How to Spend More Money on Home Security

Lets face it, if you had it you’d spend it, and what better way than on your families security! In today’s high tech connected world a networked and remotely monitored home security system is the way to go.

Keyless Access: Door locks that require a pincode make it easier to access without fumbling for keys. Many keyless locks are smart and can be set to allow contractors limited one time PIN access.

Remote Control Alarms: For a few extra bucks you can add remote controls to an alarm system that allow you to activate or deactivate from the driveway or online.

Robot Cameras: New and very expensive robotic camera equipped technologies will roam your property taking full day and night video.

Remote Monitoring: Having someone monitor a video surveillance system 24/7/365 is close to having feet on the ground. These same systems come equipped with speakers used to yell at the trespassers.

Bullet Proof: If you’re especially concerned about flying bullets then installing bullet proof glass, doors and shoring up your walls with bullet proof steal is a must.

Panic or Safe Rooms: A safe room provides a space where you can survive a tornado, hurricane or home invasion with little or no injury.  Residents can hide out in a relatively bullet proof, well stocked room equipped with wireless communications and wait for law enforcement to show up.

16 or 32 Camera Surveillance System: Once you go beyond 8 cameras prices start to rise. However 16 or even 32 cameras will provide you with a birds eye view of every single nook and cranny of your home extending into your neighborhood.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing Self Defense on Fox Boston

Is a Protection Dog Right for You?

As mentioned in a previous post I’m a big believer in furry beasts as a layer of protection. My 60lb German shepherd last fall is now a 75lb GSD due to a lazy winter and a busy Daddy who hasn’t taken her out enough.

“Lola” the furriest of all beasts is all bark, love and very territorial. When anyone walks within 100 yards of the property she’s barking. If the door bell rings or someone knocks on the door forget it. All mayhem breaks out. If I or anyone enters through a door and she is even a little surprised she goes nuts.

In the event a bad guy was to walk through my door my feeling is he’d end up “sausage. A dog is another home alarm system. It’s an extra video security system too. They often see and hear what you can’t day and night. Whenever my dog starts barking the first thing I do is check the video surveillance system monitor to see what she’s cracking about.

In the Boston area, it is reported that a German Shepherd thwarted a home invasion.

The key to getting a protection dog is to understand what a protection dog is and isn’t. First and foremost a protection dog doesn’t mean that the dog is a non stop-snarling-growling-aggressive-ready to pounce-rabid animal. Most protection dogs are relatively sublime, but aware. They respond to the call of duty when they sense a reason to.

A real protection dog is one that is trained for such a purpose. Certain breeds are more trainable and often go through a technique called “schutzhund. German Shepherds, Malinois and Dobermans are breeds that come to mind. Generally, these dogs have whats called “prey drive.Prey drive is the instinctive behavior of a carnivore to pursue and capture prey.

Without prey drive the dog doesn’t have much motivation to do much, never mind put themselves in harms way.

My neighbors have these 2 little “Toto” dogs that think they are 125lbs Rottweilers. And frankly, I don’t get to close to them because they act the part too. They snarl and hiss and bark when their “Mom” walks them and they have razor sharp teeth. It’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

Ultimately you want a dog that is safe around you and children. Just as important the dog needs to be safe around strangers too. The dog needs to be sensitive to who or what is good, and when there is a threat. A dog that bites for no reason isn’t a protection dog; it’s a lawsuit and a burden.

Do your research to determine what’s best for you and your family. No matter what dog you get, show them respect and they will watch your back.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing Home Security on Fox Boston

She Said WHAT? On Facebook?

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

I don’t know about you, but high school was a nightmare for me. I spent a lot of my time in the assistant principal’s office for fighting. My taste for GQ style clothing along with slicked back greasy hair made me a target. My forked tongue didn’t help me any either. Not much has changed.

In Melrose, Massachusetts a woman was run down by a pack of teenagers in a car because of a dispute that started amongst high school kids on Facebook. If there was Facebook when I was in high school I would have definitely made the paper.

The feud started because of a “she saidshe said” dispute that involved a boy between 2 girls.  I always fought boys because I wasn’t tough enough to fight girls. Girls hit you with their car.

The woman hit was the mother of one of the girls in the Facebook/cat/car fight and spent the night in Mass General Hospital after she did an endo, that’s when your “end” goes over your head then over the windshield.

