Should You Post Pictures of Children Online?

Most people give no thought whatsoever to posting pictures of their children online. They are proud of their kids, they love them…so why not show the world how wonderful they are so others can enjoy each milestone too? Plus, Grandma and Auntie live so far away, and they want to keep up with new pictures and videos. And as long as you set up all the privacy settings so only your close relatives and friends can see them, then what’s the big deal?


Well, it is a big deal. Nothing online is as it seems, and the biggest problem with people is that they are too nice and don’t think like a bad guy thinks. A recent article in TIME magazine, written by Randi Zuckerberg—yes, the Facebook founder’s sister—argues the shift that is occurring is inevitable and we should all just deal with it. Well, Randi, I just don’t agree. Here’s why:

Digital is repeatable: This means every picture and video can be liked, shared, copied, pasted, emailed and screenshot—which means you really have no control over who does what with that media you just posted.

Predators: There are very disturbed people out there looking for kids, because children are vulnerable and certain predators target kids. Would you want some weirdo in a park staring at your kid? No. Would you want some weirdo staring at your kid online? No.

Privacy: Your children have a right to privacy. Just because they are five and you think it’s fun to post their photos online—and maybe they think it’s fun too—what makes you think in 10 years they will want their entire childhood posted on the web? Digital media lasts forever, and maybe they might not want their identity all over the web in the first place. You really have no right.

Tagging: Anyone can take a picture and tag it. I forbid anyone to take pics of my kids and post them online and tag them. They have no business exposing my kids to the world, and I don’t approve.

Facial recognition: Many apps incorporate facial recognition into their technologies. This is still an unproven technology, and we really don’t know what the full impact will be.

Photos of babies have shown up on Craigslist with that baby for sale. Kids’ pics are being collected by weirdos and criminals because that’s what they do. Social media is only 10 years old. This is all too new. An entire generation is being exposed without their permission. Think about it.

Robert Siciliano, is a personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto and author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! . Disclosures For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.

Would You Use Facebook To Catch a Bad Guy?

In Oklahoma, the OK state, an elderly couple was home invaded and held at knifepoint, and the woman was knocked to the ground. During the ensuing abuse, their home was robbed and the predator got away. Not OK.


The police were notified and a description of the home invader was provided to the police. Shortly after, the victims’ granddaughter decided the best course of action would be to post the description on Facebook with the intent of spreading the word to catch him.

Due to the heinous actions of the thief and the fact he was on the loose, the Facebook post went viral, with over 9,000 shares in a short time. The perpetrator’s brother in-law (of all people) saw the Facebook posting and recognized the description, then quickly contacted the granddaughter, then called the police to report his relative. (I’d love to attend their Thanksgiving dinner. Must be a hootin,’ hollerin’ good time!)

Anyway, while justice was served, the local police frowned upon this type of viral APB. Seems the police have a good point, and the force’s public information officer stated, “Friends and family members of the suspect could see that and alert the individual we are out there looking for [him]. … The suspect then could try to hide, run away or even destroy evidence. We always want the public to contact the police first.”

Point well taken. To support the officer’s statement, one only need to look as far as the Boston Marathon bombing and the witch hunt that ensued when Reddit “investigators” accused the wrong guys of planting the bombs. One of them ended up dead a short while later for reasons that are still not clear to me.

What do you think? I think a burglar alarm may have prevented the whole drama from happening in the first place. But would you rely on the internet to help find the bad guy? I’m partial to a yes vote.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

You’re Not a Cop or Firefighter…but You Still May Be in a High-risk Profession

One of my audiences is real estate agents. I present programs on personal security and how they can avoid and remove themselves from dangerous situations. You see, as crazy as it seems, real estate agents are targeted by criminals every day. Rape, robbery and murder are some of the issues they face.

1SLeighvalleylive reports that a man approached a model home asking if he could see it. The agent, a woman, quickly felt odd in this man’s company and told him to go inside by himself. The man returned 45 minutes later and said the home had a water leak and insisted the agent come with him to look at it, but she chose not to. When the agent’s male coworker entered the room where they were talking, the man abruptly left. When the saleswoman went into the home, she could not find a leak—but she did notice the bedroom’s curtains had been shut and the lights turned off.

The police were called. They researched the man’s truck registration, found the truck and, they report, uncovered a knapsack containing matches, duct tape, two handguns, ammunition, rope, a ski mask, metal chains and padlocks, among other items.


It’s not just real estate agents: cab drivers, late-night store clerks and other professionals are considered at risk, too. When dealing with the public, it can lead to troublesome behaviors by select weirdoes.

