Home + Mobile

Cyber News Rundown: Big Data Mismanagement

Massive Customer Database Left Exposed by Data Management Firm A security researcher recently found a database containing customer information for nearly half a billion users of Veeam software on an unsecured AWS server. Most of the data was contact information...

EICAR – The Most Common False Positive in the World

If you saw a file called eicar.com on your computer, you might think it was malware. But, you would be wrong. Readers, if you haven’t yet met the EICAR test file, allow me to introduce you to it. If you have used the EICAR test file, let’s get a bit cozier with it. If...

Crime and Crypto: An Evolution in Cyber Threats

Cybercriminals are constantly experimenting with new ways to take money from their victims. Their tactics evolve quickly to maximize returns and minimize risk. The emergence of cryptocurrency has opened up new opportunities to do just that. To better understand...

3 Cyber Threats IT Providers Should Protect Against

With cybercrime damages set to cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021, a new bar has been set for cybersecurity teams across industries to defend their assets. This rings especially true for IT service providers, who are entrusted to keep their clients’ systems...

Creating Strong Passwords on World Password Day

Reading Time: ~2 min.

Update: World Password Day will officially be observed on May 3, 2018. While the the rules for creating tough-to-crack passwords remain true, additional layers of password security such as two-factor authentication and password manager tools are giving users even stronger security for their online accounts. Follow the advice below and have some fun crafting strong passwords to keep you safe online in 2018.

We’ve heard the same advice over and over when it comes to passwords—make it strong. But how many of us actually follow this advice? Would you believe that some of the most popular passwords are still “password”, “123456”, “qwerty”, and “abc123”? For World Password Day, we’ve want to offer a few tips to make sure your passwords are up to snuff.

Tips for securing passwords
  1. Create a strong password that uses numbers, caps, and special characters
  2. Use unique passwords for each account
  3. Enable two-factor authentication
  4. Set up a secure password manager

You’re probably thinking “it’s hard to remember multiple strong passwords.” To help you out, here’s how you can choose something easy to remember, but hard to crack.

  1. Start with your favorite song, movie, or book. Use the first letter of each word. So, if your jam is “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”, that would make it “Gotgv2”.
  2. You could then increase the complexity by changing out any vowels with numbers. That makes it “G0tgv2”.
  3. Now add a special character, such as “!” or “$”. Your password would now be “G0tgv2!”.
  4. Turn it into a passphrase for good measure. Something like  “G0t7gv2! is my jam!”.
  5. Make sure it’s at least 16 letters long. This one is, but you may need to add another number or symbol to make the password long enough.

If this is still too much to remember, you can use the first letter of one of your favorite phrases from a song, movie, or book until you reach 12 or so characters, mix up capitalization, then add in a few special characters.

Otherwise, go with option 4 from my original list: get yourself a password manager. There are a number of free and low-cost password manager applications out there, which will generate and store secure passwords for all of your accounts. Many Webroot subscribers already have one, depending on their Webroot subscription type.

Note: If you do use this option, you will still need a strong password for the password management program itself.

Mobile reminder

If you don’t have a password on your mobile phone or tablet, you should reread part about following security advice. Most smartphones offer the option of a 4-digit PIN or a pattern. When creating your PIN, be sure to use a unique string of numbers, and one that isn’t easy to guess (e.g. don’t use your birthday.)

Join Webroot and hundreds of other organizations worldwide on May 4th to take the pledge to build stronger password habits.

7 dangerous subject lines

Reading Time: ~3 min.

Email attacks are the most common methods for initiating ransomware and phishing scams. Attackers want you to open an infected attachment or click a malicious link, and unwittingly download malware to your machine. But you can avoid such attacks by being patient, checking email addresses, and being cautious of sketchy-sounding subject lines.

Cybersmart - dangerous subject lines

7 dangerous subject lines to avoid

Cybercriminals initiate their attacks through hyperlinks or attachments within emails. Most of these attacks use urgency or take advantage of user trust and curiosity to entice victims to click. Here are examples of subject lines to be cautious of.

