How to Secure Your Home or Business On the Cheap

It doesn’t matter who you are or where you live, your home is at risk of being burglarized. According to numerous studies, in the US alone, a burglary occurs about once every 18 seconds, which equates to about 5,000 a day.

5WFortunately, you can secure your home or business against burglary, and it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. Here are 5 ways that you can get peace of mind on the cheap:

  1. Repurpose Your Smartphone
    If you are like most, you probably have an old smart phone hanging around just collecting dust in a drawer. For free or a small fee, you can download apps for both Android and iPhone devices that allow your smart phone to become a surveillance system with almost no effort on your part. Simply search “Surveillance app” in your devices app store.
  2. Speaking of Cameras…
    Of course, you can always just buy a surveillance camera for your business or home. These are often network cams and are easy to use and affordable. These low cost security cameras are often motion-activated cameras that sends a live stream and alerts to the user’s smartphone via the cameras app. Some of the features to look for include:

    • Night Vision
    • Wide-angle lens
    • Siren
    • Automatic detection of animals

    You can buy the systems at major retailers, and it start as low as $50.00.

  3. Set Up Some Tripwires
    Sometimes simple and traditional is best, and tripwires can really do a nice job of protecting your home or business, and you can get them for as little as $20. In fact, with a bit of ingenuity, you can even make your own. Some of them have a loud sound, too, similar to a gunshot, which will seriously scare anyone who is sneaking around where they shouldn’t be. These are low-tech and perfect for anyone wanting to beef up their other security systems, as a multi-layer approach to security is best. Search “trip wire alarm” on eBay or YouTube for all kinds of options.
  4. Get a Guard Dog
    If the traditional approach appeals to you, consider a guard dog. People have been using guard dogs to protect their property since the time of Ancient Rome, and one of the most popular breeds for this type of work is the German Shepherd, Doberman or Belgian Malinois. These dogs are large, strong, and intimidating, and you definitely wouldn’t want to cross paths with one that was trained to keep you off its property. Just keep in mind, whatever breed you choose, that you must get a professional trainer for the best results.
  5. Make a Pact With Your Neighbors
    One of the best ways to protect your property is to work with your neighbors and keep an eye on each other’s homes. For example, if you know your neighbor is going on vacation and you have more than one car, park one of them in their driveway. This way, it looks as if someone is home. You also should take their mail in because burglars know if there is a lot of mail in the box, the home or business owner likely isn’t around.

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.

Your Hacked Mobile Phone Number is Like Your Social Security Number

If you have a cell phone, and you use it in any way associated with accessing online accounts (and many do), you are putting yourself at risk of getting hacked. With only a phone number and a bit of information, which is easy to get through social engineering, a hacker can break into your personal and financial accounts.

5WThis works by getting information about you, such as your birthday, address, or even the last four digits of your Social Security number…information that is readily available…and then creating a plausible story to gain access to your phone account, phone and various online accounts. Once they have access to your accounts, they can change the phone number, get a new sim card and then change account passwords, and you will be unable to access the affected accounts. Below, you will find some tips to help you protect your phone number:

Use a Passcode

If you have the option to put an additional passcode on your phone account, do it. Though this isn’t foolproof, it will certainly help to give you some added protection.

Disable Online Access to Cell Phone Accounts

I’m not doing this, but some should. This might be frustrating, but it will further protect you. If you need to make a change, you can call or go into the store.

Consider Using Google Voice

Google Voice is a safer option for many, and you can even forward your existing number to Google Voice. This helps to mask the calls you make, which means no one would have access to your real number.

Use a Carrier-Specific Email to Access Your Mobile Phone Account

If you are like most people, your email address and phone number help you to access most of your internet-based accounts. Ideally, instead, you should have a minimum of three email addresses: your primary address, one for your mobile phone carrier only, and one for sensitive accounts, such as your bank and social media. This way, if your primary email is compromised, a hacker cannot access your sensitive accounts.

Ask Your Carrier for Account Changes

Finally, you can ask your carrier to only allow account changes in person with a photo ID. Though there is still a chance that a hacker could pose as you with a fake ID, the chances are much lower.

There are also some steps that you can take to protect all of your online accounts:

Create Complex Passwords

One way to protect your online account is to create complex passwords. It’s best to use a password manager that creates random, long passwords. If you don’t use a password manager, create your own password of random numbers, cases, and special characters. These might include “4F@ze3&htP” or “19hpR$3@&.” Try to make up a rule to help you remember them.

Don’t Tell the Truth

Another thing that you can do is to stop being truthful when answering security questions. For instance, if a security question asks what your mother’s maiden name is, make it up. Something like this is too easy to guess…just make sure you remember it!

