Online users need a VPN (virtual private network), a kind of service that gives you online security, and Hotspot Shield’s service has a free version. A VPN hides your device’s IP address and interferes with any company trying to track your browsing patterns.
Many online companies take peoples’ data without their authorization, and then share it with other entities—again without the user’s permission. A virtual private network will put a stop to this invasion.
Thanks to the fiasco with Edward Snowden and the political messes happening in Venezuela and other parts of the world, many people are turning to VPN services like Hotspot Shield. When you surf the ‘Net on a public network (including using social media), your personal information is up for grabs in the air by vultures.
Why is VPN online security important?
Your personal data is out there literally in the air, to get mopped up by Internet entities wanting your money—or oppressive governments just wanting to snoop or even block internet access to the rest of the world. If you use your device when traveling, you’re at particular risk for suffering some kind of data breach or device infection.
The unprotected public networks of hotel, airport and coffee house Wi-Fis mean open season for crooks and snoops hunting for unprotected data transmissions. The VPN protects these transmissions of data.
In fact, Hotspot Shield was used to escape the prying of government online censors during the Arab Spring uprisings. This VPN has been downloaded hundreds and hundreds of thousands of times.
This VPN service comes with periodic pop-up ads and some banner ads for the free version, but the $30 per year version is free of ads and has malware protection.
What else does a VPN like Hotspot Shield do?
Users are protected from cookies that track where the users visit online. If your online visits are getting tracked, this information can be used against you by lawyers and insurance companies. And who knows what else could happen when tech giants out there know your every cyber move.
More on Hotspot Shield’s VPN
- Compresses bandwidths. All the traffic on the server side, before it’s sent to the user’s device, is compressed. This way users can stretch data plans.
- Security. All of your online sessions are encrypted: HTTPS (note the “S”) is implemented for any site you visit including banking sites. You’re protected from those non-secure Wi-Fi networks and malware.
- Access. Think of the protection as a steel tunnel through which you access the Internet.
- Privacy. Your IP address is masked, and so is your identity, from tracking cookies.
Hotspot Shield is compatible with iOS, Android, Mac and PC. It runs in the background once it’s installed and guards all of your applications.
Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.Filed Under: online security
Having been a home security expert for years, I am always amazed at how dumb criminals could be, but there’s always a homeowner they can outwit, such as in the case below:
A man burglarized two houses in Marshall town, Iowa, and then sold the loot on Facebook, says a story in the online Times-Republican. The genius busted in when the homeowners were on a holiday trip, making off with several TVs, DVDs, clothes, even small kitchen appliances.
Here are ways to protect your home from burglars dumb and smart, skittish and determined:
- Secure the garage. Many burglars gain entry via the garage. Make sure your automatic garage door opener, if in your car, is hidden from view. Always keep the door locked that joins your garage to your home. Often, this door goes unlocked, creating a weak link in home security.
- Have strong doors and locks. Exterior doors should not be hollow-core, but made of metal such as steel, or solid wood. Use a deadbolt lock, and never forget to lock all doors and windows when you leave and also when you go to bed.
- Don’t hide keys outside the house; even a dumb criminal will know to look under the flower pot or doormat. Leave a spare set of house keys with a trusted person when you’re on vacation.
- Use a home security monitoring system. The screaming alarm is a superb deterrent should a burglar penetrate a portal. All exterior doors should have detectors and motion sensors. This system should be linked to a monitoring center so that trained professionals can promptly send out help.
- Don’t advertise your vacation. A would-be burglar can learn you’re away by reading your Facebook page’s posts about your vacation plans. Crooks do indeed peruse social media sites for these kinds of posts. Keep your vacation plans as secret as possible. Put a hold on your mail or have a trusted person collect it. Put a vacation hold on newspaper delivery.
Follow these guidelines and they’ll make a big difference in the protection of your home from intruders.Filed Under: dumb criminals
With Wi-Fi, your data is literally in the air, up for grabs by anyone with the right tools. It needs protection from nearby users who may want to freeload off you (which can slow you down) or…hijack your accounts. You need encryption.
Wi-Fi Security Options
Varying security levels are provided by WEP, WPA and WPA2. WEP is not secure. WPA provides moderate protection. WPA2 is the best. But you can use both WPA and WPA2. Use the “personal mode” (for one or two users) of WPA/WPA2 with a long, non-dictionary word passphrase.
For more than a few users, the “enterprise mode” is suitable, but requires a server. It has stronger security than personal, and each Wi-Fi user has his or her own password and username. Enterprise prevents snooping and hijacking among your organization’s employees.
