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How Employers or Parents Spy

Disgruntled employees act out in lots of ways. A guy I knew who hated his boss “played” on his work computer all day. The computer was strictly for constructing company graphics. But he installed all kinds of games and wasted lots of time. His boss never knew he blew off half the day.

2WCompany computers are obviously company owned, making it legally possible for your boss to spy on you. Employers can also figure out whom you’re speaking to on your company owned or sanctioned phone and for how long—with phone monitoring software—They can also see contacts, emails, texts, media and more. All legally.

An article on forbes.com notes that some companies sell and advertise such software in a sensational way (“Find Out WHO Is Making Up Normal Personal Calls”)—software that can automatically send e-mail alerts about phone calls made by employees. These include details such as frequency and with whom.

The forbes.com article then mentions another such company, that sells spyware for cell phones and tablets that’s “100% invisible and undetectable.” They usually call it monitoring, not spying, and point out that businesses have a right to monitor to “control their business.” And, frankly, they do.

However, most of these programs are geared towards and used by parents and spouses (spouses concerned with cheating) and parents, what with kids developing all kinds of psychological disorders with the help of cyberbullying.

And again, company monitoring is legal if this activity is in the employer’s contract. The monitoring must have a business-related reason. There’s a difference between “spying” or tracking an employee’s use of the company phone during times that employee is supposed to be working, and spying on his conversations with his ex-wife over the custody fight of their kids while he’s on lunch break.

Businesses need to strike the right balance so that employees don’t feel that their trust has been violated.

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

3 Ways We are Tricked into Cyber Attacks

So just how are hackers able to penetrate all these huge businesses? Look no further than employee behavior—not an inside job, but innocent employees being tricked by the hacker.

9Drecent survey commissioned by Intel Security reveals that five of the top seven reasons that a company gets hacked are due to employee actions.

One of the things that make it easy to trick employees into giving up critical information is the information employees share on social media about their company.

People just freely post things and tweet all day long about company matters or other details that can be used by a hacker to compromise the company. What seems like innocuous information, such as referring to a company big wig by their nickname, could lead to social engineering (tricking users into believing the request is legitimate so the user gives up sensitive information).

Between social media and the golden nuggets of information on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other platforms, hackers have a goldmine right under their nose—and they know it.

3 Key Pathways to Getting Hacked

  1. Ignorance. This word has negative connotations, but the truth is, most employees are just plain ignorant of cybersecurity 101. The survey mentioned above revealed that 38% of IT professionals name this as a big problem.
    1. Do not click on links inside emails, regardless of the sender.
    2. Never open an attachment or download files from senders you don’t know or only know a little.
    3. Never visit a website on the job that you’d never visit in public. These sites are often riddled with malware.
  2. Gullibility. This is an extension of the first pathway. The more gullible, naive person is more apt to click on a link inside an email or do other risky tings that compromise their company’s security.
    1. It’s called phishing(sending a trick email, designed to lure the unsuspecting recipient into visiting a malicious website or opening a malicious attachment. Even executives in high places could be fooled as phishing masters are truly masters at their craft.
    2. Phishing is one of the hacker’s preferred tools, since the trick is directed towards humans, not computers.
    3. To  check if a link is going to a phishing site, hover your cursor over the link to see its actual destination. Keep in mind that hackers can still make a link look like a legitimate destination, so watch our for misspellings and bad grammar.
  3. Oversharing. Malicious links are like pollen—they get transported all over the place by the winds of social media. Not only can a malicious link be shared without the sharer knowing it’s a bad seed, but hackers themselves have a blast spreading their nasty goods—and one way of doing this is to pose as someone else.
    1. Be leery of social media posts from your “friends” that don’t seem like things they would normally post about. It could be a hacker who is using your friend’s profile to spread malware. Really think…is it like your prude sister-in-law to send you a link to the latest gossip on a sex scandal?
    2. Don’t friend people online that you don’t know in real life. Hackers often create fake profiles to friend you and then use their network of “friends” to spread their dirty wares.
    3. Take care about what you post online. Even if your privacy settings are set to high, you should think that when you post on the Internet, it’s like writing in permanent ink—it’s forever. Because did we all really need to know that time you saw Kanye from afar?