If you are in a high-risk profession, you need to think about security both on and off the job.

On the job, always be suspect of everyone you encounter. Trust your gut, ask inquisitive questions and seek out their motivations. If something seems wrong, it is wrong. Due to the nature of your job, there will be situations unique to you. Investigate what the proper safety/security procedures are, and exercise them daily. Always stay on your toes and never let your guard down.

Off the job, your home is your haven and should be treated as such. Invest in a home security system and sleep peacefully after a crazy day dealing with the public.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Kids and Smartphones: How Old?

How old is old enough for a kid to have a smartphone? Right out of the gate, I’m saying 16, and I know there’ll be some backlash from that. Some will say it all depends on the kid; others will argue there’s no right answer. Here’s why children under the age of 16 should not have a mobile phone:


Driving age: Somewhere along the line, someone said 16 is a good age to allow kids to drive. I think a car in anyone’s hands can be used as a weapon, and 16 is the earliest age that weapon should be handed over. A mobile is no different. In the wrong hands, a mobile can be deadly.

Bullying: We have seen way too many kids suffer from awful bullying as a result of other kids using mobile phones. The fact is, there is no emotion felt when bullying someone virtually—meaning the perpetrator can say anything and not see the harm he is bringing to the victim. At least at 16, kids have developed a better sense of empathy and a little more self-confidence.

Pornography: Anything and everything one can imagine in photo and video is available online—more than anyone under the age of 20 can handle and definitely more than a 15-year-old can process. There just way too much information for their young minds to consume.

Fraud: Kids say and post way too much information about their lives that can put themselves and families at risk. They give out emails, phone numbers, home addresses, financial information…you name it.

Personal security: Kids are being targeted by adults online. I recently did a segment on Fox in which a 25-year-old man posing as an 18-year old connected with 13- and 14-year old-girls. Let’s just say it didn’t end well. Oh, and that reminds me: the minimum age for social media should be 16, too.

What about keeping in touch? Get them a feature phone and no texting. Sorry. I’m a dad. You can feel bad for my kids. I didn’t have a smartphone at 15; they’ll be fine.

Robert Siciliano, is a personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto and author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! . Disclosures For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.

Is Methamphetamine a Problem in Your Community?

You may already know that meth addicts and local crime go hand in hand. Meth is one of those drugs that allows its users to maintain relatively high-functioning abilities that often lead to criminal acts to get more meth.

1BMeth addicts like to steal identities and break into homes and businesses. It’s not uncommon for meth addicts to break into mailboxes and see if they can get personally identifiable information to open new accounts, take over existing accounts or cash checks they find in the mail. If they are successful in a particular neighborhood when breaking into mailboxes, they soon realize no one’s paying attention in that neighborhood and begin to break into houses. Meth addicts have little to no fear, as their addiction overpowers all sense of reason and blurs out any emotion, including empathy or sympathy. They can be prone to violence, especially if they are strung out and in need of a fix.

Minnesota’s Post-Bulletin reports, “An investigation into several area burglaries led investigators to a home where a search warrant revealed multiple firearms and a suspected meth lab. During the search, investigators recovered stolen property related to the area burglaries, as well as small amounts of suspected methamphetamine and several firearms, the report says. Components of a meth lab also were discovered on the property. Officers arrested a 52-year-old man for possession of a controlled substance; he also may face charges related to manufacturing meth.”

As crazy as it sounds, the first line of defense to protect one’s home, especially from meth addicts, is to install a locking mailbox. This way, they see from the street you are secure minded. From there, blanket your front yard with signage saying, “This house is alarmed” and “Guard dog on duty.”

Any layer of security you can provide to the already feeble senses of a meth addict will deter him or her in a way in which the would-be crook may target a neighbor (unfortunately) and not you.

As always invest in home security systems and use timers to give your home that lived-in look.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Prepare now for device and data theft

Digital device theft is a big problem. I’ve seen numerous stories about iPhones being stolen right from a person’s hand while the user was talking on it. Others have reported sitting in a coffee shop while having a conversation and having someone walk in, see the person’s iPad, swipe it, and before anyone can get out of their chair, be halfway down the block.


You’d definitely be distraught if someone walked into your office and stole your laptop, which unfortunately very is common too. You’d be out several hundred dollars due to the loss of the hardware. But the reality is, that stolen digital device will cost much more in lost data if a breach occurs—and then, of course, lost time from having to recover from the data loss.

Protect the data and the device:

Dummy terminal: This means your device doesn’t have any data on it. All your data is cloud based or on a central server. If it’s lost or stolen, then the loss is only a hardware one.

