Identity Theft: Preventing and Responding to Identity Fraud

Identity theft: a criminal running away with stolen personal information from a compromised tablet computer.

Following the recent public disclosure that hackers believed to be operating on behalf of a foreign government breached the networks of the U.S. government and multiple US companies, it is safe to assume that online frauds and scams like identity theft will follow.

Identity theft, or identity fraud, is a crime that can have substantial financial and emotional consequences. Take precautions with personal information. If you become a victim, act immediately to minimize the damage.

Is identity theft just a problem for people who submit information online?

You can be a victim of identity theft even if you never use a computer. Malicious people may be able to obtain personal information (such as credit card numbers, phone numbers, account numbers, and addresses) by stealing your wallet, overhearing a phone conversation, rummaging through your trash (a practice known as dumpster diving), or picking up a receipt at a restaurant that has your account number on it.

If a thief has enough information, he or she may be able to impersonate you to purchase items, open new accounts, or apply for loans.

The internet has made it easier for thieves to obtain personal and financial data. Most companies and other institutions store information about their clients in databases; if a thief can access that database, he or she can obtain information about many people at once rather than focus on one person at a time.

The internet has also made it easier for thieves to sell or trade the information, making it more difficult for law enforcement to identify and apprehend the criminals.

(more…)

Share

Comments Off on Identity Theft: Preventing and Responding to Identity Fraud

Internet Safety for Children: Keeping Them Safe Online

Internet safety for kids using parental controls

Internet safety for children involves not only keeping them safe, but parents and guardians taking some simple steps to dramatically reduce online threats, especially those that prey on kids, protect the data on computer devices, and keep them safe online.

This is even more critical now as we are in the middle of a health pandemic and children are made to learn from home, and have limited physical interactions with their peers.

What unique Internet safety risks are associated with children?

In terms of Internet safety, when a child is using your computer, normal safeguards and security practices may not be sufficient. Children present additional challenges because of their natural characteristics: innocence, curiosity, desire for independence, and fear of punishment.

You need to consider these characteristics when determining how to protect your data and the child.

You may think that because the child is only playing a game, or researching a term paper, or typing a homework assignment, they can’t cause any harm. But what if, when saving their paper, the child deletes a necessary program file?

Or what if they are tricked by a malicious advertisement to unintentionally visit a web page with inapprorpiate content, or accidentally download a malware that infects the computer with a virus?

(more…)

Share

Comments Off on Internet Safety for Children: Keeping Them Safe Online

Social Networking: Staying Safe on Social Networking Sites

Secure social networking on mobile devices

The popularity of social networking sites continues to increase, especially among teenagers and young adults. The nature of these sites introduces security risks, so you should take certain precautions.

What are social networking sites?

Social networking sites build upon the concept of traditional social networks where you are connected to new people through people you already know. The purpose of some networking sites may be purely social, allowing users to establish friendships or romantic relationships, while others may focus on establishing business connections.

Although the features of social networking sites differ, they all allow you to provide information about yourself and offer some type of communication mechanism (forums, chat rooms, email, instant messages) that enables you to connect with other users. On some sites, you can browse for people based on certain criteria, while other sites require that you be “introduced” to new people through a connection you share. Many of the sites have communities or subgroups that may be based on a particular interest.

(more…)

Share

Comments Off on Social Networking: Staying Safe on Social Networking Sites

Web Browser Extensions Caught Spying On Chrome and Firefox Users

Representation of data transfer due to web browser extension spying.

Not too long ago, we warned users about why some online ads they see seem to be precisely targeted to their tastes and interests, including the spooky tendencies of websites remembering browsing and shopping preferences from visit to visit or device to device. It turns out that Avast and its recently acquired AVG, have been doing a lot of background spying and data pilfering through their “free” web browser plugins.

Data pilfering is widespread and very profitable, and data thieves seem to have no problem getting willing “victims” counting the number of people using “free” products that come with all kinds of terms and conditions. So much so that some even boast of the ability to provide “[I]ncredibly detailed clickstream data from 100 million global online shoppers and 20 million global app users” that advertisers can analyze “…however you want: track what users searched for, how they interacted with a particular brand or product, and what they bought. Look into any category, country, or domain.”

All from a user looking for a solution to protect them from online threats and installing a web browser extension that is supposed to protect them from such invasion of privacy.

As reported by the creator of Adblock Plus, Wladimir Palant, Avast has been spying on the users of their antivirus products, and appears to have been doing so for years, through their Avast Online Security web browser extension which is promoted as having the ability to provide “maximum protection” from spyware and other online dangers.

The sad fact is that sometimes, users are not even aware that they have the extension because the Avast Secure Browser has Avast Online Security installed by default and is hidden from the extension listing and cannot be uninstalled by regular means. (more…)

Share

Comments Off on Web Browser Extensions Caught Spying On Chrome and Firefox Users

How To Protect Online Data Privacy Using Enhanced Tools

Mobile device showing the various tools of data privacy attacks

In the first place, and speaking of data privacy, have you ever wondered why some online ads you see are targeted to your tastes and interests? Or how websites remember your preferences from visit-to-visit or device-to-device?

The answer may be in the “web tracking cookies” installed on your computer when you visit a website, and other online tracking methods like:

  • Device fingerprinting where information is collected about your device for the purpose of identification,
  • Cross-device tracking technology which enables the tracking of users across multiple devices such as smartphones, television sets, smart TVs, and personal computer, and
  • Cross-site tracking where companies collect data on where you’ve been and what you’ve done across multiple websites.

What is a web tracker?

A web tracker is a small computer program (called script) placed by a website on your computer and is designed to collect information about your preferences and who you are as you interact with the site. Sometimes this script is placed purposefully by the website you’re on, other times a script may be from a website you’ve never visited. (more…)

Share

Comments Off on How To Protect Online Data Privacy Using Enhanced Tools

Why Your Small Business Or Organization Needs An Email Policy

Mail envelope containing a documenton on a computer screen.

Email is an important and necessary part of your business or organization. It provides an economical and instant means of communicating with staff, customers, and vendors – that’s both simple to use and enables increased efficiency. An email policy is required to protect this necessary business tool.

An email policy is a legal document that details your organization’s definition of acceptable use for the company email system. It should indicate who emails can be received from or sent to, as well as outline what constitutes appropriate content for work emails.

In addition, having an email policy will:

  • Protect the Organization from Liabilities:

When all employees read and sign an email policy, it proves they are aware and agree to the information contained in that policy. Should an email be sent that is not considered appropriate content according to the email policy, the employee, not the organization, would bear the brunt of liability for any damages or suits brought as a result of their sending an inappropriate email. (more…)

Share

Comments Off on Why Your Small Business Or Organization Needs An Email Policy