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Just One Day in the Boston Globe

Sometimes all you can do is shake your head and wonder how we have managed to get this far as a species. Scanning today’s paper I couldn’t help but notice the total mayhem that makes up one day of news. I bring this to your attention not to sensationalize or provide the “bad news” but to make you grateful for what you have and hopefully motivate you to go out and do something positive to help your community. It also might make you think twice about your personal safety.

October 6th 2010:

Hundreds mourn victim of Mattapan shootings

Simba Martin’s family huddled around his shiny, pewter-colored casket yesterday morning, their cries of grief filling the small red-brick church on Highland Street. Near the altar, a female relative shouted “why’’ repeatedly as she slumped in the embrace of a family member.

Death of Vt. woman is called a homicide

WATERBURY, Vt. — A body found in the woods Sunday by two bird hunters has been identified as that of a missing 78-year-old woman, and police called it a homicide yesterday.

Judge sets rules for N.H. slaying trial

CONCORD, N.H. — Three men who have acknowledged their roles in a deadly home invasion in which a woman and her daughter were stabbed and slashed dozens of times will be allowed to testify about the plot leading up it, a judge says.

Onetime serial arson suspect accused of setting office on fire

PLYMOUTH — A Brockton man who decades ago was a prime suspect in the torching of dozens of churches, VFW posts, and other buildings in the area south of Boston was accused yesterday of setting fire to a federal probation office Monday night.

Man allegedly stole more items from grandmother after theft

A Braintree grandmother’s house was robbed Monday afternoon, and police said that as they arrived to investigate, the victim’s grandson stole more items and tried to have a friend pawn them while blaming it on the original burglar.

1 student robbed, 1 nearly abducted

One Bay State College student was robbed and another was the victim of an attempted abduction in two separate incidents yesterday afternoon, police said. Boston police spokesman David Estrada said that at about 2:30 p.m. an 18-year-old student was walking out of a Subway restaurant on St. James Street when he was robbed by a man armed with a knife.

Man ordered held in statutory rape case

A 31-year-old Tewksbury man accused of raping a 14-year-old girl in August after sending her sexually charged text messages for a month pleaded not guilty yesterday, officials said.

Man sentenced for trying to lure teen

A Dorchester man already convicted of sex offenses against children was sentenced to up to five years in state prison and 10 years’ probation Monday for attempting to lure a 13-year-old girl who was on her way to school in 2009

Man convicted of killing three in 2007 Conn. home invasion

NEW HAVEN — A paroled burglar was convicted yesterday of killing a woman and her two daughters in a 2007 home invasion in an affluent Connecticut town and now could be sentenced to death.

Wow. Nuts! It can be a mad, mad, mad world sometimes. But being kind to someone takes less effort than being evil. Choose wisely. And please, think about home security and what systems need to be in place to protect your family.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing Home Invasions on Montel Williams. Disclosures

Home Security Tips When Selling Your House

Selling a home is a big task requiring lots of time and effort. Most people use a professional real estate agent to help them sell (which I recommend), but many today are doing it themselves. When opening your home to strangers the risks to your families’ personal security increase dramatically.

First and foremost recognize that when you are placing ads and alerting the world to come inside and take a peek, you are going to have to make a few adjustments and begin to think differently in this process.

Secure valuables. Lock up or remove anything that you don’t want stolen. If you ever suspect or see someone steal something, let them have it. There is nothing material worth fighting over.

Be suspect of everyone. There isn’t any benefit in being paranoid; however, being a little guarded can keep you from getting into a vulnerable situation. Don’t just be wary of a man showing up unaccompanied. Expect them to show up in a nice car, well dressed, maybe with a wife and kids tagging along. They might have a business card saying they are a doctor or a lawyer. Don’t let your guard down.

When placing ads, all advertisements should state “Appointment only” “Drivers license required” and “Pre Approval Documentation Required.” There are all hoops the bad guy may not want to jump through and you vetting out those who are “just looking” at the same time.

Use the Buddy System. When you set appointments always schedule around a spouse or friends availability so they can join you. There is always strength in numbers. If you have to go it solo, when someone walks in, say, “I’d be happy to show you the benefits of this home! In a few minutes my friend Rocco will be along to assist me,” creating the illusion of the buddy system.

ID and pre-qualify at your first meeting. When you are meeting at your property, get some form of identification. Also, it is to your benefit that a potential client buying a home is pre-qualified. Someone who is pre-qualified by a lender is less likely to be a predator.

Safe open houses. Spend a few minutes considering all the vulnerable points within the home and how you would escape if necessary.

Dress for safety and success. Don’t wear expensive jewelry. A $3-5 thousand-dollar diamond buys a lot of drugs. Dress professionally instead of provocatively.

Pay attention to your intuition. Trust your gut, and don’t discount any troubling feelings you might have about your new prospect. The moment you sense danger leave the house.