Personal: To enable personal mode WPA2 on a wireless router, create a passphrase on access points or the wireless router. Type the IP address of each AP or router into a web browser to log into the control panel of each AP or router. Then enable WPA2-Personal with encryption/cypher type by finding the wireless security settings. Create a non-dictionary-word long passphrase—which is required to connect to the Wi-Fi.
Enterprise: You need a RADIUS server to get WPA/WPA2-Enterprise going. A hosted service will set up the server if you can’t. Some APs have built-in RADIUS servers. After the RADIUS server is all set up, input a password (shared secret), etc., for each AP or router. Input usernames and PWs for your organization’s Wi-Fi users into the RADIUS server.
Configure each AP or router with authentication and security settings. Log into the control panel of each AP or router by typing its IP address. Find the wireless security settings; enable the enterprise WPA2 (“WPA2”). Enter the IP address; input the password (shared secret). Users can now connect.
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.Filed Under: wifi
Never underestimate the brains of a young guy who still lives with his mother—at least not the case of 19-year-old Luis Flores, Jr., who was smart enough to steal the identities of Kim Kardashian and even the head of the FBI, and assume their financial accounts.
Flores’ weapon was a flash drive loaded with private data from celebrities and politicians; he got into their credit card accounts and transferred thousands of their dollars to his bank account. He got nabbed finally.
Red flags raised when American Express reported some suspicious activity on a number of accounts, causing the Secret Service to investigate Flores and his mother.
Someone had phoned American Express claiming to be Kim Kardashian, knew her private information, then changed the account’s SSN to that of Flores’. The snail mail address was changed to Flores’ apartment’s. The caller then requested replacement cards.
The Secret Service questioned Flores and Kyah Green, his mother, about the cards but they didn’t cooperate. The Secret Service also discovered that Flores had a history of fraudulent behavior. Additionally, Flores had wired money from Kris Jenner’s account into his own.
It gets better: Authorities linked Flores to fraudulent activity involving Ashton Kutcher, Paris Hilton, U.S. Marshals Service Director Stacia Hylton and former FBI director Robert Mueller.
The flash drive was discovered in Flores’ apartment by the Secret Service. In it was the bank and credit card accounts, credit reports and SSNs of all the victims named prior, but also those of Bill Gates, Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, Beyoncé Knowles, plus other politicians.
How could Flores’ have gotten this sensitive information? A web site that was launched last year by hackers. It is believed the hackers got the data from legitimate sources such as information brokers who didn’t realize their clients were criminals.
The search of Flores’ apartment by agents didn’t stop him; he contacted American Express in an attempt to access the accounts of Gates, Kutcher and Tom Cruise.
Flores and his mother were charged federally; both pleaded guilty. This is one more reason to invest in identity theft protection or get a credit freeze.Filed Under: Identity Theft
Yes, you can protect your home without a gun. Having been in the security industry for many years, I have instructed homeowners on proven ways to protect their home without using a firearm. Here are proven ways to protect your home without a gun.
This stuff works. Just getting the mist in your face from it being carried upwind will make you cough and your eyes burn. Imagine what this chemical will do when sprayed directly into the face of a home intruder.
- Have a house sitter stay at your place while you’re on vacation.
- Arrange to have trusted people drop by occasionally as well.
- Use a monitoring firm that will send help if an intruder trips an alarm.
- If possible install flood lights, particularly near secluded portals.
- Employ a motion sensor that flips the lights on.
- Plant thorn-bearing brush under windows and other areas where a burglar might creep around.
Get a Dog
- Not only will the homeowner be awakened by even a tiny dog’s frantic barking when it hears/smells a stranger on the premises, but it will get the attention of neighbors. Many a burglar will flee when little Princess begins yipping like mad, let alone Duke.
- If the dog alarm goes off, call 9-1-1.
- Grab the baseball bat or golf club (that you have at your bedside) to prepare for possible defense.
- Don’t get ahead of yourself with swords or weaponry you’re not trained to use, or that look effective but can’t be swung in limited space.
- Arm your perimeter with a complete surveillance system.
- Security cameras, when detecting motion, can emit a siren or lighting that can alert the homeowner via a smartphone.
- Use apps that allow you to view your home from your mobile device.
- Install cameras inside your house as well.
Home security system
- A home alarm screams when you can’t.
- Home security systems call the police when you aren’t able.
- Home security alarms deter intruders who fear they might get caught.
If guns make you feel unnerved, you just learned how you can protect your home without a gun.Filed Under: home alarm system
Your private information may not be safe with your own mortgage lender, even a small one, says cybersecurity firm HALOCK Security Labs. The leak may occur when data goes from applicant to lender.