  1. Remember me? It’s Tim Timmerson from Sunnytown High! Criminals use social engineering tactics to find out the names of the people close to you. They may also hack a friend or relative’s email account and use their contact lists as ammo. Next, they research and impersonate someone you know, or used to know, through chats and emails. Not quite sure about a message you received? Hover your mouse over the sender address (without clicking) to see who the real sender is.
  2. Online Banking Alert: Your Account will be Deactivated. Imagine the sense of urgency this type of subject line might create. In your panicked rush to find out what’s going on with your account, you might not look too closely at the sender and the URL they want you to visit. At the end of March, a Bank of America email scam just like this was successfully making the rounds. Initially, the email looked completely legitimate and explained politely that a routine server upgrade had locked the recipient out of their account. At this point, when clicking the link to update their account details, an unsuspecting victim would be handing their login credentials and banking information over to cybercriminals.
  3. USPS: Failed Package Delivery. Be wary of emails saying you missed a package, especially if they have Microsoft Word documents attached. These attacks use the attachments to execute ransomware payloads through macros. Senior Threat Research Analyst Tyler Moffitt walks us through what it’s like to get hit with a ransomware payload from a USPS phishing email.
  4. United States District Court: Subpoena in a civil case. Another common phishing attack imitates government entities and may try to tell you that you’re being subpoenaed. The details and court date are, of course, in the attachment, which will deliver malware.
  5. CAMPUS SECURITY NOTIFICATION: Phishing attacks have been targeting college students and imitating official university emails. Last month, officials at The University of North Carolina learned of an attack on their students that included a notification email stating there was a security situation. The emails were coming from a non-uncg.edu address and instructed users to “follow protocols outlined in the hyperlink”. Afterward, the attacker would ask victims to reset their password and collect their sensitive information.
  6. Ready for your beach vacay? Vacation scams offer great deals or even free airfare if you book RIGHT NOW. These scams are usually accompanied by overpriced hotel fees, hidden costs, timeshare pitches that usually don’t pan out, and even the theft of your credit card information. Check the legitimacy of offers by hovering over links to see the full domain, copy and pasting links into a notepad to take a closer look, and by researching the organization.
  7. Update your direct deposit to receive your tax refund. The IRS warns of last minute email phishing scams that take advantage of everyone’s desire for hard-earned refunds and no doubt, their banking credentials.

Read between the lines

Help us create awareness in the community around scams and phishing attacks with dangerous subject lines. From here on, education should be top of mind as our community begins to adopt safer online habits. Share this blog with your friends and family or get in on the #CyberSmart conversation by sharing a Tweet.

Celebrate World Backup Day the Smarter Way

Reading Time: ~2 min.

Don’t wait for a system failure, ransomware attack, or for your laptop to be stolen before you start thinking about backing up your data.

Why back up?

According to a 2016 study by Acronis, 1 in 3 people have suffered data loss and are willing to pay up to $500 or more to recover lost files. Your data and important files are undoubtedly worth a lot to you, but—realistically speaking—just how much are you willing (or even able) to shell out?

With the increase in ransomware and sophisticated attacks, you can’t afford NOT to back up your files and sensitive data. Being proactive with your backup can help save your favorite vacation photos, videos of your kid’s first piano recital, not to mention sensitive information that could cost you thousands by itself.

In an effort to help the community be more cyber aware, WorldBackupDay.com celebrates on March 31st not only as a day for backing up your personal data, but a day for preserving our increasingly digital heritage for future generations.

World Backup Day

How to effectively back files up to prevent data loss:

  • Choose a secure backup solution. Whether it’s a cloud-based service or an external hard drive, do your research and choose what’s right for you.
  • Implement a backup schedule that covers your preferred data through your cloud solution or external drive.
  • Set reminders to ensure that your backups are running regularly and that they haven’t encountered any errors.

I’ve backed up my data. Now what? How do I avoid a ransomware attack?

“Throughout 2016 and likely into 2017, the Office document macro infection into encrypting ransomware was quite common. By disabling macros completely in the trust center (free and easy to do) you will completely remove this attack vector from posing a threat to you or your organization.” –Tyler Moffitt, Senior Threat Research Analyst

Take the Pledge

Hop on the World Backup Day bandwagon. Share a Tweet to help keep yourself, your friends, and your family protected from ransomware attacks, stolen devices, and system failure.

It’s easy. Repeat after me.

“I solemnly swear to backup my important documents and precious memories on March 31st.”

Ransomware: a Modern Threat to Public Safety

Reading Time: ~2 min.

Ransomware authors are pivoting their attacks from individuals to government entities and health care institutions, causing a threat to public safety. Traditionally, crypto ransomware targeted individuals and encrypted their personal data and files as a form of extortion for hundreds of dollars. Ransomware has evolved to target businesses and government agencies for much larger financial gains.

The cost of ransomware

There are countless news stories of hospitals and other institutions being shut down by ransomware. We have been seeing an increase in attacks on government entities, including counties and police departments.

A small Ohio town experienced a ransomware attack earlier this year that shut down county government offices and 911 dispatch. This slowed their emergency response but luckily they were still able to respond to emergency 911 calls.