Install a home security system. Home security cameras and a home alarm system are great selling points. Install these way ahead of time for security purposes. During showings carry a remote control for your alarm system that has a panic button and can alert law enforcement if you run into trouble.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing Real Estate Agent Security on Inside Edition.

Awareness Based Security Initiatives

When something bad happens in a neighborhood, like burglaries, car theft or violence, the residents will often “react.” First thing they do is call the local home security alarm dealer, then a locksmith and maybe the local police to give a speech. For some, this may be the first time they lock their doors.

Reacting to a bad situation is often the catalyst that gets people motivated to take control of their personal security. People develop a sense of fear and make these security decisions not because they are security conscious, but because they are scared. While fear is certainly a motivator, it doesn’t always teach us a needed lesson.

The main problem with fear based motivation is eventually that person will no longer have the imminent fear and they stop locking their doors or setting their alarms. They may even start leaving their keys in the cars ignition again. Now they are as vulnerable as they were before.

Benjamin Franklin once said “To be safe, means never to be secure.” What Benny meant was that the moment that you believe you are fully “secure”, when you have the belief that you no longer need to be vigilant, when the awareness wears off and you think “its not going to happen to me.” Now your guard is down and you are a better target for the bad guy.

Always keep your head up, lock your doors, install a home security system and leave it on. If you think you live in a neighborhood where “you don’t need to lock your doors” then you are delusional.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing Home Invasions on Montel Williams.

If You Care About Privacy Don’t Do These 8 Things

I don’t care as much about privacy like some people do. My concern is personal security. If I was concerned about people knowing “me” stuff then you wouldn’t be reading this because I’d live in a cave in Wyoming with no Internet and I’d blow glass all day. But personal security is something I deeply care about. The following are both privacy issues and a little personal security in there too.

Don’t throw away anything that can be used against you. For privacy and security reasons consider how someone could use something in your trash against you. I never toss anything with a name or account number on it and I’m careful not to toss DNA related stuff either. And I know people are saying that’s crazy. If it can be planted at a crime scene its flushed.

 Don’t publish your phone number. Many data aggregators use phone company records to index you. Without a published phone number they have a harder time indexing your name associated with an address. My home phone number is under a pseudonym and it’s also under a business name.

Don’t allow your name to be searchable on Facebook or be on Facebook at all. I broke that rule. When logged into Facebook go HERE to change it.

 Don’t broadcast your location. Location-based services (LBS) are information and entertainment services, accessible with mobile devices through the mobile network and utilizing the ability to make use of the geographical position of the mobile device. Twitter, Facebook and others are getting in the game with LBS.  Carnegie Mellon University compiled more than 80 location services that don’t have privacy policies or collect and save all data for an indefinite amount of time. I see this more as a personal security issue.

Don’t post videos on Youtube that reveal your personal life. I have a business Youtube page and a personal. The iPhone has a direct connection to Youtube and it’s a blast taking video and quickly uploading. However, my personal page is under another name and all the videos are private. The only way to see them is to login.

Don’t forget to read privacy policies. I don’t like reading privacy policies because they are long winded and confusing. But not knowing what companies may do with your data is not good.

 Don’t use your real name as a username. I broke this rule a few hundred times. It’s a privacy issue when you don’t shield your name. It’s a personal security issues not to grab your name allowing someone else to get it and use it against you. Get all of them at Knowem.com.

Don’t put your name on your mailbox or on a plaque on your home. All the postal carrier needs is a street number. There’s no reason to plaster your last name on your home either. I see this more as a personal security issue. But there are certainly privacy concerns here too.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing Location Services on The CBS Early Show.

Most People Don’t Understand Cyber Threats

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

Michael Chertoff, who ran the Department of Homeland Security from 2005 to 2009, says there’s a reason that computer security isn’t up to the threat posed by cyber criminals: Doing it right is too complicated for most people.

“You have to offer people solutions that they are comfortable with,” he said.

Cybercrime is a huge problem that the majority of people who have a connection to the internet aren’t prepared to deal with.

While securing ones PC isn’t a daunting task once you understand the process. For most people, protecting ones PC is beyond the capacity of most computer users. The main issue is that the companies that develop this technology aren’t effective at explaining how things work in simple terms.

Educating users on the terminology is like learning a second language and for most people is near impossible due to life’s existing constraints. Which means technology companies have to do a better job of providing solutions that people are comfortable with that require little or no additional skills.

Here is an attempt at increasing your security vocabulary:

1. Run Windows Update: Or it may be called “Microsoft Update” on your PC. This is a free update to your operating system that Microsoft provides. There are two ways to access this. Either click “Start” then “All Programs”, scroll up the menu and look for the link “Windows Update or Microsoft Update.” Click on it. Your browser (Internet Explorer) by default will launch taking you right to Microsoft’s Windows Update web page and will begin the process of looking at your PC and checking to see what security patches you don’t have. Follow the prompts and click “Express” and let it lead you in the direction it wants. The goal here is for XP to end up with “Service Pack 3” installed. Or go to “Control Panel” and seek out “Security Center.” And click “Turn on Automatic Updates” and let Microsoft do this automatically. In Vista the process is similar and your goal is “Service Pack 1.

