Category Archives: News

Mail Tracking Revelation Shows Why Transparency Is Vital

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With the latest revelations coming to light about the letters that were tainted with ricin being sent to President Obama and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the need for transparency is becoming more clear every single day. It has now been revealed that a computer takes high resolution images of every letter and package front and back and keeps them on file. This is only the latest in a series of domestic surveillance admissions here on American soil.

The mailings were intercepted at various points in the mailing process. The horrible potential of these letters were stopped and it was largely due to the MICT machines that provided them the information. These machines literally keep records of what you have mailed down to the letter. Fortunately this surveillance did what they intended and saved some folks in the process. That said, this latest information shows that we need to have a long talk with our government about transparency.

After 9/11, we found out that we would have to give up some personal freedoms in the interest of national security and protection. Most Americans embraced what was needed and we banded together to get the job done. Some rules were put in place that was designed to prevent terrorism and domestic crime in and out of our country. Somewhere along the way we have lost sight of the programs and stopped the dialogue.

Related content:  Is Your Status Drawing Homeland Securities Attention?  Keywords Revealed

The United States government and the NSA needs to come out and provide the American public with a comprehensive list of the ways in which we are being watched. We need to know when our phone lines are being tapped. We need to know when our mail is being monitored and we need to know when our Internet access is being followed and documented. Any domestic surveillance that is going on that would normally require a warrant should be revealed voluntarily and quickly.

This transparency is the only way that we will have the ability to have an open and honest discussion about what is truly necessary. How else can we have that discussion? We don’t have the facts. That much is clear based on the revelations in recent years of surveillance we were unaware of. The American people have a right to choose when something is excessive. Give them the tools to do just that and we will remain protected.

Can Smartphones Steal Our Credit Card Information?

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There was a time when credit cards had to be slid through a funky machine and stamped. This left your personal information fairly insecure or at least at the mercy of the retail establishment’s security procedures. Now credit cards are so fancy you can simply walk by and tap them to pay for your bill. Would it surprise you to know that your credit card could be even more at risk today despite the jump in technology? A CBC News investigation is saying that a simple Smartphone app is capable of swiping your information right through your wallet. In about one second, they were able to use a Samsung Galaxy SIII and an app that shall remain nameless to do the deed. Information like the card number, expiration date and name was quickly stolen with a simple walk by.

That is alarming news to those of us that use PayPass or payWave from MasterCard and Visa collectively. Both appear to be susceptible to the app and the smartphone despite what is said by those with Visa or MasterCard. Both companies say that their products are safe and that you are not responsible for unauthorized purchases anyway. For me, the proof is in the doing. They were able to take a card’s information with a simple walk by, and then use it to purchase a Coke. That shows me that it is possible despite claims to the contrary.

This is a natural progression that one should expect to see when new technologies are being formed. If you come up with a new way to do things where paying and money is concerned, someone, somewhere is going to try to exploit it. It is the unfortunate way of the world. Once they have been caught a few times, then the technology will Continue reading Can Smartphones Steal Our Credit Card Information?

Reverse Email Lookup: Looking Someone Up By Email Address

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Reverse Email Lookup: What, Why, and How?

When it comes to communicating with people these days, asking for an email address is as common as asking for a phone number, if not more so. With the increasing prevalence of smart phones, people can access their email accounts whenever and wherever they like. Unlike making some calls, using email is basically free, so it’s a great way to stay in contact with friends and family as life moves us in different directions.

On the downside, there’s nothing more frustrating than finding a random email address scribbled on a piece of paper with no other information, or getting a message from email addresses you don’t recognize. The great news is that now a reverse email lookup can be conducted on these unknown email addresses, helping you protect yourself from spam, viruses, or even identity theft. Similar to doing a reverse phone lookup, reverse email searches can now be performed with the click of a button.

What is a Reverse Email Lookup?

One way of trying to determine who an email address belongs to is to type it into a search engine, like Google or Bing. Of course, this is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. In some cases, pages and pages of results can be returned that may or may not be useful. Also, many sites do not allow email information to be indexed in search engines, making it impossible to gather information from basic searches. In both of these situations, using a search engine to find information about an email address is fruitless. This is where reverse email lookup services come into play.

There are many different websites available that provide users with a means of finding information based solely on an email address. Using the email address, the reverse email lookup service sifts through thousands of records until they locate the name, address, phone number, and any other information about the person associated with that email address. The amount of information provided by the site can vary, depending on the authority of the site and whether membership with the site is required.

How to Conduct a Reverse Email Lookup

To conduct a reverse email lookup, you can begin by typing “reverse email lookup” into your search engine of choice. You can also skip this step altogether, and navigate directly to an authoritative site that offers this service, such as PeopleFinders or USA People Search. Once you are on one of these sites, enter the email address into the reverse email lookup search box. Almost instantly, you will be redirected to a new page, filled with information about the email address provided. It’s important to note that the search may be limited geographically to a single country, such as the United States, so keep that in mind as you conduct your search.

