The Smart Parent Guide to Digital Literacy

If you are the parent of a child or teen who uses the internet, here are some stats you need to know:

Stats About Teens and the Internet

  • Teens think that the internet is mostly private
  • They also think that they can make the best decisions for their life online
  • They believe they are safe online and that people are who they say they are
  • They don’t feel at risk if “friending” perfect strangers
  • They feel like since they are probably better at understanding technology, they can make better decisions than their parents about what’s best practice for online behavior

These are obviously naïve views of the digital world and if parents don’t fully explain why these views aren’t just wrong, but dangerous, then the parent is setting up their child for failure.

Make sure that you are keeping the lines of communication open with your kids about their internet use. Explain the risks involved and share stories of other teens who have found trouble online.

Internet Rules that Parents Should Consider

It is recommended by experts that parents set up rules for their kids in regards to internet use. Here are some:

  • Know every password that your kid has and use those passwords to check on their accounts.
  • Don’t let kids use social media, text friends, or chat online until they are in 9th or 10th grade, and never let kids use apps or sites that allow for anonymous communication.
  • There is NO reason why your 13 year old needs to be head deep in Snapchat or TikTok. NONE. Nothing good will come from it.
  • Give your kids a time limit for internet use
  • Don’t allow your kids to respond to messages from strangers, and never “friend” strangers.
  • Never give out any personal information, such as address or phone number, online.
  • Always be respectful and kind to others online; bullying should NEVER be allowed.
  • Do not allow your children to know your passwords.
  • Do not allow kids to use have access to their devices at all times. Have family time with no screens. i.e. game night, a walk to the local park, etc.
  • No phones in the bedroom. Buy laptops, not desktops. Laptops shouldn’t be allowed in the bedroom after homework is done.
  • No photos should be posted to an internet site without permission of parents.
  • Always check text messages, chat logs, or any other communication online, and make sure that kids understand that there will be consequences if they delete the messages.
  • Don’t allow kids to download any apps or software without your permission.

Don’t Make These Mistakes

  • Don’t give your child a traditional smart phone before 9th You can give them a feature-phone, that you have full access to, however.
  • Don’t give your child internet access that is unmonitored.
  • Don’t allow your kids to use the internet in closed rooms or in areas where you can’t see what they are doing.
  • Don’t allow them to play online games where chat is enabled, as these are common targets for sexual predators.

Just because other families are breaking most of these rules, doesn’t mean your family needs to. Don’t be cattle or sheep. Lead by example.

ROBERT SICILIANO CSP, is a #1 Best Selling Amazon author, CEO of CreditParent.com, the architect of the CSI Protection certification; a Cyber Social and Identity Protection security awareness training program.

Young Kids Getting Sexually Exploited Online More Than Ever Before

An alarming new study is out, and if you are a parent, you should take note…children as young as 8-years old are being sexually exploited via social media. This is a definite downturn from past research, and it seems like one thing is to blame: live streaming.

Robert Siciliano Quora Breach

YouTube serves up videos of kids, in clothing, that pedophiles consume and share as if it is child porn. It’s gotten so bad that YouTube has had to disable the comments sections of videos with kids in them.

Apps like TikTok are very popular with younger kids, and they are also becoming more popular for the sexual predators who seek out those kids. These apps are difficult to moderate, and since it happens in real time, you have a situation that is almost perfectly set up for exploitation.

Last year, a survey found that approximately 57 percent of 12-year olds and 28% of 10-year olds are accessing live-streaming content. However, legally, the nature of much of this content should not be accessed by children under the age of 13. To make matters worse, about 25 percent of these children have seen something while watching a live stream that they and their parents regretted them seeing

Protecting Your Children

Any child can become a victim here, but as a parent, there are some things you can do to protect your kids. First, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you posting pictures or video of your children online? Do you allow your kids to do the same? A simple video of your child by the pool has become pedophile porn.
  • Do you have some type of protection in place for your kids when they go online?
  • Have you talked to your children about the dangers of sharing passwords or account information?
  • Do your kids understand what type of behavior is appropriate when online?
  • Do you personally know, or do your kids personally know, the people they interact with online?
  • Can your kids identify questions from others that might be red flags, such as “where do you live?” “What are your parents names?” “Where do you go to school?”
  • Do your kids feel safe coming to you to talk about things that make them feel uncomfortable?

