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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Protect Your Personal Info At Work

With hacking a prevalent problem at home and in the workplace, a recent study commissioned by IT firm Sailpoint set out to see just how dangerous the modern workplace is for personal data, private browsing and identity protection.

According to the survey, one in five Americans would ditch a company if it lost their data, and 10 percent would tell their friends and family to abandon that business. But even though people are worried about it happening to them, nearly the same number of Americans said they would steal data from their employer, given the chance. Even more outrageous, almost a quarter of British citizens surveyed said they would sell that info for profit! (Only 5 percent of Americans would – or at least admit it.)

These statistics underscore the need for security in the workplace. There are simple things workers can do to protect themselves.

Always Log Out: A workplace uses a lot of public terminals and company-owned computers. From an open Facebook account to an e-mail left up, co-workers can swipe critical information just by walking past your desk. Sales leads or sensitive financial info are just a glance away if you don't take the extra three seconds before lunch to log out.

Make Complex Passwords: If you cover your desk in Yankees gear or have a prized pup named Pepper, you don't want to use these obvious interests as passwords. Any curious co-worker could pop into your personal info. Use at least one number or symbol to throw off would-be intruders.

VPN Services: A VPN account, which transfers your computer transmissions to a remote server, is the safest way to use office wifi. Many offices have encrypted wifi. But if co-workers are already on the same network, they can see your information with the right mouse clicks. So ensure that you are truly browsing in private at work.

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WiFi Security Tips Reports VPN Safest Surfing Tool

A report published by the LA Times this week makes a number of recommendations for how mobile tech users can protect against unwanted snooping. The most common entryway for any hacker, the report notes, is through public wifi at libraries, cafes and airports. But there are things you can do to protect yourself, from changing a few computer settings to running all your computer transmissions through a VPN service.

Secure Sockets Layer: This extra shield of security, design to encrypt sensitive data transmissions to keep others out, is too expensive for websites to have on all the time. But many of the top websites like Google, Facebook and Twitter allow you to turn these features on. For more info on how this is done, check out the article here.

Turn Off WiFi: Another setting change the report recommends is turning off your computer's wifi connection card before you leave the house. With wifi enabled, your computer will naturally search for open wifi connections along the way to the local café or library. These wifi networks may belong to homes or businesses without any type of security enabled, making your computer vulnerable to attack.

VPN Service: The most secure way to ensure private browsing is to log in using a VPN account, the report notes. Virtual Private Networks, or VPN's are remote servers that funnel all data that your computer transmits to the web to a server so it is guarded from hackers looking for info. Many of these services also hide your IP address so hackers can't tell where you are or what you are doing. The report notes that many companies allow access to a VPN, and some may require it. Interested workers should ask their IT department about protecting browsing in public spaces.

For more information, check out the full article at the link above.

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Apple's FaceTime Encryption Raises Security Concerns For Video Chatters

When Apple introduced FaceTime—an iPhone-based video chat service—in June 2010, it wasn't long before people raised questions about security. After all, FaceTime only works over wifi and, while most wireless systems are properly encrypted, many are not. How would Apple ensure private browsing, VOIP calling and video chatting?

Apple has stated that a best practice for any WiFi use is to ensure that WiFi encryption is being used with the access point (preferably WPA2) – accordingly, if enabled, then FaceTime is secured using this encryption.. If your WiFi uses a different type of security—namely the much maligned WEP— or, as in the case with much of public WiFi, no security, your Facetime calls may be open to hacking or theft.

This issue was raised in two recent cases. Aldo Cortesi, a Kiwi security consultant famous for his work on the class-action lawsuit against gaming network OpenFeint earlier this year, released a report this week calling several of Apple's security protocols into question. His concerns stem from the way Apple devices access game and app servers. His report indicates that over 100 million users could be vulnerable to internet spies, and recommends some kind of identity protection.