Don’t Connect Your Phone Number to Sensitive Accounts

You also should make sure that you are not connecting your phone number to any sensitive accounts. Instead, create a Google Voice number and use this for your sensitive accounts.

Use Passcode Generators

Passwords are easily stolen via key loggers, which is software that records keystrokes. You can protect yourself from this by using a one-time passcode generator. This is part of the two factor or multi factor authentication process. These generators are wireless keyfobs that produce a new passcode with heavy frequency, and the only way to know the passcode is to have access to the device that created the passcode.

Use Physical Security Keys

You also might want to consider using physical security keys. To use these, people must enter their passwords into the computer, and then they must enter a physical device into the USB port, proving that they are the account owner. This means, in order to access an account, a hacker must not only know the password, they must have the physical device.

Consider Biometrics

Finally, if you really want to protect your internet accounts, you should use biometrics. You can purchase biometric scanners, such as those that read your iris, fingerprint, or even recognize your voice. When using these, you will be unable to access your accounts unless you provide this biological information. There are a number of devices on the market that do this.

Though these steps might seem a bit time-consuming, they can be the difference between keeping your private and financial information safe and getting hacked.

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.

How to protect your Mobile Phone from Hackers and Thieves

Let’s cut to the chase:

  • Regularly back up the phone’s data! If this is done every day, you won’t have to worry much about losing important information if something happens to the phone—such as a ransomware attack.
  • Keep the phone’s software and applications updated.
  • Delete apps you no longer use, as these can reveal your GPS coordinates and garner data about you.
  • Never post about your vacation while you’re on vacation.

6WBut there’s more:

  • Employ the device’s password-protect function (which may even be a biometric like a fingerprint).
  • If the phone has more than one type of protection, use both.  You just never know if the phone will get lost or stolen.

Public Wi-Fi

  • Never use public Wi-Fi, such as at airports and coffee houses, to make financial transactions.
  • Though public Wi-Fi is cheaper than a cellular connection, it comes with risks; hackers can barge in and “see” what you’re doing and snatch sensitive information about you.
  • If you absolutely must conduct sensitive transactions on public Wi-Fi, use a virtual private network or a cellular data network.

And yet there’s more:

  • Switch off the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when not in use. Otherwise, your physical location can be tracked because the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are constantly seeking out networks to connect to.
  • Make sure that any feature that can reveal your location is turned off. Apps do collect location information on the user.
  • What are the privacy settings of your social media accounts set to? Make sure they’re set to prevent the whole world from figuring out your physical location. This is not paranoia. As long as you’re not hearing voices coming from your heating vents, you’re doing fine.
  • Are you familiar with the remote wipe feature of your mobile device? This allows you to wipe out its contents/files without the phone being in your hand—in the event it’s lost or stolen. Enable it immediately.
  • And also enable the “find my phone” feature. You may have lost it inside your car’s crevasses somewhere.

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.

Eight ways to secure your employees’ mobile devices

Between half and three quarters of all employees have downloaded personal apps to company tablets and phones, according to surveys. At the same time, people are increasingly using use personal phones for work purposes like email, document-sharing and the list goes on.

2DWhat does it all mean? Companies must take extra precautions to ensure that sensitive data doesn’t get into the wrong hands.

Protecting your data

Fortunately, there are several steps that a business owner can take to protect the information on employees’ mobile devices. Here are some tips:

  1. Make sure all devices are password protected.
  2. Require all employees to use an “erase data” function after a certain number of failed password attempts.
  3. Make sure all devices used for business purposes have a “wipe” ability. This allows you to wipe the information on the phone remotely in case it is stolen.
  4. Make sure your staff installs any security patches or updates that become available. These are often published due to security vulnerabilities.
  5. Employees should only download software from approved application providers with solid reputations.
  6. Antivirus protection must be a requirement for Androids.
  7. Make sure employees are discerning about the websites they visit and the links they click on. Too many clicks may lead them to a malicious site that could put data at risk. This also applies to e-mail and text messages.
  8. Employees should know that Wi-Fi is not secure. This is especially true of public Wi-Fi connections. To help guard their information, consider using a virtual private network service.

It doesn’t take much to secure the info your staff needs to do their jobs. A few simple strategies can provide a protective shield that will keep your company’s information safe, no matter where employees find themselves.

Consultant Robert Siciliano is an expert in personal privacy, security and identity theft prevention. Learn more about Carbonite’s cloud and hybrid backup solutions for small and midsize businesses. Disclosures.

Smartphones for Kids aren’t such a good Idea

Maybe you believe that kids should not have smartphones because the devices can tell a pedophile where a child is located. But there’s other reasons that perhaps you haven’t thought of: cyberbullying, violent porn, online drug purchases, you name it.