It is also important that you, as a parent, look for red flags in your children’s behavior. Here are some of those signs:

  • Your kid gets angry if you don’t let them go online.
  • Your child become secretive about what they do online, such as hiding their phone when you walk into the room.
  • Your kid withdraws from friends or family to spend time online.

It might sound like the perfect solution is to “turn off the internet” at home, but remember, your kids can access the internet in other ways, including at school and at the homes of their friends. It would be great to build a wall around your kids to keep them safe, but that’s not practical, nor is it in their best interest. Instead, talk to your child about online safety and make sure the entire family understands the dangers that are out there.

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

Who Has Access to Your Personal Info? The Answer Might Surprise You

Are you aware that many people probably have access to your personal info? If you have ever gotten an apartment, have insurance, or applied for a job, someone has done a background check on you, and you might be shocked by what’s in there, including your debts, income, loan payments, and more. On top of this, there are also companies collecting information on you including:

  • Lenders
  • Employers
  • Government agencies
  • Volunteer organizations
  • Landlords
  • Banks/credit unions
  • Insurance companies
  • Debt collectors
  • Utility companies…and more

Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you can get a copy of these reports every year for a small fee, and they are free if there has been any type of adverse action against you. You can also get this information from certain organizations including the following:

Credit Agencies

Most people know the main credit reporting bureaus, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. The reports that these companies give you can include your loan and credit card payment history, how much credit you have, info from debt collectors, and other information.

Employment Screening

If you have applied for a job, you might have gone through employee screening. These employers have access to things like your salary history, credit history, education, and even criminal history.

Housing/Tenant Screening

If you have ever rented an apartment or home, your landlord might have done a background check, too. This might include prior evictions and other negative information.

Banking and Check Screening

Your bank also might have information on you, which could include your banking history, such as negative balances on your checking account or unpaid bills.

Medical Insurance

Finally, if you have medical insurance, your insurance company has probably also done a background check on you. These policies include life insurance, health insurance, long-term care insurance, critical illness insurance, or disability insurance.

Lifehacker and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s 2019 report compiled a pretty amazing list below. Check it out.

The nice thing about these things, however, is that you have a right to access all of these reports, too. In most cases, these reports are free. You can ask these organizations what background check companies they are using, and then you might be able to request a free report. Again, if there is any negative information on these reports that cause you to, for instance, not be hired by an employer, you will automatically get a free copy of this report so you can see the derogatory information for yourself, and then take any steps you can to change it.

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.

Beware of Conference Invitation Scams

Conference invitation scams are those that involve a scammer sending invitations out to events with the intention of scamming the invitees. These might be real events or fake events, and the scammers target people including business professionals, lecturers, CEOs, researchers, philanthropists, and more. The goal here is to steal the identities of these people, and eventually get money by taking advantage of their victims.

Spotting a Scam

There are usually some pretty clear signs that you could be dealing with a scam involving a conference invitation. Here are some things to look for:

  • The invitation has typos or bad grammar
  • The invitation seems very random or out of no where
  • The conference name sounds like a conference you might be family with, such as Tech Crunch, but it’s spelled differently, like TekCrunch
  • The invitation asks that you pay a premium price to attend, which includes accommodation and transportation
  • Payment options don’t include credit cards
  • The invitation is overly flattering
  • There is a sense of urgency pushing you to send personal information
  • The greeting on the invitation is questionable, i.e. “Salutations.”
  • The invitation asks for sensitive information in return for “covering” your conference cost, accommodations, and transportation.
  • The conference is held in a different country, i.e. Asia or the Middle East
  • The landing page doesn’t have a physical address or landline number
  • The invitation sounds too good to be true

How Do These Scams Work?

In general, the scammer begins the scam by sending an email to a target victim and invited them to attend or speak at a conference. The scammer usually uses the victim’s social media pages to get information about them, which helps them to create a more personalized email.

The victim is told to register for the conference, which involves giving personal information. Additionally, they could be asked to pay a fee to attend, which could be over $1,000, depending on how long the conference is said to last. Usually, this is where the sense of urgency comes into play, as the scammer will say the conference is filling up or they need to know if they can count on the victim to speak. If not, of course, they must find another speaker, so the victim must confirm as soon as possible.

If the targeted victim complies with this and sends their information, the scammer may have enough information to steal the victim’s identity. Additionally, the scammer can use the name of the victim to promote the conference, especially if it is someone well-known in the industry.