This same diarrhea of the mouth on Facebook is happening with employees at small to large businesses. It might not end up as violent, but it’s certainly damaging corporate brands. People are saying mean things, blabbering about how they hate their jobs, their fellow employees, their bosses or even their clients. It’s never good when an employee publicly says bad things about the company they work for.

Just as bad they are leaking sensitive information about products coming to market, product specs or new and potential clients that gives the competition an edge. This kind of transparency is causing a tremendous stir and hurting many.

People mistakenly believe that what they say around the water cooler, to a friend or spouse or even on an IM in private can be said in public on Facebook or Twitter.  They couldn’t be more wrong.

The Wall Street Journal reports to nab violators, some business owners frequently conduct Web searches of their companies’ names. Others make a habit of checking employees’ social-media profiles if they’re open to the public or they’ve been granted access. They say such strategies can be helpful for quickly doing damage control, as well as for digging up digital dirt on employees and prospective recruits.

As an employer, you must have a written policy as to appropriate and inappropriate behaviors in social media. Just because you may block access at work, doesn’t mean they are saying stuff when they get off work. As an employee, don’t be stupid. Shut up and don’t act like an idiot pack of teenage high schoolers.

Protect your identity.

1. Get a credit freeze and follow the steps for your particular state. 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 your Social Security number useless to a potential identity thief.

2. Invest in anti-virus and keep it auto-updated and check out my spyware killer IDTheftSecurty HERE

3. With your iPhone get my book as an App or go to my website and get my FREE ebook on how to protect yourself from the bad guy.

4. Invest in Intelius identity theft protection and prevention. Not all forms of identity theft can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk. (Disclosures)

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing Facebook Scams on CNN

Pay-at-the-Pump Skimming Using Bluetooth

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

Skimming data off of debit and credit cards has been happening at ATMs, gas pumps and electronic funds transfer point of sale terminals for quite some time.

When criminals plant skimming devices, they have to physically attach a skimming device that fits over the face of the ATM’s card slot. Then they install a small camera that shoots video of the pinpad which allows them to extract user PIN codes. The camera is often housed inside of a brochure holder or little box that may have a mirror glued to its face. The mirror is made to loom like a security feature preventing shoulder surfing.

Once the criminals attach the devices, they have to wait it out for someone to then use the ATM or gas pump before they can remove the device and download the data. It is in the best interest of the criminal to leave the skimmer on the machine for as long as possible to skim as many cards as possible. Because every time the skimmer is removed and replaced it becomes another opportunity for the thief to get caught or for something to go wrong.

In Utah, a group of criminals one-upped other ATM scammers by installing Bluetooth enabled skimming devices that broadcast the skimmed data to a nearby storage devise, probably a laptop. Bluetooth’s range can be just a few feet to as much as a city block. So the criminals had to be in a car nearby.

What makes these devices even more sophisticated is that they skim the card data and grab the PIN code via the all-in-one combo skimmer and PIN pad device affixed to the face of the pump.

This entire process allows the criminal to steal data on demand and immediately turn it into cash. Further, it provides the criminal with the freedom to decide whether or not they want to retrieve the skimming device, thereby lessening their chances of being caught.

You can’t protect yourself from this kind of skimmer by covering your PIN entry due to the fact that the device is the PIN pad. So if you use a device like this you may be screwed. Ultimately, you must pay close attention to your statements. Also, pay close attention to details, and look for anything that seems out of place. Refute unauthorized transactions within 60 days. Check with your bank to determine what their timeframe is to refute unauthorized withdrawals. In some cases it can be as early as a week.

Protect your identity.

1. Get a credit freeze and follow the steps for your particular state. 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 your Social Security number useless to a potential identity thief.

2. Invest in anti-virus and keep it auto-updated and check out my spyware killer IDTheftSecurty HERE

3. Get my book as an iPhone App or go to my website and get my FREE ebook on how to protect yourself from the bad guy.

4. Invest in Intelius identity theft protection and prevention. Not all forms of identity theft can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk. (Disclosures)

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing Pay-at-the-Pump skimming on Fox News.

The $6.75 Million Dollar Laptop

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

Dan Yost Chief Technology Officer of MyLaptopGPS brought attention to the Ponemon Institute, with sponsorship from PGP, has released their “Fifth Annual U.S. Cost of Data Breach Study.” As usual, the report is a treasure trove of great data (just like most people’s laptops are).

