Tag Archives: identity-theft

Are the PlayStation Hackers Running up Debt?

This could very well be the first case of many we’ll see where the PlayStation hackers are using the credit card information they obtained. Rory Spreckley is one of more than 77 million people who had a credit card on file with Sony in order to access their PlayStation Network. He also is apparently now the victim of credit card fraud. The Adelaide man logged into his bank account earlier today only to find more than $2,000.00 worth of charges that he didn’t run up.

Sony claims that there is no solid evidence that any credit card information was stolen. The company firmly stated that this type of info is encrypted. We all know how fail-safe that is, right? At this point in time, the gaming giant isn’t even sure how many – and which – databases were accessed. Therefore, it cannot be sure. With the news of Mr. Spreckley’s unauthorized charges surfacing, I’d think it’s safe to say the hackers may just have gotten their hands on your financial stuff after all.

“There was a number of early transactions on the 23rd of amounts under $1, which they say is the usual kind of test run that fraudsters do and then there’s been a number of transactions of larger amounts, including domestic flights within Australia, bookings at Best Westerns [hotels] and what not,” the Australian man stated.

Most galling to me is that someone is telling these consumers NOT to cancel their credit cards. They should instead simply watch for unauthorized charges to their accounts. Uh… right. Who the hell thought this up? I’m sorry, but if my credit card information was taken by anyone other than myself, I would be on the phone to cancel it faster than you can blink your eyes. That’s absolutely ludicrous as far as I’m concerned.

Security experts agree that there needs to be MUCH more done on the part of the compromised companies. They agree that disclosure needs to be much sooner – even if all details aren’t clear. Customers deserve to be warned that something could be up, so that they can take proper precautions. These experts would even like to see a disclosure law in place: “It would require a company to contact and inform customers within one day or two days of the event occurring so that those customers can take action to cancel credit cards or change passwords or other private information and also to be aware that their information has actually been stolen,” said Mark Gregory of RMIT.

If you were a PlayStation Network subscriber, do yourself a favor: take action. Don’t sit around and wait to see if hackers will run up your accounts. Be proactive. Discuss with your bank or financial adviser the best steps to take in order to keep yourself – and your credit score – safe. Yes, you can get charges reversed if you have your cards stolen. But doing so can sometimes be a long and painful process.

Does LifeLock Promote Identity Theft?

LifeLock CEO Todd Davis has sworn for years that his product was good enough to keep your identity safe. He was so sure of this fact that he prominently displayed his own social security number on the website and in television commercials. The problem is that Todd was wrong. His own identity has been stolen at least thirteen times, and the FTC isn’t happy.

The FTC fined Davis and LifeLock back in March to the tune of twelve million bucks. The Federal Trade Commission said that LifeLock’s claims were completely untrue and accused the company of operating a scam and con job. The commission announced with 35 state attorneys general that they had thrown the fine at LifeLock for deceptive business practices and failing to secure customer data. Nearly all of the fine was earmarked to be paid in refunds to customers who had subscribed to the service.

Todd and company are making headlines again today, but for a very different reason. This time it wasn’t customers who had their information stolen out from under the supposed “guaranteed” safety of LifeLock’s nose… it is the CEO himself. In June, 2007, someone used Davis’s identity to obtain a check-cashing loan in the amount of $500.00. That was never paid back, of course. The CEO only learned of this debt when the company called his wife’s phone to attempt to collect on the bill. Four months later, someone in Atlanta used his information to obtain AT&T service in his name. This person racked up over two grand in charges which were never paid. Davis only found out about these charges more than a year later when AT&T handed him over to a collection agency.

Last year, he found several more discrepancies on his credit report. There are several outstanding debts to companies from all over the country… places Davis has never done business with. He has credit bureaus climbing out of the woodwork to get the money that they are owed.

The problem in all of this is that at least one police department is quite ticked off. It’s not only his own identity that he put into danger, according to a spokeswoman for the Albany police department. By putting this information out there and daring people to try and use it, he has hurt the companies who now will never be able to collect on the debts for services and goods rendered. Those are the ones who are hurt most in all of this. The only thing Davis has lost is his credibility, and the time it takes him to refute the charges on his credit report. Those companies have to swallow the monies that they are entitled to.. and which many people feel that Davis himself should be paying.