The financial costs to these organizations are also a concern and they’ve been steadily increasing as crypto ransomware continues to evolve.

The FBI estimated that cybercriminals would collect over $1 billion in ransoms during 2016.

In reality, the actual losses suffered by organizations are much higher due to the disruption of productivity and when government entities and police departments are increasingly being targeted, public safety becomes an issue.

An issue of public safety

Ransomware attacks targeting hospitals are increasing, crippling critical infrastructure and exposing or hindering Electronic Health Records (EHR). When these records are impacted, it causes patient care to be hindered or halted. As more organizations implement connected medical devices and allow employees to bring their own devices to work, access points for unauthorized users are left open.

A 2016 study by Peak 10 found that only 47% of current healthcare organizations have implemented advanced malware protection and only 57% have implemented an encrypted network.

Earlier this year, an attack on police CCTV cameras in Washington D.C. crippled the city’s surveillance system and forced major citywide reinstallation. Although this attack was an extortion effort, it makes you wonder how similar attacks will be used to cripple government emergency response and how cyberattack methods are evolving.

Once ransomware hits a police department’s system, the damage can be catastrophic if mitigation methods aren’t in place. Attacks cripple dispatch systems and patrol car computers, slow police response time, expose records, and create an unsafe environment for officers in inmate holding areas.

What the government is doing about it

Ransomware and other cyberattacks on government operations are a real issue of public safety and steps need to be taken to improve response time to such attacks. The FBI recommends taking prevention and continuity measures to lessen the risk from ransomware attacks.

  • Back up your data locally or in the cloud
  • Secure backups and keep them on scheduled updates
  • Do not open attachments in unsolicited emails
  • Keep your operating system, software, and firmware up-to-date
  • Ensure antivirus and antimalware solutions are set to automatically scan and update
  • Report internet crimes to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)

Ransomware presents a real, imminent threat to the public and to our government. Share this article to help spread ransomware awareness in your community.

Take your browser security to the next level

Reading Time: ~3 min.

Aren’t you tired of annoying pop-ups that slow your computer way down, or give you viruses that cripple your PC faster than De’Aaron Fox on a fast break? What if we said you could make minor changes to your lineup to drastically speed up browsing sessions, improve browser security, and reduce your risk of downloading malware or potentially unwanted applications (PUAs)?

Well, hold onto your hats, folks. That’s exactly what I’m going to do. (Just think of all the time and hassle you’ll save when you no longer have to remove junk programs from your parents’ computers due to accidental pop-up clicks!)

Recommended Browsers for Privacy & Security

Personally, I’m a fan of Google Chrome and Opera, but I also use the most up-to-date versions of Waterfox and Internet Explorer for testing purposes or when accessing certain content management systems. Each of the below have quality security features, including pop-up blockers, antispyware, antivirus, anti-phishing, and private modes that complement a full antivirus and cybersecurity solution. Here’s a breakdown.

Google Chrome: I’m biased here, but Chrome is extremely stable, has cross-platform functionality, and it’s pretty darn fast if you have enough RAM or a gaming PC like myself. Most importantly, however, it offers a wide range of extensions for improved user experience and navigation, handling pop-ups and ads, etc. If you’re a fellow Chrome user, I can’t recommend Adblock Plus enough. It’s amazing how quickly pages load when they’re not cluttered up with ads you’d never intentionally click on anyway.

Waterfox: Firefox was a longtime favorite of mine for a variety of reasons, but we’ve grown apart in recent years. Let’s face it: back when we first met, Firefox looked good, moved fast, and had better functionality than anything else available. These days, Firefox has gotten sluggish and imposes too many restrictions. (And let’s not forget the incessant update phase from a few years back.) My new side-browser is Waterfox. If privacy is a concern, you’ll be happy to hear that absolutely no data is sent back to Firefox or Waterfox. You can also sleep better at night knowing that Waterfox is partners with Ecosia, a search engine provider that plants trees with earned revenue. Built on the same Firefox code but without the painful restrictions, it reminds me why I ever fell in love with Firefox in the first place.

Opera: Maybe it sounds crazy, but Opera is my favorite mobile browser. I get impatient about slow network speeds and Wi-Fi connections, especially when my ISP throttles my bandwidth. Opera is super-fast and has plenty of features, but what really makes it stand out for mobile is its Turbo Mode. Turbo Mode compresses web traffic through Opera’s servers, reduces the amount of data transferred, AND it dodges annoying ISP restrictions. Opera has built-in fraud and malware protection that’s enabled by default. It uses several databases and blacklists for known phishing and malware websites to help with browser security.