All of us must be coached and trained to keep ourselves and our workplaces safe, and that starts with practicing good cyber hygiene both at home and at work.

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

Latest Russian Cyber Attack on White House a Boon for CISA

The Russians have come…again—in the form of hackers. Not long ago Russian cyber criminals busted into the U.S.’s State Department system and mangled it for months.

1DThis time, they got into a computer system at the White House. Luckily, this system did not hold any classified information, but nevertheless, the hackers got ahold of President Obama’s private itinerary. So it just goes to show you just what hackers a world away can do.

This isn’t the first time that the White House has been hacked into. Remember the attacks that were allegedly committed by the Chinese? These, too, did not involve sensitive information, but the scary thing is that these cyber invasions show how easy it is for other countries to bang into the computer systems of the No. 1. Superpower.

So President Obama’s personal schedule got hacked, and in the past, some White House employee e-mails got hacked. What next—top secret plans involving weaponry?

What the Russians may do next is of grave concern to the FBI. Perhaps the Russians are just teasing us with this latest break-in, and the next hacking incident will really rattle things.

Ironically, Obama had recently signed an executive order in the name of stomping down on cyber crime. Well, someone didn’t stomp hard enough, and the Russians, Chinese and everyone else knows it.

Obama’s efforts involve CISA: Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act. The Act would mandate that there’d be greater communication between the government, businesses and the private sector relating to possible cyber threats.

CISA is not well-received by everyone because it involves what some believe to be a compromise in privacy. This latest attack on the White House, say CISA critics, might encourage lawmakers to hastily pass the Act without first building into it some features that would protect the privacy of the private sector.

The chief concern, or at least one of the leading ones, of CISA opponents or skeptics is that of the government gaining access to Joe’s or Jane’s personal information. And why would the government want to get our private information? For surveillance purposes—that harken back to the efforts to increase cyber protection and prevent more hacking episodes.

The bottom line is that this latest attack by the Russians will surely add a few more logs to the fire in that lawmakers will feel more pressure than ever to strongly consider passing CISA.

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

Everyone is vulnerable to Attack

There’s the war on drugs, the war on terrorism, the war on cancer and the war on cyber threats. In fact, more people are vulnerable to cyber attacks than they are to the first three threats combined.

7WSo pervasive is this threat that President Obama fully recognizes that everyone is at risk. He even signed an executive order recently in the hopes of promoting the sharing of more cybersecurity related data between the government and the private sector.

Recently President Obama presented a speech at Stanford University; the attendees included government officials and leaders in the tech world. He admitted that the government is a bit befuddled over how to provide the private sector with protection from cyber threats. And don’t forget that many hackers operate overseas, making them tougher to track down.

Obama’s message is that it’s difficult for the government to simultaneously protect the public and not be intrusive into peoples’ privacy.

He referred to the cyber world as the “Wild Wild West,” but it sounds more like the Wild Wicked Web. But he likens it to the Old West because people want the government to play the role of sheriff.

With practically the entire world online (even people living in huts along rivers have computers), everyone’s a potential victim.

Obama has really been putting his foot down hard about this, having begun in 2013, when the so-called cybersecurity framework was formulated—a scheme that’s designed to enhance cyber security, and this protocol has been put in place by some major corporations.

But Obama hasn’t stopped there. In January he announced plans for additional protection for the private sector.

Nevertheless, many people, including business decision makers, believe that the Obama Administration isn’t moving fast enough. They want to see these plans in writing, but these executive orders have not been made obtainable, perhaps making some tech leaders feel that Obama isn’t taking things quite as seriously as he says he wants to.

Regardless, the onus of responsibility is on you good reader. Nobody is going to protect your device or data better than you. Keep reading, keep your devices updated and maintain your awareness of various scams because criminals are getting better and better every day.