If the victim goes through with all of this, they will quickly find out that they have been scammed. A scammer might also try scamming people who are actually going to a legitimate conference. They claim that they are part of the organization running the conference, and they need information and to collect fees. Of course, since the victim already signed up for the conference, it is easy to believe this scam without giving it a second thought.

Protecting Yourself from Invitation Scams

Here are some tips and tricks that you can use to protect yourself from these types of scams:

  • If you get an email similar to ones described here, don’t respond.
  • You should investigate any invitation that you are not sure of.
  • Do not agree to send money, and only pay with a credit card.
  • Don’t agree to give any personal information; a conference organizer doesn’t need to know your Social Security Number
  • Research the event and try to match up the information that you were given in the invitation email.
  • Copy and paste some of the email into Google to see if others have reported that this is a scam.

What to Do if You are a Victim If you have become a victim of a conference invitation scam, there are steps you should take immediately. First, get in touch with your financial institutions, like banks and credit card companies, and make them aware of this. Next, you should contact the location police and authorities in the area where the conference is allegedly supposed to be held. You should also get in touch with the Better Business Bureau about the company, and you can report the scam online via the BBB’s Scam Tracker or the Federal Trade Commission’s Online Complaint Assistant.  Finally, you can also report the scam to the FBI through its Internet Crime Complaint Center.

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.

How to Access that Old Email Account

Have you ever wondered if you could access your old email accounts? You might want to look for some old files, or maybe need information about an old contact. Whatever the reason, there is good and bad news when it comes to accessing old email accounts.

The best thing that you can do is to use the provider to find the old email account or old messages. All of the major providers, including Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, and AOL, have recovery tools available. If the email address is from a lesser player in the email game, again, you might be out of luck.

First, Know the Protocol

Frankly, the next 3 paragraphs might be confusing. If they don’t make sense to you jump to Do You Remember the Service or Email Address?

The first thing you have to do is know the protocol your provider uses. There are two different protocols to consider when trying to access old messages: POP3 or IMAP.

POP3 protocols essentially download messages from a server to a device. IMAP just syncs your messages between your device and the server. Most email services default to an IMAP protocol, but it’s very possible that an older email account would have been set up to use POP3. If this is the case, and the provider deletes the messages off the servers when downloaded via POP3, this is not good news…those messages are gone. Even if you eventually get access to these accounts, if you have downloaded the messages to a computer or smartphone, they are gone from the server.

There is better news if you used IMAP…though, again, this is assuming nothing has been deleted. Some providers will delete accounts that are inactive for a certain amount of time. If the account is deleted, those messages are gone. Check the account deletion policy of the email provider to see if your account might still be active, and ultimately, accessible.

Do You Remember the Service or Email Address?

If you remember the email address and not the password, try the password reset link and if, and only if, you set up a backup email for recovery, then you’re on Golden Pond.

Now, what happens if you can’t remember what service you used or even the email address you used? There is still hope.

First, search for your name in the email account you use now. You might have sent something to yourself from an old account. Another option is this: if you remember the old provider, you can also search for that. You also might want to search your computer to see if there are old documents with your old email in there. You also might have set up a recovery email address or phone number that you can use to access the account.

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.

Protect your USPS Mail from Getting Stolen

USPSID stands for U.S. Postal Service Informed Delivery. It is a good thing to sign up for because it informs you of your expected deliveries.

But there’s a problem: Someone ELSE could pose as you and sign up for this service, getting your mail before you have a chance to.

In fact, it has already happened. Crooks have signed up as other address owners and collected their mail.

This can lead to credit card fraud if some of that mail includes new credit cards or credit card applications.

And what if the mail includes a check? The thief could find a way to get it cashed. What a thief could do with your mail is limited only by his or her imagination.

Krebsonsecurity.com reports that seven crooks in Michigan used the USPS to, not surprisingly, apply for credit cards via those applications that we all get.

Then they waited for the new cards to arrive. They knew just when they’d arrive, too, and planned to raid the owner’s mailbox on that date. Of course, the owners never even knew that the cards were applied for.

The crooks obtained the cards and spent a total of about $400,000. Needless to say, they didn’t bother stealing the bills.

Though a key on your mailbox will surely help, you can add an extra layer of protection by emailing eSafe@usps.gov to opt out of the service. This will prevent anyone from using it in your name.

KrebsOnSecurity reports that this email address may be inactive. So at least have your mailbox fashioned with a lock – even if you do get a response from that email address.

