Home Invader Says God Told Him to Do it

Of all the things God would tell you to do, would it be break into someone’s house? Probably not. He might tell you to go invest in a home security system to prevent a home invasion but otherwise….no, I don’t think so.

Gawker reports “The Connecticut native was arrested for breaking into a stranger’s home, telling the owner that God made him do it, and then proceeding to smash statues of Roman soldiers and a marble table with a fireplace poker. Then he took a shower and dressed himself in the clothing of a deceased man who used to live there. When police took him into custody, he informed them that he’d smoked “a strange strand of herb.”

Smoking “a strange strand of herb” is probably what he thinks is God talking to him.

Meanwhile when in the home the invader told the homeowner he’d broken into the house because “God wants me to help the world,” and then told the homeowner, “I mean you no harm.”

The homeowner then called the police and as they waited for police, the homeowner asked him how he broke into the home, which he stood up then flexed and replied ‘You see, super-human strength.”

He definitely smoked something strange.

Rule #1: Never smoke anything strange because God may talk to you in way you wouldn’t expect.

Rule #2: Install a home alarm system to prevent someone who smokes strange herbs from invading your home and breaking all your little statues with a fireplace poker.

Rule #3: If ever invaded don’t hang out in the house with the invader asking them questions. Leave. Go to a safe place, then call the police.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing ADT Pulse™ on Fox News. Disclosures

Judge Says Its OK to Post Social Security Numbers Online

B.J. Ostergren is a proud Virginian. She’s known as “The Virginia Watchdog,” but I like to call her “The Pit Bull of Personal Privacy.” She is relentless in her efforts to protect citizens’ privacy, and her primary concern is the posting of personal information online. To make this point, she finds politicians’ personal information, usually Social Security numbers, on their own states’ websites, and republishes that information online.

Publicly appointed government employees known as Clerks of Courts, County Clerks, or Registrars are responsible for handling and managing public records, including birth, death, marriage, court, property, and business filings for municipalities. Every state, city, and town has its own set of regulations determining how data is collected and made available to the public.

The Privacy Act of 1974 is a federal law that establishes a code of fair information practices governing the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of personally identifiable information maintained in systems of records by federal agencies.

Over the years, many have interpreted this law to allow public information, including Social Security numbers, to be posted online. I’ve seen Social Security numbers for Jeb Bush, Colin Powell, former CIA Director Porter Goss, Troy Aiken, and Donald Trump, all published on the Internet.

Ostergren so embarrassed the Virginia lawmakers that they passed a law known by some as the “anti-B.J. law,” prohibiting her from doing what public officials have been doing for years.

United States District Court Judge Robert E. Payne signed an order overturning the anti-B.J. law, ruling that privacy advocate B.J. Ostergren may post public records that contain Social Security Numbers on her website, despite a 2008 Virginia law prohibiting the dissemination of such information.

While two wrongs generally don’t make a right, one has to see the irony in this case. And if Ostergren’s actions create awareness that ultimately leads to all Social Security numbers being redacted, then this wrong is right.

With more than 11 million victims just last year identity theft is a serious concern.  McAfee Identity Protection offers proactive identity surveillance, lost wallet protection, and alerts when suspicious activity is detected on your financial accounts. Educate and protect yourself – please visit http://www.counteridentitytheft.com.

Robert Siciliano is a McAfee consultant and identity theft expert. See him explain how to protect yourself from identity theft on CounterIdentityTheft.com. (Disclosures)


Woman Bites Off Attackers Tongue

Years ago my childhood hero was this Chicago cop named JJ Bittenbinder. He would say “If all else fails, let them kiss you, then bite down on their lips until your teeth meet.”

The Boston Globe reports a woman was attacked in an alley and her attacker lost a big chunk of his tongue. The cops found it on the ground in an alley near a church after she defended herself. Maybe she read my book.

The guy fled and ended up in a clinic where police had already sent a bulletin.

It is important to understand that in any attack situation the victim actually has a lot of control over the outcome if they react within the first 30-60 seconds. What the victim does in that initial time frame can allow them to gain control over the direction of the attack. The attacker generally goes into the attack thinking the victim will be submissive but when the victim is confrontational the attacker is usually not prepared for that.

Offering resistance has been proven to stop an attack situation more than 80% of the time.