Conducting a reverse email lookup is easier than ever. Using these simple steps, you’ll find all the information available online about that random, scribbled email address in no time – and you won’t have to worry about the possibility of identity theft the next time you receive an email from an unknown sender.

State Farm Charged in Hurricane Katrina Claim Fraud Case

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When you think of fraud, you generally think about some scum hiding behind a keyboard somewhere in a dark basement. The last thing that would come to mind would be your insurance company. State Farm Insurance has been charged with fraud in a case out of Mississippi. In the wake of horrible Hurricane Katrina, State Farm is accused of burying, modifying and hiding damage reports to keep from having to pay.

The whole idea of insurance in a hurricane becomes difficult to sort through. The general idea is that an insurance company is often on the hook for wind damage whereas the water damage is paid out federally. In this case, the National Flood Insurance Program was to be reimbursed a quarter of a million dollars due to the accused fraud.

How tough must that be? How in the world do you separate wind and water damage in a storm the size of Katrina? Some houses were blown away while others were ripped from their foundations by rising tide waters. The insurance companies had plenty of motives to aim the destruction towards the waters. They knew they were facing huge debts regardless so a culture of deception is not really all that surprising. In a world where looters take advantage of people whose homes are devastated, nothing really surprises us anymore.

It was first brought to light in 06 when ABC News spoke with two sisters that accused the company of an entire culture of fraud around the locations in Biloxi and Gulfport. They accused Continue reading State Farm Charged in Hurricane Katrina Claim Fraud Case

Hack AT&T? That’ll Cost You Over 3 Years in Prison

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download-key-logger-programA man who successfully exploited a hole in AT&T’s web security to obtain information about iPad customers was sentenced on Monday to 41 months in prison and an additional three years of supervision following his release. While Andrew Auernheimer didn’t put the information he obtained to any malicious use, under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, he did commit a serious computer crime. He was charged with one count of identity fraud, as well as one count of conspiracy to access a computer without authorization.

The hacking occurred back in 2010, when he and a colleague discovered a security hole in AT&T’s website and wrote a program they called the iPad 3G Account Slurper. The program allowed them to access the email addresses and ICC-ID numbers, and other data about the users affected. (ICC-ID numbers identify an iPad and who it belongs to.) Rather than taking the information they retrieved and using it to harm the users affected, they sent their findings to a popular website so the security hole could be publicized and hopefully fixed. It’s just the latest in what seems to be a growing trend in hacktivism.

What are hacktivists? Continue reading Hack AT&T? That’ll Cost You Over 3 Years in Prison

Tips for avoiding Sandy scams by so-called repairman and contractors

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Hurricane Sandy caused billions of dollars worth of damage. If you’re one of the unfortunate homeowners to be affected, you need to be careful when looking for someone to rebuild or repair your home. There are a lot of corrupt contractors looking to make a quick buck by scamming those affected by the hurricane. This can make a bad situation even worse. Let’s take a closer look at what to look out for when hiring a contractor and how to find the best contractor for the job.

What to Look Out For

First of all, you want to make sure a contractor is licensed and has experience. This doesn’t guarantee that the contractor won’t rip you off, but it will give scammers pause when you ask to see credentials. You also want to watch out for contractors that ask for a complete upfront payment. A legitimate contractor will not do this. You may be asked to pay 10-25% of the total up front, but never 100-percent. Scammers are also very likely to point out damage that needs immediate attention. Don’t let this fool you. The contractor is only trying to get your money. Always get more than several opinions when getting work done. You should also be wary of contractors offering prices well below other estimates you’ve received. Remember, if it sounds too good be to be true, it probably is. Last, but not least, understand how long projects will take and how much they will cost. If a contractor says he can replace the roof in less than one day for $500, run! (And we don’t mean straight into the contractors arms)

What to Look for in a Contractor

Chances are the contractors in your area are in high-demand, especially if the damage in your area was severe. This means you may have to wait up to a week or longer to get estimates, but you should get several before moving forward. A good contractor will be able to look at your home and give you a list of work that needs to be done along with a price rundown and a final estimate. A good contractor should also be able to provide a good list of references. However, you need to do more research to find out if you’re making the best decision. Ask for referrals from friends and family who have had work done in the past and search websites that review local contractors.

The damage from a hurricane can be devastating. Unfortunately, scammers can make the experience much worse. If you’ve experienced damage to your home, make sure you make an informed decision before hiring a contractor.

Father of McAfee Antivirus become “person of interest” in Belize

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Many of you reading this article right now may have the popular McAfee Antivirus Security System on your computer.  John McAfee,  father of this online security program and pioneer in anti-virus protection, is now under investigation in Belize for the alleged murder of Gregory Faull, an American expatriate and builder from California.

Faull is a neighbor of the now reclusive John McAfee, was found with a gunshot wound to the head, in a pool of blood.  Faull was found in his home on Ambergris Bay, and the police are searching for McAfee as a person of interest.  Although there were no signs of forced entry, Faull’s computer and phone were missing.   “We are looking for him in connection with the murder,” says Robinson, who adds that another suspect is currently in custody – although no charges have been filed yet,” says Vienne Robinson, assistant superintendent of the Belize’s San Pedro police department, when he spoke to Fox News.