Another thing you can do is get a credit freeze, though this doesn’t guarantee 100 percent that a thief won’t be able to sign up your address with the USPS, but the freeze will prevent new credit cards being opened in your name.

What Else Can You Do?

  • Check your existing credit card statements every month for any odd or unfamiliar charges and report them immediately even if the amount is small.
  • Contact credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) and sign up for alerts to any changes in your credit report.
  • Can’t be said enough: Get a locking mailbox, there’s simply too much sensitive information not to.

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.

 

Protect Yourself From Gift Card Scams

So maybe Christmas now means the very predictable gift card swap, but hey, who can’t use a gift card? But beware, there are a ton of scams. This includes physical, not just digital, gift cards.

Regardless of who gave you the card, you should always practice security measures. Below are two common ways that fraudsters operate.

Transform Gift Card to Cash Twice.

If someone gives you a $200 gift card to an electronics store and then it’s stolen, you technically have lost money, as this is the same as someone stealing a wad of cash from your pocket.

Nevertheless, you’ll feel the loss just as much. Crooks who steal gift cards have numerous ways of using them.

  • Joe Thief has plans on buying a $200 item with your stolen gift card from your gym locker.
  • But first he places an ad for the card online, pricing it at a big discount of $130 saying he doesn’t need anything, he just needs money.
  • Someone out there spots this deal and sends Joe the money via PayPal or Venmo.
  • Joe then uses the $200 gift card to buy an item and sells it on eBay
  • And he just netted $130 on selling a stolen gift card that he never shipped.

Infiltration of Online Gift Card Accounts

Joe Thief might also use a computer program called a botnet to get into an online gift card account.

  • You must log into your gift card account with characters.
  • Botnets also log into these accounts. Botnets are sent by Joe Thief to randomly guess your login characters with a brute force attack: a computerized creation of different permutations of numbers and letters – by the millions in a single attack.
  • The botnet just might get a hit – yours.

Here’s How to Protect Yourself

  • Be leery of deals posted online, in magazines or in person that seem too good to be true and are not advertised by reputable retailers.
  • Buy gift cards straight from the source.
  • Don’t buy gift cards at high traffic locations, at which it’s easier for Joe to conceal his tampering.
  • Change the card’s security code.
  • Create long and jumbled usernames and passwords to lessen the chance of a brute force hit.
  • The moment you suspect fraudulent activity, report it to the retailer.
  • Spend the card right away.

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.

Genealogy Websites Scare Me, But This is Good

Investigators in Sacramento have arrested Joseph James DeAngelo for rape, but they only found him based on records from a genealogical website.

10 Internet Security Myths that Small Businesses Should Be Aware OfThe effort wasn’t easy, but this guy is now off the streets. The process started with taking a look at DNA that was collected from the crime scene, which happened many years ago. Investigators didn’t have a match. However, recently, they started comparing DNA with genetic profiles that have been collected from ancestry sties. These are companies that collect DNA from people to tell them more about their family backgrounds.

Though DeAngelo’s DNA was not found, investigators were able to match the DNA of his family members with the DNA found at the crime scene. Investigators looked closer and noticed that DeAngelo not only lived in the area where the rape occurred, but also was in the same age range as the suspect. The investigators began watching DeAngelo and picked up a piece of trash that he discarded. They tested it in the lab, and the DNA on it was a perfect match to the DNA at the crime scene.

Once investigators realized they had a match, they knew that they had to spring into action. They were able to quickly make an arrest. DeAngelo was booked into jail and charged with two murders. He is also expected to face an additional 12 homicide charges, which occurred from 1974 to 1986. Because the crimes occurred in several counties, it is likely that county prosecutors will come together as one prosecution team to put DeAngelo on trial. It is also likely that the trial would not be held in Sacramento because the majority of the crimes occurred in Southern California. There is also the question as to if the prosecution team will charge DeAngelo with rape, as the statute of limitations has expired. There is no statute of limitations for murder in the state of California.

Some prosecutors, however, are looking to the FBI to help put DeAngelo behind bars for the alleged rapes, too, including Jeff Reisig from Yolo Country, and the DA from Contra Costa County. They believe that DeAngelo is the so-called East Area Rapist, who has been connected to 12 murders, 51 rapes, and hundreds of burglaries.

There are certainly some issues with these DNA tests, but that can be for another time. For now, it’s pretty important to know that there is some good that can come out of it, especially if it means getting criminals off the street.

