Beware of Rogue Cell Phone Charging Stations

Humans have evolved a new body part: the cell phone. One day it will be part of anatomical illustrations of the body in health and medical books probably an appendage on your head. I’m not a Dr. so don’t quote me.

For now, we have to figure out a way to keep this appendage juiced up without being lured into a data-sucking battery-charge station.

There’s even a name for this kind of crime: juice jacking. The kiosk is designed to appear like a legitimate battery charging station, when in fact, it will steal your phone’s data while it’s hooked up.

Worse yet, sometimes the thief will set the station to deposit malware into your phone. The crook will then have access to all the sensitive information and images that you have on the device.

These fraudulent stations are often set up at locations where users would be in a rush and won’t have time to check around for signs of suspicion or even think about the possibility of getting their personal life transferred out of their phone and into the hands of a stranger.

Are these thieves smart or what?

But you can be smarter.

Prevent Juice Jacking

  • Before leaving your house, make sure your phone is fully charged if possible.
  • Buy a second charger that stays with you or in your car at all times, and make a habit of keeping your phone charged while you drive.
  • Of course, there will be times when you’re out and about, and before you realize it, your device has gotten low on power. And it’s time to hunt for a public charging station.
  • Have a cord with you at all times. This will enable you to use a wall socket.
  • Turn off your phone to save batt. But for many people, this will not happen, so don’t just rely only on that tactic.
  • Plug your phone directly into a public socket whenever you can.
  • If you end up using the USB attachment at the station, make a point of viewing the power source. A hidden power source is suspicious.
  • If bringing a cord with you everywhere is too much of a hassle, did you know you can buy a power-only USB cord on which it’s impossible for any data to be transferred?
  • Another option is an external battery pack. This will supply an addition of power to your device.
  • External batteries, like the power-only USB cord, do not have data transfer ability, and thus can be used at any kiosk without the possibility of a data breach.
  • Search “optimize battery settings” iPhone or Android and get to work.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

Mobile Phone Numbers Are as Sensitive as Your Social Security Number

All of us have cell phones these days, and if you are like the vast majority of the population, you access everything from social media to banking information right from your mobile phone. However, if you do this, which everyone does, you are putting yourself in the position to get hacked. With only your mobile phone number and a couple other pieces of information, a hacker can get into these accounts and your life could drastically change.

How does this work? If a hacker already has your mobile phone number, they can get other information, such as you address, birthday, or even the last four digits of your Social Security number, through social engineering schemes via email or on social. Once they have this information, it’s like handing your phone over to them and letting them do as they please, including accessing your accounts.

The scam may not even begin with you, it may begin with the mobile phone companies themselves. There have been many incidents where the carriers are scammed into handing over troves of personal identifying information to scammers posing as the victim. In many cases the phone companies are even allowing the scammers to get phones with the actual victims phone number by transferring everything to a new phone the perpetrator charges to the victims account.

Here are some things that you can do to keep your mobile phone number safe:

Use Your Passcode – You can and should put a passcode on your phone, you should definitely do it. This isn’t totally foolproof, but does give you an extra level of protection.

Add a Passcode – Your mobile carriers online account should have an additional second passcode to make any changes to your account. This additional passcodes works with both the web and calling customer service. Nothing happens unless this additional passcode is presented.

Disable Online Access to Any Mobile Phone Account – This is frustrating, of course, but it certainly can protect you. If you need to change your account, you should go to the store or call your provider.

Use Google Voice – Google Voice is an excellent choice for many, and you can even forward your current number to your Google Voice number. This helps to mask any call you make, which means no one can have access to your real number.

Access Your Cell Phone Account with a Carrier-Specific Email Address – Most of us use our email addresses and phone numbers to access our online accounts. However, you should really have three separate emails. One should be your primary email address, one should be only for sensitive accounts, like your bank or social media accounts, and one for your mobile phone carrier. This means, even if your main email is hacked, the hackers cannot get into your other accounts.

