Telltale Signs an App is Violating Your Privacy

Malware isn’t just for laptops and desktops. In fact, it can be a lot easier for malware to end up on your mobile phone or tablet than your computer. When it comes to mobile malware, a little bit of paranoia goes a long way. Malicious apps can steal your personal information, including sensitive financial information that can then be used to steal your identity. A lot of malware ends up on your phone due to malicious apps. So what are signs that you might already have a malicious app on your phone?

Slow Internet Connections

A slow Internet connection doesn’t always mean malware, but it is one of the few symptoms that even the most sophisticated malware can’t hide. Whether a malicious app is phoning home, communicating information about you or using your mobile device as part of a botnet scheme, it’s going to be using Internet bandwidth to do it. So if your connection speeds are all of a sudden crashing down to nothing, that can be a very clear sign that there’s something amiss with one of your apps.

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This is why People Fear the Internet of Things

The "Internet of Things" (IoT) is a fast growing segment of all techonologies.  Being able to connect to your home thermostat, remotely lock (or unlock) your front door or operate a surveillance camera in your home or office all are very intriguing.  But like a lot of things - Danger Lurks!  

The following article from "Krebs on Security" is fairly dense reading, but does a great job of describing many of the potential security issues surrounding the IoT.  Like many issues involving Internet techologies, there are ways to do things right.  Usually, they are not the easiest to implement and rarely are they inexpensive, however we caution all our clients to make sure that the fancy new gizmo that you want to add to your network doesn't inadvertantly create an enormous security hole!

Imagine buying an internet-enabled surveillance camera, network attached storage device, or home automation gizmo, only to find that it secretly and constantly phones home to a vast peer-to-peer (P2P) network run by the Chinese manufacturer of the hardware. Now imagine that the geek gear you bought doesn’t actually let you block this P2P communication without some serious networking expertise or hardware surgery that few users would attempt.

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Spotting Potential b2b Scams

B2b scams are all the rage these days.  There are big ones and small one.  It's surprisingly easy to miss one. This article from the FTC outlines the fight against these scams.

A small business or nonprofit gets what appears to be an invoice for a listing in an online yellow pages directory. On the face of it, it looks legit. It includes the name of an employee at the office, a copy of what the listing looks like, the "walking fingers" symbol associated with directories — and a demand for the $486.95 the business or nonprofit supposedly owes for the listing. What's really going on? As an FTC case against Canadian scammers suggests, chances are it's a fraud targeting small businesses, doctors' offices, retirement homes, churches, etc. And your company or community group could be at risk.

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Encryption: How to and Why it's Important

Encryption is the process of protecting personal data, often with a form of “secret code,” so that it cannot be read by anyone who doesn’t have the code key. Today, huge amounts of personal information are managed online, via computer applications, and stored in the cloud, or servers with an ongoing connection to the Web.

It’s nearly impossible to do business of any kind without personal data ending up in a networked computer system, whether you are a buyer, seller, private citizen, or major corporation. So why should you get serious about encryption?

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Online Gift Card Scam

Editor's Note - It's that time of year again.  This year's holiday season will like bring record online shopping and with it a level of risk. In addition to all that we write and report about making sure your computers and networks are secure, there now are dubious online "retailers" who continue to find new ways to scam consumers.  Here's a report from the Better Business Bureau.

This holiday shopping season, be on the lookout for a new scam technique. As shoppers become wary of paying by wire transfer and pre-paid debit card, scammers are trying something new. They are requesting victims purchase and pay with gift cards. 

 How the Scam Works:

You are shopping online and discover a website that sells flat screen TVs, computers, cameras and other big ticket items for deeply discounted prices. You do some research, and find a few reviews from satisfied customers. The price is so great, you decide to give it a try.

During checkout, the site instructs you to purchase an Amazon gift card and use the gift card information as payment. The site may claim that this unorthodox form of payment helps you save paying sales tax. 

No matter what the website says, don't do it! The site -- and the good reviews -- are all fake. Paying by gift card is just like wiring money, using a pre-paid debit card, or paying cash; it's untraceable. You will be out the money spent on the gift card, and the item you purchased will never arrive.  

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