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

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like the Holiday Shopping Season

The holiday season is in full force. Not only is it time to bring out the tinsel while jamming out to holiday music, it’s also time to buckle down on your holiday shopping. Have you made your holiday shopping list yet? Luckily, in the U.S., the biggest shopping days of the year are coming up meaning lots of shopping deals at stores on and offline to help you complete your holiday shopping list.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-online-risks-sign-road-banner-image34668294There are people out there who are really gung-ho about Black Friday—camping outside a department store the night before and fighting the masses for the half-price widescreen tv. That’s not really my style; I’m more of a Cyber Monday kind of guy. I just fire up my computer or tablet and start clicking and then boxes magically arrive at my house…well maybe not magically.

Online shopping is convenient for the holiday shopper. No lines, no braving the sometimes nasty winter weather, no crowds—you can buy almost anything and never leave your couch. Although online shopping is a great way to complete your holiday shopping list, you should take a couple precautions while online to keep your personal and financial information safe from hackers.  Along with avoiding the 12 Scams of the Holidays, here are the top 5 tips to help you stay safe while shopping online this holiday season.

  • Be wary of deals. Does that 90% off blowout sale of iPhones sounds too good to be true? It probably is. Any offer you see online that has an unbelievable price shouldn’t be believable. Beware of spam emails with links to awesome deals, as it’s particularly dangerous to buy on a site advertised in a spam email. I recommend using web protection, like McAfee® SiteAdvisor® provides easy to results to protect you from going to a malicious website.
  • Use credit cards rather than debit cards. If the site turns out to be fraudulent, your credit card company will usually reimburse you for the purchase; and in the case of credit card fraud, the law should protect you. With debit cards, it can be more difficult to get your money back and you don’t want your account to be drained while you’re sorting things out with your bank. Another option savvy shoppers sometimes use is a one-time use credit card, which includes a randomly generated number that can be used for one transaction only. If the number is stolen it cannot be used again. Using this type of credit card also ensures that a thief does not have access to your real credit card number.
  • Review the company’s policies. Look to see how the merchant uses your personal information and check to make sure that it will not be shared with third parties. You should only disclose facts necessary to complete your purchase and not any additional information about yourself. Also, check the website’s shipping policy and make sure it seems reasonable to you. You want to make sure that you understand all your shipping options and how they will affect your total cost of your online purchase.
  • Check that the site is secure. Find out if a company’s website is secure by looking for a security seal, like the McAfee SECURE™ trustmark, which indicates that the site will protect you from identity theft, credit card fraud, spam and other malicious threats. Make sure the site uses encryption—or scrambling—when transmitting information over the Internet by looking for a lock symbol on the page and checking to make sure that the web address starts with httpS://.
  • Only use secure devices and connections.  If you are using a public computer, information such as your browsing history and even your login information may be accessible to strangers who use the computer after you. Also, never shop using an unsecured wireless network because hackers can access your payment information if the network is not protected.  To protect yourself, do all of your online shopping from your secure home computer. When shopping at home, make sure all your devices are protected with comprehensive security like McAfee LiveSafe™ service which protects all your PCs, tablets and smartphones.

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.

5 ways Criminals hack your PC

Hackers are hell-bent on busting into the network of their targets. They are persistent—never giving up. When you build your defense against cyber criminals, it must be done with the idea that they WILL succeed. When you operate on this assumption rather than thinking that your anti this and anti that are all you need, you’ll have the best cyber security in place.

4DAnother mistake is to assume that hackers hound only small businesses or weak networks. The cyber criminal doesn’t care so much about vulnerabilities; he wants the goods. It’s like a burglar wanting a million dollars worth of jewels that he knows is stashed inside a mansion surrounded by a moat filled with crocodiles. This won’t stop him. It will only determine the dynamics of how he penetrates.

Yes, less sophisticated hackers will target more vulnerable networks, but there’s a lot of hefty hackers out there who aren’t intimidated by persistence. If cyber thieves want a goal badly enough, they’ll get into every nook and cranny to achieve their mission.