Tech blog ZDNet also recently reported on a Health and Human Services update that requires all healthcare providers looking for government funds to be HIPAA compliant. In order to gain compliance, health care providers must update wifi security if they plan to use FaceTime. The HIPAA statute declares that, while WPA and WPA Personal may be acceptable depending on the circumstances, WEP security is not allowed.

These questions as to current security have caused some to seek alternate means around mobile device call security in general. Users can bypass these security concerns by imposing their own security measures. Commercially available methods, like VPN services, offer protection no matter what type of wifi security is being used. This offers a sigh of relief to business professionals and long-distance couples who would prefer to keep their video calls as private as possible.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Don't Get Spooked By Online Halloween Shopping

According to a report released by the National Retail Federation, not even the ghosts of recession's past can scare away Halloween's buying brilliance. After taking a dip in 2009, 2010 saw a return to full-fledged spooky spending, with shoppers plunking down $1.8 billion on candy, $1.6 billion on decorations and another $1.8 billion on costumes, both for their children and themselves. While Halloween is fast becoming a holiday favorite, online shopping for your favorite scary gags without identity protection could leave you in very real terror.

Busy online shopping days like Cyber Monday (the newly-minted web-based answer to America's busiest shopping day, Black Friday) attract online scammers, hackers and snoops looking to catch your credit card number or other online information over non-encrypted wi-fi networks. If you are buying candy, costumes or decorations on a non-protected network without the protection of a VPN account, you may be broadcasting your personal shopping info to every prying eye within a one-block radius.

Just like your favorite Halloween mask, VPN services hide your IP address and other pertinent details so you can browse in private. Behind this mask, all your web information is transmitted through a remote server so that it isn't open to the average person looking in, no matter what security is available on your network.

While most online shopping portals and e-commerce sites are encrypted for safe shopping, some can be easily manipulated. And with many scammers using phony e-mails to steal personal information, busy shoppers getting e-mails from Halloween retailers are at increased risk for identity theft and hacking. But with dummy e-mail addresses and other security measures, VPN customers are better protected, behind a scary mask of security.

Don't get spooked by online Halloween shopping this year. Just get a better mask and scare the snoopers right back.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Smart Steps to Ensure Identity Protection

Recent studies have revealed that an estimated 10 million people a year fall victim to identity theft in the United States alone. This number is staggering. Nearly 70% of victims of identity theft face difficulties with their credit reports as a result of the crime against them and have trouble re-establishing credit after years of hard work. The results of identity theft can linger on for quite some time, causing financial and emotional frustrations.

By taking informed steps towards protecting yourself from identity theft, you can be assured your sensitive information doesn’t fall into the hands of someone with malicious intentions. However, it’s an unfortunate fact that nearly 45% of victims knew the perpetrators. You can never be too sure where someone seeking to benefit at your cost might come from, that’s why it’s crucial that you are protected.

Private browsing has become a major topic over recent months. With some of the government’s major departments being hacked, it’s alarming to what lengths some individuals are willing to go for information. The same can be said for online hackers who seek to obtain private information from Wi-Fi users. If you are shopping or paying bills online, your private information can be accessed if you’re not browsing in private.

Keep your documents, such as passports and social security cards locked in a safe at home. Shred bills and other paper documents that might contain sensitive information before throwing it out. You never know who may be searching through your trash.

Don’t get hooked through phishing – Certain hacking organizations generate emails to look as if they’re from your bank or cell phone company. They ask for your social security number and other sensitive information, with which they can cause extensive damage with.

Identity theft can come from a number of angles, make sure that you are prepared to face an attack. Use a VPN service when using the Internet. Keep track of your personal documents. Keep watch over your identity.

Friday, September 9, 2011

VPN Service: The Perfect Back-To-School Tool

When shopping for back-to-school technology, most students think of a new laptop, an external hard drive or a tablet. But what about making sure your classmates are keeping their eyes on their own paper this fall? According to the Federal Bureau of Consumer Protection, students age 20-29 are most likely to be victims of identity theft, making identity protection a serious concern on college campuses.