In addition to installing a home security system, it is essential that kids, women and men take hardcore self defense classes. The best program is known as Impact Model Mugging which utilizes a technique called “adrenal stress training”. Look them up and take any class within driving distance.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing ADT Pulse™ on Fox News Live. Disclosures

Data Breaches Up, Lost Records Down

According to a recent report from Verizon, data breaches are on the rise. There were 760 data breaches recorded in 2010, compared to 140 breaches in 2009. However, there were approximately four million records stolen in 2010, as opposed to 144 million stolen in 2009.

This means there were fewer large-scale data breaches compromised of multimillions of records, and many more data breaches that compromised fewer records at a time.

Criminals have shifted their focus away from large corporations that have implemented multilayered security measures to protect mass amounts of data, and are now targeting smaller companies with smaller databases, who have yet to implement strong security measures.

Verizon’s study further shows that in 2010, 92% of data breaches were external hack attacks, a 22% increase from 2009. Nearly 80% of the stolen data was accessed via malware that gave attackers back door computer access.

This shift from bigger to smaller breaches may also indicate that hackers are realizing that big breaches get more attention, and therefore increase their chances of being caught. Furthermore, a breach of 100 million credit card numbers might be discovered quickly, and all those credit numbers would immediately be cancelled. A breach of just 10,000 credit card numbers would be more likely to stay under the radar, meaning those cards would remain active for longer.

There are now multiple breach lists, and not all define a data breach the same way. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, there were at least 662 data breaches in 2010, which exposed more than 16 million records. Nearly two-thirds of breaches exposed Social Security numbers, and 26% involved credit or debit card data.

The ITRC elaborated, “Other than breaches reported by the media and a few progressive state websites, there is little or no information available on many data breach events that occur. It is clear that without a mandatory national reporting requirement, many data breaches will continue to be unreported, or under-reported.”

Identity theft can happen to anyone. McAfee Identity Protection, offers proactive identity surveillance, lost wallet protection, and alerts when suspicious activity is detected on your accounts. McAfee Identity Protection puts victims first and provides live access to fraud resolution agents who work with the victim to help restore their identity even from past theft events. For additional tips, please visit http://www.counteridentitytheft.com.

Robert Siciliano is a McAfee consultant and identity theft expert. See him discuss identity theft on YouTube. (Disclosures)

Most Unwanted Criminals: Phishers, Shoulder Surfers and Keyloggers

McAfee’s most unwanted criminals have included pickpockets, Trojan viruses, and ATM skimmers, dumpster divers, spies, and wireless hackers and now phishers, shoulder surfers, and keyloggers. Identity theft can happen online or on the ground to anyone with a pulse, and even to the deceased.

The key is awareness, vigilance, and investing in products and services that are designed to protect you.

Tony “Big Phish” Morgan sends emails that appear to come from a trusted source, soliciting login credentials or sending recipients to spoofed websites. Either way, he wants to take over existing accounts and gain access to more data on the server or your PC. Phishing emails may look like a legitimate monthly statements or obvious Nigerian 419 scams laced with scammer grammar. Phishers have stolen over a quarter billion from victims and counting.

The first rule for protecting yourself from phishing is never click on links in emails. Use your bookmarks menu or manually type in the address of the website you’re looking for. McAfee Site Advisor software provides risk ratings for websites that come up when you do a search.

Wandering Eyes” Willie is a shoulder surfer, using his eyes, binoculars, hidden cameras, or more likely, a phone with video capabilities to peer over shoulders in Internet cafes or checkout lines, capturing account data and PINs. If you are standing in a checkout line and someone nearby seems to be looking at his phone, which happens to be a camera phone pointed in the direction of your credit or debit card, he may be shoulder surfing.

Watch out for “wandering eyes.” Cover your phone’s keypad when entering usernames or passwords. In an Internet café, choose a seat with your back to the wall.  Use complicated passwords that are harder to crack.

Francis Scott Keylogger can smoothly infect your computer and track all your online activity, recording every username and password you type. An outdated browser is more vulnerable to picking up keylogging software when surfing an infected website.

Keyloggers can hide in hardware or software, so run antivirus and anti-spyware programs to eliminate viruses, but also check the back of your PC for devices that may be piggybacking on your keyboard.

To ensure peace of mind and have a fraud resolution agent assist in identity theft restoration, —subscribe to an identity theft protection service, such as McAfee Identity Protection, which offers proactive identity surveillance, lost wallet protection, and alerts when suspicious activity is detected on your accounts. For additional tips, please visit http://www.counteridentitytheft.com

Robert Siciliano is a McAfee consultant and identity theft expert. See him discuss identity theft on YouTube. (Disclosures)

Grandmother Taken for $5400 in Online Dating Scam

All my life, I’ve been waiting for someone to give me a million dollars in diamonds, which have been willed to me by my long-lost Somalian stepfather, who’s supposedly the third generation dictator under the humble Mr. George Kinneus the Third. Or something like that.

If you receive an offer resembling that one, run for the hills.

This is what happened to the 55-year-old grandmother in New Zealand, who was simply looking for love online. She was checking out her prospects on Match.com, the most popular dating site. The grandmother got a “wink,” which is like a “poke” on Facebook, from “kiwibloke25.” According to his profile, “kiwibloke25” was a 55-year-old man seeking a serious relationship with a woman between 49 and 68 years old.

In his first message, he told the grandmother that she “[seemed] to be the type of person he [was] looking for,” and gave her his personal email address. Soon they were exchanging emails and talking on the phone. The man shared numerous intimate details about his life.

Exchanges like these lure unsuspecting victims into scammers’ traps. In this case, “kiwibloke25” claimed to have been robbed by Somalian gangsters while traveling through Dubai, and asked his victim for $5400 to cover the duty on some diamonds he had supposedly purchased. She wired him the money but became suspicious when he asked for more, to pay for a company to securely transfer the diamonds back to New Zealand. She then discovered that “kiwibloke25,” as she thought she knew him, never existed at all.

If you use an online dating service, be on guard for scams. Stick to legitimate, well-known websites, and get referrals from friends who have successfully met romantic partners online. But never let your guard down.

When creating your dating profile, never post personal information, including your middle name, full address, phone number or entire birth date.

To vet potential dates, look for information about them elsewhere online, and confirm that it matches the information in their online dating profiles.

If a potential date asks for a loan or any financial information, report them to the dating website immediately.

Dating sites could protect users by incorporating device identification, device reputation and risk profiling services to keep scammers out. Oregon-based iovation Inc. offers the world’s leading device reputation service, called ReputationManager 360.  It has been recognized over the past few years for “Best New Technology” used by the internet dating industry. This service is established and has protected over 2 billion online dating activities for its clients and has flagged 2.7 million of those identified as scams and solicitations, spam, identity mining/phishing, profile representation and other abuses.  Stopping scams and abusive behavior upfront greatly helps online dating sites not only protect their brand reputation, but most importantly protect their active members.

According to Industry Consultant, Mark Brooks, “The dating industry uses three lines of defense against scammers and abuse: automated software defense, user flagging and customer/abuse teams. iovation’s technology has enabled many dating sites to work together to beat scammers.”

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation, discusses dating security on E! True Hollywood Stories. (Disclosures)

Woman Hit With Frying Pan In Home Invasion

We’ve gone over this at least a thousand times, lock your doors at night while you sleep, lock your windows and install a home security alarm.

Why? Because strange men who have murdered in the past and have been incarcerated as a teenager eventually get out of jail and then invade a person’s home at 3 am and hit the home owners daughter in the head with a cast iron pan. That’s why.

In Portland at 15 years old this guy pleaded no contest to murder. He eventually got out in 2006. Then at 26 years old he decides to break into someone’s house and fracture their skull. I have a cast iron frying pan and they are fantastic to make blackened fish and fajitas. And I can see how one to the skull could do some damage. His dad says drugs aren’t the problem but his son might have mental health issues. I’m no doctor, but I’d have to agree.

What he was after and why he broke in is not known. He didn’t have much time to steal anything because the father of the girl stabbed the home invader multiple time as the criminal was running out the door.

Understand that there always have been criminals, there are criminals now and there will always be criminals. And you Harry Homeowner need to recognize this and take steps to prevent becoming a criminal’s target.

Frankly, all that blood all over the house makes quite a mess and is just so unnecessary. A simple screaming home alarm in many cases could prevent the whole stabbing, frying pan, home invasion and waking up at 3 am thing from happening in the first place.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing Home Invasions on Montel Williams. Disclosures

Consumer Fraud No Longer Shocking

The depth, breadth, creativity, and depravity of scams and the scammers that perpetrate them no longer shock or offend. From grandmother scams to online dating scams, identity theft, data breaches, and any form of phishing or advanced fee scams, when you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. But the bad guys continue to find new ways to skin a cat.