Hackers also determine ahead of time how the victim might respond to an attack. The crime ring will invest time in this, going well-beyond the intended target’s IT tactics. They’ll go as far as learning employees’ after-hour leisure activities. To make it harder for hackers to mine all this information, a company should keep things unpredictable like work routines and not embrace social media.

The hacker creeps around quietly, going undetected while spreading damage. To catch below-the-radar cyber invasions, a business should employ a system that can spot and stamp out these murmurs.

Finally, cyber criminals usually launch a secondary attack as a distraction while the major attack gets underway—kind of like that newsworthy operation of some years ago involving pairs of thieves: One would approach a woman with a baby and tell her the baby was ugly. This distracted her so much that she had no idea that the accomplice was slipping off her purse and scrambling away with it. You must anticipate decoy operations.

Remember, install layers of protection:

  • Antivirus, antispyware, antiphishing, firewall
  • Set up encryption on your wireless router
  • Use a VPN when on free wireless
  • Keep your devices software, apps, browser and OS updated

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to TheBestCompanys.com discussing  identity theft prevention. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247. Disclosures.

Majority of Executives believe Attackers will overcome Corporate Defenses

Many technology executives don’t have a favorable outlook on their ability to sideswipe cybercriminals, according to research conducted by McKinsey and World Economic Forum.

2DThe research also shows that both big and small businesses lack the ability to make sturdy decisions, and struggle to quantify the effect of risk and resolution plans. As the report authors state, “Much of the damage results from an inadequate response to a breach rather than the breach itself”.

These results come from interviews with more than 200 business leaders such as chief information officers, policy makers, regulators, law enforcement officials and technology vendors spanning the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Cybercrimes are extremely costly and the cost can hit the trillions of dollars mark.

Several concerning trends regarding how decision makers in the business world perceive cyber risks, attacks and their fallouts were apparent in the research findings:

  • Over 50 percent of all respondents, and 70 percent of financial institution executives, think that cybersecurity is a big risk. Some executives believe that threats from employees equal those from external sources.
  • A majority of executives envision that cyber criminals will continue being a step ahead of corporate defenses. 60 percent believe that the gap between cyber crooks and corporate defense will increase, with, of course, the crooks in the lead.
  • The leaking of proprietary knowledge is a big concern for companies selling products to consumers and businesses.
  • Service companies, though, are more worried about the leaking of their customers’ private information and of disruptions in service.
  • Large organizations, says ongoing McKinsey research, reported cross-sector gaps in risk-management competency.
  • Some companies spend a lot but don’t have much sophistication in risk-management capabilities, while other companies spend little but are relatively good at making risk-management decisions. Even large companies can stand to improve their risk management capabilities substantially.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to AllClearID. He is the author of99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures.

Cyber Security Insurance Difficult for Business to Navigate

Cyber insurance is now booming, with about 50 carriers in the industry. An increasing number of companies have cyber insurance to protect against cyber crime. However, businesses claim it’s not easy to get adequate coverage.

4DLosses from data breaches are difficult to quantify. The tangible losses are more easily insured, says a New York Times online report. When it comes to a data breach, there are often related losses such as reputational damage and loss of customer loyalty that are harder to quantify.

Add to this the fact that underwriters don’t yet have sufficient data to estimate the likeliness or cost of an attack; most breaches get missed or aren’t reported publicly.

While an insurance company can tell you the precise odds of a major city office building burning down, nobody knows when the next giant retailer will be hacked. Statistics on hacking risks aren’t constant due to the continuous evolution of cyber crimes.

According to New York Times estimates, companies seeking coverage can only hope for, at best, a $300 million policy, peanuts compared to the billions devoted to property protection. Though this still sounds generous, the cost of a major breach can easily exceed it. Target’s situation is on course for just that, says the New York Times online article. The 2011 Sony breach has already exceeded $2 billion in fallout.