5WSmartphones give kids ongoing Internet access; they can’t live without this constant connection because it’s the normality that they’ve grown up with. Children and teens are a product of their technological times and can’t imagine getting through the day without constant connection to the cyber universe.

An article in The Telegraph features a perspective from child psychotherapist Julie Lynn Evans. She points out that the striking increase in youth suicides and youth emotional issues (e.g., anorexia nervosa, cutting) is the result of constant Internet access.

Evans has personally seen the correlation; the driving force of the mental problems gets traced back to cyberspace and the smartphone. Remember the good ‘ol days when the only access that kids had was at the family room’s computer or even the one in their bedroom? You can’t carry that thing around.

Evans’ voice is supported by the big rise in admissions to child psychiatric units, having doubled in the past four years. Self-harm is way up too.

Though many people assert that the smartphone is only a tool and should not be blamed for suicide attempts or self-harming behavior, and that family dynamics are the fuel behind it all, Evans makes clear that smartphones are a big part of the multifactorial process of depression and turmoil.

Smartphones have changed the world; is it such a leap that they can cause the rise in youth psychological problems? Especially when the bullies can follow their targets anywhere? And it’s not just bullying; there are websites that, for instance, give tips on being anorexic.

Kids under 16 can’t legally drive, but they’ll always have legal access to smartphones. It’s up to parents to set rules and have conversations. At the same time, parents must take some credit for bad outcomes: A 14-year-old girl from a stable homelife isn’t going to take advice on how to drop from 110 pounds to 70 pounds just because her smartphone can connect her to a “pro-ana” website.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Is your Phone being tracked?

The owner of your favorite restaurant may be tracking your every move—via your smartphone. Not because he’s a snoop, but because he believes knowing when and where you go for entertainment will benefit his business.

5WAnd how did he pull this caper off? There’s are companys out there, that place sensors in businesses within a confined location to track shoppers as they ambulate about town.

The sensors track signals emitted from Wi-Fi-enabled mobiles. The mobile-user’s movements in daily life create a profile of that user. Gee, how invasive is that?

The business owners with these sensors justify the invasion by using the profile knowledge to promote their business. But are you cool with that?

Another sensor technology analyzes actual foot traffic patterns onsite. Large retailers you visit sometimes have these sensors, following your every move in the store. They might know if you are pregnant, have the flu or have a hot date that night. They will send you offers based on your needs. Some say this is kinda creepy.

It’s a booming business: tracking peoples’ daily movement patterns via their smartphone. But you can relax somewhat, because this technology does not reveal any names, just movement patterns. Still, it’s something you should be aware of.

But don’t relax too much, because some of these same services will run free Wi-Fi services on site or at local coffee shops and restaurants that people can log into with Facebook—doing so will reveal their name, age and social media profile.

Phone tracking is a godsend to business owners, however, because they can create promotions based on profiles: E.g., upon learning that most clientele are over age 50, a health club might decide to play mostly ‘70s music.

Nevertheless, as phone tracking booms, privacy concerns also boom. Do you want someone to track all your doctor visits, then sell this data to marketers based on what disease the tracking profile thinks you have? This seems to be where it’s all headed.

Companies in the U.S. still are not required to get your permission to collect and share your data for the most part. But you just never know what may come next.

Some helpful Information

  • Do you know what your cellphone carrier knows—about you? Because your phone sends signals to cell towers, your carrier knows your location. Phone companies sell this information to retailers and other entities.
  • The recent Apple iOS7 update launched a little known feature that tracks your every move. You might want to turn it off. Go to Settings/Privacy/Location Services then scroll all the way down to the bottom to “System Services” and scroll all the way down to “Freqent Locations” and check it out. It knows your History! Turn that puppy off!
  • One option is to turn the Wi-Fi off on your phone. It doesn’t have to be on when you’re driving from the gym to the donut shop to the computer store.
  • A better option is to download and install Hotspot Shield VPN that encrypts your wireless internet and surfing activities.
  • An iPhone has more settings in “Settings/Privacy/Location Services” that control which apps can monitor your location. Determine which ones you want on. Think “minimize my footprint”
  • Android users should turn off location tracking.
  • Like to take photos with your mobile? Guess what: iPhone saves the location where you took the shots, which is no secret once you post the photos on FB, Twitter, Instagram, etc. This isn’t such a good idea. Shutting down location based apps will help here too.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.

Next Steps in Wearable Tech

Tech devices are rapidly evolving from those you carry around with you in a pocket to those you wear on an arm, and they seem to be getting smaller and smaller. We have the laptop as the progenitor, culminating in the smartphone and tablet.

