Internet Safety

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Dealing with an Online Scam Involving An Old Password of Yours

A recent email hack includes information including an old password you might have once, making you believe they have information on you. These sorts of online extortion schemes — which try to guilt people into paying off hackers claiming to have compromising information — are nothing new. As for the inclusion of a real password, after years of database breaches from major sites and services like Yahoo, eBay, Sony PlayStation and dozens of other companies, varying amounts of people’s data are floating around the internet, often for sale on the black market. That data is now being integrated into traditional phishing scams.

According to the Krebs on Security blog, several recipients of this particular blackmail campaign observed that the password included in the message was old, some by about a decade, and not currently in use. For those who haven’t changed their passwords in years, the ruse could appear more realistic, and the hustle itself may become fine-tuned as the perpetrators weave in fresher bits of stolen user data.  Important to keep in mind for yourself, but also for discussing with your children who may fall prey to these schemes as well. Remembering to update your passwords frequently is a good security practice. You can also report phishing incidents on the F.B.I.’s Internet Crime Complaint Center site.

4 Reasons Your Child Might Want to Become a Hacker

Did you know that not all “hackers” are criminals? Many organizations are looking for white-hat hackers -- people who break down malicious code -- to help defend against cyberattacks, writes malware researcher Amanda Rousseau in a recent article in Teen Vogue. She offers four reasons why students, especially girls, should consider this career path, including the high demand for these jobs and the opportunity to positively affect the world and make a difference in people’s lives.

Online Predators – Get the Facts

Media stories about online predators make for sensationalized press, playing on parental fears, but how worried should you be? Overall statistics show that unwanted sexual solicitation is down but the most important thing is to arm yourself with facts about the issue and solutions if you suspect your child is, or could become, a victim. Common Sense Media recently took up the topic in an article entitled The Facts about Online Predators Every Parent Should Know. The article outlines the facts and strategies for handling your concerns about online predators.

Girl Scouts to Offer Cybersecurity Badges

Would you like a few strings of code with those cookies? Beginning in 2018, the Girl Scouts of the USA will offer 18 cybersecurity badges – including coding, principles of firewalls and even white hat hacking - available to girls in their programs who are in kindergarten through 12th grade. Girl Scout officials say the initiative seeks to encourage girls to pursue careers in the technology industry. The Girls Scouts currently have 1.8 million girls enrolled.

Your Cell Number – Are You Sharing It Too Freely?

Here’s a bad piece of news. Our cell phone numbers becoming a lot like Social Security numbers: they are the gateway to our identities, providing an entrance to personal data – your email address, physical address, even physical whereabouts—and all the personal information that is kept about you by nearly all corporations, financial institutions, and social media networks. Yet when we are asked for our cell numbers for whatever reason, we often give them out without even a second thought.  What can you do? Take a look at these tips and use common sense. If you are asked for your phone number, it never hurts to ask why.

Tips for Combating Hackers on Connected Devices

Teaching kids about the security vulnerabilities with Internet of Things (IoT) devices can help them avoid falling prey to hackers, writes Jacob Batchelor in an article entitled You've Been Hacked! Explaining Cybersecurity to Students in an Interconnected Era. Batchelor explains ways to introduce the problem of hacking to kids, help them recognize the problem of IoT hacks, and show them what they can do to protect their privacy. Experts predict that in just a few years, interconnected devices such as refrigerators, baby monitors, toys, Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home, will number in the billions.

Would You Pay a Ransom for Your Data?

A recent survey administered by Carbon Black looks at consumers’ responses to ransomware, and you may find the results surprising. The study found that if hacked, 52% of consumers would shell out a ransom for their data, and 12% would pay $500 or more. It was also found that consumers are less trusting of retailers with their data than they are of banks and health care providers. Furthermore, the majority of consumers believe the responsibility is on the individual businesses to keep their data safe, ahead of cybersecurity companies/cybersecurity software vendors, software providers (Microsoft, Apple, Google, etc.), and government organizations (FBI, NSA, CIA, etc.).

Tips for Guarding Against Ransomware

A report from Kaspersky Lab has revealed that mobile ransomware attacks increased globally during the first quarter of 2017 by 253%, evidenced by the recent WannaCry attack, and with the US being hit the hardest. Four ways users can better protect themselves are outlined in an article on the TechRepublic site, and includes advice such as doing regular scans on devices to check for infection and never entering personal information into a website that seems at all suspicious. Additional tips for protecting yourself were also recently discussed in an article in the Tech Section of The New York Times entitled How to Protect Yourself From Ransomware Attacks.

Edmodo Hack Revealed

A recent hack of the educational platform Edmodo compromised tens of millions' user records and led to the revelation that the company was not only using ad trackers to monitor student and teacher behavior, but then forwarding the data to data brokers. The company issued a statement saying it is investigating the security breach and it has removed the "problematic" ad-tracking code from its platform. Edmodo is a platform that 78 million teachers, students and parents use to communicate about homework and lesson plans, and more.

Is Teaching Kids Ethical Hacking Essential?

Most kids do not grow up dreaming of becoming a hacker, but that may be exactly what the US needs according to David Brumley, a professor of computer and electrical engineering at Carnegie Mellon. Brumly promotes the idea of a nationwide cybersecurity education program to bolster cybersecurity and protect the nation from attacks, and writes that we need to recognize that the hacking mindset - learning to think differently, being curious, and always experimenting - is very valuable and may be the only way to keep this country safe in the future.

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