The best policies cover costs associated with alerting customers, plus forensics, call center setups, consumer identity monitoring, legal fees and a crisis management firm. But that may only dent the disaster. Policies don’t address loss in profits due to customers jumping ship. A policy can’t prevent a marred brand reputation. “Although a solid cyber policy will cover notification, crisis management expenses, defense costs, damages and the costs associated with regulatory action, it would not cover other, potentially much larger losses, such as reputational injury and loss of brand and market share,” says Roberta Anderson, an insurance coverage and cybersecurity attorney with the law firm of K&L Gates, LLP.  “Those losses are difficult to value and remain uninsurable in the market today.”

Expect the cyber insurance industry to continue swelling while cyber crime continues to remain several steps ahead of businesses and security systems.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to AllClear ID. He 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. Disclosures.

What is a Backdoor Threat?

Did you accidentally leave the back door open? This thought can be scary because you know that leaving the back door open at home could allow someone to enter your home and take your personal belongings.

6DThe same is true for a backdoor in the computer world. It is a vulnerability that gives an attacker unauthorized access to a system by bypassing normal security mechanisms. This threat works in the background, hiding itself from the user, and it’s very difficult to detect and remove.

Cybercriminals commonly use malware to install backdoors, giving them remote administrative access to a system. Once an attacker has access to a system through a backdoor, they can potentially modify files, steal personal information, install unwanted software, and even take control of the entire computer.

These kinds of attacks represent a serious risk to users of both computers and mobile devices since an attacker can potentially gain access to your personal files, as well as sensitive financial and identity information.

Say, for instance, an attacker uses a backdoor to install keylogging software on your computer, allowing them to see everything that you type, including passwords. And once this information is in the hands of the cybercriminals, your accounts could be compromised, opening the door to identity theft.

Here are a few tips to protect you from back door threats:

  • Use comprehensive security software on your computers and mobile devices, like McAfee LiveSafe™ service, to protect you from malware.
  • Never click on an email attachment or a link sent from people you don’t know and watch what you download from the web.
  • Be careful about which sites you visit, since less secure sites could contain a so-called “drive-by download”  which is able to install malware on your computer simply by visiting a compromised web page. You can check the safety of a website before you visit it by using our free McAfee® SiteAdvisor® tool, which tells you if a site is safe or not right in your search window.
  • Only install programs that you really need, minimizing your exposure to potential vulnerabilities.

Make sure you don’t leave any back doors open. Stay safe online!

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.

Analyze Security to reduce Threats

A deep analysis into security (security analytics programs) unveils some riveting areas that need to be addressed if business users are serious about reducing threats of data breaches.

1DReveal data leaks. Convinced your business is “data leak proof”? See what stones that security analytics turn over. Don’t be surprised if the leaks that are discovered have been ongoing, as this is a common finding. You can’t fix a problem that you don’t know exists.

An evolution of questions. Analytics programs can create questions that the business owner never thought to wonder about. Analytics can reveal trends and make them visible under the business owner’s nose.

Once these questions and trends are out of the closet, decision makers in the organization can have a guideline and even come up with additional questions for how to reduce the risk of threats.

Connections between data sources. Kind of along the same concept described in the previous point, security analytics programs can bring forth associations between sources of data that the IT security team many not have unearthed by itself.

Think of data from different sources being poured into a big funnel, and then what comes out the other end are obvious patterns and associations between all that data, even though it was “poured” from differing sources. When “mixed” together, the data reveals connections among it.

Uncovering these associations is important so that businesses can have a better understanding of disparate segments of their network, various departmental information, etc.

Discovery of operational IT issues. Take the previous points a step further and you get a revelation of patterns and connections in the IT operations realm—associations that can help mitigate problems with workflow and efficiency.

In other words, an issue with IT operations could be something that’s causing a drain on productivity, or, something that’s not creating a problem per se, but can be improved to spark productivity.

Uncover policy violations. Analytics can turn up policy violations you had no idea were occurring. Not all violations are malicious, but once they’re uncovered, they cannot be covered up; the next step is to do something about it.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to AllClearID. He 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. Disclosures.