We have been hearing so much about identity theft lately with the security breach of some major retailers like Target and Neiman Marcus.
To remedy the situation they have provided customers effected by this breach with a way to monitor their credit report activity. What if your privacy has been stolen?
If your privacy was invaded through your web cam because of a RAT (remote access Trojan) who is responsible? Who is watching out for you? Your credit report can be cleared if there is unauthorized activity. Who will erase those photos taken of you in your private setting?
As we learn more from Edward Snowden about Government spying activities, it seems we could be an unintended victim of webcam spying. Collateral damage if you will. According to a report concerning the spy program code named optic nerve, in a 6 month period in 2008 the agency collected webcam imagery from over 1.8 million Yahoo users globally.
Some were the persons of interest and the rest, regular citizens. The best thing you can do for you and your family is to be proactive. Cover your webcam! With this simple action you are sending the message that your privacy is NOT an option.
Today’s post is in honor of week 4 of National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Back in July of 2013, a study was released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which was funded by McAfee. It estimates that cyber crime costs the U.S. economy $100 billion dollars annually. If that’s not bad enough, its damage to the economy resulted in as many as 508,000 jobs lost. The next question is what can we do to lessen the effects of cyber crime? A great place to start is to check out STOPTHINKCONNECT.org. Here you will find many resources on cyber crime prevention. If you are a victim of a cyber crime or need to report a cyber crime, go to Stay Safe On-line to find additional resources including a tip sheet for victims of cyber crime. Prevention is ideal, however swift action will prevent others from being victimized.
Women are typically prime targets for a RAT. Except in the case of Hector Hernandez, a 17 year old from Detroit, MI. Unbeknownst to him, he was being spied on through the webcam on his laptop in his own home. He began receiving threatening messages saying that he must send $1,100 cash to an account in the Philippine’s. He stole precious jewelry from his family in order to meet this RAT’s demands. For $100k in jewels, he received $1500 from a local pawn shop. He wired the money and hoped the threats would stop. Guess what? They continued to threaten Hector with exposure if he didn’t continue to meet their demands. It was then he had the courage to come forward and tell his family what he was going through.
By simply covering your webcam, you are not allowing your privacy to be compromised. This is something as a parent I am very adamant about with my children. When not in use, cover your webcam!
With the holidays around the corner, many will be asking for tablets, laptops and desktops. Most of these devices have built in webcams. Remember to include a package of Peep Shields with your gift. It makes a great stocking stuffer!
With more people accessing the internet, there is a greater need for Cyber education. Ironically we have the information at our fingertips, but typically don’t know where to look. One resource for information that I came across is the National Cyber Security Alliance. For 10 years now, they have hailed October as National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Each week they expand on a different theme. I began to follow them on Twitter. From there I noticed other valuable resources for cyber security using hashtag #NCSAM. I quickly realized how easy it was to educate myself and my family. Now I want to share this information with you.
An article I read on Microsoft News discussed a topic I think about as a parent: How old is too young to go online? Most parents that took part in the survey feel 8 years old is a good age to let kids access the internet on their own. The earlier we can educate our students about cyber awareness, the better Digital Citizens they will be in the future. Right now there are campaigns in schools that are trying to raise awareness about cyber security, but they need your help. Check out Staysafeonline.org for more information.
The more we as individuals can take ownership of our online responsibilities, the stronger and more impenetrable our networks will eventually be. It is our shared responsibility. To continue the conversation, follow hashtag #NCSAM
The theme for week 2 of National Cyber Security Awareness month is online safety and security. An important component of online security is awareness. Much like when you go out in public you are told to be aware of your surroundings. It is the same concept. There are vast numbers of phishing sites out there just waiting to capture your information to exploit. The safest way to avoid being a victim or pawn in a phishing attack is to be aware of your cyber surroundings. Find out how savvy you are at identifying a phishing site by taking the phishing quiz.
Follow the conversation about online safety and security using #NCSAM on twitter
The National Cyber Security Alliance is celebrating its 10 year anniversary of National Cyber Security Awareness Month. This is a collaborative effort between government and businesses to give everyone the resources they need to stay safe and secure on-line. Cyber security is everyone’s responsibility both at home and at work. Business can do everything possible to prevent a cyber attack, but if an employee is careless and clicks on a link or forwards an email, the security of their network is weakened.
If you think about it, 10 years ago FaceBook was a social networking tool for Harvard students only. Twitter and YouTube didn’t even exist. In just 1 decade our online footprint has changed vastly. The information provided by NCSA is becoming more and more valuable. From their website they provide comprehensive resources to get involved in spreading awareness about cyber security.
To address the many topics concerning cyber security, each week in October has a specific theme.
*October 1-6, 2013- 10 Years & Beyond: General Online Safety & STOP. THINK. CONNECT.
*October 7-13, 2013- Being Mobile: Online Safety & Security
*October 14-20, 2013- Cyber Education and the Next Generation of Cyber Leaders
*October 21-27, 2013- Cybercrime
If you want to follow the conversation around National Cyber Security Awareness Month, follow hashtag #NCSAM. The more aware we become, the less likely we are to be a victim of cyber criminals.
In my previous post I mentioned the “sexstortion” case of Ms. Teen USA, Cassidy Wolf. According to CNN, Jared James Abrahams, AKA cutefuzzypuppy, a 19-year-old computer science student from Temecula, California, surrendered on Thursday to the FBI on federal extortion charges. It turns out Ms. Wolf was not his only victim. He admitted to the FBI that he had 30-40 “Slave computers” that he had access to at any time. In actuality it was more like 150. His Mom and Dad posted his $50k bond and he was released.
More and more we are hearing new terms such as “Sexstortion” and “RATting”. These terms are as dark and secretive as they sound. Ms. Teen USA, Cassidy Wolf can attest. Recently while watching the Today show on NBC, I listened to her tell her story about being recorded through her webcam on her laptop in her bedroom. The RAT had pictures of her dressing/undressing. The RAT was even so bold as to email these pictures to her to let her know she was under the RAT’s control. With lots of bravery and support from her family, she denied the RAT this power over her and informed the authorities.
Hearing this story led me to create my product Peep Shield ™. It is a webcam cover that you physically place on your computer and/or tablet’s webcam. If there is nothing to peep through, then your webcam cannot be compromised. This is not a replacement for running your antivirus, anti-malware programs. Always keep those updated. It’s just simply a physical way of protecting your privacy. Much like closing your curtains.