Internet Explorer: If I’m being honest, I wouldn’t say I like IE. But the reason it’s on this list is that it’s still a shockingly popular browser, and a lot of content management systems and other programs I’m required to use professionally run more smoothly with IE. You can adjust security levels, enable the SmartScreen Filter, and enable ActiveX filtering for enhanced browser security on Internet Explorer.

How to Secure your Browser

Having layers of protection is never a bad idea, especially with the evolving threats we’re faced with today. Preventing pop-ups is a quick and easy step to protect yourself and any family members you may have who aren’t as up-to-date on mitigation techniques. Built-in antispyware and anti-phishing components of these browsers typically notify users when they click malicious or risky URLs, thereby stopping attacks before the actual malware or spyware is downloaded onto your machine.

By using secure browsers on all your devices, in addition to cloud-based cybersecurity, you can avoid many of the threats on the web, and seriously up your internet security game.

Keep social engineering attacks from destroying your identity

Reading Time: ~2 min.

Sometimes it takes a close call or bad experience to really hammer it home. The concept of identity theft is nothing new. To put it in perspective, my step-dad had his identity stolen, and didn’t even know it. He was targeted by a social engineering attack and forked over several hundred dollars during the scam and didn’t realize he was a victim until I sat down with him to help speed up his aging computer.

What is social engineering?

Social engineering attacks, like any con, are based on psychological manipulation to incite victims to give up money and sensitive, confidential information. An example given by Wikipedia (yes, we use Wiki too), might be someone who walks into a building and posts an official-looking flyer on the company bulletin that announces a new phone number for the help desk. When employees call for help, the criminal might ask for passwords and other corporate login credentials. This opens access to the company’s private information. Another example of social engineering might involve a hacker contacting their target on a social network, such as Facebook. They start a conversation and gradually gain their target’s trust, then use that trust to get access to sensitive information.

Why? Because $$$.

Motives typically involve some kind of financial gain, though some attackers choose victims for personal reasons, such as revenge. In my step-dad’s case, it all started with that slow computer. He signed up for a sketchy PC cleaner tool to get rid of viruses and speed things up, after which he was targeted through a phishing scam. This attack resulted in him paying the attacker sums of $150 to $300 on various separate occasions.

What are the most common types of social engineering attacks?

Phishing: These attacks can include scenarios like the aforementioned, but may also be more targeted. Spear phishing attacks are more sophisticated and can include customized email sends or targeted ads that require a bit more research on the attacker’s part.

Watering hole: In a watering hole attack, user-groups are specifically being targeted. For example, attackers would research specific employees that visit niche websites and then host malware specifically targeting these employees.

Baiting: Just like the term suggests, baiting attacks involve offering victims something they want. Most often, these appear on peer-to-peer sharing sites where you can download or stream those hot new movies or Beyonce tracks you’ve been hearing about. The risk is that you may be downloading malware instead of, or in addition to, the files you actually want. Baiting can also include too-good-to-be-true online deals or fake emails with answers to questions you never asked on any forums.

Who and what to trust

Social engineering attacks are limited only by the attacker’s imagination. But, that means knowledge is your greatest tool against evolving cyber threats. I’m not suggesting you turn paranoid, but if something online strikes you as a little off or too good to be true, question it. Don’t remember sending a package or signing up for a contest? Then don’t click the “track my package” or the “Congrats, you’re a winner!” links.

Phishing and baiting tactics have been used in recent employment scams targeting recent college graduates. Whether you’re on social media, applying for jobs, or simply surfing the web, always think before you click, do your research, and visit HTTPS sites through a secure search engine, not via email or social media links.

Simple steps to help make you CyberSmart

Reading Time: ~3 min.

The online threat landscape continues to evolve. Not only do we need to continue innovating and refining our protection techniques, but we also need to stay on top of our cybersecurity education in order to protect each other from these attacks. As it happens, a number of people still don’t use any cybersecurity on their personal devices. To better understand these patterns, and to help create a cybersmart community as more aspects of our daily lives become internet-connected, we took it upon ourselves to gather data from home users in the form of a survey.

First, how many people use cybersecurity?

We found that 14% of users surveyed don’t use any cybersecurity protection whatsoever. Sure, we could tell you all you should be using our cloud-based SecureAnywhere® protection, but, in all honesty, it’s more important to us that people protect themselves in the first place, whether they’re our customers or not. You can help your friends become CyberSmart by sharing this blog or by sending a Tweet to your network. Foregoing an antivirus solution and neglecting to layer your cyber defenses exposes you to an ever-evolving barrage of malware and phishing, not to mention SQL injection, cross-site scripting, and man-in-the-middle attacks.

