Privacy and Security News and Tips 20160830

Software is like Lego. You can make anything with it, but it may not be appropriate. — Stuart Sherman, CEO of IMC Worldwide

Weekly Tip

May you live in interesting times. When it come to technology and its impact on our daily lives, we have arrived at those interesting times. Every time you turn around we have a new “connected” device whether it be our toaster, refrigerator, TV, or light bulb, we have something new to think about when it comes to protecting our security and that of our family. The internet of things has arrived in all of its glorious geekness for us to secure and defend.Protecting your Personally Identifiable Information

Think about your home network and how it has evolved over time form a simple dial-up connection on a single computer. We didn’t think about firewalls and security, but we also did not stay constantly connected to all that exists beyond our personal networks. Now, with everyone having an always on broadband connection, many of us rely on the “firewall” provided by our internet providers. Have your noticed they never need a password to work on it or update it, no matter who you work with at your provider. That is because they have hard coded back doors into your network. Can they be trusted? What about if someone homenetworkelse gets access to that information? What about the devices on your network, are they secure from the internet or each other? It is time to take matters into your own hands and think about adding some extra layers of protection to your network. The lengths you take this to will vary based on your needs, but you should consider using your own firewall inside of your network that blocks your provider getting to your computers. If you also have smart devices like cameras, lights, outlets, etc, you may want to think about a second firewall to keep all of those devices away from your computers and away from your internet provider. The image to the left shows a subset of my network, so you see 3 networks to segment different security zones. These are all set so the outside of each of my zones faces the inside of the provider and the outside of theirs goes to the internet. This can obviously be adjusted and expanded based on your needs, but in this configuration each segment allows for high levels of security and still gives you the ability to embrace the latest connected device (toothbrush).

When it comes to our security, we have to weigh the need for security and connectivity and make the most informed choices that will protect our data, devices, and privacy. Without the knowledge of what your devices will do, you may be sharing your nanny cam with the world, or allowing your neighbor access to unlock your doors and control your lights. You may be giving your passwords and voice recording to some overseas group. Embrace the technology, but make sure you go in with your eyes wide open to the probability that security was the last thing they thought of if that.

Interesting News

How to prevent your IoT devices from being forced into botnet bondage

Opera warns sync users to change passwords for every website after hack

Fantom Ransomware Poses As Windows Update, Encrypts Your Files For Fun

WhatsApp to start sharing data with Facebook

Disable WPAD now or have your accounts and private data compromised

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Privacy and Security News and Tips 20160726

Treat your password like your toothbrush. Don’t let anybody else use it, and get a new one every six months.Clifford Stoll

Weekly Tip

We all have numerous passwords that we count on in our daily lives, but how safe and secure is that password? Have you shared it with anyone? Were you aware that a federal court has made sharing passwords illegal? Do you use a password manager? Today I saw news of a zero-day vulnerability on Lastpass.

Protecting your Personally Identifiable InformationWe must be ever-vigilant with our passwords and password managers as well as two-factor authentication (2FA) (see links for more). Despite a federal ruling on sharing passwords, one of our presidential candidates asked their potential VP and his entire family, including grown children, to share all of their social media passwords with the campaign. California has ruled in favor of employers demanding the social media passwords of employees (long-standing ruling). There are numerous other examples of overreaching attempts at circumventing your privacy and security, so we all must be fully aware of what is and is not legal as well as what we will and will not allow when it comes to our data and privacy. It is best practice to use a password manager, 2FA, secure passwords, unique passwords for each and every location that requires a password, and to change passwords on a regular schedule based on the data that is being protected. It is also a good idea to make sure you are aware of the latest issues and/or updates for your password manager of choice.

It is your security that is at stake and you must take every reasonable step to protect it in this ever-changing digital landscape.

Interesting News

NIST Says SMS-Based Two-Factor Authentication Isn’t Secure


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Privacy and Security News and Tips 20160712

Nobody can hurt me without my permission.Mahatma Gandhi

Weekly Tip

As I read this week’s news about Pokemon Go and how it has full access to your Google Account on your phone and subsequently online it caused me to re-examine the access that I have granted to applications on my phone. When you do this, you will be surprised at what they want to access.