The company has claimed for years that they guarantee your information is safe if you use their service. In fact, they back that guarantee with one million dollars should they fail. It would be mighty interesting to see if they’ve ever had to fork that money over to any customers… or if they’ve refused and have customers fighting them for it. If Davis’ own information was so easily used without his knowing it, who knows how many customers have had their identities compromised… and they sadly may not even know it yet.

This sure doesn’t give me the warm fuzzies and make me want to rush out to purchase this service for myself. I’m not saying it never works… but if it didn’t work for the CEO, there’s no way in hell I’m trusting it to work for me.

How to Protect Your Privacy Online

Everyone is talking about privacy these days, and no one is happy with the state of things… especially when it comes to Facebook. I told you yesterday on Twitter: There are only two steps you need to follow in order to protect your privacy.

  • Step 1 – STOP SHARING SHIT YOU DON’T WANT THE WORLD TO DISCOVER.
  • Step 2 – See Step 1.

It really is that simple, folks. If you don’t want everyone, their brother and their mother to know something about you, why the hell are you posting it online to begin with? How many of the people who are screaming about having their privacy invaded are the ones who don’t want their bosses (or significant others) to see the pictures from their drunken night in Cancun? If you have secrets you don’t want the rest of civilization to discover, then you should keep that junk to yourself.

How often have you said something on Twitter or Facebook, only to regret it later? Perhaps your boss read your rant about work last week. Or maybe your mom stumbled across something you flippantly tweeted regarding the upcoming family reunion. Whatever the case may be, I have to repeat this again: If you don’t want everyone to know something, then sit down and close your pie hole. That may sound harsh, but apparently harsh is what it takes to get through to some people. There is no undo button on the Internet.

It was interesting to read some of the feedback on my FriendFeed page about this:

In other words, trust no company, trust no person. – Akiva Moskovitz

Side Bar: If you are going to share shit, make sure you know who can see it and take full advantage of any privacy tools. If you can’t lock it down to your liking, see somewhere you can and share there. Failing that, see Step 1. Never assume, it makes an ASS out of U and ME – Johnny Worthington

I’ve been saying this for years – Jesse Stay

Not that what I say matters – Jesse Stay

Or: Even vaults and safety deposit boxes can be broken into. It’s about risk and trust… and know each of them – Johnny Worthington

It’s not about the Sharing. It’s about the Basic Personal Info. – Christopher Galtenberg

If you don’t want Basic Personal Info shared online, don’t put it there. Again, it’s about risk. There is risk in leaving your credit card statements sitting in your letterbox or leaving your wallet on a counter for more that a sec. Risk Assessment. – Johnny Worthington

If the internet can’t deal with personal private data, it won’t work. I thought you felt this way too, JW. – Christopher Galtenberg

Christopher, the phone company can’t guarantee 100% security on calls (fixed lines or cellular), the mail can be tampered with, offices can be bugged, your baggage is scanned at the airport and your wallet can be stolen. No system, physical or digital, is 100% secure. China hacked Gmail. Shit, courier pigeons can be shot down. Since EVERYTHING is <100%, each person must undertake a risk assessment when sharing critical data. If you must have 100%, then a communication channel that is run by a series of commercial entities and less than stellar governments probably isn’t for you. That doesn’t mean it’s 0% secure (probably more like 90-95% secure) but looking for a perfect solution is futile unless you control every point, A to B. – Johnny Worthington

By your logic, JW, everything is actually safe (equally trustworthy, relatively) – Christopher Galtenberg

Not exactly. I trust my bank more than I do Facebook or Gmail… but I don’t assume my bank is just 100% safe. Levels of trust. I have performed risk assessments on each online entity and determined what I would feel comfortable about disclosing. – Johnny Worthington

Anything can be hacked. Anything can leak. Trust is a risk and some levels adjust over time, usually down to lower levels. – manielse (Mark Nielsen)

Back to the original post: that’s how I’ve always treated the Internet. Those MySpace/Facebook kiddies who have to show the whole world the most embarrassing stuff they do always appalled me. I’ve always been careful what I share online, even if I sometimes use my blogs or Twitter as a soapbox. – Dennis Jernberg

Indeed! *thinks back to the DYSP video* – Johnny Worthington

@Chris: And that, of course, is why we have to be so careful. Forethought… – Dennis Jernberg

What are your thoughts regarding privacy online? What measures do you take to make sure your information – and life – is secure?

