Robert Siciliano

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

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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.


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