Protecting your Personally Identifiable InformationOur phones each have a different way of granting privileges to applications and some give us more control over each piece than others. The scary piece is when an application wants to access your call records or to be able to make a phone call when it has no business even interfacing with that section of your device. I have seen and read about applications accessing every part of the phone in what can only be seen as poor coding on the part of the developer, a blatant attempt to infect and control your device, or a lack of knowledge on the part of the developer with regards to the actual needs of the application. If you have the access to limit what rights are given, it is in your best interest to do so. Turn off access to contacts, sms, phone calls, gps, photos, etc if the application does not need access. This will make your phone more secure and efficient, and therefore will protect your privacy and increase your level of security. It is also a good idea to periodically look at these settings in case an update changes them.

We all use our phones for contact, news, entertainment, and more. What we need to do is be aware of how someone might corrupt that process to their benefit or to our detriment. Be safe, be smart, and be aware.

Interesting News

Pokemon Go Has Full Access Permissions to Your Emails and Documents

Google to change app permissions for ‘Pokémon Go’ after security concerns

Senator voices concerns about ‘Pokemon GO’ data privacy

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Privacy and Security News and Tips 20160705

On the soft bed of luxury many kingdoms have expired.Andrew Young

Weekly Tip

As time progresses and smartphone technology advances, we become ever more reliant on the power and presence of the computer we carry in our pockets. With everything it does and contains it is truly indispensable in so many ways that if we were to lose it or have it compromised we would be in dire straights.
Protecting your Personally Identifiable InformationBeyond the standard ideas of a secure pin or passcode of at least six characters and locking your device when you are not using it, there are other things to consider. One piece that many people do not think about is the authenticity and reliability of the software they install. Do you? All of the different phone platforms have an app store, and their own standards and rules for getting an app in the store. This does not always protect you as the user, and some platforms allow you to add apps from alternative sources. All of this opens us up to the chance of getting infected with malware. An application I have been happy with and been using for years is Lookout. They were recently featured on 60 minutes in a great piece about cell phone hacking. They watch and protect against malware, offer a tracking and alert option, and also a backup option for your contacts, all in the free version (iOS and Android).

There are many options and settings for protecting your phones no matter the platform or data you store and consume, so make sure to research and determine your particular needs. Remember, it is your privacy and your security at stake so it is your responsibility to make sure that anyone that wants to affect that is hindered to the best of your ability or those you enlist to aid you in this important endeavor.

Interesting News

How to Crack Android Full Disk Encryption on Qualcomm Devices

Apple iOS App Store riddled with malware — XcodeGhost haunts hundreds of apps

BlackBerry to Stop Making Classic Smartphone, Shares Fall

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Privacy and Security News and Tips 20160628

Law-abiding citizens value privacy. Terrorists require invisibility. The two are not the same, and they should not be confused.Richard Perle

Weekly Tip

Protecting your Personally Identifiable InformationIn this ever changing time, and with the constant influx of social media platforms to choose from, everyone is likely to find something that intrigues them. We have Twitter for short thoughts, Facebook for long ones, Periscope for videos, Instagram for photos, and numerous other for everything under the sun.

If you are one to flock to a certain platform, or even multiple platforms, be aware and ever vigilant with your privacy, security, and safety as well as that of your family. Each and every platform has some level of privacy and security setting that will allow you to control what information is used and shared with other users, the platform, and possibly their affiliates. This information can be your location, your shopping and/or browsing habits and history, your posts, your photos, your personal information such as name, address, phone numbers, and email address(es). If you do use social media, put some thought into what you do want to share, and make sure to fully explore all of the settings and options for the platform(s) you choose so that you can remain as safe and secure as possible while still participating in the social expanse.

As always, your privacy and security are up to you to control. And while it takes time now, and on a regular schedule to maintain said privacy and security, the peace of mind and the knowledge that you and your family are less likely to be a victim is well worth it.

Interesting News

Social media apps are tracking your location in shocking detail

Location Tracking: 6 Social App Settings To Check

Social Networking Privacy: How to be Safe, Secure and Social

How Social Media Privacy Settings Could Affect Your Future

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Privacy and Security News and Tips 20160621

There’s no harm in hoping for the best as long as you’re prepared for the worst.Stephen King, Different Seasons

Weekly Tip

With the summer travel season in full swing and the current state of our world it is wise to be prepared for problems,which brings us to a tip I read some time ago and have had in practice since then with minor adjustments for changing technology and environments.

