Top Security Tips against Home Invasions

In one of the worst publically known home invasions of the 21st century both defendants received the death penalty. Joshua Komisarjevsky, confessed to the attack on the home and family of Dr. William Petit, and the murders of his wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, and girls Michaela Petit, 11 and Hayley Petit, 17.

His partner in this horrendous crime convicted killer and home invader on death row Steven Hayes wrote letters confessing to up to 17 murders of women over the course of his life. The New Haven register reported a while back he noted “Yes, I’ve killed before,” Hayes bragged. “I have 17 kills throughout the Northeast United States. Perfect victims and well executed, controlled endeavors.”

In an AP interview with Komisarjevsky when asked about his death sentence he responded “I don’t think I’ll be executed against my will, I think if I volunteer, the state will execute me.”

Here are some home security tips to protect yourself and family:

Get armed: Having a non-lethal weapon in the form of a Taser or a Pepper spray in close proximity to your bed or front door can debilitate your attacker before they gain control. But realize these can be used against you.

Have your mobile handy: Consider a second line or a cell phone in your bedroom. Burglars sometimes cut phone lines and often remove a telephone from the receiver when they enter a home.

Get alarmed: An alarm system activated while you are sleeping will prevent a burglar from getting too far without you knowing it. And keep it on 24/7/365. With a home alarm systemon, when someone knocks on the door, a conscious decision has to be made to turn off the alarm. Most people will keep it on.

Locks: Call a qualified locksmith to take a physical security survey to help you determine the most efficient way to lock up. Many products on the market are a false sense of security. A qualified locksmith should be a professional associated with well-known manufacturers.

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

Are Your Mobile Apps Up To No Good?

Most of us have heard the saying “It’s 2am, what are your kids doing?” and you may know, but do you know what your mobile apps are doing? I know before I started working in the industry, I would not have given a second thought to this, but consider this.

Why would an app designed to monitor your mobile’s battery need to know your location via your GPS? How come some gaming applications ask users for their phone numbers? Mobile applications, especially free ones, require some level of your personal data in order to supplement development costs. This means “free” isn’t exactly free.

Unsurprisingly 97% of users don’t understand how permissions correspond to the risk of an app. The consequences of not knowing is once you share your personal data, it now can be use and sometimes abused and is out of your control forever. Check out this infographic…


If it’s digital then that means it’s also “repeatable” and can be copied, pasted, duplicated and sent an infinite amount of times. For example 18.3 million US adult Smartphone owners have looked up medical information.  32.5 million US adult Smartphone owners access banking information. Using applications that don’t care much about your privacy can expose this data.

Android applications can ask for 124 types of permissions and with these permissions someone can turn on your camera, monitor or modify or even kill outgoing calls, record images of your screen while you enter personal information, monitor and view texts or pictures and even scarier capture conversations in the room when no call is active!!

What’s troubling is 33% of apps ask for more permissions than they need, 42% of users don’t know what these permissions are and 83% of users don’t pay attention to permissions when installing an app. This all adds up to needing to know what your apps are doing.

To help you protect your privacy and identity when using apps you should:

Research apps by checking their ratings and reviews before you download

Only download apps from reputable apps stores

Read the Terms of Service (TOS) to determine what data the app is going to access on your mobile device.

Use comprehensive  mobile security app with app privacy features, such as McAfee Mobile Security, that will provide insight into the activity and safety of your apps

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Evangelist to McAfee. Watch him discussing information he found on used electronic devices YouTube. (Disclosures)

Home Fire Safety: National Pet Fire Safety Day

Did you know that your dog, cat or bird might be responsible for burning down your house? I didn’t even know they know how to light a match? I’m definitely not letting my dog smoke in bed. Seriously, this is a statistic put out by the National Fire Protection Association and they would know.

Lamps: Here how it might happen, and it makes sense: You leave a lamp on, and your cat starts playing with the lamp cord or even the lamp shade if it has those little fabric bally things on it. Next thing you know the lamp falls down on the carpet, the light breaks and causes some sparks to fly on the rug. Poof…there’s your home fire.

Candles: Worse, humans might be partly at fault if they leave an unattended candle out. A cat, dog or bird can easily knock over a candle causing a fire. For your pet safety, be sure candles are in secure holders on a hard surface. Candles are just the worst anyway, get rid of them. Sorry. They’re messy too and they ruin your paint.

Stoves: Cats climb all over stuff which is why there are no cats in my house. I mean, litter box then your bed? Anyway, a cat climbing on your stove is likely to turn a stove knob, which if electric will fry the cat, but if gas will blow up the house. Remove the knobs from the stove.

Electric heaters: Animals running around the house can knock over a space heater. Once on its face can burn things. Most electric heaters today have some form of heat sensor that shuts it down. Make sure that’s the case and toss old ones that don’t.