2. Install Anti-Virus: Most PCs come with bundled anti-virus that runs for free for 6 months to a year. Then you just re-up the license. If you don’t, then every day that the anti-virus isn’t updated, is another opportunity for criminal hackers to turn your PC into a Zombie that allows your computer to be a Slave sending out more viruses to other PCs and turning your PC into a Spambot selling Viagra.

3. Install Spyware Removal Software: Most anti-virus providers define spyware as a virus now. However, it is best to run a spyware removal program monthly to make sure your PC is rid of software that may allow a criminal hacker to remotely monitor you’re keystrokes, websites visited and the data on your PC.

4. Run Firefox: Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is clunky and the most hacked software on the planet. Mozillas Firefox is less hacked and more secure. Maintain the default settings keep the pop-up blockers and phishing filters on.

5. Secure Your Wireless: If you are running an unsecured wireless connection at home or the office, anyone can jump on your network from 300-500 feet away and access your files. Serious. The router has instruction on how to set up WEP or WPA security. WPA is more secure. If this is a foreign language to you, then hire someone or get your 15 year old to do it.

6. Install a Firewall: Microsoft’s operating system comes with a built in firewall. But it is not very secure. Go with a 3rd party firewall that is prepackaged with anti-virus software.

7. Use Strong Passwords: Little yellow stickys on your monitor with your passwords isn’t good. Use upper case, lower case, alpha-numeric passwords that you change up every 6 months.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing hacked email on Fox News.

Please Hack Me. My Password is 123456

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert


Is this you? Are you a hackers delight? Are you a lazy lima bean begging to be hacked? Recently, there were 32 million passwords stolen last month from a social media site. Upon observation, researchers determined 1 percent of the 32 million people it studied had used “123456” as a password. The second-most-popular password was “12345.” Others in the top 20 included “qwerty,” “abc123” and “princess.”

In another breach thousands of email addresses and their passwords were phished by identity thieves and posted in an online forum. Researchers parsed the hacked passwords and broke them down into categories based on their level of security. For example some of the passwords were very weak “111111” “123456” “1234567” “12345678” “123456789” made the top list. Many of the stolen passwords were people’s first names which of course could be kids, spouses, etc. Obviously, anyone who uses an insecure password like this is more likely to get hacked due to their laziness and less than sophisticated approach to security. 60% of the passwords contained either all numbers or all lowercase letters.

Beefing up passwords using a password manager is much easier. Combine uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as numbers and characters. Don’t use consecutive letters or numbers, and never use names of pets, family members, or close friends. Instead use the first letters of phrases: Full moons on Saturday bring out whackos @12am!: is FmoSbow@12am! That’s a strong password that no sane person will enter manually. But a password manager makes it possible.

I’ve tried every possible password manager on the planet. There is only one that I have found to be incredibly efficient and secure. Roboform. This thing works great. I have it on 5 PCs and the iPhone and they all sync automatically.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing Hacked email on Fox News

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

Apartment Security 101

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

According to the National Crime Prevention Council, apartments have an 85 percent more chance of being burglarized. Homeowner or renter, everyone has the same cares and concerns regarding their personal security.

As a landlord, or, as I request they refer to me, a Landdude, I make apartment security a priority for my tenants. We have home security systems, surveillance cameras, 400 watt sodium lighting on the exterior and a process in place where we watch out for each other. If I’m traveling, my tenants pay extra attention to my family and vice versa.

We have a schedule that involves locking exterior doors and making sure the property is secured. If a stranger is in the area or paying unwanted attention to us or the property, we call each other to decide what we may do in response. There’s always strength in numbers.

If you are looking to make a move and an apartment is in your future, make sure you do your homework.

While the landlord may interview you, you should interview the landlord. Find out what his/her processes are for security. What is their annual investment? What is their philosophy regarding apartment security? Do they even have one?

Does the landlord do anything in regards to background checks? What is the existing security at the property? Ask about lighting, cameras, locks on doors and windows and has he even changed the keys since the last tenant. What is the immediate neighborhood like? Are their local drug houses, etc?

Contact the local law enforcement and ask for a record of recent crimes committed. Get some statistics. Some law enforcement agencies will be more or less cooperative. You want to know about the prevalence of violent crimes, sex offenders and theft.

One of the most effective ways to get the pulse of the community is by buying the local newspaper. The police blotter over a one month period is telling.

Ask if you have permission to install an in-apartment home security system with motion detectors. This should not be negotiable. Wireless home security systems are non-invasive and not expensive.

Require a peep hole on your door.

If the doors are glass paned opposed to solid core doors, then your potential landlord isn’t concerned about your security.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures