You need Two-Factor Verification for your Amazon Account

If you have a strong password for your Amazon account, you may still want to consider beefing up the security with two-factor verification (or authentication), which will prevent a thief from accessing your account (which is possible if he gets ahold of your password and username somehow).

2D

  • Log onto your Amazon account.
  • Have your mobile phone with you.
  • Click “Your Account.”
  • Scroll down where it says “Settings—Password, Prime & E-mail.”
  • Click “Login & Security Settings.”
  • Go to “Change Account Settings” and at the bottom is “Advanced Security Settings.” Hit “Edit” there.
  • You are now on the page for setting up two-step verification. Hit “Get Started.”
  • You will see two options. For ease of setting up the two-factor, choose the text message option.
  • Follow the instructions and wait for the texted code.
  • Enter the code and click the “continue” button.
  • You will now be on a page for adding a backup number—which is required.
  • You cannot use the same phone number you just did for your initial setup. If you do not have a landline for the backup number, and your only phone is a “dumbphone,” you will not be able to use the two-factor service from Amazon.

Robert Siciliano CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, 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.

How to use two-factor authentication for critical accounts

Have a small business? Great. Have two-factor authentication for your accounts? If you’re not sure of the answer to that question, you could be in trouble. October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, the perfect time to learn more about cyber security. As a small business owner, you certainly have thought about data breaches. They don’t just happen to giants like Target and Sony. The common thread in many data breaches is that the hackers got the password.

5DOnce a hacker has a password, they often can get into the account, even if a username or other information is required. But suppose the hacker, mouth drooling as he’s about to break into your business accounts with your password and username, types in this login information and then sees he’s blocked unless he enters a one-time passcode? That’s a form of two-factor authentication. Game over for Joe Hacker.

Two-factor authentication may mean a different login, every time you login, even on the same day, and only YOU have it. It’s sent to your e-mail or phone. Setting up two-factor authentication differs from one platform to the next. See the following:

PayPal

  • Click “Security and Protection” in the upper right.
  • At bottom of next page, click “PayPal Security Key.”
  • Next page, click “Go to register your mobile phone” at the bottom. Your phone should have unlimited texting.
  • Enter your phone number; the code will be texted.

Google

  • At google.com/2step click the blue button “Get Started.” Take it from there. You can choose phone call or text.

Microsoft

  • Go to login.live.com. Click “Security Info.”
  • Click “Set Up Two-Step Verification” and then “Next.” Take it from there.

LinkedIn

  • At LinkedIn.com, trigger the drop-down menu by hovering over your picture.
  • Click “Privacy and Settings.”
  • Click “Account” and then “Security Settings.”
  • Click “Turn On” at “Two-Step Verification for Sign-In.”
  • To get the passcode enter your phone number.

Facebook

  • In the blue menu bar click the down-arrow.
  • Click “Settings.”
  • Click the gold badge “Security.”
  • Look for “Login Approvals” and check “Require a security code.”

Apple

  • Go to appleid.apple.com and click “Manage Your Apple ID.”
  • Log in and click “Passwords and Security.”
  • Answer the security questions to get to “Manage Your Security Settings.”
  • Click “Get Started.” Then enter phone number to get the texted code.

Yahoo

  • Hover over your photo for the drop-down menu.
  • Click “Account Settings.”
  • Click “Account Info.”
  • Go to “Sign-In and Security” and hit “Set up your second sign-in verification.”

Type in your phone number to get the texted code. If you have no phone you can get receive security questions via e-mail.

The prevention tactics above apply to businesses and really, everyone. Employees should be rigorously trained on proactive security and tricks that cyber thieves use.

Being cyber aware also includes backing up your data to a secure offsite location. Back it up with Carbonite, and receive 2 free bonus months with purchase of any subscription through the end of October by entering code “CYBERAWARE” at checkout.

Robert Siciliano is a personal privacy, security  and identity theft expert to Carbonite discussing identity theft prevention. Disclosures.

ATM Fraud Increases Identity Theft Risk

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

A spate of recent news reports highlight growing ATM fraud. Law enforcement in New York City reported a gang had stolen $500,000 from bank accounts via ATM skimming. They installed cameras and skimming devices on the machines, and recorded the magnetic strips and the PIN numbers.

