Scam of the day – June 22, 2017 – How to protect your cellphone

We all conduct many  activities on our cellphones which contain much personal information that can lead to identity theft if our phone falls into the wrong hands.   I have written many times about protecting your cellphone from a cyberattack or hacking, but what about an old fashioned theft of your phone? Cell phones can get lost or stolen and it is important to protect yourself from those dangers as well.

TIPS

The best protection for your phone starts with a strong password or fingerprint scanner.  Also, set your phone so that it locks when you are not using it.  Make sure that you back up everything in your phone regularly. Install the  Find My iPhone app  if you have an iPhone or the Find My Device app if you have an Android phone.  These will enable you to locate your cellphone if it is lost or stolen and also allow you to send a command to erase everything in your cellphone even if the phone has been turned off.  If your phone is lost or stolen, you should immediately contact your wireless provider to have them disable the SIM card in your phone so that your phone cannot be used by someone else.  As for protecting your phone from cyberattacks, it is important to both download and continually update security software.

Scam of the day – June 20, 2017 – Another cosmetic surgery clinic suffers data breach

On June 5th I reported to you about the data breach at a Lithuanian cosmetic surgery clinic and now we have learned about a similar, but significantly different data breach suffered by prominent Beverly Hills plastic surgeon  Dr. Zain Kadri whose patients include people from many states and four countries.

The data breach, which law enforcement says, affects approximately 15,000 people includes tremendous amounts of data, information and documents including before and after surgery photographs, patient records, credit card information and patient contact information.  It appears that Dr. Kadri’s practice was both electronically hacked and physically burgled by a person, who police say, was a former employee.

The patients victimized by this crime face blackmail, extortion and identity theft as a result of the data breach.

TIPS

Medical practices continue to be a prime target for identity thieves because they are often quite vulnerable to cyberattacks, but as this case apparently shows, data breaches can be done through old fashioned burglaries as well and it is important for all entities that store personal data to take steps to secure data both physically as well as electronically and to limit access to such information to only such employees as have a need to have access to the information.

Unfortunately, there is little that we as consumers and patients can do other than to limit the amount of personal information we provide, as best we can.  For example, your doctor does not need your Social Security number.  We should also inquire of anyone or any entity that retains our personal information about what they do to secure that information.

Scam of the day – April 10, 2017 – Dallas Emergency warning system hacked

Last Friday night the city of Dallas’ emergency warning system was hacked causing all of its 156 emergency sirens to blare throughout the night and into Saturday warning.  As could be imagined, there was substantial panic and concern by local residents.  This warning siren could also be heard as another loud warning as to the vulnerability of much of our national infrastructure to attacks by hackers with more harmful intentions.  Last year there were almost 300 cyberattacks on critical infrastructure including the electrical grid.  Due to the Intenet connectiveness of so much of our critical infrastructure including our energy system, transportation systems and even financial services, the country continues to be vulnerable to cyberattacks.

TIPS

While improvements have been made in essential cybersecurity, much remains to be done as detailed in numerous reports in recent years by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).  In particular, companies and governmental agencies should be improving their ability to identify cyberthreats and implement continuing processes for securely configuring computer systems, applications, workstations, servers and network devices.  It also is important to patch vulnerable systems and replace unsupported software.  Sharing of information between government and business must be an essential element of any cybersecurity programs.

Scam of the day – March 1, 2015 – Bank teller convicted of identity theft

Recently, Nadia Figueroa, a bank teller at a JP Morgan Chase bank in White Plains, New York was convicted of being part of an identity theft ring that stole $850,000  from the accounts of innocent depositors in the bank.  Figueroa obtained personal and account information of hundreds of the bank’s customers with accounts of more than $50,000 and then provided that personal and account information to two accomplices, Tyrone Lee and Anthony Davis who created fraudulent checks and identification documents which they used to impersonate the real account holders and withdraw funds from their accounts at other branches of JP Morgan Chase in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.  Lee and David had already been convicted of grand larceny, identity theft, criminal possession of a forged instrument and scheming to defraud.

TIPS

This case serves as a reminder that it is not just foreign hackers who are attacking banks through cyberattacks, but also criminal, rogue employees who steal from banks by misusing their positions and the information to which they have access.  This should be a wake up call to banks and other financial institutions to provide constant security programs to minimize the opportunity for this type of crime.  It also is another reminder to all of us that the price of security is eternal vigilance.  Everyone should regularly monitor all of their financial accounts for any evidence of anything out of the ordinary.  The sooner you recognize a problem, the easier it is to fix.

Scam of the day – May 30, 2013 – Iranian attacks on American banks

It should come as no surprise to regular readers of Scamicide because I have been warning you about this for many months, that the American banking system is under intense cyberattack from cybercriminals intent upon disrupting our financial system.  These attacks could have a  profound effect on you if you do not take the proper precautions.  Recently the source of many of these cyberattacks has been traced to Iran and, due to the sophistication of the recent attacks, it is speculated that the attacks are part of a governmental effort against the American banking system rather than the work of just common cybercriminals.  This situation will get worse before it gets better, however there are some things that you can do to protect yourself.

TIPS

Be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.  Online banking is still the most safe way to do your banking, but online banking security starts with a secure password that is difficult for cybercriminals to decipher.  Don’t use any word that is in the dictionary.  Computer programs used by identity thieves can crack any such password in short order.  Use a mixture of letters and symbols, the longer the better.  Including signs that are easy for you to remember, such as $ or ! and in multiples as a part of your password can dramatically enhance the security of your password and your account.  Also, refrain from using public WIFI for financial transactions and when you do use WIFI, make sure your tablet, laptop, or smartphone contains the most up to date security and encryption software.  Also, keep hard copies and a USB flash drive of your banking records to help prove what you have in your account if you account is hacked.  Finally, when disposing of paper records of your bank account, make sure you use a cross shredder so that the records cannot be used to make you a victim of identity theft.