Talk to Your Carrier – Consider asking your carrier to make a note in your account to require a photo ID and special passcode before any changes are made. Though it’s possible that a hacker could pose as you with a fake ID, the chances are quite low that this would happen.

Use Complex Passwords – One of the best ways to protect online accounts is to use complex passwords. Or at least a different password for every account. You should also use a password manager. If you don’t, make sure your passwords are very random and very difficult to guess like “58&hg#Sr4.”

Do Not Be Truthful – You also might want to lie when answering your security questions. These are easy to guess or discover. For instance, it’s probably easy to find out your mother’s maiden name. So, make it up…just make sure you remember it!

Don’t Use Your Phone Number for Important Accounts – Also, make sure that you aren’t using your phone number for any important account. Instead, use that Google Voice number. 

Use a Password Generator – This is part of two factor authentication. Protect yourself by using a one time password generator, as part of a two-factor authentication process. It may be your mobile or they look like keyfobs and produce a new password very frequently. The only way to get the password is to access the generator or your mobile.

Use a Physical Security Key – You should also think about using a physical security key. To use one, you must enter your password into the computer, and then enter a device into the computer’s USB port. This proves that you are the account owner. So, even if a hacker gets your password, they must also have the physical security key to access the account.

Think About Biometrics – Finally, to really protect your accounts, when available, use biometrics. You can buy biometric scanners that read your fingerprints, your iris, or even recognize your voice. When you use these, you cannot access any account until you scan your finger, eye, or speak.

Yes, it’s true that some of these seem time consuming, it is much more time consuming to have to deal with getting hacked or a stolen identity. So, take these steps to remain as safe as possible.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

I want a Cell Phone Jammer

Well, we certainly can’t blame Dennis Nicholl for breaking the law. Frankly, had I been nearby him when he did it, I would have kept silent and let him continue breaking the law—unless, of course, I was engaged in some loud, planet-moving discussion with a world leader.

5WNicholl, 63, was recently on a Chicago subway train. He brought with him a cell phone jammer. Unfortunately for Nicholl that day, Keegan Goudie was on the same train. Goudie is a blogger, noticed the infraction and began blogging about it. One thing led to another and Nicholl ended up being charged with the unlawful interference with a public utility.

Someone called 911 on him. Though Nicholl was breaking the law, arguably, he wasn’t committing any act that was putting anyone else’s life or limb in immediate danger. Or was he? I’m sure we can all get creative here.

Anyways, Nicholl’s lawyer says his client meant no life or limb danger. Like most of us, Nicholl only wanted some peace. Cell phone users tend to talk a lot louder into their phones than to people sitting right next to them. Sometimes, they’re outright obnoxious. They should be glad the infraction is only a cell phone jammer and not someone’s angry hands.

If making calls becomes allowed on airplanes in flight, it won’t be pretty. It’s bad enough when some fool talks loud while waiting for the boarding door to close. Nobody wants to hear how big the deal you are closing is or that Timmy scored a goal in soccer. Stop being a jerk.

So why is interference with a conversation via electronic device illegal, yet it’s not illegal to “jam” riders’ cell phone yakking with loud whistling, singing, loudly yakking to oneself or playing a harmonica?

Because these non-techy interference techniques can’t jam up someone’s legitimate call to 911. Nicholl’s jammer could have prevented another rider from getting through to 911 to report sudden difficulty breathing. So if you’re hell bent on using a cell phone jammer, maybe make sure first that everyone looks healthy?

The punishment is heavy. A Florida man had to cough up $48,000. Also in Florida, a teacher was suspended after jamming his students’ phones. A priest was even busted for using one in church. Ahh, technology.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to TheBestCompanys.com discussing  identity theft prevention.

mCrime; Hacking Mobile Phones for Identity Theft

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

History indicates that we are at the forefront of an era in which criminal hackers develop tools and techniques to steal your money using your own cell phone.