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.

How to Digitally Secure The Remote Teleworker

If you employ remote workers, your IT staff has a unique challenge keeping your organization safe. Fortunately, using a combination of best practices for cybersecurity, user awareness campaigns, and a strong policy will help to keep data safe.

New advances in mobile technology and networking have given remote workforces a boost, and while policies for most remote workers generally depend on manager or company preferences, most businesses must accommodate a mobile workforce on some level…and here’s where the challenge lies.

Things such as emails, vulnerable software programs and work documents are all tools that cybercriminals can use to infiltrate your company’s network. These remote workers, no matter how convenient they might be, are the weak link in any company’s security plan. Cybercriminals know this, which is why they often focus on these workers. So, what do you do to find a balance between the convenience of remote workers and the importance of network security? Here are eight way that you can secure your remote workforce:

  1. Use Cloud-Based Storage – One way to make your remote workers safer is to use cloud services that use two factor authentication. These often have a higher level of encryption, so any data that your workforce uses is not only accessible, but also protected.
  2. Encrypt Devices When You Can – When giving mobile devices, including laptops, to your remove workforce, make sure that the hard drives are encrypted to protect the data on the machine. However, not all security programs will work with devices that are encrypted, so make sure that you double check all the tech specs before loading them up.
  3. Set Up Automatic Updates – You can also take the steps to automate any software updates, which means as soon as an update is released, your remote workforce will get the software on their devices. This can also be done via Mobile Device Management software.
  4. Use Best Practices for Passwords – You should also make sure that you are implementing good practices with passwords. You should, for instance, safeguard against stolen or lost devices by requiring that all employees use strong, complex passwords. You should also request that your team puts a password on their phones and laptops, since these items are easily stolen.
  5. Create Secure Network Connections – Also, ensure that your remote employees are connecting to your network by using a VPN connection. Encourage your IT staff to only allow your remote workers to connect to the VPN if their system is set up and patched correctly. Also, make sure that they are not connecting if their security software is not updated.
  6. Increase Awareness – Instead of attempting to restrict personal use of the internet, you should instead encourage education about internet use. Create and enact a cybersecurity policy, ensuring that it covers concepts such as phishing, scams, and social engineering tactics.
  7. Use Encrypted Email Software – Checking business email offsite is quite common, even among those who work on-site. Thus, it is extremely important to use a secure program for email.
  8. Use an Endpoint Security Program – Finally, if you haven’t already, implement an endpoint security program. These programs can be remotely launched and managed from one location. This software should also include components to keep unpatched programs, safe.

Yes, remote workers can be a challenge for your IT staff to manage, but when you use a strong policy, good practices in response to cybersecurity, and a comprehensive campaign for user awareness, you and your staff can keep all of your data safe.

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.

Consumers Have Given Up on Security

According to a recent study, online security for most people is too bothersome. The US National Institute of Standards and Technology published the study, which shows that most people who use the internet have just given up and don’t follow the advice given to them about online security.

The result of this is that consumers are engaging in risky online behavior, and according to one survey participant, if “something happens, it is going to happen” and “it is not the end of the world.”

This is concerning to many, including security experts and survey authors. During this survey, approximately 40 people were interviewed in order to understand how those without a technical background feel about computer security. Though this isn’t a total significant sample size, it is a surprising look at how people feel about the information that experts are giving them. Each interview ran from 45 minutes to an hour, and the goal of the researchers was to find out where the average person stands on online security.

The authors of the report were surprised by the resignation of the interviewees during the survey. Essentially, they saw that people just can’t keep up with security changes. The survey participants, overall, believe that online security is too complex, and these people don’t see the benefits of making any efforts.

Some of the people who took the survey seemed to be under the impression that they didn’t have any information that a hacker would want. For example, one person claimed that they don’t work in a government agency and they don’t send sensitive information over email, so if a hacker wants to take their blueberry muffin recipe, they can go ahead and take it.

What’s interesting is what the study’s authors found when comparing those who had experienced identity theft with those who hadn’t. Those who have had an incident with the theft of their identity were much more focused on their online security.

To help the survey participants better understand their risks and to change their minds about internet security, study authors advise that those involved in technology and security must work diligently to help the people using the internet understand the dangers of lax security. They also must work to make it easy for internet users to do the best they can when keeping their accounts safe. It’s important for people who use the internet to make it a habit to remain more secure.

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.