The average cost per breached data record rose $2 in 2009, to $204. That’s actually not too bad. The average cost of a breach was $6.75 million, compared to $6.65 million in 2008.

PC World has a good article to summarize, and thanks to lyger at DataLossDB for the pointer.

Not very many businesses are taking serious note of the fact that, on average, they have $6.75 million laptops walking around out there. For those who are, our hats are off.

Here’s an interesting excerpt:

“Overall, 42% of all cases in the Ponemon data-breach study involved third-party mistakes and flubs. In addition, more than 82% of the cases in the Ponemon study were organizations that had more than one data breach in 2009 involving the loss or theft of more than 1,000 records containing personal information. At about 40% of the companies that participated in the study, the chief information security officer (CISO) was in charge of managing the response related to the data breach.”

And how about the maximum data breach cost in the study? $31 million.

That’s a rather expensive laptop, and probably worth a few dollars to protect instead. (Note: the breach may actually have been the result of something other than a lost/stolen laptop, such as a network break-in).

The least expensive breach? $750,000. That beats $31 million, but $750k is still a pretty penny to pay, compared to protection.

Many thanks to Ponemon and PGP for another excellent study.

Protect your identity.

1. Get a credit freeze. Click on the preceding link and follow the steps for your particular state. 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 your Social Security number useless to a potential identity thief.

2. Invest in anti-virus and keep it auto-updated and check out my spyware killer IDTheftSecurty HERE

3. Go to my website and get my FREE ebook on how to protect yourself from the bad guy.

4. Invest in Intelius identity theft protection and prevention. Not all forms of identity theft can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk. (Disclosures)

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing laptop security on The Today Show

Is Chip and PIN the Future?

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

Chip and PIN is the name of a government-backed initiative in the United Kingdom to implement the EMV standard for secure payments.

There have been rumblings from Europe over the past year  about American based credit cards that solely rely on the magnetic strip not being accepted in the future due to security issues.  Australia recently stated they were getting rid of all magnetic strip based cards and going Chip and PIN within the next few years.

Meanwhile ZDNet reports Researchers at Cambridge University have found a fundamental flaw in the EMV — Europay, MasterCard, Visa — protocol that underlies chip-and-PIN validation for debit and credit cards. As a consequence, a device can be created to modify and intercept communications between a card and a point-of-sale terminal, and fool the terminal into accepting that a PIN verification has succeeded.

“Chip and PIN is fundamentally broken,” Professor Ross Anderson of Cambridge University told ZDNet UK. “Banks and merchants rely on the words ‘Verified by PIN’ on receipts, but they don’t mean anything.”

This new research has shown that a PIN still needs to be entered, but any PIN code would be accepted. That’s not good. The researchers who cracked the code stated that the ability for the badguy to do this in the future is probable due to the fact that the attack itself is “elementary”.  That’s got to warm the cockles of organized crime.

The US has not adopted CHIP and PIN and many argue it is due to the costs involved. With 213 million cardholders and 1.2 billion credit cards in the U.S., there’s no shortage of opportunity for carders to maintain their current pace. However, an investment in a flawed technology isn’t wise.

You can’t protect yourself from these types of scams. However, by paying attention to your statements and refuting any unauthorized transactions within 60 days, you can recover your losses. When using any POS or ATM, pay close attention to details, and look for anything that seems out of place. If your card gets stuck in the machine or you notice anything odd about the appearance of the machine, such as wires, or error messages, don’t use it.

Protect your identity.

1. Get a credit freeze. Click on the preceding link and follow the steps for your particular state. 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 your Social Security number useless to a potential identity thief.

2. Invest in anti-virus and keep it auto-updated and check out my spyware killer IDTheftSecurty HERE

3. Go to my website and get my FREE ebook on how to protect yourself from the bad guy.

4. Invest in Intelius identity theft protection and prevention. Not all forms of identity theft can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk. (Disclosures)

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing ATM skimming on NBC Boston

The State of Information Security Sucks

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

The sheer volume of potential targets coupled with the vast amounts of money to be made has captured the attention of the global criminal hacking community.

Enterprise networks are becoming hardened and they are still vulnerable. Some are being penetrated directly while others are accessed through 3rd parities such as their clients or end users. Unprotected networks are being sniffed out and data breaches continue.