A recent survey points towards ATM fraud rising 5-9 percent. Seventy percent of those poled experienced a jump between 2007 and 2008. Many of the large data breaches that have occurred over the past few years may have contributed to the fraud.

It’s simple enough to hack into a database and compromise cards and pins. It’s even easier to affix hardware to the face of an ATM machine and do the same. Once the data is compromised the identity thieves clone cards and turn the data into cash as quickly.

Bankinfosecurity.com recently published “7 Growing Threats to Financial Institutions”. This post is a play on that; “7 Growing Threats to You”

#1 Skimming; Hardware readily available online that is attached to the face of an ATM records user card information and pin codes. In this case you may still be able to perform a transaction.

#2 Ghost ATMs; A card reader is blocked off and replaced with hardware that supersedes the machine and records all your data without allowing a transaction. The machine reads “Can’t complete transaction”.

#3 Dummy ATMs; In some cases an ATM is bought off of eBay (do a search) or elsewhere and installed anywhere there is foot traffic. The machine is set up for one purpose; read data. The machine might be powered by car batteries or plugged in the nearest outlet.

#4 Ram Raids; ATMs built into a wall or stand alone are being rammed by a truck and/or wrapped with chain and pulled out then loaded onto a truck. Once removed the thieves blow torch the machine taking the cash. This is a hot topic in Mexican banks, buy certainly happens everywhere. A bank would be smart to install battery backed GPS in any machine.

#5 PIN ID’s; Sophisticated criminal hackers break into a database or skim magnetic strips. They then go to an online banking site with a hacking software that plugs in various well known PINs. These PINs might be consecutive numbers, peoples names, pets names, birthdates, or other various simple pass phrases people use. When it finds a match it gives the criminal access to your account.

#6 Automated PIN Changes; Criminals go through the banks telephone banking system to change the customers PIN. They may try to change the customers ANI (Automatic Number Identification) is a system utilized by telephone companies to identify the DN (Directory Number) of a caller. This might be accomplished via “Caller ID Spoofing”. They use publicly available data on the card holder such as name, card account number and last four digits of the social security number to “verify” them as the banks customer.

#7 SMS Attacks; AKA Smishing or Phexting – phish texting. Customers receive a text from a bank on their smartphone requesting login information.

#8 Malware or Malicious Software; Researchers found a virus that specifically infects ATMs and takes over the machine logging card numbers and pins.

How to protect yourself;

First and foremost; Pay attention to your statements every two weeks. Refute unauthorized transactions within a 30-60 day time frame.

1. Pay close attention to everything you do at an ATM. Look for “red flags”, anything out of place. If your card sticks, odd looking configurations on the ATM, wires, two sided tape.
2. Use strong PINs, uppercase lower case, alpha and numeric online and when possible at an ATM and for telephone banking.
3. Don’t reply to phishing or phexting emails. Just hit delete.
4. Don’t just use “any” ATM. Choose ATMs at locations that are “more secure” than in the middle of nowhere.
5. Make sure your McAfee anti-virus is up to date.
6. Invest in Intelius identity theft protection and prevention. Because when all else fails its good to have someone watching your back.

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing ATM skimming

Social Security Numbers Cracked, Creates Identity Theft Risk

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

SearchSecurity.com reports that researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a reliable method to predict Social Security numbers using information from social networking sites, data brokers, voter registration lists, online white pages and the publicly available Social Security Administration’s Death Master File.

Originally, the first three numbers on a Social Security card represented the state in which a person had initially applied for their card. Numbers started in the northeast and moved westward. This meant that people on the east coast had the lowest numbers and those on the west coast had the highest. Before 1986, people were rarely assigned a Social Security number until age 14 or so, since the numbers were used for income tracking purposes.

The Carnegie Mellon researchers were able to guess the first five digits of a Social Security number on their first attempt for 44% of people born after 1988. For those in less populated states, the researches had a 90% success rate. In fewer than 1,000 attempts, the researchers could identify a complete Social Security number, “making SSNs akin to 3-digit financial PINs.” “Unless mitigating strategies are implemented, the predictability of SSNs exposes them to risks of identify theft on mass scales,” the researchers wrote.

While the researchers work is certainly an accomplishment, the potential to predict Social Security numbers is the least of our problems. Social Security numbers can be found in unprotected file cabinets and databases in thousands of government offices, corporations and educational institutions. Networks are like candy bars – Social Security numbers can be hacked from outside the hard chocolate shell or from the soft and chewy inside.

