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Stolen Data Is The New Currency
Cybersecurity

Encrypt sensitive dataIf you rewind the clock back 50 years, the rich were those who had a big bankroll in their pocket.  This was before most of us had credit cards.  Debit cards were a nice idea and the concept of PayPal was a pipe dream.  Fast forward to 2013 and we all know that money is still power, but getting your hands on sensitive data seems to be the way to riches. 

Of course stealing secrets is nothing new.  The Romans were some of the first to invent rudimentary forms of encryption to send battle plans safely between troops.  If you are a spy fan, everything from James Bond, to Get Smart, to the latest television show The Americans, shows how important stealing secrets can be.

12 Shopping Tips for Cyber Monday
Cybersecurity Privacy

12 Shopping Tips for Cyber MondayFor those of you who prefer clicking for bargains rather than standing in line and fighting the crowds on Black Friday, this is for you.  Thanksgiving is probably a happy memory and a few football games are lingering in your mind, but now it’s time to turn your attention to holiday shopping.

Today is Cyber Monday and I think it’s a little easier on the feet and constitution than Black Friday.  I would rather go online and go after all the bargains, rather than waiting in line and fighting all the crazy people out there.

As with anything online, you need to take the good with the bad.  There will be a lot of great deals from reputable sites, but watch out for online scams.  Online scammers try to game the search engines with “legitimate” bargains. You search for a bargain and the link takes you to a site that looks legitimate. Check to see that it is a legitimate merchant before you buy anything.  Some are just sites with malware.

Act During National Cyber Security Awareness Month
Cybersecurity Data security

National Cyber Security Awareness MonthWe are more connected to people around the world than ever before.  Many of us depend on the Internet in our daily lives, from shopping at home, to paying bills, banking on our mobile devices to sharing information with friends and business partners across the globe.  Our growing reliance on technology reminds us that our digital infrastructure is not just a convenience, but a necessity.  Can you imagine your life without the Internet?

The most serious economic and security challenges we face are cyber threats.  This is not just true in the United States, but everywhere.  Economic prosperity and competitiveness in the 21st Century depends on effective cybersecurity and ensuring the safety of everyone online.  We live in a global economy and everything from power, to education, commerce and public safety relies on the Internet.

3D Printers May Be Stealing Your IP
Cybersecurity Insider threat

3D Printers May Be Stealing Your IPThere is a small revolution going on in the printer world.  It’s not the traditional world of putting ink or toner onto a piece of paper, but the ability to create a three dimensional object.  We’ve seen replicators in science fiction stories for decades, but now science fact has almost caught up to fiction.

3D printers work like an ink printer.  Rather than using ink, they typically use a type of polymer.  They spray a thin layer of the polymer and create an object layer by layer.  Think of it like building something out of Legos.  You add layer upon layer until you build your object.

These printers are now making it into the consumer world as hobbyists are very excited about producing replacement parts for devices or creating their own devices from scratch.  The recent Maker Faire in New York was awash in 3D printers.  These printers create the objects by using CAD files to guide them.  Many companies produce open source CAD files or those licensed under Creative Commons, so that anyone can print parts or complete objects.

Hackers Having A Field Day With Data Breaches
Cybersecurity Data breach

Hackers Having A Field Day With Data BreachesIn the last few weeks, hackers have been taking advantage of lazy security practices on websites.  In two incidents involving the adult entertainment industry, almost 2 million customers have had usernames, passwords, email addresses, dates of birth and other personal information exposed.

On February 11, 2012, Luxembourg based Manwin Holding SARL had a data breach that compromised 350,000 user records, including usernames, encrypted passwords and email addresses.  A hacker who said he is affiliated with the group Anonymous accessed an inactive forum to help enter some linked websites.  And when he got there, he found a bonanza of data.  A small sample was posted to the Internet and I’m sure hackers are having a field day as they sift through the information.  Based on what was leaked, it was possible to determine some users’ full names and country of residence.  Hello fraud and phishing!