Grilling Safety Tips for the Summer

The warm weather brings pretty flowers, green grass, and the aroma of barbeque. I consider myself a relative expert on the barbeque part as I smoke the equivalent of an entire cow and a few pigs each summer.  If you understand what a “smoke ring” is and hickory, cherry, apple and oak woods are your best friends then you know what I’m talking about.

Most people prefer the fall off the bone pork baby-back ribs but I’m a bigger fan of beef ribs and short ribs. And NO barbeque sauce, trust me on this. Anyway grilling is a great way to bring the family and friends together but it can also results in burning down your house too. So the National Fire Protection Association wants you to pay attention to what you are doing and make sure you adhere to the following fire safety tips.

Grilling Safety Tips

Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.

The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.

Keep children and pets away from the grill area.

Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.

Never leave your grill unattended.

Charcoal grills

There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel.

If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.

Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.

There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.

When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

Propane grills

Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department. If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department or use the fire alarm call box. Do not move the grill.

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

Internet Fraud: Beware of Fake Diplomas When Hiring

Entire colleges websites are being copied and replicated, but with fictitious names and then providing fake college diplomas. In one instance The Wall Street Journal reports, “the site is part of a scheme to collect application fees from prospective students.” Presumably, scammers could simply collect a fee and then issue a rejection letter several weeks later and in some situation offer fake degrees.

Spoofed websites are generally created in order to phish for consumers’ personal information, or to accept credit card payments for products or services that will never be delivered.

In the case of the nonexistent University of Redwood, it’s entirely possible the website served as the front for a diploma mill.

Diploma mills were born alongside legitimate, accredited online universities. Diploma mills issue degrees that can be used to fraudulently obtain employment, promotions, raises, or bonuses. They can also be used as fake identification, to gain employment under an invented name, impersonate a licensed professional, or use fake documents to obtain a genuine ID with fraudulent information.

Diploma mills model themselves after accredited institutions, right down to the .edu web address. They may even incorporate part of an existing university’s name or logo into their own, or mimic an Ivy League school’s color scheme or website design.

Just like a legitimate school, a diploma mill may actually require students to purchase books, do homework, and take tests. Unlike a legitimate school, the diploma school may make passing a foregone conclusion. In many cases, students can simply purchase a diploma, no questions asked. Many of these organizations are nothing more than glorified print shops.

For your business development purposes, do your research before hiring. There are websites that publicly expose diploma mills, and the U.S. Department of Education recommends that you consult their database as well as additional sources of qualitative information.

Mobile Security App Surpasses 1 Million Downloads on Google Play

If you told me 10 years ago that mobile phone security was going to be a huge issue I would have told you to put down your cocktail and give me your keys. Back then all we had was feature phones or “dumb phones” and your phone was high tech if it had games on it or you could get pictures via text message.

Of course, today we have smartphones and the actual phone function is just one of many features. Today’s mobile devices are high-powered mini personal computers that have most, if not all and many more of the capabilities of a desktop computer.

So I eat crow when I tell you that McAfee Mobile Security was the first mobile security app to combine antivirus, anti-theft, web and app protection and call/text filtering. It also recently surpassed one million downloads on Google Play.

The Android operating system is the most popular target for writers of mobile malware—including text-sending malware, mobile botnets, spyware, and destructive Trojans.  In fact, Android apps can ask for over 100 different types of permissions—and these apps could be invading your privacy and exposing your personal life.

McAfee Mobile Security provides Android smartphone and tablet owners with additional privacy features that help them ensure apps are not accessing their personal information without their knowledge. The app protection feature gives consumers access to an added layer of protection to preserve their privacy and protection against financial fraud, identity theft and viruses. It also checks against a URL reputation database, part of McAfee’s Global Threat Intelligence network, and reports the apps that are associated with and/or may be sending personal data to risky sites, such as adware and spyware networks.

To protect your personal information, finances and privacy from being exposed through apps:

Research apps and their publishers thoroughly and check the ratings before installing.

Purchase apps from a well-known reputable app store market

Watch for permissions (stay away from installing apps that don’t look right)

Install comprehensive mobile security on your mobile device

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Evangelist to McAfee. Watch him discussing information he found on used electronic devices YouTube. (Disclosures)

Small Business Owners: Customer Appreciation Day is July 21

Do you know your customers? This is a day that happens just once a quarter to put emphasis on getting to know your customers or clients. Shep Hyken, Hall of Fame Speaker – New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author is the creator of “Get To Know Your Customers’ Day”, and he’s a funny guy to boot. He’s the only guy I know that actually has a full head of hair but chooses to shave his head bald!

Shep says “This is a simple concept.  Pick up the phone and call a customer you haven’t talked to in a while or don’t know that well.  Take someone to lunch.  Set up a few meetings.  Have a cocktail reception for a few of your customers. Don’t make this one too big or you lose the personal contact and impact you are trying to achieve.”

In terms of business development opportunities, that sounds easy enough.

Your goal to take dedicated time to build a stronger relationship with a few of your customers.