The problem stems from that fact that our existing system of identification is seriously outdated and needs to be significantly updated. We rely on nine digits as a single identifier, the key to the kingdom, despite the fact that our Social Security numbers have no physical relationship to who we actually are. We will only begin to solve this problem when we incorporate multiple levels of authentication into our identification process.

The process of true and thorough authentication begins with “identity proofing.” Identity proofing is a solution that begins to identify, authenticate and authorize. Consumers, merchants, government don’t just need authentication. We need a solution that ties all three of these components together.

Jeff Maynard, President and CEO of Biometric Signature ID, provides a simple answer to a complicated issue in four parts:

Identify – A user must be identified when compared to others in a database. We refer to this as a reference identity. A unique PIN, password or username is created and associated with your credential or profile.

Authenticate – Authentication is different than verification of identity. Authentication is the ability to verify the identity of an individual based specifically on their unique characteristics. This is known as a positive ID and is only possible when using a biometric. A biometric can be either static or dynamic (behavioral). A static biometric is anatomical or physiological, such as a face, a fingerprint or DNA. A dynamic biometric is behavioral, such as a signature gesture, voice, or possibly gait. This explains why, when authentication solutions incorporate multiple factors, at least two of the following identifiers are required: something you have, such as a token or card, something you are, meaning a biometric identifier, and something you know, meaning a pin or password.

Verify – Verification is used when the identity of a person cannot be definitely established. These technologies provide real time assessment of the validity of an asserted identity. When we can’t know who the individual is, we get as close as we can in order to verify their asserted identity. PINs, passwords, tokens, cards, IP addresses, behavioral based trend data and credit cards are often used for verification. These usually fall into the realm of something you have or something youknow.

Authorize – Once the user has passed the identification test and authenticated their identity, they can make a purchase or have some other action approved. Merchants would love to have a customer’s authenticated signature to indicate his or her approval of a credit card charge. This is authorization.

Effective identification results in accountability. It is being achieved in small segments of government and in the corporate world, but not systematically. Unfortunately, we are years away from full authentication.

1. Get a credit freeze. Go online now and search “credit freeze” or “security freeze” and go to consumersunion.org and follow the steps for the state you live in. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes the SSN useless to the thief.

2. Invest in Intelius Identity Theft Protection. While not all forms of identity theft can be prevented, you can effectively manage your personal identifying information by knowing what’s buzzing out there in regards to YOU.

Includes;
Personal Identity Profile – Find out if you’re at risk for identity theft with a detailed report of your identity information, including a current credit report, address history, aliases, and more.

24/7 Identity Monitoring and Alerts – Prevent identity theft with automatic monitoring that scans billions of public records daily and alerts you to suspicious activity.

Identity Recovery Assistance – Let professionals help you recover your identity if you ever become a victim of identity theft.

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing identity theft

Identity Theft Expert; Fake IDs are as easy as 1,2,3

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

Do an online search for “fake ids” and you’ll be amazed to discover how easy it can be to obtain an ID allowing you to pose as someone else. Or how easy it can be for someone else to obtain an ID that will allow him or her to pose as you. Some websites peddle poor quality cards, others offer excellent quality, and many websites are simply scams.

The fact is, our existing identification systems are insufficiently secure, and our identifying documents are easily copied. Anyone with a computer, scanner and printer can recreate an ID. Outdated systems exasperate the problem by making it too easy to obtain a real ID at the DMV, with either legitimate or falsified information.

Another glitch is the potential for individuals to completely alter their appearances. Men with facial hair can wreak havoc on the current system. This is sometimes done as a prank. In other cases, the individual is attempting to subvert the system to maintain a degree of anonymity. New technologies, such as facial recognition, should eventually resolve some of these problems, but they are still years away from being fully implemented.

In Indianapolis, Indiana, a man was able to obtain six different IDs. He accomplished this by visiting various different registries throughout the state and using borrowed names and stolen information. He obtained job applicant data from a failed body shop business he had owned. He used the false identities to open checking accounts at multiple banks and write fraudulent checks to himself.  He was caught while applying for his seventh ID, thanks to facial recognition software. But it is disturbing to know that he was able to acquire six different identities, all stolen from real people, without detection. It was a bank employee who eventually noticed that he had two different bank accounts under two different names. If the man hadn’t been so greedy, he would have gotten away with it.