Fifteen years ago, cell phones were so bulky and cumbersome, they had to be carried in bags or briefcases. Then they became chunky, heavy bricks. Calls dropped every other minute. Clearly, cell phones have evolved since then. Today’s cell phone is a lot more than a phone. It’s a computer, one that rivals many desktops and laptops being manufactured today. A cell phone can pretty much do everything a PC can do, including online shopping, banking, and merchant credit card processing.

The personal computer started out slow and stodgy, and was mainly used for things like word processing and solitaire. Today, PCs are fast, multimedia machines, capable of performing amazing tasks.

There are consequences to the rapid evolution of these technologies.

A decade ago, during the slow, dial up era, hackers (and, in the beginning, phreakers) hacked for fun and fame. Many wreaked havoc, causing problems that crippled major networks. And they did it without today’s sophisticated technology.

Meanwhile, the dot-com boom and bust occurred. Then, as e-commerce picked up speed, high speed and broadband connections made it easier to shop and bank online, quickly and efficiently. Around 2003, social networking was born, in the form of online dating services and Friendster. PCs became integral to our fiscal and social lives. We funneled all our personal and financial information onto our computers, and spent more and more of our time on the Internet. And the speed of technology began to drastically outpace the speed of security. Seeing an opportunity, hackers began hacking for profit, rather than fun and fame.

Now, iPhones and other smart phones have become revolutionary computers themselves. For the next generation, the phone is replacing the PC. AT&T recently announced that they’ll be upping the speed of the latest version of their 3G network, doubling download speeds. It has been reported that the next iPhone will have 32 gigabytes. That’s more hard drive than my three year old laptop.

So naturally, criminal hackers are considering the possibilities offered by cell phones today, just as they were looking at computers five years ago.

Two things have changed the game: the speed and advancement of technology and spyware. Spyware was created as a legitimate technology for PCs. Spyware tracks and records social network activities, online searches, chats, instant messages, emails sent and received, websites visited, keystrokes typed and programs launched. It can be the equivalent of digital surveillance, revealing every stroke of the user’s mouse and keyboard. Parents can use spyware to monitor their young children’s surfing habits and employers can make sure their employees are working, as opposed to surfing for porn all day.

Criminal hackers created a cocktail of viruses and spyware, which allows for the infection and duplication of a virus that gives the criminal total, remote access to the user’s data. This same technology is being introduced to cell phones as “snoopware.” Legitimate uses for snoopware on phones do exist: silently recording caller information, seeing GPS positions, monitoring kids’ and employees’ mobile web and text messaging activities. Criminal hackers have taken the snoopware and spyware technology even further. Major technology companies agree that almost any cell phone can be hacked into and remotely controlled. Malicious software can be sent to the intended victim disguised as a picture or audio clip, and when the victim clicks on it, malware is installed.

One virus, called “Red Browser,” was created specifically to infect mobile phones using Java. It can be installed directly on a phone, should physical access be obtained, or this malicious software can be disguised as a harmless download. Bluetooth infared is also a point of vulnerability. Once installed, the Red Browser virus allows the hacker to remotely control the phone and its features, such as the camera and microphone.

While this may sound improbable, I’ve consulted and appeared on television (Tyra Banks and Fox) with an entire family that seems to have been victimized by every aspect of snoopware. The Kuykendalls, of Tacoma, Washington, found that several of their phones had been hijacked in order to spy on them. They say the hacker was able to turn a compromised phone on and off, use the phone’s camera to take pictures, and use the speakerphone as a bug. Ever since the program featuring the Kuykendalls’ story aired and continues to repeat, I’ve received dozens of emails from people around the world who have experienced the same thing. Many of these people seem totally overwhelmed by what has happened to them, and some are beginning to suffer financial losses.

If history is any indication of the future, mobile phones, just like computers, will soon be regularly hacked for financial gain. Prepare for mCrime in the form of credit card fraud, identity theft and data breaches.

Some Internet security software providers are beginning to offer software specifically for mobile phones. In the meantime, identity theft protection services are one line of defense against the latest cybercrime techniques.

