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‘Tis the Season for Tax Fraud

Fraudulent tax returns were estimated to cost the IRS $5.2 billion in 2014, according to an audit by the Government Accountability Office.  So far this year, Intuit, the company that makes Turbo Tax, and some states have seen an increase in suspicious filings and attempts by criminals to use stolen tax information to file fraudulent state tax returns and claim tax refunds.  The risk is real.

Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen Social Security number (SSN) to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund.  Generally, an identity thief will use your SSN to file a false…


Tips to Protect Your Device from Hackers

Phishing continues to be the most common way for attackers to gain access to your device. Phishing can be done in many forms, most commonly through email. However, the sudden rise of popular games on mobile devices, like Pokémon Go, has given the attackers the opportunity to take advantage of unsuspecting users in new ways.

For phishing to occur in an application, a compromised version of an otherwise safe and well known application will be hosted on a site other than the major distributor of the app (iTunes, Google Play). Once installed, the application will take advantage of a vulnerability…


Protect Yourself from Ransomware

Have you heard the term ransomware recently?

Ransomware is a form of malware that can be very destructive. It can be downloaded when an unsuspecting user clicks on an email link or visits a website that is infected. Once the ransomware has installed itself, it goes to work encrypting all of the data on the computer’s hard drive. Upon completion of the encryption, a screen is displayed that will inform the user that they have a certain amount of time to transfer the “ransom” to the attacker or their data will be either left encrypted and inaccessible or destroyed. Usually…


What Can I Do To Become More Cyber-Secure?

People often ask me, “What can I do to be more secure at home and work?” There are several pillars to sound cyber security practices. The obvious answers are: keep your systems up to date by patching regularly, deploy a firewall as well as antivirus and antimalware solutions on your computer. What most people forget about is the human factor. Whether intentional or unintentional, many breaches occur because of human error.You are the last line of defense in the cyber security war.

So what can you do? Applying the following low or no-cost solutions will help you protect your data.


Do You Have a Weak Password?

Did you know that hackers use lists of common passwords that meet common complexity standards as an easy method to gain access to computers and computer networks?  Many applications and websites may ask you to change your password every 90 days and there may be strict requirements for choosing your password, but that does not guarantee your password will not be easy to guess.

Here are some examples of passwords that meet strict criteria, but are easily guessed:

Password            P@ssword          Winter2015

Spring2015         Fall2015             Summ3r2015

Phillies#1            Eagles#1            Flyers#1

To protect yourself against hackers, keep the following information in mind when creating a…


What To Expect From New Chip Cards

Have you recently received a new credit or debit card from your financial institution? These new cards are equipped with imbedded computer chips to improve the security of in-store purchases. This action is a result of a new rule that goes into effect October 1, 2015 that requires merchants to upgrade their payment terminals in order to read the chips on the cards.

The conversion from magnetic stripes to chips has accelerated because credit and debit card liability will soon shift from the banks to the merchant – or the party with the least secure method of processing the transaction.

Transitioning to…


Cyber Scams – Smishing and Vishing

Have you ever received a text message or a phone call stating that there is a problem with your credit card or bank information? Beware! This could be a smishing or vishing scam. While most cyber scams target your computer, smishing and vishing target your mobile phone.

Most people have heard of phishing which is the act of attempting to acquire personal information such as passwords or credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication such as email. Other the other hand, smishing uses a cell phone text message to entice people to divulge their…


Cyber Security: Best Practices for your Home

Home computer security doesn’t happen by accident.   Even with tools like firewalls, anti-virus and anti-malware software you need to configure them correctly to protect your network and your computer.   Where do you start?  Follow these recommendations to make your home network more secure for your family:

 

  • Secure your wireless network – Change the default settings to prevent an unauthorized person from accessing your network. 
    • Change the name of the router – The router name is also known as the SSID.   Rename the router to whatever you like, but something that will not identify you or your family.
    • Change the default password –…

Tips for Secure Cyber Monday Shopping

The holiday season is upon us, and with that, often comes online shopping.  Before you click or tap to buy items online, read the tips below to avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime.

1. Secure your mobile device and computer.  Make sure the operating system and application software are up-to-date on all of your computers and mobile devices. Additionally, confirm all installed anti-virus/anti-spyware software is running and receiving automatic updates and your firewall is enabled.

2. Know and trust your online shopping merchants.  Limit online shopping to merchants you’re familiar with and trust. If you have questions about a merchant’s credibility,…


Protect Yourself with a Strong Password

Have you ever wondered why so many people have their accounts hacked? It is often because they did not follow best practices for creating a password. In most cases, the passwords used were too short, lacked complexity and were not changed on a regular basis. In the cases of celebrities who had their cloud based internet storage systems hacked, the attacker was allowed to continue to try different passwords without locking the account. When passwords are short common words, it does not take a hacker long to get into your account.

So, what should you do to protect your password?   

  • Choose a password that…
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