Protecting your Personally Identifiable Information

Think about the contents of your wallet or purse. How many credit and debit cards, id cards, medical information, passports, etc do you have or take w

hen you travel? What happens if you lose them or they are stolen? Do you have medical issues, severe allergies, medical devices? What would you do if you were in a foreign country and had to replace the cards, prove who you are, or needed medical attention after having your wallet or purse stolen? Have you ever thought about making an emergency flash drive to carry your important information securely. I have, and that is today’s tip. To make this drive you will need a few items.

  • A physically small flash drive that is at least 2 GB formatted with exFat for maximum compatibility
  • A copy of VeraCrypt
  • Access to a scanner

The basic layout is as follows.

  1. Format the drive exFat
  2. In the root of the flash drive you will have a text file (MUST BE PLAIN TEXT) with some basic information (name, address, phone, “I AM AN AMERICAN CITIZEN”, “I HAVE INSURANCE”, include emergency contacts also) Title this file EMERGENCY.
  3. A file titled “Medical” that lists your medications, and allergies to drugs, foods, or bugs, as well as your primary care physician’s contact information. This document says “I HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE” at the top of it, so that you don’t run the risk of being denied treatment. If you have traveler’s insurance, put that info in here as well.
  4. A file of “credit card contact info” with details for each card you carry. Use this to quickly cancel your cards if your wallet is lost or stolen. Do not include the CC number, CVV, or expiration date. That data is in the secured partition of the drive.
  5. A scanned image copy or digital photo of your insurance card, front and back.
  6. A web browser. You can get portable versions of Chrome, Firefox, and other browsers that will run directly from the drive—more secure than using a public terminal loaded with who-knows-what snoopware.
  7. Install VeraCrypt and create a portable install on the flash drive
  8. Create an encrypted container on the flash drive approx 1GB in size and make sure to use a memorable but highly secure password
  9. In the container you will have the following items:
    1. Scanned copies of each of your credit and debit cards, front and back. (jpg format)
    1. A file titled “CCNs” that lists the account numbers, expiration dates, and CVVs of your cards as well as the toll-free contact numbers and international collect call numbers for each company. (plain text)
    2. The routing and account number for bank accounts, phone numbers to your local bank’s branch office. Be ready to have money wired or to freeze accounts. (plain text)
    3. Scanned copies or digital photos of your passport, your driver’s license, and at least one other form of state-issued photo identification. (jpg format)

Now that you have this drive, you will need to determine the best means of transport and security for the location and environment. There are drives that are “rugged” and will be fine on their own in most environments, but if you will be in a rainy location you may consider a watertight container. The drive should be on you at all times while traveling and should not be on your keys in case of theft. I carry mine in a “go tube” inside my clothing, but you can wear it as a necklace under your clothes or secure it to the inside of your clothes somehow. The idea is to have it not be subject to a pickpocket or being lost.

Interesting News

Facebook begins tracking non-users around the internet

Stop Facebook From Following You Around the Web

Secret Text in Senate Bill Would Give FBI Warrantless Access to Email Records

Web developers, meet WebGazer: software that turns webcams into eye-trackers

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Privacy and Security News and Tips 20160614

Companies spend millions of dollars on firewalls, encryption and secure access devices, and it’s money wasted, because none of these measures address the weakest link in the security chain.Kevin Mitnick

Weekly Tip

Protecting your Personally Identifiable InformationThe past few weeks brought news of a rush of new hacks and old ones brought back to light. We saw LinkedIn, Tumbler, and Twitter with breaches in the tens of millions of accounts. We saw major celebrities get hacked from Mark Zuckerberg and Lana Del Rey, Katy Perry, the NFL, and DeRay Mckesson.

The story of DeRay Mckesson (see links) is the ultimate motivation for this tip. While most of the celebrity hacks were achieved due to poor security practices such as reused passwords across platforms, weak passwords, and not using two factor authentication (2FA) where available, DeRay was following all of the best practices and was still hacked. When you consider 2FA uses your cell number to send you a text in many cases, have you secured your carrier account with all of the available security measures they offer? In many cases someone can call in and have a new phone assigned to your number which will allow them to receive your 2FA codes and bypass your security. You should visit you cellular account and make sure to enable a security pin right away. It is free and easy and will give you that extra layer of protection that could be the difference between security and insecurity despite all of you other efforts.

As always I do suggest strong, unique passwords for every account as well as unique usernames when feasible. I also suggest unique disposable email addresses for each account if possible. To make this manageable a good password manager is also recommended.