9 Shopping Tips for Cyber Monday
Cybersecurity Privacy

9 Shopping Tips for Cyber MondayHopefully you ate all of your Thanksgiving holiday food and are ready to start your holiday shopping with a bang.  Based on reports I read over the weekend, Black Friday was a great success for the brick and mortar stores in the US. 

A lot of people started their shopping at midnight last Friday or got up to get in line for bargains at 4:00am.  As for me, I slept in on Friday morning and spent a great day with my family and friends.

Today is Cyber Monday and I think it’s a little easier on the feet and constitution than Black Friday.  I would rather go online and go after all the bargains, rather than waiting in line and fighting all the crazy people out there.

Think Before You Click To Celebrate National Cyber Security Awareness Month
Cybersecurity Data security Privacy

National Cyber Security Awareness MonthThe most serious economic and security challenges we face are cyber threats.  This is not just true in the United States, but everywhere.  Economic prosperity and competitiveness in the 21st Century depends on effective cybersecurity and ensuring the safety of everyone online.  Since more and more of us get our news, interact, do business and play online, it’s important to make sure things are safe.

October 2011 marks the eighth annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security in cooperation with the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC).  Even though this is a US initiative, the message is applicable to everyone.

How To Get Rid Of Conficker
Cybersecurity Data security

Computer WormFor those who have never heard of it, Conficker is a computer worm that targets Microsoft Windows systems and creates a botnet; a collection of compromised computers connected to the Internet, used for malicious purposes.  The good news is that the worm’s purpose is not to destroy your computer or its data.  The bad news is that it connects with other computers to create a large networked supercomputer that can do a lot more damage than just wiping out data.

Conficker was first detected in November 2008 and some estimates say it has infected anywhere between 10 and 20 million computers worldwide.  It uses flaws in Windows software and dictionary attacks on administrator passwords to propagate.  It typically infects computers and networks with weak passwords, unsecured open folders, unpatched software and no anti-virus running.  Since it is self propagating and very difficult to counter, it has been spreading like crazy for the last three years.    

Independence From Cybercrime
Cybersecurity

Independence from CybercrimeYesterday the United States celebrated Independence Day, which marks the day that the 13 original colonies declared their independence from Great Britain.  Many of the complaints were that the colonists were not treated fairly and their rights as English subjects were being undermined.

Back in 1776 mass communication was a slow process.  News took awhile to get from town to town.  Private correspondence took days or weeks to move across a state or country.  If someone stole valuable information, it was a slow process to get it to those that could benefit.

Today, mass communication is instantaneous.  The Internet makes sharing pictures, videos, audio and text a breeze.  The amount of information available to all of us has grown to staggering proportions in the last few years.  Stealing it is a lot easier today and moving it around to interested parties is very simple.

Today our digital rights are being undermined by criminal activity on the Internet.  We need to declare our independence from this tyranny and regain a sense of security in our lives.  Information security is not just for governments and big corporations.  It’s for all of us.

What To Do When Your Credit Card Is Hacked
Cybersecurity

What To Do When Your Credit Card Is HackedCredit cards and financial data are the currency of the realm today.  50 years ago a measure of wealth was a large roll of cash.  Today it’s credit.  Most of us use our credit cards for just about everything.  I use mine to buy food, gasoline, clothing, prescriptions, movies and everything I buy online.  So if someone steals my credit card number, that can put me into a world of hurt.

Recently Citigroup suffered a massive data breach where 200,000 customers had their names, credit card account numbers and email addresses stolen.  It’s unclear if the thieves got the expiration dates and CVC (card verification code) from each card, but the other information is still problematic.  If the thieves can’t use the cards outright, they can start a spear phishing campaign to target the customers.  Security experts are predicting that this type of crime will increase in the coming year as batches of credit cards stolen in the last few years begin to expire.

With the recent attacks against Citigroup, Sony and others, its very likely that you or someone you know was compromised.  So imagine my surprise when last week I looked online at one of my credit cards and noticed two very large charges for merchants I never heard of.