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Banks Need You To Be Responsibly Secure

Our culture deemphasizes individual responsibility. In my mind, life begins when you begin taking responsibility for everything in your life. Personal security is fundamentally your own responsibility and, while you may not be responsible for a crime happening to you, you are the one in the best position to prevent it.

In the last decade, as much as 80% of all banking has taken place online, a major change after hundreds of years of traditional banking. Online banking is all about convenience. It has become apparent that these conveniences of technology have outpaced consumers’ security intelligence. It is possible to secure systems in a way that will defeat most online criminal activity, but that level of security comes with inconveniences that the consumer may not be equipped to handle.

Doug Johnson, the American Bankers Association VP of risk-management policy, explains, “The banking industry wants consumers to monitor their online accounts for unauthorized transactions on a continuous, almost daily, basis. That’s because PCs and smartphones have become the online bank branch for a lot of individuals. The customer needs to really recognize that security is most effective when they work in partnership with their financial institution.”

While banks are fighting their own battles to combat fraud and account takeover, it is imperative that the banks’ customers adhere to security fundamentals.

  • Set your computer’s operating system to update critical security patches automatically.
  • Make sure your firewall is turned on and protecting traffic from both directions.
  • Always run antivirus software, and set it to update virus definitions automatically.
  • Use a protected wireless network.
  • Never click links within the body of an email. Instead, go to your favorites menu or type the address into the address bar.
  • Check your online bank statements frequently.

McAfee Identity Protection includes proactive identity surveillance to monitor subscribers’ credit and personal information, as well as access to live fraud resolution agents. For additional tips, visit CounterIdentityTheft.com.

Robert Siciliano is a McAfee consultant and identity theft expert. See him discuss online banking security on CBS Boston. (Disclosures)

Holiday Shopping: Beware of Unethical Online Merchants

We have all encountered a sales clerk who was rude, a customer service representative who was incompetent and an online purchase that went south. Even I’ve been scammed out of an entire order and spent dozens of hours trying to get a return on another.

But when it comes to outrageous and shocking, including threats of violence and outright fraud, this story takes the cake.  An online merchant based in Brooklyn New York retailing designer sunglasses, some counterfeit and some real, thrives on bad customer service, over charging, making threats, stalking and abusing clients into giving up the fight over what’s right.

The merchant prides himself on getting negative feedback on consumer advocacy and review sites such as Get Satisfaction, ComplaintsBoard.comConsumerAffairs.com, RipoffReport.com, Yelp and Epinions.

He thrives on – for example “DO NOT ORDER ANYTHING FROM THIS COMPANY. This has been the most horrific experience EVER. I have extensive knowledge of website management and customer service, and they pretty much break every rule imagined. They are a total scam

The strategy of negativity gets this merchants website ranked high on search when listed with all the different opinion sites. Google and other search engines often rank a website to show on the first page of search based on how many links point to it from other prominent sites. So even though all the negative links are pointing to the unethical site from opinion sites, it still ranks on the first page of search helping its sales.

Beware of making purchases on any website based on how they rank in search. Even a first page organic hit can lead to a scammy company.

Learn from others bad experiences. ALWAYS search “Name Of Company” in Google before you make a purchase. The review sites almost always show on the first page of search when “Name Of Company” has been blacklisted.

More on THIS STORY.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing scammers and thieves on The Big Idea with Donnie Deutsch.

Keeping Kids Safe Online

It is no surprise that cybercriminals are taking advantage of the Internet and the people who use it. The Internet is like a bad neighborhood with bad guys around every corner. Any parent with an ounce of sensibility should recognize that when your child is on the wild wild web, they are at the same risk as they would be walking through the red light district in any big city.

I’m not saying this because I want to instill fear and panic, I’m bringing this up because sex offenders, pedophiles, criminal hackers and identity thieves treat the online world as if it was the physical world and use the anonymity of the web and the easiness of approach to seduce your children into doing things they wouldn’t normally do.

The Secret Online Lives of Teens, a survey conducted by McAfee, reveals that tweens and teens are relatively clueless about online privacy. The study sheds light on this generation’s tendency to use the Internet in ways that translate to danger in the real world.

There always has, is, and will be a predatory element out there. Generally, most people don’t want to think about that or even admit that it’s true. Instead of acknowledging the risks, most people completely discount this reality, telling themselves, “It can’t happen to me or my kids.”

The good news is you can do something about it. As soon as a family member becomes active online, it’s time to educate them—no matter what age they are—about cyber safety.

  • Set up the computer in a high-traffic family area and limit the number of hours your children spend on it.
  • Be sure you have computer security software with parental controls.
  • Decide exactly what is okay and what is not okay with regard to the kinds of web sites that are appropriate to visit
  • Use only appropriate monitored chat rooms
  • Never log in with user names that reveal true identity or that are provocative
  • Never reveal your passwords
  • Never reveal phone numbers or addresses
  • Never post information that reveals your identity
  • Never post inappropriate photos or ones that may reveal your identity (for example: city or school names on shirts)
  • Never share any information with strangers met online
  • Never meet face-to-face with strangers met online
  • Never open attachments from strangers

Once you have established the rules, make a poster listing them, and put it next to the computer.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to ADT Home Security Source discussing Home Security and Identity Theft on TBS Movie and a Makeover. Disclosures.

Personal Security: Scareware Scares You In To Paying

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

Makers of fake anti-virus software force people to buy ‘scareware’. If one could have a favorite scam, for me, it would be “scareware.” My reasoning is it’s one of the few scams that actually gets through to me. My computer’s defenses are pretty good, but I still see scareware. They’ve even taken my blog posts and used my name to launch scareware in Google News Alerts. I have some criminal hacker’s attention and he created scareware in honor of lil’ ole me!

Web pages may be infected or built to distribute scareware. The goal is to trick you into clicking on links. After landing on a page, pop-ups bombard you and warn you that your PC is infected with an Ebola- like virus and your PC will die a horrible death with fluids running from all ports if you don’t fix it immediately for $49.95.

Shutting off this pop-up is often difficult and any buttons you press within this pop-up could mean downloading the exact virus they warned you of. BRILLIANT!

Studies show that organized criminals are earning $10,000.00 a day from scareware! That’s approximately 200 people a day getting nabbed. Some “distributors” have been estimated to make as much as $5 million a year.

What makes the scam so believable is there is actual follow through of the purchasing of software that is supposed to protect you. There is a shopping cart, an order form, credit card processing and a download, just like any online software purchase.

The software is sometimes known as “AntiVirus2009” “WinFixer,” “WinAntivirus,” “DriveCleaner,” “WinAntispyware,” “AntivirusXP” and “XP Antivirus 2008.” These are actually viruses or spyyware that infect your PC, or just junk software that does nothing of value.

Scareware programs are a threat to your personal security and online safety. Luckily, this is an easy fix. The best way to prevent seeing a pop-up for scareware is using the latest Firefox browser. Firefox lets few, if any pop-ups through. No pop-ups, no scareware. If you are using another browser and a pop-up –pops-up, shut down your browser. If the pop-up won’t let you shut it down, do a Ctrl-Alt-Delete and shut down the browser that way.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing ransomware, a form of scareware on Fox Boston. Disclosures