Interesting News

DeRay Mckesson, activist, disavows Trump endorsement after being ‘super hacked’

Mark Zuckerberg’s Twitter and Pinterest accounts hacked, LinkedIn password dump likely to blame

Check your BITS, because deleting malware might not be enough

Researchers Turn Smartphone Vibration Motor into Microphone to Spy on You

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Privacy and Security News and Tips 20160531

Everyone complains about the weather, but nobody ever seems to do anything about it. — Willard Scott

Weekly Tip

Protecting your Personally Identifiable InformationThis month we have seen record rainfall in Texas, tornadoes in Kansas and Colorado, and earthquakes around the world. With these unpredictable acts of nature we have seen of late I thought I would talk about how we can prepare our digital lives for some of the more unforeseeable events.

Having a comprehensive backup plan in place should be at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts in today’s ever-changing and growing digital world. Local backups are great for the ease, time, cost, and convenience with which we can create and access them, but they are limiting in a disaster situation. Online or offsite backups are the next, and most logical solution to continued access and availability of our data. The costs have come down, and with the widespread availability of high speed internet access in our homes we cannot afford to not consider them as part of our comprehensive solution. Each online provider has their pros and cons, and should be researched to find what suits your needs.

Don’t look at your backup solution as only necessary for natural disasters, but to eliminate so many potential issues from theft, fire,or flood, to equipment failure, redundancy and ultimately piece-of-mind as we rely more and more on our digital data everyday.

Interesting News

Causes of data loss and some statistics


Thinking Inside the Box

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Privacy and Security News and Tips 20160517

When it comes to privacy and accountability, people always demand the former for themselves and the latter for everyone else. — David Brin

Weekly Tip

Protecting your Personally Identifiable InformationThis week we saw news about Google deprecating Flash in Chrome except for a chosen few websites. We also saw news of Microsoft inserting more ads onto our Start menus in Windows 10 as well as automatically scheduling our computers to upgrade to Windows 10 whether or not you want to upgrade. Finally, we have seen the headlines about Facebook censoring the news to fit their agenda.

You DO NOT have to accept this. It is your right to have a browser that does not run Flash at all (Firefox), and to not be indexed and branded. As for the Windows 10 upgrade, there are ways to still be able to run non-Windows 10 versions if you want to or need to. With all of the privacy and security issues we know about in Windows 10, I would not recommend upgrading until or unless those issues are fixed.

Now, as for the news, as Americans it is our inalienable right to free speech, and as such we should demand a fair and impartial delivery of the news no matter our political, social, or philosophical leanings. Seek out such news outlets, gather your news from the source if possible, use multiple avenues, do as you must to be informed and educated about the country and world around you so that you can make informed decisions. Demand the same of everyone you know and even those you don’t. The more informed we are as a populous, the better equipped we are to stand up for our rights and to demand the best for ourselves.

Interesting News

Academics Make Theoretical Breakthrough in Random Number Generation

How hackers smooth-talked their way past the security of a power company

Google to block Flash on Chrome, only 10 websites exempt

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Privacy and Security News and Tips 20160426

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!.Benjamin Franklin

Weekly Tip

Protecting your Personally Identifiable Information

With the passing of Prince last week and the recent revelation that he did not have a will, I thought I would talk about some documents we should all have for our piece of mind, security, and to help our loved ones when the time comes.

As we mature and have dependents that count on us, we need to consider how they depend on us and how we can plan for our future and theirs. To ensure you have the appropriate authority in place, health care directives, and that your intentions are clearly and legally defined, the following documents are the bare minimum you will need:

  • Will/Trust
  • Advanced Directive or Living Will
  • Power of Attorney for Healthcare
  • Power of Attorney for Finances
  • HIPAA Release Form
  • Beneficiary designations
  • Letter of intent
  • Guardianship designations

These items should be professionally sourced, signed, witnessed and notarized. As a security consideration, the original should be on file with your attorney, a copy in your safe, and a copy with your executor. It is also a good idea to have scans of these in a secure format that you can take with you in an emergency.  You must make sure that all of these are maintained and updated and that they are stored as securely as possible.

Interesting News

Dangerous Windows 10 flaw lets hackers secretly run any app on your PC

It was shockingly easy for ’60 Minutes’ to hack a congressman’s iPhone

The FBI is working hard to keep you unsafe

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