Malware Delivered by Any Means

It is really despicable. There is no low to which hackers and criminals won’t stoop to deliver malware to you. As many of you know, recently there was a tragedy at the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Nodar Kumaritashvili, a luger from the former Soviet republic of Georgia, died in a crash during a training run. Criminals have used that incident to deliver malware through bogus tribute sites, news sites, videos and so forth.

These people have no scruples.

During the Olympics, you may want to keep up with your favorite Olympic sport. That works to the hackers’ advantage. You may want to follow a news item of some recent political story. That works to the hackers’ advantage. Whatever generates traffic, these criminals will take advantage of the opportunity.

We want our readers to protect themselves. This malware junk is intended to ambush people online. It does not matter where you go now online. Simply being online is a danger, and security precautions should be taken. And every machine that you use should be protected.

Every machine that you use to go online, no matter how briefly, has to be protected. Even if you have a machine that you do not put online, it should be protected. You may sync your other computers to this machine that you keep offline and some malware may slip onto your system. Because we strongly recommend protecting all your machines, we are recommending the award winning security offered by Spyware Doctor.

“Spyware Doctor with AntiVirus is a top-rated malware, spyware & virus removal utility that detects, removes and protects your PC from thousands of potential spyware, adware, trojans, viruses, keyloggers, spybots and tracking threats.” It has won numerous awards and Spyware Doctor is good for “Microsoft Windows 7 (32bit, 64bit), Windows Vista SP1+ (32bit, 64bit), Windows XP SP2+ (32bit).”

This is one of the premier, well recognized security programs. And PC Tools is allowing three computers to be protected under one license. That means that, for under seventeen dollars each, three computers can be protected from viruses, spyware, malware and other security threats:

This is a bargain to protect every online computer in the house. This means every desktop, laptop, and netbook – everything. This is a bargain to do so. And when you use Spyware Doctor, update the security definitions regularly. It is doubtful that malware will decrease any time soon. Security measures are absolutely necessary – unfortunately.

Common Web Sites Compromised with Malware

Today, one security firm reported that there were about 5.5 million pages infected with malware in the last three months of 2009. Some of those pages were commonly visited sites: “In those three months, sites for Fox Sports, technology blog Gizmodo, and the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan, were exploited to deliver malware to unsuspecting visitors.”

There was a commonly held belief that if you avoid “bad” sites and limit yourself to popular sites, then you would be safe from malware. Obviously, this is not the case. Hackers are becoming very sophisticated and they will go where they can find the most traffic to exploit. That means some very popular sites have been targeted and will be targeted in the future.

It is no longer some teenager wanting to cause some problems and showing off for a limited number of friends. This is organized crime. These criminals want to exploit computers for identity theft, for spamming, for developing a bot network, and for other criminal intent.

The dark side of the Internet is that everyone is a target, and we remind our readers to protect themselves and their personal information. These Internet crimes are silent; it may take months or years, for example, before you realize that your identity has been stolen and exploited. If you are online, you must pay attention to Internet security. That is why we recommend security programs such as Webroot Internet Security Essentials (WISE).

“… With unmatched anti-virus, anti-spyware, and firewall security, WISE provides blockbuster protection for your PC. In fact, the technologies in WISE have won a combined 11 PC Magazine Editors’ Choice awards! These technologies provide more complete protection than competing products to proactively block: viruses, spyware, worms, trojans, data theft, rootkits, hackers, intrusions, keyloggers…”

Webroot is allowing up to three computers to be protected and with a ten dollar discount. This works out to an amount under seventeen dollars per computer. It is a huge bargain.

Protect yourself with an award-winning program. If you have more than one computer, you need to protect all of them. We want you to be safe online and just securing one machine is not enough. You do not want to be spreading malware when you synchronize your machines or share files between the machines.