Robert Siciliano, identity theft speaker, discusses hacked cell phones.

Identity Theft Expert and Speaker on Personal Security Warned Cell Phone Users to Beware Stalkers Who Use Cell Phone Snoopware

(BOSTON, Mass. – July 25, 2007 – IDTheftSecurity.com) News reports have highlighted cell phone snooping software, an emerging threat to cell phone users that combines sophisticated hacking techniques with aggressive stalking behavior. Robert Siciliano, a widely televised and quoted personal security and identity theft expert, advised consumers to exercise caution as they receive unsolicited text messages and calls.

“People who don’t want strangers to gain wholesale, remote access to their cell phones should treat each and every unsolicited text message and call as suspect,” said Siciliano. “Cell snooping snoopware, which sophisticated hackers can install from a remote location onto cell phones, makes all conversations on the compromised device accessible to the hacker and has been claimed to commandeer a camera phone’s viewing functionality.”

CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com and a member of the Bank Fraud & IT Security Report’s editorial board, Siciliano leads Fortune 500 companies and their clients in workshops that explore consumer education solutions for security issues. A longtime identity theft speaker and author of “The Safety Minute: 01,” he has discussed data security and consumer protection on CNBC, on NBC’s “Today Show,” FOX News, and elsewhere.

Readers may view YouTube video below of Siciliano’s recent appearance on the “The Morning Show With Mike and Juliet.” There, he appeared with a mother and family member who claim three of the family’s cell phones fell prey to highly sophisticated hackers who used the devices to stalk the family, viewing and listening to their private activities via the phone’s built-in camera and recording capabilities.

Two months ago, CNNMoney.com reported on a form of malware that installs on cell phones, warning readers to expect the threat to grow in prevalence in the coming months. Since, other news outlets such as PC World and Computerworld have debated the likelihood of cell snooping snoopware. According to reports, “roving bugs”—the term that hacking script making cell snooping possible is known as—are possible, but exotic.

“Cell snooping snoopware is relatively rare, and the logistical obstacles to its spread are significant,” said Siciliano. “Nevertheless, technology remains a step ahead of law enforcement, and the capability to snoop on cell phone users through the use of snoopware is real and, in time, may become pervasive.”

“Someone who suspects that her phone has been affected by cell snooping software must contact law enforcement officials immediately,” Siciliano concluded. “Cell snooping stalkers’ behavior can be aggressive and dangerous, and the effect on victims can foster a profound sense of fear. Cell phone snoopers have used remote access to a cell phone to stalk not only owners of the device, but family and friends of the owner as well.”

Readers may learn how to protect themselves against identity theft, a major concern for anyone whose electronic communication devices have been hacked, by viewing video of Siciliano at VideoJug.

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About IDTheftSecurity.com

Identity theft affects us all. Robert Siciliano, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com and member of the Bank Fraud & IT Security Report’s editorial board, makes it his mission to provide consumer education solutions on identity theft to Fortune 500 companies and their clients.

A leader of personal safety and security seminars nationwide, Siciliano has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, “FOX News,” NBC’s “Today Show,” “The Suze Orman Show,” “The Montel Williams Show,” “Maury Povich,” “Sally Jesse Raphael,” “The Howard Stern Show,” and “Inside Edition.” The Privacy Learning Institute features him on its Website. Numerous magazines, print news outlets, and wire services have turned to him, as well, for expert commentary on personal security and identity theft. These include Entrepreneur, Woman’s Day, Mademoiselle, Good Housekeeping, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Times, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, United Press International, Reuters, and others.

Visit Siciliano’s Web site, www.IDTheftSecurity.com; blog, www.realtysecurity.com/blog; and YouTube page, http://youtube.com/stungundotcom.

The media are encouraged to get in touch with Siciliano directly:

Robert Siciliano, Personal Security Expert
CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com
PHONE: 888-SICILIANO (742-4542)
FAX: 877-2-FAX-NOW (232-9669)
Robert@IDTheftSecurity.com
www.idtheftsecurity.com