The Better Business Bureau and the Consumer Sentinel Network received 725,000 consumer complaints of fraud in 2010. The defrauded consumers who reported fraud last year lost $1.7 billion.

Beware of the following scams.

Auction Scams: This ruse involves fake profiles advertising goods and accepting payments, with no intention of ever shipping any items. Scammers often contact potential victims within an auction website, but then bring communications to outside email or phone. Once the target engages with the scammer, social engineering commences.

Craigslist Scams: A scammer responds to a seller, claiming he wishes to purchase an item. He mails the seller a fake check for an amount in excess of the purchase price, with extra money included for shipping, and requests that the buyer deposit the check and then wire the payment to the shippers from the buyer’s own account. By the time the check bounces, the scammer has already received the seller’s money.

Dating Scams: Criminals pose as lovesick Romeos or Juliets, looking to sweep their victims off their feet while emptying their bank accounts. Marriage is often discussed within the first week of communications, and the word love is used as frequently as the victims’ names, which coincidently are two of the most important words a person can hear.

For consumers, education and awareness is key. For platforms on which the scams proliferate, one risk mitigation solution employed by auction sites, retailers, and dating sites is device reputation management. This not only keeps known bad computers or mobile devices from creating more fake accounts, but it also protects businesses against brand new devices that are behaving similarly to cyber criminals.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation, discusses Scambaiting on Fox News. (Disclosures)

Facebook Commenting Only Keeps the Honest, Honest

You’re probably familiar with the comments sections of blogs and online newspapers. It’s where people write nice, harmonious, agreeable comments about the article, the article’s author, and the President. No, wait that must have been a dream I had.

I have always felt that a lack of accountability in the commenting process unfortunately brings out the worst in people. Today, anonymous Internet commentary is similar to prank phone calls prior to the introduction of caller ID.

Of course, what is or is not appropriate depends on one’s political, social, and economic perspective, and in many cases, anonymous comments can influence the direction of an online dialogue. Some commenters rely on their anonymity to avoid angering their employers. But most do so in order to freely post awful comments, because they themselves are not so nice. Writers put themselves out there every day, exposing themselves to the world, subject to every person’s inner mean side, cloaked in cowardly anonymity.

Facebook has rolled out a tool that allows any website to attach faces to comments, which would create a certain degree of accountability.

According to InfoWorld, “TechCrunch, which implemented Facebook Comments as an experiment, reports that while the total volume of comments is down significantly, the comment nastiness quotient is approaching zero – except, apparently, for nasty comments about their new commenting system.”

I see this as a positive. There is enough nastiness in the world and we all need to tone it down. Do your research on this issue. There are plenty of colorful opinions on what Facebook Commenting may mean. Many are for it, and many more are against.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing social media identity theft on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Home Alarm System Aids Tornado Victims

The ADT Pulse alarm system I have has a “Panic” button in case we are in an emergency situation where we need help. I’ve always visualized situations such as home invasion or maybe medical or fire emergency as its intended function.

Well one ADT customer Jarod Stice and his fiancé Jessica Bennett — along with their dog – were huddled under two sheets of plywood and a tarp in the basement of their new Joplin, MO home, while one of the deadliest tornados in U.S. history wreaked havoc overhead.

After emerging from the rubble where his home once stood and uninjured, Jarod climbed up the basement stairs reaching for the control panel of the ADT Pulse home alarm system mounted on one of the few remaining walls. He pushed the emergency button knowing that the system –which uses cell-phone technology – would dial out automatically and relay the need for help to an operator at one of ADT’s Customer Monitoring Centers. The signal was immediately received by Customer Care Representative.

Within minutes help was on the way. Jarod credits ADT for helping to get emergency aid quickly to several seriously injured people whom he and other neighbors had pulled from the rubble and shepherded into his basement for safety.

“The EMTs were able to get within three houses of our home,” he said. “They had to be responding to the alarm because there’s no other reason they would come this close. We were one of the first in the neighborhood to get help.”

Thanks to the quick response from the paramedics, all of those hurt survived the injuries. According to Jared, no one in his immediate neighborhood was among the more than 130 people killed by the tornado.

Become familiar with your alarm control panels panic button. It may save your life or the life of a loved one.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing ADT Pulse™ on Fox News. Disclosures