This is not McAfee’s first time to be a person of interest with the Belize government.   Faull had called the local authorities regarding McAfee after disputes with him involving guns shots.  The GSU (a special forces and SWAT type team) raided his home to find  $20,000 in cash, a lab stocked with chemistry equipment, seven pump-action shotguns, one single-action shotgun, two 9-mm. pistols, 270 shotgun cartridges, 30 9-mm. pistol rounds, and twenty .38 rounds.  None of which is illegal in Belize.  Apparently neither is a 67 year old man with a 17 year old girlfriend who was seen leaving his bedroom with him as the raid occurred.   Gimzodo, reported last week on McAffee’s purportedly bizarre activities in Belize, stating that his behavior “has become increasingly erratic, and by his own admission he had begun associating with some of the most notorious gangsters in Belize.” Continue reading Father of McAfee Antivirus become “person of interest” in Belize

FBI Warns Of Superstorm Sandy Donation Scams

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Father saves son from Hurricane Sandy.Hurricane Sandy absolutely ravaged the east coast, but there are scammers out there that are hoping to ravage your bank account. While donating to the cleanup and recovery efforts is certainly a good thing, the government is warning people to watch out for scams. If you want to help the recovery efforts, there are legitimate ways to do so.  Find out how to avoid Sandy-related scams and how you can help Sandy victims without getting caught in a “storm” of theft, fraud and hoaxes.

What to Watch Out For

There are a number of scams being sent through email. If you receive an unsolicited email asking for donations to help the victim of hurricane Sandy, there’s a good chance it isn’t real. These emails have been arriving from people claiming to be victims and even from those claiming to be elected officials. Scammers are also using social networking sites to lure in those that want to help those in need. If you live close to an affected area, you may even be approached on the street or at your home. Be wary of those asking for cash donations and never give out personal or financial information.

How to Help Continue reading FBI Warns Of Superstorm Sandy Donation Scams

Dirty Money: Is Money Making You Sick?

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Do you think the interest rates on your credit card are crappy? Well, there may be even more crap lingering on your credit card. A recent study actually showed that one in seven banknotes and credit cards in Birmingham, UK had feces and e.coli bacteria on the surface. While poo-covered credit cards are certainly disgusting, credit cards are also likely to carry the rhinovirus. In fact, 78% of banknotes and 80% of credit cards contain traces of the bacteria. But, what does all this mean to the average spender?

Think about the times when you’ve been struggling with several bags and your debit card. There’s probably at least one time you’ve placed the card between your lips to free up your hands. This means you’re exposed yourself to some pretty nasty germs. Even if you’re not apt to place your card in your mouth, think about the times you’ve paid for a meal and then sat down and started eating. Yep, you’re moving that food to your mouth with hands that are possibly covered in poo. Talk about a major ick-factor.

Not only is dirty money gross, it can make your horribly ill. E.coli can cause severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and  nausea. The symptoms can last up to two weeks, but usually subside after one week. However, there are those that don’t experience any symptoms, but may pass the bacteria on to others. As for the rhinovirus, this is what’s know as the common cold. You’ll experience sneezing, runny nose, headaches, a sore throat, and other typical cold symptoms. With the average adult having 2-4 colds per year, you have to wonder how many of those colds were the result of dirty money.

The good news is there are a number of ways to protect yourself from dirty money. First of all, always wash your hands before eating. You should also avoid touching your face when handling money. This means that if you work in a job where you handle money throughout the day, you will want to keep hand sanitizer nearby and use it frequently.

Put simply, dirty money isn’t just obtained through criminal acts. There’s actually a good chance that most of the money you come in contact with is dirty. With up to 17% of money and credit cards carrying traces of feces and 78-80% carrying the rhinovirus, you need to practice good hygiene and wash your hands whenever handling money.

Smartphone Users Under Attack From Malware

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While many smartphone users take extreme care to protect their computers from malware and viruses, the same can’t be said for their smartphones. Many users think of their phones as a mini computer, but still fail to take the proper precautions for protection. With the latest round of malware affecting Android smartphones, it’s plain to see that something needs to be done. Let’s take a closer look at the latest threats as well as how to protect your smartphone.

 The Latest Malware Scams

Two malware scams have recently came to the forefront and it seems the attacks are being targeted at Android smartphones. Named Loozfon and FinFisher, these threats can not only affect your phone, but may affect the phones of your contacts as well. The first piece of malware in question, Loozfon, uses the promise of online work from home jobs to lure smartphone users to the website, where the malware is loaded onto the phone. The malware then accesses the information of the user’s contacts and the user.

FinFisher is a bit different in that the spyware is installed onto the phone in order for the attacker to be able to remotely control the phone. The malware may be placed on the phone after visiting a certain website or the user may receive a text message with a link that leads to a supposedly important update. Of course, both of these scams are just two of the newest malware scams to affect smartphone users. There are many more out there waiting for the opportunity to infect your phone.

How to Keep Your Smartphone Safe Continue reading Smartphone Users Under Attack From Malware