15 Tips to Ensure the Safety and Security of Your Home

15 Tips to Ensure the Safety and Security of Your HomeWhen is the last time you thought about the safety and security of your home? How about thinking about it right now? Do you do the following? If not, start, today:

  1. Do you have propane tanks for a gas grill? Or gasoline cans with gas in them? They aren’t supposed to be stored inside. Put them is a safe secure place where kids can’t access them.
  2. Do you have both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors? When is the last time you inspected them? Check the batteries and make sure they are not collecting lint and dust. If you can, integrate them, too. This way, if one goes off in the kitchen, the detectors throughout the house will also get triggered. Set a note in your calendar to replace the battery’s every 6 months.
  3. Does your mailbox lock? If not, consider upgrading to one that does. This way, mail that contains sensitive information won’t just sit out there for the taking.
  4. If you are using an extension cord outside, make sure that it is made for outdoor appliances. Others can cause fires or trip causing other issues.
  5. Don’t leave any notes on your door claiming that you will be home later. This is the case even if you are expecting a package.
  6. Understand that if there is a power outage, your food in the freezer should last for up to 48 hours. Use a generator or stock up on non-perishable food.
  7. When you use an oily rag, put it outside to dry. Then, store it in a metal can with a secure lid. Even if it looks dry, an oily rag is still flammable even if it isn’t in contact with flames.
  8. Don’t try to charge a non-rechargeable battery. This could make it explode.
  9. To dissuade burglars from getting into windows, plant thorny shrubs and bushes around them.
  10. If you have a home security system, make sure everyone knows. Place the company’s decals and signs around your home and yard. If you don’t have one, buy and place signs up anyway. It will still dissuade burglars.
  11. When it snows, shovel the driveway and create a path to your home. This shows the bad guys that someone is home. And various town and city ordinances require this or you’ll get fined.
  12. Before you leave on vacation, set your home phone’s ringer on mute. This way, if a burglar is staking out your home, your phone won’t be a dead giveaway.
  13. Before you leave town, put a hold on your mail and newspaper. Don’t let it pile up.
  14. Also, ask a friend or neighbor to park their car in your driveway if you are away. This way, a burglar will always think someone is home.

While away on vacation, don’t post about it on social media. Burglars often search social media sites to see who in the neighborhood is away.

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.

Are Your Employees Putting Your Company at Risk? Here’s How to Find Out!

Even if you have the best security on your computer network, you might have noticed that you still seem to get hacked…or worse. Ask Equifax. Why is this happening? It’s probably because a member of your staff has made it easy for cyber criminals to get inside. It’s really important that you find out who this person is, and keep in mind…it might be more than just one. And it may not even involve security technology.

Your Company at RiskPart of the problem here, is that employees who “open the door” for these criminals probably don’t even realize they are doing it. These criminals are smart, and they make themselves look really authentic. Sometimes, these crooks even disguise themselves as people your staff know. So, how do you find out who’s letting the bad guys in? Here are some things to try:

Phishing simulation:

  • Set up a fake website, and then create a fake email campaign. Send these out to your staff members from a fake address, or better, a real looking address similar to your corporate domain, and see how many people take the bait. You might have to work with someone on your IT staff to spoof the sender’s email address. Make sure it looks legitimate or they will see right through it.
  • Though this might take some time and effort to do, it is a good way to find out where your worries might lie in regards to the cyber security knowledge of your staff.
  • You can also hire a security expert to do this for you. They will create, run, and track your campaign. However, these experts are not cheap, and the campaign isn’t just a one-time thing. Instead, it’s ongoing.
  • There are also many phishing simulation security awareness vendors offering free trials just to see how vulnerable you may be.
  • It only takes a single click to cause a data breach. So, your main goal with this experiment is to find out who that clicker is. Or, who ALL those clickers are.
  • You should send out several fake emails, which ask your staff to click a link. Make sure, however, that they are very random. They shouldn’t be on any type of schedule.
  • Remember, you want to make it look like these are coming from a trusted source. Like a charity, existing vendor, coworker, company officer etc.
  • When you find out who is prone to clicking, you should take them aside and fill them in on the campaign. Don’t lecture them or discipline them. Instead, show them what they did wrong and fill them in on the consequences.
  • Some phishing simulation security awareness vendors offer ongoing computer based training specializing in bringing these clickers up to speed and changing their behavior.
  • Now that you know who the clickers are, send them other staged emails a couple of times a month. See if they click again.
  • You may choose to make sure they know that the random fake emails are coming. This helps to keep them alert to this issue. Or, not and see how that affects their behavior.
  • By using this approach, you can help your staff slow down a bit, and really think about what they are doing when they get an email with a link.
  • You can also create a company policy: Do NOT click on any links in emails on company computers. This helps to stop the need for that employee analysis and will make your staff question each email that comes through.
  • Even with this policy in place, continue to send fake emails to see if someone is disregarding the new rules.