The organizations that track these breaches are bored, frustrated, hate the industry and offer no good news. Innovation isn’t happening fast enough and new laws and regulations aren’t effective in solving the problems.

PCI and all those who fall under its requirements are chasing their tail. Infighting continues and rumblings of lawsuits against PCI persist.

Law enforcement is getting better at investigating and catching the badguy, but there are far more of them then there are of us.

Between the TJX breach and the Heartland hack there were as many as 224 million credit and debit card numbers hacked. The criminals penetrated the networks “in broad daylight” so to speak, which means they didn’t have much trouble getting in. The hacks may have occurred via unsecured wireless networks, SQL injections or via social engineering though a phishing email with infected links.

While IT security professionals and white-hat hackers are fighting the battle with newer, better, faster, more robust technologies to keep the bad-guy out, the bad guy still gets in via the path of least resistance, which may be human error, laziness or a zero-day attack consisting of  something we’ve never seen before. Often it is the former.

New stories keep coming out depicting small businesses losing hundreds of thousands of dollars via online banking hacks and the banks filing suit so they don’t have to pay it back.

I just spoke to 60 bankers at a conference in Las Vegas. Many of them professed to learning a lot. . No offense here, but I am of the belief that nothing I say should be in any way “new information” to anyone in the banking industry.

As we move closer to mobile banking and a dozen new ways to process credit cards we create new opportunity for the criminals and we haven’t tightened up existing vulnerabilities yet.

We are fragmented and all over the place with an incredible array of interdependent technologies that are set up with convenience in mind and security second.

Somebody please tell me to shut up.

Protect your identity.

1. Get a credit freeze. Click on the preceding link and follow the steps for your particular state. 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 your Social Security number useless to a potential identity thief.

2. Invest in anti-virus and keep it auto-updated and check out my spyware killer IDTheftSecurty HERE

3. Go to my website and get my FREE ebook on how to protect yourself from the bad guy.

4. Invest in Intelius identity theft protection and prevention. Not all forms of identity theft can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk. (Disclosures)

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing ATM skimming on ExtraTV

Fostering Awareness & Improving Security Education

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

Financial institutions have the most to lose and the most to gain by improving security education of their clients and employees.

A while back  I appeared on a local TV show talking about phishing. Amazingly, still, not everyone knows what phishing is. A good friend saw the show and was shocked by what she learned….about her bank.

She received a phishing email and didn’t know what it was. The email asked her to update her account. It was confusing so she called her bank. She spent 20 minutes on the phone with a bank rep discussing her account and the bank could find no record of the communication or any issues with her account. At the conclusion of the call the bank rep said, “I don’t know why you received this email, your account information is in order.” Click.

That night she saw my phishing clip and wondered why the bank never mentioned a single word about phishing. Her bank failed her. They failed to educate her and therefore failed to protect her. She is no longer a client of that bank.

The mindset of financial institutions needs to change drastically when it comes to educating their clients about identity theft and security issues. Old school “sweep it under the rug” don’t discuss it because it will scare people school of thought is dead. People want, need and require information to protect themselves.

The game has changed. People are concerned for their personal security and are hungry to learn. The fact that you or anyone reads this blog is a testament to society as a whole wants to learn. Soccer moms are now security moms.  I’ve seen major industry players in the anti-virus space catering to these mommy bloggers and others because they understand the public is hungry for this. Banks, well, not so much.

Engage the public and they will respect you and want to do further business with you.

Linda McGlasson, Managing Editor at BankInfoSecurity.com interviewed me for a segment on this issue. Listen to the Podcast here It requires a login but its worth your time.

Protect your identity.

1. Get a credit freeze. Click on the preceding link and follow the steps for your particular state. 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 your Social Security number useless to a potential identity thief.

2. Invest in anti-virus and keep it auto-updated and check out my spyware killer IDTheftSecurty HERE

3. Go to my website and get my FREE ebook on how to protect yourself from the bad guy.

4. Invest in Intelius identity theft protection and prevention. Not all forms of identity theft can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk. (Disclosures)

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing the lack of security in online banking on CBS Boston

Diploma Mills Facilitate Identity Theft

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

Diploma mills were born along with elearning institutions who are actually legitimate and accredited bodies. Degrees and diplomas issued by diploma mills are frequently used for fraudulent purposes, such as obtaining employment, promotions, raises, or bonuses on false pretenses. They can also be used as a form of fake ID when posing as someone else to gain employment, impersonation of a licensed professional or used to assist as a breeder document leading to “real” fake ID’s.

