How hackers are taking advantage of the COVID crisis

We shared the news recently how the FBI is warning California to be on the watch for COVID-19 related scams, but it’s not just our state that needs to be on guard – it’s the whole world. Hackers, doing what they do, are taking advantage of the chaos and confusion the pandemic has created and are working overtime putting COVID-related scams to work. While everyone can be a target, unfortunately some that are being targeted more than others are among those on the front line, doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, police and other first responders.

Google warned recently that it has been identifying more than 240 million Covid-related spam messages per day, and that the previous week it had detected 18 million phishing and malware emails related to the pandemic each day. Overall, Gmail blocks more than 100 million phishing emails daily.

Kristy CooperHow hackers are taking advantage of the COVID crisis
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FBI warns that CA among top 3 states targeted by COVID-19 scammers

According to the FBI, the coronavirus isn’t the only danger people need to be watching out for these days as cybercriminals are focusing their attacks on the top 3 states with highest infection rates – California, New York and Washington.

In recent statements online, both the FBI Director and the US Attorney have warned Americans to be on their guard for a significant spike in coronavirus scams. In particular, they warn that cyber-attacks are most likely to target people working from home. The lack of sophisticated IT support and protection that people took for granted in the office leaves employees working from home open to attack and unprepared for what to watch for and what to do if they suspect something might be wrong.

Kristy CooperFBI warns that CA among top 3 states targeted by COVID-19 scammers
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Advanced social media safety tips

If you’re a serious social media user, you’ve probably got some basic safety protocols already in place. But we feel that you can never be too safe, so for all you savvy social users we’ve rounded up some advanced tactics to guard your safety both online and off.

Tip #1: The right mindset

Understanding that what goes online stays online – practically forever – is something that social media users of every age should know. When sharing information online it is important for people to realize the permanence of what they post, share or even download. Once information goes on the Internet through social networking it is difficult, if not impossible, to remove. Even for platforms such as Snapchat or Instagram stories that “disappear” within 24 hours, the information may be captured via screen shot and shared anywhere, anytime. Depending on what was originally submitted, those deleted posts can prove detrimental for future job prospects, relationships, and even leave a person vulnerable to crimes.

Kristy CooperAdvanced social media safety tips
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Safer Internet Day tips for online safety

From cyberbullying to cybercrime, the annual Safer Internet Day event is proclaimed to raise awareness of emerging online issues and promote safer internet experiences. If you leave your smart phone unlocked or use passwords like “abc123” you might start thinking differently after seeing these statistics. According to data gathered from top tech organizations, 2019 was a big year for cybercrime with 2020 projected to just keep getting worse.

  • One cyber-attack happens in every 39 seconds
  • Hackers stole credit card or financial information from 23% of US people
  • The US lost between $57 billion and $109 billion due to cybercrime
  • Phishing caused a loss of $1.48 billion
  • Email and phone are the most common access for hackers
  • 20% of teenagers received an unwanted sexual solicitation when they use the internet
  • At least 500,000 predators are active online every day, estimated by FBI

Scary? You bet. Education and awareness are two of the easiest and most powerful tools that we all have, as long as we use them. To help you protect your home, business and family from cybercrime, we’ve rounded up the best of our resources here – for home, for business and even for the holidays.

Kristy CooperSafer Internet Day tips for online safety
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Top 5 Tips for Social Media Safety

You may be on the lookout for phishing and other illegal scams in your inbox, but email isn’t the only place that targets people these days. Social media, a place where many people spend a lot of time, can also pose dangers to users who aren’t on their guard. These tips for social media safety will explain what you need to watch out for – and how to manage it.

TIP #1: Don’t overshare

Sharing thoughts, activities and slices of life are great. But sharing too much information can threaten your personal safety. When it comes to social media safety, avoid posting the following things:

Kristy CooperTop 5 Tips for Social Media Safety
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NYT Investigation Unveils Shocking Smartphone Tracking Practices

Most of us have wondered, at one time or another, if smartphone tracking is being done to us. Truth is… it probably is!

The New York Times released an interesting, in-depth investigation about who is tracked in the United States via personal smartphones and how much of that information is out there for public use. The answer? Everyone is tracked, no matter where they are. And all of that information is available to pretty much anyone who knows how to access it.

This all started when an anonymous source gave the Times a massive file showing location tracking data for more then 12 million phones from around the country that accurately showed where, when and for how long individuals visited places ranging from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

From the Times report:

“In the cities that the data file covers, it tracks people from nearly every neighborhood and block, whether they live in mobile homes in Alexandria, Va., or luxury towers in Manhattan. One search turned up more than a dozen people visiting the Playboy Mansion, some overnight. Without much effort we spotted visitors to the estates of Johnny Depp, Tiger Woods and Arnold Schwarzenegger, connecting the devices’ owners to the residences indefinitely.”

Kristy CooperNYT Investigation Unveils Shocking Smartphone Tracking Practices
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How Encrypted DNS Servers Can Support Internet Browsing Privacy

Looking for more ways to keep your browsing information private? Understanding how DNS (Domain Name Service) requests work, and how they expose the minutia of your internet activity, is a good place to start. Every time you visit a new website, your computer submits a request to the DNS servers system so it can translate the domain name to an IP address.

Let’s put it this way – DNS server information is like a detailed phone record showing all of your Internet use. And because DNS servers are what connect you to your internet service provider (ISP), this means that they can see what websites you are visiting, as well as when and how often you visit them.

Kristy CooperHow Encrypted DNS Servers Can Support Internet Browsing Privacy
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How the internet can protect your finances and home for the holidays

If you think you’ve got some time before the holidays are officially here, you’d be wrong. Black Friday deals are already in our Inboxes – and it’s not even Black Friday yet! Costco has had Christmas merchandise out since September. And Amazon Prime packages are piling up on porches as parents get a head start on holiday shopping. Along with the fun and good cheer of the season, however, comes a darker side with hackers, phishers, porch pirates and other not-so-jolly characters working hard to take advantage of distracted shoppers and deal-seekers.

To keep your season merry and bright, we’ve rounded up a few tips for using the internet to protect your finances, purchases, home, and even your happiness. 

Kristy CooperHow the internet can protect your finances and home for the holidays
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October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Even though this month has been designated National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we feel that your security is an all-year-long issue that everyone should be aware of. It’s no longer enough to watch for suspicious emails and think that you’re too small a target to attract the attention of cybercriminals. As criminals get savvier and their efforts more targeted, everyone from individuals to large organizations need to be aware and vigilant in using positive and protective cybersecurity practices.

Held every October, National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) is a collaborative effort between government and industry to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and to ensure that all Americans have the resources they need to be safer and more secure online. NCSAM was launched by the National Cyber Security Alliance & the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in October 2004 and continues annually.

Kristy CooperOctober is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month
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Redefining privacy in these modern times

What defines privacy is constantly evolving in these modern times. Smart phones, live streaming video chats, family safety tracking apps and smart home devices have made life much easier. But the flip side of these devices mean that GPS location tracking, microphones and cameras accessible via most any wireless devices have made “living off the grid” an impossibility. Reasonable expectations of privacy have become the subject of debates ranging from our nation’s highest courtrooms to the family kitchen table.

As you read this article, for instance, there are currently 2,000 satellites orbiting in the skies above us. By 2025 as many as 1,100 satellites could be launching each year, including SpaceX’s Starlink plans to add 12,000 small satellites by 2027. These satellites are being created and launched to provide everything from weather monitoring to global GPS positioning to boosting internet accessibility and taking pictures of every angle of the Earth.

Kristy CooperRedefining privacy in these modern times
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