Category: Thought Leadership

Health Insurance Exchange & Online Safety

With the open enrollment period for Health Insurance Exchange websites right around the corner — October 1, 2013 — the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) recently issued a scam alert warning consumers to be aware of fake databases. The most frequently asked questions from consumers have been “are the databases safe?” and “is my information secure?”

Read on to discover the ITRC’s assessment of the risk and for tips on how to keep your medical data safe.

DefCon Conference Report: Your Home Router and Even Your Appliances are Vulnerable to Hackers

Recently, 15,000 hackers and security experts gathered in Las Vegas for DefCon 21, an annual conference where all the new hacking exploits and computer vulnerabilities are discussed.

While attendees learn how to wage new attacks on many systems, the conference also discusses how to prevent these attacks.

Military and Social Media Scams

Often a vulnerable population from a consumer protection standpoint, the military has a unique set of challenges when engaged in social media as well. In fact, the Army has a division (the Online and Social Media Division in the Office of the Chief of Public Affairs) that recognizes the need for educating its soldiers on the effective and safe use of social media. Additionally, just a few weeks ago, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, commonly known as CID, warned the Army community to be “vigilant of internet scams and impersonation fraud, especially within popular social networking and dating websites.”

The Identity Theft Resource Center offers up some tips on how military personnel can keep themselves protected against social media scams.


Ask the Expert: What Google Knows

Q: “I just read a shocking article which stated that Google recently told a court that users should not expect privacy when using their services, and that if a user wants privacy, they should use another service. I love gmail and YouTube, but I’m scared about a huge corporation knowing so much about me. Should I be wary of using Google products?”

Click to find out more!

Mobile Phone or Monitoring Bracelet? Court Rules Your Cell Phone Tracking Data is No Longer Private

The United States Appeals Court for the Fifth Circuit recently ruled that law enforcement does not have to issue a warrant in order to access historical location data that is stored by cellphone providers.

The court ruled that your location data is a “business record” and is not private information about you protected by the Fourth Amendment. To paraphrase Joe Biden, this is a BFD.

Where Are Data Breaches Really Coming From?

Last week’s Citi Bike data breach caused quite a flurry, exposing 1,174 pieces of user data after a technical glitch; like a hurricane, the story broke, caused confusion and chaos, and then just as quickly died down.  In relative terms, the Citi Bike breach is a small one.  However, one of the most surprising elements of this breach were the public comments which expressed outrage at the banks, credit card companies, even the government.

But the reality is: this was a business breach and it was the responsibility of NYC Bike Share to protect the information. With all these people up in arms about the financial industry reporting yet another breach, we think it’s important that consumers really know what they are up in arms about.  Read on to learn more about where data breaches come from.

The Pros and Cons of a Credit Freeze vs. Fraud Alert

Individuals who receive a data breach notification letter are not automatically victims of identity theft.  There is, however, a strong correlation between data breaches and identity theft.  According to a recent Javelin study, one in four data breach notification letter recipients eventually becomes a victim of identity fraud.  However individuals that are not yet victims of identity fraud will not necessarily face the same level of complexity in responding to the issue.

Two of the strongest tools in the arsenal are the Fraud Alert and the Credit Freeze.  Below is the explanation of what each action will accomplish, the pros and cons of each, and why timing is also key.

Starbucks and AT&T Think You Should Be Using a VPN

If you use free WiFi networks at Starbucks coffee shops listen up!

AT&T provides the hotspot and buried in the Terms and Conditions is the following sentence: “If you have a VPN, AT&T recommends that you connect through it for optimum security.”

Read on for more details.

The State of In-Flight Wifi: The Sky’s the Limit

Recently, RouteHappy, a flight search site that helps users determine which flights have wifi on them, published some interesting facts about the current state of wifi on planes. If you are a frequent flyer, you might be interested to know where we are now with wifi access on planes, and where we are headed.

Long story short: more and more airlines are offering in-flight wifi and this trend is increasing exponentially. Read on for some more details about flying and wifi and how to keep your communications secure in the sky.

Not Worried About Government Surveillance Because You Have Nothing to Hide? Maybe You Do

Recently, it has come to light that the National Security Agency and the FBI have been spying on U.S. citizens, logging our phone calls, storing all of our emails in huge databases for possible future use, and working with Silicon Valley companies to track our online behavior.

While this has bothered some of us, others have responded with a mere shrug of the shoulders.

“So what if the government is spying on us? I have nothing to hide anyway so why does it matter? Anyway, if they want to listen to my boring phone calls with my mom, more power to them.”

If we are being honest with ourselves, there’s probably a part in all of us that agrees with this view. Perhaps it’s because we live in an online world dominated by social media. We just assume that we have very little privacy anymore and there’s nothing we can do about it, so why worry about it?

Read on to find out why you DO need to worry!