7DAnd beyond: Google Glass, a computer you wear, freeing your hands, that can connect to the Internet via voice commands. The “smartwatch” is now in the works. Plus, there are little fitness gadgets you can wear that record vital data including number of steps taken in a day.

Inspiration for an Invention

Isabel Hoffman’s daughter, 14, became very sick after moving to America from Europe. Doctors couldn’t diagnose her.

Hoffman, an entrepreneur, then took her daughter to Dr. Neil Nathan, who diagnosed the teen with toxicity to the mold Aspergillus penicillium. A house mold test confirmed this. The Hoffmans moved, and the girl was put on a gluten free diet, since the toxicity causes gluten intolerance, and her health was restored.

Hoffman wondered how many other people suffer with unexplained ailments. So she, with a partner who’s a mathematician, created a handheld device: TellSpec.

Point it at or hold near an object, including food, and it transmits ingredient information to its smartphone app and displays the data.

Have celiac disease? Scan foods with TellSpec to see if they have gluten. Allergic to soy or simply want to avoid it? Hover the device, which is smaller than a mobile, near the food to get your readout on your smartphone.

TellSpec also supplies information about potential health issues with the ingredient. Sounds like “Star Trek,” but this device will be on the market August 2014.

How Wearable Technology will save Lives

  • Can identify substances in foods that can literally kill a person with an allergy, such as peanuts, or harm a person, such as gluten.
  • Can identify sugar content: valuable for diabetics.
  • Can identify toxins in water and walls.
  • Current wearable devices can track blood pressure, heart rate and other vitals: data that not only is helpful to fitness conscious people, but those with medical conditions.

Robert Siciliano, is a personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto and author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! . Disclosures For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.

Identity Theft Expert and Speaker on Personal Security: Phone Scams a Concern for Consumers, Voters, and Even Businesses Themselves

(BOSTON, Mass. – Nov. 19, 2007 – IDTheftSecurity.com) Last week reports indicated that John McCain’s campaign asked the New Hampshire attorney general to explore an alleged phone call scam related to the presidential primary there. Robert Siciliano, a widely televised and quoted personal security and identity theft expert, said phone scammers target many demographics. According to Siciliano, consumers, banks, and others must beware of phone scams designed to extract sensitive financial information from those called or in other ways to take advantage of unsuspecting victims.

“The phone is a form of communication fraught with susceptibilities to fraud and other less-than-scrupulous activities,” said Siciliano. “Consumers, voters, and even entire institutions and organizations must take steps to minimize their risk of getting duped by phone scammers.”

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. An experienced 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.

On Nov. 16, the Associated Press reported that campaign officials for John McCain, the Republican Senator from Arizona running for president, had asked the New Hampshire attorney general to investigate what the article described as phone calls to voters from those who “[were pretending] to be polls but raise[d] questions about rival candidate Mitt Romney and his Mormon faith — and [were making] favorable statements about McCain.” The report went on to attribute these alleged calls (known as “push polling”) to a professional phone bank based in Utah.

“Never assume a supposedly official phone call indeed is,” said Siciliano. “No matter whom or what the caller professes to represent, the whole thing could be illegitimate.”

Siciliano said misleading phone calls can be a tool for fraudsters. Following are two of many phone scams that have taken place in November alone:

• On Nov 8, the Joliet, Ill.-based Herald News reported that residents in an area the publication covers had contacted police about phone calls that, evidently, were made by inmates of a nearby prison. The perpetrators allegedly encouraged those they called to dial a phone number that began with star (*) 72, the code that engages most phones’ call-forwarding feature. This gained the scammers access to the victims’ phones to make calls by proxy, incurring no charges themselves.

• “KTVZ News Channel 21” reported on Nov. 9 that phone scammers operating out of Iowa with an 888-number and purporting to be representatives of, alternately, Bank of the Cascades or U.S. Bank had called “hundreds if not thousands of Central Oregonians” in attempts to obtain the targets’ sensitive financial information. The scam, according to the report, prompted many to alert law enforcement authorities and the banks involved.

“Anyone who suspects that he or she has been the target of a phone scammer must watch for the possible consequences,” said Siciliano. “These include identity theft and fraud, not to mention the potential of being stalked. Report any strange phone activity to the authorities.”

Readers may view YouTube video below of Siciliano on “FOX News,” explaining how the ubiquity of Social Security numbers as universal identifiers helps thieves. Those wishing to learn how to protect themselves against identity theft may view 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 “The Today Show,” CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, “FOX News,” “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 Forbes, USA Today, Entrepreneur, Woman’s Day, 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, blog, and YouTube page.

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

The media may also contact:

Brent W. Skinner
President & CEO of STETrevisions
PHONE: 617-875-4859
FAX: 866-663-6557
BrentSkinner@STETrevisions.biz
www.STETrevisions.biz