How Your Username Can Be used to Track You

You probably have a few usernames, or you might have just one that you use for every site. Either way, your user names can be used not just to identify you online, but it can also be used to track you and find out information about you. How do people track you based on your user name? They do the following:

They Start with a Google Search

The first thing people do to track your username is do a Google search. You will be amazed by all of the information that is out there. However, Google is not the only game in town, so the best scammers will search on other search engines, too, including Bing,  USA.gov, various information broker sites and within social media.

They Then Move on to Social Networks

With so many people on social networks, it is a good possibility that a scammer can find you there, too, especially if they know the username that you use over and over again. It’s easy to find someone on sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram, and in many cases, this is a gold mine of information for them.  Once they find your account, they can do any number of things like save your profile image, and then do a reverse image source. This often helps them find even more information.

Don’t Forget the Blogs

Savvy searchers will also do searches of a username on blogging sites like Tumblr, Blogger, and LiveJournal. Unless your blog is locked down, and most are not, they can read them.

Do a General Sweep of Username Searches

There are other sites, too, that allow people to search by username. For example, you can search for a username on Spotify. This could tell them what types of music you like. They also might look on a site like Reddit, and they can see any comments you have made. They aren’t done yet, though…you can even search for usernames on sites like Amazon.com and eBay. As you can imagine, once they go through all of these steps, they can know a ton about you.

You might think that this is an invasion of privacy, but all of this information is totally legal, totally available, and totally free.

And many of you are TOTALLY putting it ALL out there!

If you put your information out there, it is there for anyone to look at and use as they will. So, consider changing up your usernames, and while you are at it, take a look at your accounts and content to make sure nothing there’s going to get you in trouble, and beef up the security options.

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.

Before Getting Rid of Your Old Printer, Say “Goodbye” to Lingering Data

In the security business, there’s a lot of talk about protecting your smartphones and computers from malware and viruses, as well as loss and theft. It makes sense. Most of us use our smartphones and computers on a daily basis and keep important information on them like passwords, user names, and credit card numbers. But there are other devices that hold sensitive data that we don’t really talk about. For example, printers.

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-keyboard-recycle-button-green-white-icon-image35645776Some printers have internal hard drives or flash memory that store documents that have been scanned. This means that images of your pay stub, medical records, credit card statements, or any other sensitive documents you once scanned are stored in the printer’s memory and therefore retrievable by someone who knows where to look for it.

Because these hard drives are usually hard to find, they are usually not removed before a printer is resold or recycled. That can be bad news for you if your printer gets into the wrong hands.

If your printer is nearing the end or you are upgrading to a new printer, make sure you delete that important data off your old printer.

How do you get rid of your printer’s data? There are multiple ways.

  • Unplug your printer for a while. This will delete data if there’s no local storage. Check your printer’s  user guide to see how long to leave your printer unplugged until the data is removed.
  • Clear the direct email function. If your printer has this feature, make sure to delete your password before getting rid of the printer.
  • Wipe the disk drive. If your printer has a disk drive feature, use the wipe disk to make sure your data is not accessible by others.
  • Destroy the hard drive. If you decide to trash a printer rather than reselling it, take it apart and find the hard drive. Remove it and hammer it. But remember, safety first. Make sure you wear those safety glasses.

Follow these tips and sell or recycle your printer with peace of mind, knowing that nobody will be able to retrieve your personal information.

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked!  Disclosures.

15 Tips to Prepare for Big and Small Security Threats

Businesses that focus on the big security breach may very well be missing the smaller threats that can do serious damage.

4HA human can easily kill a gnat. So how is it that just one gnat can drive you crazy, even though you can kill it in an instant? You are bigger and mightier … yet one gnat can get the best of you. That’s because you’re too big for the gnat, as it buzzes around your eyes, nose and in your hair.

This is just like when businesses implement giant measures to enhance security and protect themselves against big threats like hacking, or natural disasters like a tornado. The business feels mighty with its extensive video surveillance, steel bolt doors and armed security guards. Yet, it’s unable to foresee or handle the small stuff that can have dire consequences.

Some businesses make the mistake of focusing on only a handful of tactics and, as a result, other threats slip in undetected, or if detected, they’re not detected enough to be mitigated. Instead, all the business leaders can do is swat haphazardly, hoping to get a hit.