Seventy percent of the 63 U.S. mortgage lenders that HALOCK investigated allowed applicants to send private and financial data (like tax documents) as e-mail attachments—over unencrypted e-mail. Seventy percent also promote faxing sensitive data—not nearly as secure as encryption.
While more than 40 percent provided a snail mail option, only 12 percent offered encryption. Several survey participants, when the subjects were asked why they didn’t offer a secure e-mail portal, replied it was an issue of what the applicant was “most comfortable with.” (Certainly, who’d be comfortable with a leak of their most private information?)
While lenders place customer comfort ahead of security, they fail to realize that customers have been steadily losing confidence in their banks’ commitment to privacy.
Another consideration is whose comfort is really at issue? In a study, one former mortgage lender stated that it was a time hassle to explain to customers about secure portals; unprotected e-mail was quick and convenient.
But it’s well-worth the time to hassle with this, says security expert Graham Cluley. Regular e-mail, by definition, is non-secure.
There’s no shortage of methods to send e-mail securely. It’s just that they’re underutilized by organizations. Decision makers want to make things easy for customers, but this doesn’t have to be at the expense of their security.
Security measures that are customer-friendly exist. Bank customers are more demanding than ever for security, even though they usually do not understand about encryption. What bank wants a weak link in the form of a gaping hole through which customer data can leak? An ounce of prevention (secure portal log-in) is worth a pound of cure (identity theft).
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.Filed Under: Mortgage Fraud
Who would have ever thought that that marvelous invention, the smartphone, as well as your tablet and PC, would give you cause for concern about hiding from spies? And when I say spies I mean anyone who has a vested interest in your information whether that is governments foreign or domestic or a spouse, employer, marketer or just some freaky weirdo.
Easy Ways You Can Hide Your Data from the spies
- Use a VPN (virtual private network) such as Hotspot Shield VPN when online. This way your data traffic is encrypted—and thus difficult to detect by spies or any hackers, whether you use a phone, computer or tablet. Data transmission may still occur due to ads, but the VPN will put a stifling effect on it.
- Use Tor. You can hide from mass and corporate surveillance with a Tor installation—which the National Security Agency does not like—because it works.
- While playing games put your mobile device into airplane mode (which suspends data transmission). You don’t need to be online to play all games. Being offline means your personal data can’t be transmitted.
- HTTPS! Install HTTPS Everywhere, a browser plugin for Chrome, Firefox and Opera. It’s free, though currently not available for smartphones. HTTPS means security on the visited web site.
- Post on social media only when you’re connected with your password-protected, secure workplace or home Wi-Fi. And in some cases you may need to post via computer, not your smartphone!
- Hard drive encryption. A person who uses your computer or mobile will not be able to copy its data if you have an encrypted hard drive. Local storage can be encrypted on the latest versions of Windows, Macs, iOS and Android.
- Turn off cellular data connections. Unless you absolutely must know every single e-mail that’s coming in when you’re out and about, switch off the cellular data. Check your e-mail only when you’re on a secure network.
- Turn off the GPS and Wi-Fi on your mobile device. GPS, Wi-Fi and geolocation can pinpoint your location fast. Keep them off unless you need them (lost in the wilderness?). To turn off geolocation, start with your apps that take photos, then do the rest. Then you won’t have to worry about government agents finding you.
- Dumb down. Your phone, that is. If you’re really concerned about privacy, ditch the smartphone and use a “dumb” phone also known as a “feature phone”. Though even a simple cellphone can be used as a tracking device, it makes it hard for anyone to get your location and data since you can’t get on social media or play online games with a dumb phone.
- Never open e-mails with a blank subject line. Though your spacey friend may neglect to type into the subject line, a blank subject field can also mean a virus waiting to make its move. If the sender is familiar, send them a newly created message asking if they just sent you something with a blank subject line.
So there you have it: 10 ways that pretty much work to keep hidden from the spies and all other snoops.
Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.Filed Under: Hotspot Shield HotSpotVPN
Take home security seriously—before the break-in. If you’re up for a great DIY project, get going with home security.
Reinforce doors. What you see in cops and robbers TV shows is true: Doors really can be kicked in. But not if they’re reinforced with easy screw-on upgrades that can resist even a kung fu master. Start with a door guard plate. Next, a door jam reinforcement will replace the weak pine door frame with a steel inset. Of course, replacing a wooden door with a steel door would really add security. For an added layer of protection, install the Schlage Touchscreen Deadbolt to your front door. It is the only Z-Wave compatible lock to feature a built-in alarm system, producing warning alerts to homeowners prior to their home being breached.