Criminals use fundamental principles of influence and the basics in the psychology of persuasion. There is a science to their process no different than how advertisers, sales and marketers get us to buy stuff. Getting snared isn’t difficult. Being smart and cautious isn’t difficult either. It just requires a little training and reprogramming.

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.

10 Internet Security Myths that Small Businesses Should Be Aware Of

Most small businesses don’t put as much focus on internet security as they probably should. If you are a small business owner or manager, not focusing on internet security could put you in a bad spot. Are you believing the myths about internet security or are you already using best practices? Here’s a few of the most common myths…take a look to see where you truly stand:

10 Internet Security Myths that Small Businesses Should Be Aware OfMyth – All You Need is a Good Antivirus Program

Do you have a good antivirus program on your small business network? Do you think that’s enough? Unfortunately, it’s not. Though an antivirus program is great to have, there is a lot more that you have to do. Also, keep in mind that more people than ever are working remotely, and odds are good that they are working on a network that is not secured.

Myth – If You Have a Good Password, Your Data is Safe

Yes, a strong password is essential to keeping your information safe, but that alone is not going to do much if a hacker is able to get it somehow. Instead, setting up two-factor authentication is essential. This is much safer. Also make sure that your team doesn’t write their passwords down and keep them close to the computer or worse, use the same passwords across multiple critical accounts.

Myth – Hackers Only Target Large Businesses, So I Don’t Have to Worry

Unfortunately, many small business owners believe that hackers won’t target them because they only go after big businesses. This isn’t true, either. No one is immune to the wrath of hackers, and even if you are the only employee, you are a target.

Myth – Your IT Person Can Solve All of Your Issues

Small business owners also believe that if they have a good IT person, they don’t have to worry about cybercrime. This, too, unfortunately, is a myth. Though having a good IT person on your team is a great idea, you still won’t be fully protected. Enlist outside “penetration testers” who are white-hat hackers that seek out vulnerabilities in your networks before the criminals do.

Myth – Insurance Will Protect You from Cybercrime

Wrong! While there are actually several insurance companies that offer policies that “protect” businesses from cybercrimes, they don’t proactively protect your networks, but will provide relief in the event you are hacked. But read the fine print. Because if you are severely negligent, then all bets may be off. In fact, it is one of the strongest growing policy types in the industry.

Myth – Cyber Crimes are Overrated

Though it would certainly be nice if this was false, it’s simply not. These crimes are very real and could be very dangerous to your company. Your business is always at risk. Reports show as many as 4 billion records were stolen in 2016.

Myth – My Business is Safe as Long as I Have a Firewall

This goes along with the antivirus myth. Yes, it’s great to have a good firewall, but it won’t fully protect your company. You should have one, as they do offer a good level of protection, but you need much more to get full protection.

Myth – Cybercriminals are Always People You Don’t Know

Unfortunately, this, too, is not true. Even if it is an accident, many instances of cybercrimes can be traced back to someone on your staff. It could be an employee who is angry about something or even an innocent mistake. But, it only takes a single click to open up your network to the bad guys.

Myth – Millennials are Very Cautious About Internet Security

We often believe that Millennials are very tech-savvy; even more tech-savvy than the rest of us. Thus, we also believe that they are more cautious when it comes to security. This isn’t true, though. A Millennial is just as likely to put your business at risk than any other employee.

Myth – My Company Can Combat Cyber Criminals

You might have a false bravado about your ability to combat cybercrime. The truth is, you are probably far from prepared if you are like the majority.

These myths run rampant in the business world, so it is very important to make sure that you are fully prepared to handle cybercrime.

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.

Creating a “Plan B” for Survival

What do you do if you have a “Plan A” for survival, but you realize that it’s a bad plan. Do you have a “Plan B?”

Creating a “Plan B” for SurvivalForget about doing things like running to the grocery store right before the snow storm of the century hits. Everyone else in your town or city will do the same.

The convenience stores are supermarkets are the prime places where panicked people will go for water and food. While they are doing that, however, you can get your supplies at places no one else will ever think to look.

Before the next major disaster hits, locate all of the companies and sources of water within two miles of your house. When making this list, don’t assume that a business you see won’t have something valuable. When the list is done, take your time and go through it to determine if they might have something valuable to you.

For instance, a business that you might not consider as a source for water, such as a dental office, absolutely has water. So do gyms and beauty spas. Speaking of gyms, they often sell food, too. Also, don’t forget the local hobby shop. It likely has twine and wood. Bookstores often have sandwiches, pastries, and bottled beverages available, and office supply stores often have things like candy, crackers, and other snacks.

It’s probably best if you use a bicycle to get to these places, because a car might not be able to get through. Also, don’t wait until the main event to see if your bike works. Test it out beforehand. Additionally, get yourself familiar with the different routes to get to these places. In a disaster situation, your normal route might be blocked. Finally, start “training” for this by riding your bike for a few miles a couple of times a week. Carry a heavy duffel bag with you, too. Doing this with no practice can be quite difficult.