In Indianapolis and other registries the daily photos are compared to millions of others already on file. The system constantly scans the data and presents cases that might match, requiring further investigation by registry employees.

Some of the requirements of improving facial recognition include not smiling for your picture or smile as long as you keep your lips together. Other requirements meant to aid the facial recognition software include keeping your head upright (not tilted), not wearing eyeglasses in the photo, not wearing head coverings, and keeping your hair from obscuring your forehead, eyebrows, eyes, or ears.

The fact is, identity theft is a big problem due to a systematic lack of effective identification and is going to continue to be a problem until further notice. In the meantime it is up to you to protect yourself. The best defense from new account fraud is identity theft protection.

1. Get a credit freeze. Go online now and search “credit freeze” or “security freeze” and go to consumersunion.org and follow the steps for the state you live in. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name.

2. Invest in Intelius Identity Protect. While not all forms of identity theft can be prevented, you can effectively manage your personal identifying information by knowing what’s buzzing out there in regards to YOU.
Includes;

Personal Identity Profile – Find out if you’re at risk for identity theft with a detailed report of your identity information, including a current credit report, address history, aliases, and more.

24/7 Identity Monitoring and Alerts – Prevent identity theft with automatic monitoring that scans billions of public records daily and alerts you to suspicious activity.

Identity Recovery Assistance – Let professionals help you recover your identity if you ever become a victim of identity theft.

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing identity theft

Requests For Social Security Numbers Leads to Identity Theft

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

A patient at a Washington state medical clinic was asked for his Social Security number numerous times. Many of us have endured this familiar process. Considering the recent buzz about identity theft, this patient became concerned about releasing his own sensitive personal data, and requested that the facility remove his Social Security number from their records. The clinic refused, the patient put up a stink, and was ultimately ejected from the facility. The clinic considered his request unreasonable, and a violation of their rules and regulations. So, who’s right and who’s wrong in this scenario?

One Saturday afternoon, years ago, my spouse and I went to a major chain that rents videos. Without naming them, let’s just say they rent some block buster movies. The account was under my wife’s name, but she didn’t have her card with her that day. Upon checkout, the pimply faced 17-year-old clerk said, “No problem,” and asked for her Social Security number, which appeared on the screen in front of him. I freaked out and was ejected from the store. So, who’s right and who’s wrong?

In both cases, the customer is wrong. That may not be the answer you were expecting. I was wrong and the patient was wrong.

In general, routine information is collected for all hospital patients, including the patient’s name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, gender and other specific information that helps them verify the individual’s identity, as well as insurance enrollment and coverage data. And due to federally mandated laws like HIPAA, they are careful to maintain confidentiality of all patient information in their systems.

Corporations such as banks, credit card companies, automobile dealers, retailers and even video rental stores who grant credit in any form are going to ask for your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number and other specific information that helps them verify your identity and do a quick credit check to determine their risk level in granting you credit.

The Social Security Administration says, “Show your card to your employer when you start a job so your records are correct. Provide your Social Security number to your financial institution(s) for tax reporting purposes. Keep your card and any other document that shows your Social Security number on it in a safe place. DO NOT routinely carry your card or other documents that display your number.” But beyond that they have no advice and frankly, no authority.

Over the past fifty years, the Social Security number has become our de facto national ID. While originally developed and required for Social Security benefits, “functionality creep” occurred. Functionality creep occurs when an item, process, or procedure designed for a specific purpose ends up serving another purpose, which it was never intended to perform.

Here we are decades later, and the Social Security number is the key to the kingdom. Anyone who accesses your number can impersonate you in a hospital or bank. So what do you do when asked for your Social Security number? Many people are refusing to give it out and quickly discovering that this creates a number of hurdles they have to overcome in order to obtain services. Most are often denied that service, and from what I gather, there is nothing illegal about any entity refusing service. Most organizations stipulate access to this data in their “Terms of Service” that you must sign in order to do business with them. They acquire this data in order to protect themselves. By making a concerted effort to verify the identities of their customers, they establish a degree of accountability. Otherwise, anyone could pose as anyone else without consequence.