This Webroot offer would be an exceptional gift to any friend or family member who does not pay much attention to Internet security. This is an easy to use program that you can give for year round computer security. And remember, this offer allows you to protect three computers.

Do You Remember Your First Tweetup?

I not only remember my first Tweetup, I remember them all! Each one I attend or host gives me an opportunity to meet new people, reconnect with old friends, and make some all-important business contacts. There is always a lot of fun to be had, a lot of networking to do, and more laughter involved than should be allowed by law. However, some people are not as fortunate as I am.

Take my Community Manager Kat, for example. The poor woman has never attended a Tweetup before. Can you believe that? I decided that this simply wasn’t acceptable. She’ll be in Seattle for a week in February, to attend her second Microsoft MVP Summit. So, I decided to throw together a little Tweetup in her honor that Friday, February 19th! If you’re in the Seattle area, we’d love for you to join us.

Have you ever attended a Tweetup – or perhaps a Facemeet? What memories and connections do you still carry with you? What advice might you have for our Kat, as she embarks on her first-ever Twitter meetup? Let’s rally together as a community, and show her the time of her life.

Don’t forget to check in at our software center to see what new deals we have for you today on the hottest software and apps available.

Malware by the Millions

One of the disheartening pieces of news recently came from PandaLabs. The security firm reported that the new strains of malware for last year numbered in the millions. That is not a typing error. There were literally many millions of pieces of new malware.

Security company PandaLabs has claimed that it recorded more new malware in 2009 than in its 20 year history, identifying 25 million new strains in just one year compared to a total of 15 million since the company began.

This is malicious software that wants your banking codes, wants your personal information for identity theft, wants to turn your computer into a spam spewing bot, or other such malevolent intents. If you are on the Internet, it is absolutely necessary to pay attention to online security. It is not an exaggeration to say that when you are online, your computer is at risk.

You may be nodding in agreement and saying to yourself that you know this (hopefully because you read the security material on our sites). However, chances are that you have friends or family members who pay little to no attention to computer security. Not only do they endanger themselves… but they are also a danger to others. We are all connected online. Those people who ignore computer security are comparable to those who buy ‘products’ from spammers.

Do a good deed, and tell these people that they should have an anti-virus, a firewall, and at least one anti-spyware program running at all times. For an anti-spyware program, we are recommending SUPERAntiSpyware. We have an excellent deal for you (and for you to recommend) that offers real time protection.

SUPERAntiSpyware has “real-time blocking of threats! Prevent potentially harmful software from installing or re-installing! First Chance Prevention examines over 50 critical points of your system each time your system starts up and shuts down to eliminate threats before they have a chance to infect and infiltrate your system.”

SUPERAntiSpyware will detect and remove spyware, adware, malware, Trojans, dialers, worms, keyloggers, hijackers, rootkits, and many other types of threats. This program is easy to use and it is effective. SUPERAntiSpyware is being offered at a special rate for our readers. There is a ten dollar ($10.00) saving until January 20, 2010.

This is a program that is highly recommended within the security community. People who work on these pages use it and recommend it, too. Suggest this security program to your friends and family. The amount of malware probably will continue to increase this year. We are trying to make it as easy and as economical as possible for our readers and their friends to protect themselves and your computers.

What Place Does Social Media Have in our Schools?

I came across a very interesting post a little while ago, over on Geeks. The author, Will, is asking our opinions as to what place social media should play in our educational systems. Will mentioned that his high school principal has asked students for ideas as to how social media could be incorporated into education in general. He then asks for your input and ideas. I’d love to see a high rate of responses to this thread, which is why I chose to highlight it here.

Social media such as Facebook and Twitter isn’t a fad that will fade away any time soon. It’s important, it’s real, and it’s here to stay. I do have to point out something that Will said at the end of his post. He stated that he is all for social media in the schools, but that he doesn’t want to allow them access to his privacy. That is a common misconception amongst many people today. You need to remember that anything you put online is public. There is no privacy when it comes to places such as Twitter. Once something is online, it’s there for the World to see. Even at a young age, you always need to be cognizant of that fact when posting anything in any place. Things you say and do online can – and WILL – come back to bite you in the proverbial ass someday if you aren’t careful.