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.

Freezing Your Child’s Credit: What You Need to Know

You might not think about this, but identity thieves really want your child’s Social Security number. If they get this number, they can do a lot, including buying a car, renting an apartment, opening a credit card account, or getting a mortgage. The Social Security numbers of children are great for the bad guys for several reasons:

  • Generally, children have a clean record
  • Crooks can use these numbers to obtain credit
  • Kids usually don’t check out their credit reports until they go to college or buy a car or home. So, the crook can get away with it for years.

As a parent, you should think about putting a freeze on your child’s credit report. Why a freeze? Because credit monitoring isn’t enough. That doesn’t always stop a criminal from opening an account using your child’s Social Security number, but a freeze does.

Experian

  • Doesn’t create a credit file for a child unless this is required by law or unless they become a victim.
  • Parent gets a free copy of the child’s existing credit report.
  • Could be a small fee unless the parent can prove the child’s identity was compromised.

Equifax

  • This is free to parents if they want to get the freeze.
  • The child doesn’t have to already be a victim of identity theft.
  • To request a security freeze with Equifax, you can contact them online or via phone at 1-888-298-0045

Trans Union

  • Parents can check to see if their child has a credit file.
  • Only some states allow credit freezes, and some fees might apply.

Innovis (A fourth credit reporting agency)

  • A parent can freeze their child’s credit file, even if the state doesn’t allow it.

Again, not every state allows protection for a child’s credit. It’s important that you find out what your particular state’s requirements are. Some, for example, might only put a fraud alert on the child’s Social Security number. Other states only offer protection up to a certain age, like 16-years-old. Watch for these signs that someone could be using your child’s credit:

  • You get a notice from the IRS that your child hasn’t paid income taxes.
  • You get a notice from the IRS that your child’s SSN was used to file a tax return.
  • You get collection notices in your child’s name for things they (or you) didn’t purchase.
  • Government benefits are rejected because they are going into another account associated with your child’s Social Security number.

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.

Secret Self-Defense Weapons You Might Not Know About

Do you have a secret self-defense weapon on hand that you don’t even know about?

Here’s a few:

Canes. Might seem obvious…but…

Your first instinct would probably be to swing the cane like a baseball bat. However, this isn’t the best way. An attacker can easily grab it, dodge it, or deflect it. Instead, take a class to learn how to correctly yield your cane.

  • If you use a cane, consider taking a “cane-fu” class.
  • The best cane to use is one with a strong handle.
  • Don’t think that you can’t fight with your cane because you need it to walk.
  • Avoid any cane that has a hidden sword or knife unless you have training with a blade.

Magazines

Trying to hit someone with a magazine that is not rolled up is worthless. Even if you swat with a rolled magazine, you might not get too far. Why? Because aimless swats are NOT the way to use a magazine as your weapon.

  • The best way to use a magazine as a weapon is to use it like you would use a hammer. Think of it this way: your arm is the handle of the hammer, and the rolled-up magazine is the head. Basically, the end of the magazine roll gets struck into the attacker, and it should be perpendicular to whatever it is striking. This gives it a big impact into a small area. Try to aim at the nose, neck, groin, or temple. This stops an assailant long enough for you to escape.
  • Consider carrying around a pre-rolled magazine that is closed with large rubber bands. That way, it’s easy to grab if needed.
  • Magazines are plentiful on airplanes. Just saying.

Flashlights

Some flashlights are designed specifically for self defense with a point bottom end. Others have a grip handle and are weighted specifically as a blunt instrument.

  • You can use a flashlight in the same way that you use up a rolled-up magazine.
  • Since a flashlight is more solid than a magazine, however, it is more effective.
  • The light pointed in someones face can be a temporary blinding deterrent.

Pens

Self defense pens are also known as tactical pens and are designed specifically to debilitate another human. The beauty of a pen is its non-threatening when carried in your hand and doesn’t look like a weapon.

  • You probably think the best place to sick a pen is the eye. It’s great, but there are other places, too.
  • You can also stab a pen into the nose, temple, or neck. Any of these places willdisable your attacker.
  • If you jam the pen into the collarbone, it can also stop someone in their tracks.
  • You can also aim for the cheek, groin, ear, or top of the hand.
  • Just keep jabbing until you can get away from the attacker.

Belts

A leather or nylon belt has more self defense uses than you’d think. You can also purchase a belt with a built in knife. But you really need to know what you are doing to fight with a knife.

  • A belt with a heavy buckle is best
  • The key to using a belt as a weapon is to easily pull it out of your pant belt loops.
  • Once it’s free, you can whip the belt at your assailant. Make sure to use the end with the buckle to strike. Don’t attempt to strangle the attacker with your belt; that only works in a movie.

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.