Cybersmart

Are You CyberSmart?

Given how many free antivirus solutions are available, the number of survey participants who still don’t use any device protection was much higher than we expected. (Do keep in mind, however, that a large number of the free solutions come with potentially unwanted applications in tow. When it comes to cybersecurity, you tend to get what you pay for.)

No matter which protection you choose to use, we recommend taking a few simple steps to minimize your risk of being targeted by attackers. Enabling automatic updates for your operating system, apps, and programs, and layering your Wi-Fi security are easy but effective ways to close the gap. Also, be sure to use strong, unique passwords for your sensitive accounts. Although you’ve probably heard that one before, you’d be amazed at how many people still reuse passwords between various accounts, including their banking and other financial logins.

Cybersmart

Nearly half of users in our survey admitted to reusing their passwords. If you’re one of them, and you find yourself thinking, “but I have so many logins and it’s too hard to remember all my different passwords,” we understand. We’ve all faced this question at one time or another during the internet age. But you can use a secure password manager to ease the burden of having to keep track of so many credentials.

My Webroot, Anywhere

Whether you’re already part of the family, want to take Webroot SecureAnywhere® for a free test drive, or purchase for 25% off,  we provide an online management account where you can centrally control your various connected home and mobile devices (and also manage your passwords.) If you haven’t already, take advantage of our advanced protection features today by setting up your My Webroot Anywhere account.

My friend stole my password!

Reading Time: ~2 min.

News of yet another breach at Target or Yahoo seems pretty commonplace these days. Sometimes, the frequency of big, newsworthy hacks can make us forget about more personal threats we face: the people close to us who have easy access to our financial info, social media accounts, online identity, and even our computer password.

Exponential growth

According to Pew Research Center, the use of social media has seen tenfold growth over the last decade, with nearly 68% of U.S. adults at the end of 2016 reporting they have a Facebook account (let alone any of the other social media outlets, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.) This growth represents a turning point in the way we consume news and share information with our friends and family members. But as the world becomes increasingly connected, it’s also becoming increasingly hackable.

In a survey conducted by the University of Phoenix, it was found that 70% of social media scams in 2016 were shared manually, meaning people voluntarily and unwittingly shared posts that linked to malicious or affiliate sites. Moreover, the study found that 9 out of 10 people limit their personal information shared on social media due to fear of being hacked.


9 out of 10 people limit their personal information shared on social media due to fear of being hacked.” – Survey results, University of Phoenix, 2016

Friends don’t let friends get hacked

To increase your personal security when browsing and sharing online, we recommend you take just a few simple steps.

Enable an automatic lock on your computer.
It sounds so simple, right? But seriously, adding a lock to your computer will keep friends and foes alike from accessing your everyday accounts that you may have forgotten to close or sign out of. We recommend rotating your Windows or Apple password and making it unique and very different from others that you may use on financial or data sensitive accounts.

Use a secure password manager.
They’re easy to find and easy to use. So what’s standing in your way? Using a password manager like Google Chrome’s built-in features or the Webroot SecureAnywhere password manager enables another layer of protection that you can sign out of when you’re done browsing or paying your bills. This will also help keep you from using the same password across all of your accounts for ease of access.

Don’t enter passwords on other people’s computers.
Be wary of logging into your social media accounts on your friends’ computers. You might forget to click “no” or “never” when prompted to save your login credentials, and you wouldn’t want an embarrassing Snap or Facebook post to haunt you.

If your password gets hacked

First, don’t panic, but don’t hesitate to take action either. Change all relevant passwords immediately, including any to other accounts where you may have reused the same credentials. Inform your friends and family members immediately of the situation, and to disregard messages or posts that were sent from your account during the period of exposure. Finally, don’t forget to notify the support team for the associated social network so that they can investigate and help prevent others from becoming victims of the same types of attack.

The Internet of Toys

Reading Time: ~4 min.

The convenience of having some kind of internet connection on more and more of the devices we use each day is undeniable. However, without proper security vetting, this convenience may come at a hefty price. In the past year alone, we’ve seen millions of routers, DVRs, IP cameras, cars, and more get hacked and either ransomed or hijacked for illegal purposes. This is mostly because the vendors of these devices only focus on functionality and the “set it and forget it” mentality. The next big IoT device type on the high-risk radar might not be what you expect… It’s toys.