A fake diploma is an effective social engineering tool used to gain access to your corporate networks.

From Wikipedia “A diploma mill (also known as a degree mill) is an organization that awards academic degrees and diplomas with substandard or no academic study and without recognition by official educational accrediting bodies. The purchaser can then claim to hold an academic degree, and the organization is motivated by making a profit. These degrees are often awarded based on vaguely construed life experience. Some such organizations claim accreditation by non-recognized/unapproved accrediting bodies set up for the purposes of providing a veneer of authenticity.”

The diploma mills often model the names or accredited educational institutions. They may even take a portion of a universities name and make it a part of their own. Such modeling tactics involve using similar logos, color schemes, and designing their websites to mimic an Ivy League school, right down to the .edu web address.

Just like a legitimate college or university, diploma mills may actually require the student to purchase books, do homework and take tests.  However, the diploma mill may make it extremely easy for someone to pass. Students in many cases are able simply purchase a diploma no questions asked. Many of these organizations are nothing more than glorified print shops.

As an employer who requires a diploma as official entry to your organization, you must recognize the risks associated with accepting documents that are fake, designed to give the bad guy access to your networks.

Diploma mills and the documents they print can be difficult to detect. However, today, thanks to the Internet, many websites and organizations are publicly “outing” diploma mills.

When hiring and presented with a diploma, search out the name of the educational institution and see what comes up. More effective is to do a search of the name on the diploma then “diploma mill” in quotes. If you begin to see a trend of sites popping up referencing fraud then call your attorney. Someone who is likely to commit fraud of this nature, may cause even more problems when you decline their employment.

Protect your identity.

1. Get a credit freeze. Click on the preceding link and follow the steps for your particular state. 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 your Social Security number useless to a potential identity thief.

2. Invest in anti-virus and keep it auto-updated and check out my spyware killer IDTheftSecurty HERE

3. Go to my website and get my FREE ebook on how to protect yourself from the bad guy.

4. Invest in Intelius identity theft protection and prevention. Not all forms of identity theft can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk. (Disclosures)

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing fraud on Fox News

mCrimes Morph Into mBotnets

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

Botnets are robot networks of computers connected to the Internet that sit in our homes and offices. A botnet is generally banks of multiple PC’s from the 10’s to 10,000’s to millions. There are no hard numbers on botnets but last figure I saw was somewhere between 3-5 million. Another stat is 25 percent of all US based PC’s are on a botnet. That’s just insane.  Botnets PC’s are called Zombies. Zombies all generally share a virus in common that allows for a remote control component. The criminal hacker controls the zombies on the botnet via an IRC control server or via a peer to peer network.

The combined power of the zombies on the botnet allows the criminals to commit all kinds of crimes such as denial of service attacks, mass spam campaigns of blasting viruses to millions.

Often botnets are used to store stolen data or to host spoofed websites that collect that data.

Now comes “Sexy Space,” an infected text message containing a link that when clicked downloads a file making that phone part of an mBot. mBots are made up of “Zobiles”.  The download then infects the users contact list and in typical virus multiplication fashion, sends the Sexy Space text to them too.

It is believed that infected phones could then be used in similar ways as traditional zombies are.  The extra twist with a zobile is its ability to take pictures, video, and used as a covert audio listening device. It can also sniff out wireless connections to the Internet and gather additional data to be used to hack.

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 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.

Never click on links in text messages unless you are 100 percent sure it’s a legitimate communication from a trusted source.

Follow your phones manufacturers and carriers recommendations on securing your phone. A search on “mobile phone security” turns up options/downloads/security to consider.

Protect your identity.

1. Get a credit freeze. Click on the preceding link and follow the steps for your particular state. 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 your Social Security number useless to a potential identity thief.

2. Invest in anti-virus and keep it auto-updated and check out my spyware killer IDTheftSecurty HERE

3. Go to my website and get my FREE ebook on how to protect yourself from the bad guy.

4. Invest in Intelius identity theft protection and prevention. Not all forms of identity theft can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk. (Disclosures)

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing mobile phone crimes and hacking on the Mike and Juliet Show