson. She is facing a first degree murder charge in Florida along with grand theft auto, grand theft, and criminal use of personal identification. She faces the death penalty if found guilty. As for the alleged murder of her husband, David, in Minnesota, murder charges are pending, so it’s likely that she will face two counts of first degree murder when all is said and done in this case.

    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 Use Facebook to Login to Websites?

    Tuesday, October 23, 2018, 10:14 AM [General]
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    Have you ever used Facebook to sign onto another site? Many of us do this pretty blindly simply because it is very convenient. But, this convenience could come at a cost.

    You know the drill. You go to a website and it says “Log In With Facebook.” or Google. Usually, it just takes a couple of clicks and no logging in with other usernames or passwords. However, when you do this, Facebook essentially becomes your online identity. This means that anyone who knows these credentials have access to your preferences, posts, and most importantly, your personal information. What’s more is that you might be unknowingly giving permission to a third party to access your profile, view your online activities, and get information about your friends.

    What Can You Do About It?

    There are some things that you can do to keep yourself safe. First, of course, you should have a different username and password for all accounts. Make sure your passwords are strong and consider using a password manager. This helps to create strong passwords and keeps them safe for you.

    If you play games, do quizzes, or other things on a social media platform, make sure that only necessary apps are connected. Stop connecting other apps.

    You should also take some time to look at the settings you have set up for your social media accounts. Adjust them to make sure you are protected. Finally, make sure that you are logging out of your social media account when you are done with it. If you log into your social media account on your tablet or mobile phone, make sure that the lock screen is on before putting it away. Also, of course, make sure that you have a strong passcode on your device.

    Control Your Data

    Now is the time to take control of your data. When you choose to use a social media site to link with third-party services, apps, and sites, the social sites say that it will enhance your experience for the better. It also can make your online time more productive. At the same time, however, it can open you up to exposure, and even be an open door for hackers. It is important to understand what type of permission you are giving these apps when you click “Log in with Facebook.” Finally, if you are a parent, you should make sure that you understand what your kids are doing on social media, and take a look at what type of permission your kids have given to third-parties.

    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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