Just last month, almost a million CloudPets.com accounts were compromised which contained 2 million voice recordings of kids and their families. This data—which is currently being ransomed—was taken from an unsecured MongoDB installation. There was no password or authentication required to access the widely available MongoDB on port 2701 at 45.79.147.159. Anyone who tried to connect had access and could access as much data as they wanted. It was only a matter of time before threat actors decided to take the data and delete the original copies from the server. In fact, the MongoDB currently has over ten thousand unsecured servers from which data has been stolen and held for ransom.

 

The CloudPets breach is yet another in a long list of poorly secured connected devices. Germany has already banned My Friend Cayla dolls, having classified them as espionage devices. Anyone selling the toy may be subject to a fine of up to 25,000 € for anyone who sells the toy. Barbie dolls are also on radar, since the Hello Barbie doll made headlines a couple of years ago. The doll was easily hackable and would reveal users’ system information, Wi-Fi network names, internal MAC addresses, account IDs, and even MP3 files. Aside from the sheer creepiness of hacking a children’s toy, this type of sensitive information can be used by cybercriminals to gain entry into a user’s more high-value accounts. The ease with which an attacker can access users’ details, including passwords, can give them a starting point to infiltrate other accounts, and sensitive family information can be used to guess passwords and secret questions.

Are hackers toying with your data?

We continue to witness a growing number of attacks with extortion as their goal. They begin with a simple but effective brute force assault from RDP to MongoDB and are now on to MySQL, and it won’t stop there. As long as such protocols, tools, and software are installed without adequate security measures, new breach stories will continue to make the news. Vendors of all IoT devices must ensure that they properly secure their devices and the information they collect.

Beyond the vulnerabilities the backend databases that support these IoT devices comprise, we have also been seeing remote exploitation of the actual toy device via Bluetooth Web API. Any user with a computer or a phone can connect to the CloudPets plushie without any authentication, and can then control the toy. Using the built-in microphone, an attacker can send and receive recorded messages to and from the toy, and they don’t even have to be inside the house. Experts in the field are already issuing warnings as to the privacy risks associated with allowing websites to connect to devices via Bluetooth. The CloudPets situation is a prime example of connected device manufacturers being grossly negligent towards the security of their products, and only focused on functionality (and, therefore, saleability.)

There’s a smarter way to play

To mitigate these types of risks, vendors need to conduct regular risk assessments and security vetting. They need to understand what does and does not need to be internet-facing within the organization. The items that do need to connect to the internet should be protected accordingly, starting with checking and improving on default settings. Authentication levels for each product need to be investigated and possibly enhanced to require two-factor, given that default options aren’t always the most secure. Where possible, access should be restricted based on policy, and vendors must investigate whether VPN and tunneling protocols would work for a particular use case. It’s essential to keep installations up to date. Additionally, vendors need to regularly review the setup configurations, look for unexpected or undocumented changes, and review the listed administrator accounts as a standard routine. In addition, consumers must be educated on the potential for these devices to generate and store sensitive data, as well as how to use good security practices to ensure their information stays safe. Although we can never make ourselves 100% secure, we should give ourselves a fighting chance.

Once a vendor or organization has set up what it believes to be the best defense, it cannot simply forget about it. Plans need to be in place for when a breach does occur so data can be recovered as quickly and efficiently as possible. This means creating and executing a well-divided, regularly-tested, air-gapped backup strategy. It could mean the difference between a breach being little more than a learning experience, versus resulting in devastating losses from which the business may not recover. It’s also important to make sure all employees are aware of what to do when things go wrong, as time will be of the essence. Each employee must know who needs to do what, when, where and how, from the incident responders to PR. Because the modern threat landscape continually changes, the only way to achieve remotely effective protection is not to sit back and relax, but to continue examining, refining, and improving upon security practices.

Employment scams target recent college grads

Reading Time: ~2 min.

As if the job market isn’t hard enough to break into, rising seniors and recent college graduates are employment scam targets. In January, the FBI issued a warning that employment scams targeting college students are still alive and well.