  • Make sure any device or dummy terminal is password protected.

Situational awareness: No matter where you are, or as safe as you might think you are, there is a possibility your device will be targeted.

  • Never fight for material items. If thieves want it, they can have it.
  • Reduce the risks by keeping your devices close when riding the subway or on a bus.
  • Never put down your devices and walk away, such as in an airport or coffee shop.
  • Lock all doors in rooms where your devices reside, including in a home, apartment, dorm or office.

Lock/locate/wipe: There are numerous tools available to lock your device if it isn’t password protected (which it had better be!), locate via a GPS or internet/WiFi connection, and wipe the data remotely.

  • Determine if your device has lock/locate/wipe built in, or seek out a third-party application.

Backup data: This is essential and easy to do. Most of your data should already be in the cloud if you are using cloud-based services such as Google Docs.

  • Use Mozy, Crashplan, Carbonite or iCloud—or all of these—to seamlessly back up your data.
  • Use local external drives that copy data to one another.

Backup devices: Is your mobile your life? Then get another one. You need a backup. Is laptop theft a matter of life or death? If you’d have even one day of downtime because of hardware theft, then you need a second laptop.

  • Have all the data synched in the cloud.
  • Consider keeping the device plugged into the network and all your data in sync 24/7/265.

WiFi snooping: It isn’t just hardware theft you need to be concerned about. WiFi snoopers are as common as your everyday smash-and-grab thieves.

  • Protect your WiFi-connected devices with Hotspot Shield VPN. This is a free tool that will encrypt all your data as it travels over a WiFi network.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.

Home invader stuffs victim into gun closet…and…

And he comes out shooting! Three invaders in Houston kicked in a homeowner’s door then proceeded to beat him up and stuff him into a closet that just happened to contain all the homeowner’s firearms. How ironic.

What would you do?


I suppose most people would come out shooting. There are other options here: If I were by myself, maybe I’d wait it out until the home invaders left—or, if they did come back to get me in the closet, be ready to shoot them. However, there are significant risks associated with pulling a gun on someone. It may not fire. The other guy may have his own gun or guns. You may miss. He may not. And if you had family to protect, laying low may not even be a consideration.

Gawker reports, “Waiting until the coast was clear, the victim armed himself and exited the closet. He proceeded downstairs, where he encountered one of the three perps, and gunfire was exchanged. The burglar was struck in the shoulder and leg; the victim was unharmed. The two other intruders quickly fled the scene in a Chevy Tahoe. Their injured accomplice chased after them for a short while before collapsing on the street.”

Well, there you go. Happy ending. Bad guy is bloodied in the streets. Let’s celebrate!

I’m all for justice. But sometimes these things don’t turn out so well. When asked what the most effective deterrent to a burglary or home invasion is, many people will answer, “A gun.” And while the United States has more guns per capita than any other country on the planet (Yemen is second, and you see how well that’s working out for them), a gun is a purely reactive form of security—and it only works if you are home, and you have to be lucky enough not to be killed first or be stuffed into your gun closet.

Just get a home alarm. A home security system is paramount to protecting your family, home and stuff. If you want guns too, lovely—but at least get a home alarm too.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Passwords: Fingerprint, heartbeat or brainwaves?

There is no such thing as a truly secure password; there are only more secure or less secure passwords. Passwords are currently the most convenient and effective way to control access to your accounts. But passwords are a mess. We have too many; sometimes they are all the same, which makes it easier for a hacker; many passwords are “123456” and easy to crack; and there are numerous ways that a criminal can spy on us to log our keystrokes.


The internet’s weak link is the difficulty in reliably identifying individuals. When online, our identities are determined by IP addresses, cookies, and various “keys” and passwords, most of which are susceptible to tampering and fraud. We need a better strategy.

Currently, positive ID (or “authentication”) is only possible by using a biometric. A biometric can be either static (anatomical, physiological) or dynamic (behavioral). Examples of static biometrics include your iris, fingerprint, face and DNA. Dynamic biometrics include your signature gesture, voice, keyboard and perhaps gait—also referred to as something you are.

Verification, on the other hand, is used when the identity of a person cannot be definitely established. Various technologies are used provide real-time assessment of the validity of an asserted identity. We don’t know who the individual is, but we try to get as close as we can to verify his or her asserted identity. Included in this class are out-of-wallet questions, PINs, passwords, tokens, cards, IP addresses, behavior-based trend data, credit cards, etc. These usually fall into the realm of something you have or something you know.