Many students use VPN services to ensure their identity cannot be stolen online. By funneling all online information through a private, encrypted server, students can hide an IP address so cyber crooks never get an
accurate read on where you are, what you are doing or how much you are spending.

College students are perfect targets for identity thieves. They usually have a large amount of disposable income, furnished by mom and dad or student loans; they often spend large portions of the day online; and they are constantly passing personal info through school websites and campus Wi-Fi networks. In short, today's college campus makes private browsing nearly impossible, making students vulnerable to hacking, snooping and identity theft. But a VPN account allows students to browse anonymously from anywhere.

Your identity includes your name, address, phone number, email, social security number, mother’s maiden name, ATM pin, date of birth, and account numbers or usernames. Any combination of these can provide enough information for an identify thief to steal from you. By protecting these pieces of information, you can ensure that you will not become a victim.

The Bureau of Consumer Protection also recommends monitoring your credit score, shredding bills and offers that contain personal information, limiting credit card usage and leaving your social security cards at home. But for online activity, VPN services can protect your digital life as well.

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Protecting Children Against Identity Theft In A Social Media World

You have taken strides to protect your children at school, at the supermarket and at the park. And by monitoring their Internet access, you have tried to protect them in cyberspace as well. But new reports show that, while identity protection software has never been more prevalent, identity theft is on the rise. And the thieves have a new target: children.

According to a new report from USA Today, the Federal Trade Commission has levied several large fines against companies targeting children. These companies track internet activity and distribute information, in violation of the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act, or COPPA. App maker W3 Innovations had to cough up $50,000 after they collected information on children and targeted products to kids younger than 13. Earlier this year the FTC wrested a record $3 million settlement from online game developer Playdom, now a division of Disney, for similar COPPA violations.

Child safety advocates have stressed the seriousness of these offenses, saying that childrens' new-found infatuation with online social networks and mobile devices have left them vulnerable to identity thieves and pedophiles.

Many households have attached further privacy measures on their home computers to protect these portals to their children. VPN services allow parents to filter all children's internet activities through an encrypted server so they can't be followed or tracked. Private information disappears every time your child logs off the computer, giving parents added peace of mind against this new breed of child predator.

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

VPN Services Find Censored Customers Abroad

While VPN services work wonders for businesses looking to protect proprietary information and college students working at coffeeshops, a VPN account protects more than just a few profit-loss statements or a class schedule. In some countries, it is the only shield you have against government scrutiny.

For years, oppressive governments in countries across the world have sought to control the flood of information to its citizens. But with the Internet's global reach, never has the want for informational freedom been greater. Recent demonstrations in Tunisia, Egypt, Lybia and Syria were convened using the Internet and social media. But with governments cracking down and seeking out activists online, the need to hide your IP address has never been greater. The web publication TheNextWeb.com reported that, in interviews with protestors, they claimed VPN's were a way of life now. One Bahraini activist, known on Twitter only as Abu Ahmed, said he takes many precautions like not tweeting until he is a safe distance from an event and obscuring faces in all photographs.

“It makes it harder to authorities to track small events and harder to identify me,” Ahmed said of his private browsing techniques. "Activists should also cover their online trail, use a program to hide your IP address and encrypt the data transferred."

In the September issue of the Atlantic, reporter James Fallows shows how the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Syria have put a scare into the Chinese government. A mildly oppressive government firewall called the Golden Shield has kept the flow of information out of China for years. But the government has turned a blind eye to businesses, students and other web warriors using proxy sites and VPN's.

Fear from these other nation uprisings has led to shake-ups in VPN usage, with customers still looking to circumvent the firewall and browse in private, but the government attempts to block these VPN channels. Now, VPN service providers are in private communications with customers, working to keep these channels running. The Atlantic believes the shake-up was simply a method to reassert power. But many VPN companies have vowed to keep improving services to nations like China, where private browsing is a luxury many are not afforded.

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