When businesses zoom in on only a few specific tactics, this results in a rigid plan that can’t adapt, and is useful only if the anticipated threat is precisely how it was envisioned in the first place. Concentrating on just a few selected risks means not seeing the bigger picture—missing greater risks that can come along.

Of course, you can’t possibly anticipate every possible threat. But preparing for just a few isn’t smart, either. What’s a business leader to do? Follow this list to prepare smarter.

Emergency Plan of Action

  1. Make sure all security and continuity plans are adaptable.
  2. Consider the human component, and work it in to the plan. Can IT’s brilliant plan be sustained by a person? Are facilities manned by one person or a team? .
  3. Cover all basics and implement regular updates.
  4. Don’t get sucker punched. Consider a variety of threats (from cyber sources to natural sources), not just a few, and the various ways your organization can respond and resolve.
  5. Be aware. Figure out backup locations for your business to function should you be forced to displace.
  6. Prepare staff. Designate a core team and keep their contact information handy so anyone can reach them anywhere.
  7. Communicate. Design an emergency communications protocol for employees, vendors and customers, etc., for the days post-disaster. Confirm emergency response plans with your vendors and suppliers, and prepare to use alternate vendors.
  8. Keep your data backup tools in excellent condition.
  9. Keep your inventory of assets up to date.
  10. Safely and efficiently store documents. Duplicates of all crucial documents should be kept off-site.
  11. Routinely make data backups, ideally both locally and with a cloud service.
  12. Determine succession of management in case key players can no longer function.
  13. Know the signs of a dying computer. A blue screen can mean a hardware problem or driver conflict. If things are taking way too long, there may be too much software … or a failing hard drive. Strange noises during startup, for instance, can also mean a hardware failure. Consider it your warning.
  14. Set up your backups. You can set up backup protocols with a program like Belarc Advisor, which is free and lets you know what to install and when it’s time to replace a computer.
  15. You may want to consider replacing your computer every two or three years to avoid being stiffed by a computer that’s suddenly gone stiff. Nothing’s more alarming than suddenly losing all your data, and there’s no backup computer that you can just turn on and pick up where you left off.

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.

Identity Theft Expert and Speaker on Personal Security: Frequency of Data Breaches to Increase before it Subsides

(BOSTON, Mass. – Jan. 17, 2007 – IDTheftSecurity.com) The number of data records left unprotected last year because of security breaches was three times the number for 2006, reports have indicated. Additionally, some technology-intensive firms believe themselves to be less than ready for security threats in 2008, new research revealed. According to Robert Siciliano, a widely televised and quoted personal security and identity theft expert, the frequency of data breaches will increase before it subsides.

"Organizations are caught in the cliché of a vicious circle," said Siciliano. "They have yet to learn the lesson that data breaches can happen to anyone. And until they do suddenly find themselves among the abstract ‘everyone’ because of a data breach, the majority of them will adopt an ‘it-can’t-happen-to-us’ attitude, which will of course lead to more data breaches."

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," on FOX News, and elsewhere.

Some industries have indeed grasped the enormity of the threat, yet still find themselves behind in preparedness despite their increased efforts to invest in security systems, a Jan. 10th news release from Deloitte on its latest research. The majority of technology, media & telecommunications (TMT) businesses, according to the announcement, "find themselves ‘treading water’…when it comes to security and privacy."

"The pace at which new security threats surface can be unnerving," said Siciliano. "It is not surprising to learn that some industries find themselves behind the curve even as they spend more and more money to solve the problem. But what they need to learn is that security investments are not one-time events; security must become a perennial activity with an annual budget and hired staff to carry out objectives."

Other reports suggested that TMTs’ concerns were justified. Last year saw more than a tripling of data records falling prey to security breaches despite a decrease in the number of breaches, a Jan. 11th article on the CNET News blog reported—from 50 million records exposed in 2006 to 162 million in 2007.

Readers may view YouTube video below of Siciliano on "FOX News," explaining how the ubiquity of Social Security numbers as universal identifiers helps thieves who get a hold of loose data records. Those wishing to learn how to protect themselves against identity theft, a major concern for anyone who has fallen prey to online scammers, 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, 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

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