Employment Scams – A Public Service Announcement

According to the FBI, scammers advertise phony job opportunities on college employment websites soliciting college students for administrative positions. Then the student employee receives counterfeit checks and is told to deposit them into their personal account. Shortly thereafter, the scammer directs the student to withdraw the funds and send a portion, via wire transfer, to another individual. Often, the transfer of funds is to a “vendor”, allegedly for materials necessary for the job. By the time the bank has confirmed that the original checks were fraudulent, the victim’s own money is long gone

Dashed employment hopes and lost wages aren’t the only concern for victims of recent employment scams. Possible consequences of participating in this scam include:

  • The student’s bank account may be closed due to fraudulent activity and a report could be filed by the bank with a credit bureau or law enforcement agency.
  • The student is responsible for reimbursing the bank the amount of the counterfeit checks.
  • The scamming incident could adversely affect the student’s credit record.
  • The scammers often obtain personal information from the student while posing as their employer, leaving them vulnerable to identity theft.
  • Scammers seeking to acquire funds through fraudulent methods could potentially utilize the money to fund illicit criminal or terrorist activity.
Staying Safe

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Guaranteed income with no experience needed. Work from home and control your own schedule. Apply today to start earning thousands!

Phone introductions are a fine way to start the conversation, but be wary of opportunities that don’t lead to a face-to-face interview. Although some companies and government agencies may require it, you should be very cautious when sharing your Social Security Number online or over the phone. Tell the employer you’ll only provide that information once you’ve received a formal offer and are filling out W-2 or 1099 paperwork.

Be sure to do your research as well. Look into the company to find out about their market, what they sell, and look for reviews and evaluations from their employees. (Hint: you should be doing this anyway, not just when you suspect a scam.)

You can also take advantage of the Better Business Bureau and the BBB Scam Tracker℠ to research the types of scams that have been reported in your area.

Have you been scammed?

Help others avoid becoming a victim of employment scams by reporting the incident to the Better Business Bureau, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), and the Federal Trade Commission.

Top 5 Tax Season Scams

Reading Time: ~4 min.

During tax season most of us are probably still dreading the moment we have to quit procrastinating, buckle down, and file our income taxes. Coincidentally, it’s also a time that cybercriminals are working overtime to scam home users into giving over their financial data, and even their tax returns. The frequency of attacks only increases as the IRS tax deadline (April 18th this year) looms ever closer.

Don’t Let Tax Season Scammers Steal Your Refund!

According to the IRS, thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams and fake IRS communication in the past few years. In fact, a recent phone scam has been aggressively targeting taxpayers, often members of immigrant populations, in which callers claim to be IRS employees. They use false names and credentials and even spoof their caller ID information to appear more legitimate. The scammers tell their victims they owe money to the IRS and demand it be paid right away through a pre-loaded debit card or a wire transfer. If any victims refuse or sound too skeptical, the scammers threaten them with arrest, deportation, or any number of other downright terrifying legal scenarios.

According to data collected in the 2016 tax season, the IRS saw an approximate 400% surge in phishing and malware incidents, and our own data suggests this number won’t be going down any time soon.

A number of alerts have been issued by the IRS about the fraudulent use of their name or logo by scammers who hope to steal taxpayers’ assets and identity. Regular mail, telephone, fax, emails—scammers are using every phishing tool at their disposal to trick unsuspecting victims, and the proof is in the numbers. According to data collected in the 2016 tax season, the IRS saw an approximate 400% surge in phishing and malware incidents, and our own data suggests this number won’t be going down any time soon.

BOLO (Be on the Lookout)

While the IRS provides a list they call their tax season “Dirty Dozen” scams, here are the top 5 we think you should really watch out for.

Phishing: Taxpayers need to be on guard against fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. The IRS will never initiate contact with taxpayers via email about a bill or refund. Don’t click on one claiming to be from the IRS. Be wary of emails and websites that may be nothing more than scams to steal personal information.

Phone scams: Phone calls from criminals impersonating IRS agents remain an ongoing threat to taxpayers. The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams in recent years as con artists threaten taxpayers with police arrest, deportation and license revocation, among other things.

Identity theft: Taxpayers need to watch out for identity theft especially around tax time. The IRS continues to aggressively pursue the criminals that file fraudulent returns using someone else’s Social Security number. Though the agency is making progress on this front, taxpayers still need to be extremely cautious and do everything they can to avoid being victimized.

Return preparer fraud: Be on the lookout for unscrupulous return preparers. The vast majority of tax professionals provide honest high-quality service. There are some dishonest preparers who set up shop each filing season to perpetrate refund fraud, identity theft and other scams that hurt taxpayers.

Fake charities: Be on guard against groups masquerading as charitable organizations to attract donations from unsuspecting contributors. Be wary of charities with names similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. Contributors should take a few extra minutes to ensure their hard-earned money goes to legitimate and currently eligible charities. IRS.gov has the tools taxpayers need to check out the status of charitable organizations.

Preventative Measures

To stay safe during tax season, you need to first understand what is and isn’t normal. When faced with officials or people with perceived authority, we tend to get nervous and want to do anything they say to avoid getting in trouble. (Think about how you probably tense up when you see a cop pull up behind you, even though you know you weren’t speeding.)

The IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

Additionally, it’s important that you pay close attention to email addresses, and never share financial information through email. It is normal that online tax preparation services, such as TurboTax, will require several steps of authentication via a secure connection, and may ask for personal information. Because many modern phishing scams can look almost exactly like the real deal, be sure to go directly to your tax prep service’s website in your browser, rather than clicking the links in any emails. If you’re a Webroot user, we also highly recommend you enable the Webroot Filtering Extension to ensure you know which sites are safe to visit.

Know Your Rights

You have the right to be informed, and also the right to appeal any IRS decisions in an independent forum. Have other questions about your rights as a taxpayer? Visit www.irs.gov/taxpayer-bill-of-rights.

5 Totally Achievable Resolutions

Reading Time: ~3 min.

If you’re anything like me, you probably make a bunch of lofty resolutions every year that you probably won’t, or even can’t, achieve. (For instance, I’ve been promising to hit the gym a little harder for about 6 years now.)

But enough is enough. Here are 5 completely achievable resolutions to help keep you and your identity safe in the New Year. Best of all, they’re not too hard and don’t take long, so you get the satisfaction of checking things off your list right away!

1.     Layer Your Wi-Fi Security

Remember over the holidays, when you had to read your super long and complicated router password to everyone in your family so they could connect to the Wi-Fi? Wouldn’t it have been great if they’d taken a seat and listened all at once so you wouldn’t have to repeat it 50 times in between trips to the kitchen to baste your bird or check a timer? Wouldn’t it be even better if you could have your own guest network with a friendly password that the whole family can remember?

Well… you can.

These days, continuing technological advances have given most routers dual-band technology. The “dual” part means you have a 5 GHz band for devices that are centrally located and more or less stationary near your router, giving you the best possible speeds, while there’s a 2.4 GHz connection for devices that are more mobile and need a longer range.

If you activate Guest Networking for both your 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands within your router’s settings, you can create separate passwords for residents and guests. That way, you can manage who gets access to your secure network, and then your connection won’t get bogged down the next time you want to stream the football game while your 3-year-old niece is glued to the Disney Holiday Special.

Be sure to enable WPA2 security on both networks to protect your houseguests and to keep holiday opportunists from leeching off of your connection.

2.     Enable Biometric Screening or a PIN on your New Device

Did you get a new toy over the holidays? Make sure to enable two-factor authentication and either a security PIN or biometric access to your devices whenever possible. Although it might add another second or two to the time it takes to unlock your devices, it’ll be worth it when you realize your mom won’t casually stumble across those pictures from so-and-so’s bachelor/ette party.

3.     Avoid Opening Emails On the Go

This one might be the easiest of all, and a lot of recent studies have suggested that ignoring your email a bit more often can have incredible benefits for your stress levels and overall mental health. And, let’s face it, who couldn’t use a little help de-stressing after the holidays?

Unsecured Wi-Fi in coffee shops and the like is a prime spot for cybercriminals to take advantage. If you absolutely have to open your emails while you’re out and about, we recommend staying connected to your mobile data plan. And if you’re worried about data rates, try to wait until you’re connected to a secure Wi-Fi network that you trust, and one that you know has encryption in place. Besides, if you really take stock of it all, those emails can probably wait.

4.     Activate Automatic Updates

You’d be amazed how many breaches could be avoided by keeping software/firmware up to date. Hackers often exploit known vulnerabilities that companies like Adobe and Microsoft have already patched or are close to patching, figuring that the numbers game will still come out in their favor. After all, there are a lot of people out there who ignore updates or may not realize how important they can be. If you don’t have time to stay on top of every update, enabling automatic updates on your devices is an easy way to close the window of opportunity for cyber thieves and other hackers.

5.     Install a Unified Threat Management Appliance (UTM)

Think of a UTM as a souped-up firewall. The average family has at least 4 connected devices in their home, and many have more than double that amount. For larger families, not to mention people who run a business from their home, a Unified Threat Management appliance will add another layer of network protection for your highly connected gateway.

In all seriousness, you could probably complete most—if not all—of these tasks in the span of a Sunday afternoon, and they could save you from spending countless hours on the phone with banks and creditors as you try to retrieve a stolen identity or dispute fraudulent charges. How many of your other resolutions have that going for them?

So what are you waiting for? Take the initiative in 2017 and follow these tips to protect your family, your home, your identity, and your privacy from modern cyberattacks.

 

 

Page 3 of 712345...Last »