Strengthen windows. A window with a smash-proof coating will repel a thrown brick or whacking pipe. The coating is a film that’s applied like a big sticker. A determined burglar may be able to crack the window, but the film will hold the pane in place, preventing entry.
Landscaping. Though shrubs can deter intruders, they can also shield them from neighbors if overgrown. Make sure that branches are trimmed. To add security, illuminate areas around bushes and trees with flood lights.
Garage. Never leave the garage door opener in your car exposed because thieves can get into your car if it’s parked outside…and you know the rest. One solution is a Wi-Fi garage door opener so you can control the door with your phone.
Surveillance cameras. The latest technology allows you to remotely view your premises. Your phone will receive an alert from these cameras when they detect motion or sound nearby; you’ll be able to see what’s going on in real-time.
Locks. It can take only 15 minutes to replace an old lock with a keyless one such as the Schlage Touchscreen Deadbolt. Its features ensure that your house is locked, and unlocking is a snap, all via a number code. Just assemble the lock and put it in. It’s rare to have to drill more holes.
Robert Siciliano home security expert to Schlage discussing home security and identity theft on TBS Movie and a Makeover. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.Filed Under: home security
Crime doesn’t pay—especially when you can’t read. A man in Chicago spent seven minutes disabling a lock on a local bars door, then kept trying to pull the door open even though a sticker on it said “PUSH.” Now that’s a dumb criminal, because even if he couldn’t read or didn’t notice the sticker, you’d think he’d try pushing at some point, no?
But video surveillance picked everything up. He even got as far as removing the door stopper. Unfortunately, something stopped his brain from working at that point and he didn’t think to push the door open. There was damage done to the door, and apparently, the would-be burglar is still at large.
Sometimes, the stupidity of criminals can be fatal, not just funny as in the case above. In San Francisco, a 16-year-old robbery suspect was killed accidentally by his accomplice’s ricocheting bullet. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing about a 16 year old dying that makes me happy. But here we have two 16 year olds who would shoot someone to death for an iPhone. Somehow the world seems less violent for the moment.
The teen and other thugs had surrounded a victim at night, demanding his cellphone. One of the hoods pulled out a gun, while the others ransacked the victim’s belongings. Nevertheless, the kid with the gun fired a shot at him anyways. Incredibly, the bullet bounced off the victim’s face and struck one of the other muggers, killing him onsite.
The tough guys immediately fled, leaving behind the wounded mugging victim and dying thug.
Fortunately, the suspected shooter, also 16, has been arrested.
This story sounds like good karma, but it would have been sweeter had the deflected bullet struck the shooter, don’t you think?Filed Under: crime rate
Tags: atm skimmers, atm skimming, Credit Card Skimming, Debit Card Skimming, skimming, skimming attacks
Skimming means more than just cutting fat off steak; it’s also when a thief obtains data from that magnetic strip on the back of your credit card (or debit or ATM card).
Skimming takes place at ATMs, taxis, gas stations, restaurants, retail stores—any place where an employee will swipe your card to make your purchase. A credit/debit/ATM card reader can be fitted with a skimmer by the thief. Or, the thief can skim your card using a handheld skimming device.
Next time you hand your card to a clerk, watch it very carefully. At one gas station, two attendants skimmed dozens of customers’ cards with a square-shaped device the size of a dime, then sold the stolen information.
There are several ways to skim this cat:
- An employee skims a card, then sells the stolen data, usually online on illegal “carding sites.”
- The skimming or scanning device can be tiny, hidden in the hand.
- Other skimming devices are superimposed on an ATM’s “mouth” to collect information when customers insert their cards. Thieves can then transfer the data via Bluetooth.
- Sometimes a scanning-overlay is placed on the keyboard to capture PINs.
- A less sophisticated approach is to record via tiny camera the customer entering the PIN.
- Thieves with only half a brain know to wear concealing attire when they collect these devices. They do it quickly since they know that banks can catch on quickly.
- These devices are also placed inside gas station pumps.
- Some of these crimes are perpetrated by organized groups, and the gas station ones usually come from Europe.
Make It harder for Thieves
Always use the same ATMs so that you might detect a subtle difference one day.
Use indoor ATMs.
Keep your eyes on your card after giving it to an employee, though this isn’t always possible when the employee disappears into an employee-only area.
Cover the PIN pad with your other hand when entering your PIN.
Finally, routinely check your credit card and bank statements for any unauthorized charges.
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.Filed Under: skimming