Small Business Tips:

Meet with or call on customers that aren’t already your best customers. These are customers that you would like to raise to the “next level.”  This is customer appreciation day!

Consider doing this more often than just once a quarter.  Why not make a special effort once or twice a month?  How about once a week?

Many of the people I meet say they already do this – on a daily basis.  So, make these days have extra effort that you don’t normally put forth on a daily basis.

*Content expressed in Security For Small Business does not represent the thoughts and opinions of ADT Security Services, Inc. unless explicitly indicated.

Preventing Slip and Fall Scams in your Business

In a down economy people are acting strangely. Desperation makes people do desperate things and insurance fraud is on the rise.

The Middletown Journal reports  “Slips and falls are one of the leading causes of injury to customers and employees, and liability awards for customers who are injured can be tens of thousands of dollars or more, according to insurers. Nationwide, about 2,168 insurance claims last year were submitted to the National Insurance Crime Bureau for referral because they were questionable, according to the organization. This was up 12 percent from 1,944 questionable claims in 2010.”

While most slip and falls are legitimate claims, slip and falls accidents are an old scam that can be lucrative for a professional scammer.

One of the most effective tools to combat slip and falls is video surveillance. Video is the single most effective teller of the truth.

Cameras are everywhere. Some people call this an invasion of privacy. I say the more cameras the better. We are on camera at most retails stores, banks, ATMs, busy intersections, highways, downtown areas and in neighborhoods. We are a video camera soaked society and it’s a good thing. It keeps the honest people honest and the bad guys in-check or in jail.

The good news for small business is cameras are now affordable than ever. Peace of mind comes from knowing there are security cameras strategically placed inside and outside your business. Best of all, with security camera systems, you can watch video from any room in the facility, on any connected TV or dedicated monitor. And when you’re on-the-go, keep an eye on your business with remote video security using any web-enabled computer, smart phone, or iPad.

*Content expressed in Security For Small Business does not represent the thoughts and opinions of ADT Security Services, Inc. unless explicitly indicated.

Remote Monitoring for Your Business

Remote security systems like ADT Pulse™ and ADT Pulse™ for Business allow homeowners or operators of a business to control a building’s key functions without even having to be present.

Did you know from almost anywhere you can easily arm and disarm your alarm system, giving added security when you can’t be there to lock up? What’s cool is you can view events in multiple areas of your facility, have greater control over loss, and oversee your business from almost anywhere.

For example if somebody leaves the coffee maker on, you can shut it off from your mobile. If the AC is set on high you can lower it. You can control these settings when you’re not in the office.

Whether away on business or across town at home, you can receive email & text alerts on your mobile or tablet regarding your business and system.

The Chicago Tribune reports “For those who are techno-phobic or just don’t know where to begin, at no obligation, ADT’s team of small business security specialists can assess what security system or service is right for their business, and layout a plan. During the system is installation, there is hands-on training and 24/7 customer support that will dispatch a technician if necessary.”

It has no less than 5 ways to turn it on and off including a wired keypad, iPhone app, Touch pad, computer and remote control on the keychain for deactivating before the garage door goes up. The touch pads sit in bedrooms/office/kitchen and has a live video feed tuned into anywhere you want. There’s also a big green or red icon on the touch pad letting you know if it’s set or not. The touchpad definitely give you more control with, than without. It allows very simple setting of the alarm so it’s mostly always on and you know it which reduces false alarms.

What I like most is the remote security cameras. No matter where in the world you are, with remote video monitoringyour business is only a click away.

What Are The Risks Of A Lost Or Stolen Mobile Device?

Have you ever thought about what would happen if you lost your mobile phone? These days we rely on our mobile phones more than ever. For a lot of us, it can also be a nightmare if it’s lost, stolen or hacked, especially since today it’s become our most personal computer,

But despite the fact that 1/2 of of us would rather lose our wallet than our mobile phone, only 4% of us have taken steps to protect our mobile device with security.

For most of us, our first reaction when we lose our wallet is I have to cancel my credits cards, get a new license, etc. When we lose our phones, we think about the pain and cost of replacing the device. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

We don’t realize that our photos, emails, text messages and our apps can be an open door for thieves into our personal information, privacy and financial accounts.

And the time to replace your smartphone and its contents can consume as much as 18 hours of your life.

Mobile devices are on the move, meaning they can more easily be lost or stolen and their screens and keyboards are easier targets for “over the shoulder” browsing. Below are some tips to protect you and your device.

Never leave your phone unattended in a public place

Put a password on your mobile and set it to auto-lock after a certain period of time.

If you use online banking and shopping sites, always log out and don’t select the “remember me” function

Use mobile device protection that provides anti-theft which can backup and restore the information on your phone, as well as remotely locate it and wipe data in the case of loss or theft, as well as antivirus and web and app protection.

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Evangelist to McAfee. Watch him discussing information he found on used electronic devices YouTube. (Disclosures)