So where does this leave us? I have previously discussed “Identity Proofing,” and how flawed our identification systems are, and how we might be able to tighten up the system. But we have a long way to go before we are all securely and effectively identified. So, in the meantime, we have to play with the cards we are dealt in order to participate in society and partake in the various services it offers. So, for the time being, you’re going to have to continue giving up your Social Security number.

I give up mine often. I don’t like it, but I do things to protect myself, or at least reduce my vulnerability:

How to protect yourself;

  • You can refuse to give your Social Security number out. This may lead to a denial of service or a request that you, the customer, jump through a series of inconvenient hoops in order to be granted services. When faced with either option, most people throw their arms in the air and give out their Social Security number.
  • You can invest in identity theft protection.
  • You can attempt to protect your own identity, by getting yourself a credit freeze, or setting up your own fraud alerts. You can use Google news alerts to sweep the net and take precautions to prevent social media identity theft.
  • Protect your PC. Regardless of what others do with your Social Security number, you still have to protect the data you have immediate control over. Make sure to invest in Internet security software.

Robert Siciliano, identity theft speaker, discusses the ubiquitous use of Social Security numbers.

What have you done in the past when asked for your SSN? Did you refuse? What happened?

Identity Theft Crime Victims Bill of Rights

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert Speaker

A consortium of a number of companies in the identity theft prevention space have banded together to create a “Bill of Rights” for victims of identity theft. A Bill of Rights would provide victims of identity theft the needed leverage in response to a breach of their information that leads to numerous forms of identity theft. The consortium has some work to do to get the attention of legislators before it becomes law. This is certainly a noble effort that if passed will provide significant relief to victims.

I speak to victims on a weekly basis and the stresses of being victimized takes its toll. When a thief is functioning in society as you, fraudulently, irresponsibly and of course illegally, they tarnish every aspect of your life. There is an overwhelming sense of helplessness for many victims due to the notion that they are guilty until proven innocent. While this will in essence “take an act of congress” to become law, a good faith implementation of the bill by industry and government would certainly provide needed relief to those affected.

The Santa Fe Group, a financial services consulting firm, and The Santa Fe Group Vendor Council, a consortium of leading service providers to the financial services industry, today released the first comprehensive Bill of Rights for victims of identity theft. The Bill of Rights calls for consistent processes for handling identity crime incidents in addition to amendments to privacy legislation and regulation so victims can more easily access and correct their personal information records.

The five basic rights address the need for legislation that enables individual victims of identity theft to access and correct personally identifiable information (PII) records. The Bill of Rights white paper, titled Victims’ Rights: Fighting Identity Crime on the Front Lines, is now available.

The Identity Crime Victims Bill of Rights advocates improved protection and support for victims and includes:
• Assessment of the nature and extent of the crime that removes the procedural “Catch-22s” when validating identity
• Full restoration of victims’ identities to pre-theft status, including the ability to expunge records
• Freedom from harassment from collection agencies, law enforcement and others
• Prosecution of offenders and accountability for businesses that fail to reasonably secure personal information
• Restitution that includes repayment for financial losses and expenses

The white paper effort was led by the Identity Management Working Group of The Santa Fe Group Vendor Council chaired by Rick Kam, President of ID Experts

“Despite new additions to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003 (FACT), such as free credit reports and the ability to place fraud alerts after identity theft, victims are still subject to inconsistent and unfair treatment from state and federal agencies, law enforcement and businesses,” said Rick Kam, President of Portland-based ID Experts, a leader in data breach prevention and remediation. “We created the Bill of Rights to empower victims by granting them the same rights as victims of other crimes.”

According to Javelin Strategy and Research, 9.9 million Americans were victimized by identity crimes in 2008, an increase of 22% from 2007, with annual costs to consumers and businesses of more than $49 billion. In their journey to recover their identities, victims face a disjointed maze of privacy laws and information sources. Law enforcement processes are not always in place, and organizations often won’t share evidence with victims. As a result, a victim’s life can be disrupted for years.

“Victim empowerment is key to thwarting identity crime,” said Catherine A. Allen, Chairman and CEO of The Santa Fe Group. “With the Identity Crime Victims Bill of Rights, we’ve launched a national call to action, laying the groundwork for meaningful and much-needed legislation while building awareness of the issue in the media and among consumers and businesses. Our intent is that victims of all types of identity crime be provided with the same rights afforded to them via the FACT Act for resolving credit issues.”

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert Speaker discusses identity theft victims Here and Here