What are your thoughts? Instead of posting them here on the blog, please post them over on Geeks as a response to Will’s questions. Let’s see how much community participation we can get on this, and show his principal a thing or two! Will’s post wasn’t the only thought-provoking thing going on in our community today. Hopefully, you haven’t missed out on any of the action!

Be sure to check out all of the new Windows and mobile software we have today in our downloads center!

Layers of Computer Protection

Computer security people advocate layers of protection. There is no single software program that gives absolute protection. The Internet criminals and hackers simply respond too quickly, and are too sophisticated to be stopped by any one method.

One of the layers of protection that people seem to neglect is encryption. There seems to be a common misconception that encryption is something that is complicated and geeky. It really is not. It can be easy, and it offers an additional layer of security.

The crime of Identity Theft is growing. Two essential pieces of information necessary is to match your name to your social security number. It can lead to a host of problems financially. And if the Identity Theft is used for medical services, it can lead to deadly consequences. This is just a reality of the Internet – and a danger – as more and more medical services move to electronic record keeping for health providers. The key is simply preparation.

For your safety and security, SafeBit offers easy encryption:

SafeBit Disk Encryption is the perfect electronic vault you need for your privacy. It features military strength on-the-fly encryption, by creating virtual disk drives, where you can hide files and folders, keep them encrypted all them time, but still work with these files just like you work with normal files. SafeBit is the last line of defense if your current security system fails against viruses, trojans or hacker attacks.

This is a very special offer for our readers. The SafeBit people are offering our readers a generous forty percent (40%) discount off their regular price. This is a remarkable saving on an award winning software program.

This offer expires on January 6, 2010.

Here is just one last reminder for the people on laptops. If you are using different wi-fi connections regularly or plugging in to unfamiliar Internet connections, there is the risk of keyloggers. For example, the keylogger would record your name and password when you enter a site like PayPal. That would be comparable to handing over the log-in data to your online account. SafeBit has a virtual keyboard. It will give protection against such keylogger programs, and password-stealing malware. This is terrific for travelers, or for those people who are on the go with their laptops and netbooks. The virtual keyboard feature alone is worth the generous price of this program.

Thanks to the SafeBit people for offering this program to our readers at this price point.

Do You Share Too Much Online?

With the events this week on Twitter surrounding the unfortunate death of a Florida toddler, one cannot help but wonder how much social media is too much. This story has garnered national attention, due to the thousands of tweets flying back and forth between two separate “camps”. One camp – those who are friends of the woman whose son drowned – are rabid in their defense of her. Those on the other side of the issue – who feel that her social activities contributed to her possibly not watching her child – are just as rabid in their opposition. It’s enough to make your head spin, attempting to keep up with everything going on.

I am not going to take any “sides” in this issue, as I feel that’s an absurd thing to do. I don’t know the woman in question, and my heart breaks for her for the loss of her son. However, I can’t help but speak out about the social media aspect. There are times when people turn to it a little TOO much, as well as times when it is used in a completely counter-productive way. As I said in a video earlier… if you have nothing nice to say, keep your mouth shut! Yes, it’s okay for you to question something, or to speak your mind. But do so in a productive and nice way. You don’t have to turn nasty or threatening to get your point across.

In my mind, too much social media comes in to play when it dominates your life, and when you rely on it instead of your own family or friends. Yes, online friends are very real, and sometimes even “closer” than your “real-life” ones. However, using social media as your entire outlet and life is not a healthy thing. Make sure that you have activities and hobbies away from your computer. Take the time to reconnect with family or neighbors whom you have lost touch with. Don’t rely solely on the Internet to get comfort and support. That’s my take on it, anyway. What do you think?

This isn’t the only story being talked – or written – about online today, you know. Our community has been busy talking about everything from hardware to Twitter to BumpTop! I hope you’ve taken the time to read some of it today!

The blog posts aren’t the only happening thing going on! We have several new – and updated! – pieces of software in our downloads center, just waiting for you to check them out!