Biometrics, it seems, is taking on a whole new meaning.

Mashable reports, “A wristband dubbed Nymi confirms a user’s identity via electrocardiogram (ECG) sensors that monitor the heartbeat and can authenticate a range of devices, from iPads to cars. Developers at Bionym, the Toronto-based company that makes the device, say the peaks and valleys of an individual’s heartbeat are harder to imitate than the external features of biometric systems, like fingerprints or facial recognition.”

And then there are “cognitive biometrics”—yes, brainwaves. For example, when signing up for an account, people are provided pictures to look at, then choose one that would allow them access to their account. When they were to log in, they’d be presented with numerous pictures and when the one they chose showed up, their brain would light up a bit, telling the website to allow access. But while the process has been proven to work, people need to wear a helmet that attaches to their scalp to pick up their brainwaves. So it’s not exactly ready for prime time.

What do you think? Would you wear a bracelet that identifies you? Or a tinfoil hat!?

Robert Siciliano, is a personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto and author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! . Disclosures For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.

10 Holiday Security Tips

Christmas trees, mistletoe, candy canes, turkey and stuffing bring out scammers, phishers, burglars and identity thieves. I’m not purposefully trying to be a Grinch here, but I’m just reminding you that good times, unfortunately, bring out the worst in bad people. This time of the year is prime season for criminals to seek out victims and separate them from their money and stuff.

Stay merry. Here’s how:

  1. Lock up. No matter how long you are gone, lock your home’s doors and use quality locks from Schlage.
  2. Don’t forget car locks. Don’t leave your keys in the ignition; lock your car doors, even when you are at the gas station and filling up.
  3. Be aware. When in parking lots or garages, at malls or festivals, watch your back, be aware of your surroundings and look for red flags.
  4. Free up your hands. Don’t weigh yourself down with lots of bags and packages. Use a carriage.
  5. Get delivery notices. Package theft is big. Most shippers offer email notifications for tracking packages, so you have the tools with which to become acutely aware of when your stuff is supposed to arrive and be there to accept it.
  6. Set up security cameras. Inside and outside your home, you should have cameras to allow you to peek in on all home activity. They also act as a deterrent to burglars and thieves.
  7. Put your jewels away. When home or away, and even when you are entertaining, lock up your stuff in a bolted safe.
  8. Update your browser. Viruses often end up on a PC because the browser is out of date.
  9. Update your operating system. It’s not enough to have antivirus; you must also update the critical security patches in your computer’s operating system.

10. Check your statements. Every week around the holidays, pay close(r) attention to your credit card statements and reconcile your charges.

Robert Siciliano home security expert to Schlage discussing home security and identity theft on TBS Movie and a Makeover. Disclosures. For Robert’s FREE eBook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.

High-tech vs. Low-tech Locks

High technology doesn’t necessarily mean better, stronger or faster. It does usually mean more convenient, as the word technology is defined as “including the use of materials, tools, techniques, and sources of power to make life easier or more pleasant and work more productive.”


This is the opposite of low-tech, which is essentially utilizing equipment and production techniques that are relatively unsophisticated—but unsophisticated doesn’t necessarily mean insecure. For example, all Schlage Grade 1 deadbolts, keys or touchscreen locks endure 300,000 cycles of testing in the company’s state-of-the-art testing facility…which is 50,000 more than required for Grade 1 certification. A bad guy with intent is going to have a hard time compromising even a low-tech lock

And then there are high-tech locks, such as Schlage’s Touchscreen Deadbolt, which is the best keyless lock out there. It’s a motorized bolt that automatically locks and unlocks when a four-digit user code is entered, and its lock-and-leave functionality requires only one touch to instantly safeguard the home. The Touchscreen Deadbolt can hold up to 30 unique access codes and is designed to support temporary codes when used with Nexia Home Intelligence for homeowner convenience. For example, codes can be tailored to specific days and times of the week to provide home access only when scheduled, such as for cleaning service personnel – a benefit of having an easy to use keyless lock with a built in alarm.

The biggest difference between high-tech and low-tech locks is the ability to remotely manage a high-tech lock. Nexia Home Intelligence makes it high-tech. This is a home automation system that allows you to control locks, thermostats, lights, cameras and more from wherever you and the internet happen to be. Lock or unlock your door from anywhere with your cell phone, or schedule lock codes to be active only on certain days at specific times. You can also receive text alerts when an alarm triggers or when specific codes provided to your kids are entered at the lock.

Robert Siciliano home security expert to Schlage discussinghome security and identity theft on TBS Movie and a Makeover. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.