Category Archives: Resources

Indiana stops $88M in identity theft in 2014

By: frankieleon

Indiana is successfully putting a stop to identity theft due to new security measures. The Indiana Department of Revenue reported that the agency stopped over $88M in identity theft in 2014. Residents of Indiana should expect to see similar security measures in place for the 2015 tax season.

One of the security measures that the Department of Revenue will uses is an identity confirmation quiz. The quiz is two-minutes long and asks taxpayers to verify their identity.

According to WTHR, “The Department of Revenue says the $88 million figure came from stolen or manufactured identity theft tax refunds stopped (out of $800 million in total requested refunds); 74,000 fraudulent returns identified (out of 2.2 million total returns requesting refunds); 3.5 percent of all tax returns were fraudulent.”

The security features in place helped taxpayers realize that their identities had been stolen. Indiana residents, and residents of every state in the U.S., are reminded to take care when giving out personal information and to make sure that private information is secure.

Indiana offers residents a guide on protecting themselves from becoming victims of identity theft through the department’s Stop ID Theft website.

Make YouTube Safer for Your Kids

 

By: m anima

YouTube has just about anything a kid could want to watch. It also has just about anything an adult would want to watch to. A simple search for “Mickey Mouse” will bring up thousands of videos including ones that are not appropriate for children. It is even possible that your child could be watching a perfectly acceptable YouTube video for his/her age group but then a completely inappropriate one comes up in the suggested video watching section that looks enticing.

Parents can easily prevent their children from seeing inappropriate videos by following a few simple steps to make YouTube safer for children. Google has a built in security filter on YouTube. The first thing parents should do is go to the YouTube homepage, scroll all the way down to the bottom and click on the toggle that says “safety: off”. Turn the safety section to “on”. This will activate Google’s safety filter. It will hide adult content videos and may hide some videos that have graphic violence.

A drawback to the method above is that it will automatically default to the “safety: off” method as soon as the browser is closed. To prevent the default from occuring a parent should log in to YouTube with their Google account. Once there an option for “save and safety lock mode” that will keep YouTube from defaulting back to the “safety: off” option.

Parents should also be aware of what their children are watching. Making a playlist of videos that are acceptable and appropriate is simple to do through a YouTube account. Go into “playlists” and create a new playlist with videos that are age appropriate.

Parents can use a special search tool to find kid friendly results for webpages, videos, and more. Safe Search Kids is the “Google Kids Search Engine” which filters out things that are inappropriate for children. Safe Search Kids also offers a step by step guide to parental controls on various websites including YouTube, Google, and offers guides for parental controls when kids game online.

U.S. Senate Launches Anti-Fraud Hotline

Victims of fraud are increasing on a daily basis. Everyone is a target, but some people are more at risk than others. Elderly people, lonely people, and immigrants are often targets of fraudulent activity. Scams to get credit card and other financial information include email scams for moving large amounts of money, phone calls asking for financial information because a loved one is in trouble, and online matchmaking gone horribly wrong.

People have lost their livelihoods by falling victim to these scams and schemes. The United States Senate wants to put a stop to them and wants to help victims of fraud, especially elderly victims.  A new anti-fraud hotline has been unveiled to make it easier for senior citizens to report suspected fraud and to receive assistance.

“If you Continue reading U.S. Senate Launches Anti-Fraud Hotline

Lilly Collins is 2013 most dangerous cyber celebrity according to McAfee

52138b9d17c94a2c82116f12fe87bba10a365_640It’s nothing new and she won’t be the first celebrity search term which could land your computer on a page filled with malware, spam, and viruses, but right now she is the hottest.  McAfee advises that “Looking up the ‘Mortal Instruments: City of Bones’ star (and daughter of rocker Phil Collins) on the Web gives you about a 14.5% chance of landing on a page that tested positive for spam, adware, spyware, viruses or other malware,” according to a study by Internet security company.   This means you have about a 1 in 7 chance of finding much more that you ever wanted when your search lands you on a page.

Other top ten searches that may give you more than you bargained for are celebrities: Avril Lavigne, Sandra Bullock, Kathy Griffin and Zoe Saldana.  Katy, Perry, Brittany Spears and Emma Roberts are also among the top 10. According to McAfee’s report women celebrities are more likely to land your computer in hot water than searches for men celebrities.

Miley Cyrus came in at number 20 and her twerking performance on the VMA’s caused a surge in searches using her name, as well as a surge in cyber celebrity dangers.  My dad’s computer reported a virus on a site that was supposedly referred to him by a friend, alleging that she had committed suicide.  Of course that old story is well known spam as it has been used far too often, but not often enough to keep it from going viral. Want to know all of the percentages this year for your favorite celebrity?  The Wall Street Journal breaks it down for you so you can see your chances of encountering a celebrity cyber screw up.

McAfee has been providing the “most dangerous celebrity cyber searches” for seven years.  During this time celebrities like Heidi Klum, Emma Watson, Cameron Diaz, Jessica Biel and Selena Gomez have been listed among the most dangerous cyber searches.  Brad Pitt has been one of the men on the top of the list, but the men searches are fewer and far between.

Of course as part of their list, McAfee offers a number of tips and tricks to help you keep your computer from catching more than  cold including:

  • Be cautious of content offering “free” or “too good to be true”
  • Be extra cautious when searching for hot topics.   My recommendation – got to Google Trends and then head to your the topics through there, or only access those sites of “name brand” celebrity news sources.
  • Protect yourself with comprehensive security.  My recommendation, not only should you have a good security system but pay attention to it.  If your system says “STOP” or doesn’t have the check mark next to the link you probably don’t want to visit there.

mcafee site advisor

5 Tips for Teaching Your Toddler to Use Tablets & Other Technology

ipad table wikiDon’t you wish we had some today’s toys and games when we were kids?  Today’s technology is amazing and the learning tools, apps and resources for our kids to learn and be entertained are better than ever before.

These games and apps are powerful tools we can use to help give our kids a head start on learning, but it’s important to teach them how to use them safely as well. Here are a few tips if you’re starting to teach your toddler how to use your tablet or computer.

 Set Time Together

Especially if your child is very young, you don’t want to just turn them loose with an iPad or computer on their own to explore. Set aside some special time to spend with your child to teach them how the device works and how to play the games. Explain things, let them practice navigating and turn the time into a learning experience together.

 Set Time Limits

While the learning and educational benefits of most of today’s apps are amazing, there can also be too much of a good thing. It’s important to set limits for how much time kids spend playing games or getting online. Be sure set limits and make sure that your kids are still getting lots of good old fashioned playtime offline as well.

 Set Parental Safety Controls

While the web is filled with millions of amazing things, there’s also lots of scary stuff out there too, sometimes when you least expect it. My niece was recently doing a homework assignment on corn (we live in Iowa so it’s an important topic!) and she typed the word into Google to search for images to use in her report. Because not many people search for pictures of this particular vegetable, instead the search engine substituted what it thought was the closest search term that would work. Let’s just say it started with a “P” and rhymes with “corn”. Up popped millions of inappropriate images just for an online search about a vegetable. After that my sister and brother-in law realized they needed to set up stricter parental controls to help protect their kids — even during innocent homework assignments.

Set Purchasing Controls

While that one click purchasing on iTunes or on Amazon for your Kindle Fire might make things easy for you, it can also make things easy for your child to quickly rack up large amounts of unauthorized purchases. We have several friends whose toddlers have ordered hundreds of dollars of merchandise without Mom and Dad knowing because that one click ordering was a little too easy. Be sure to log out and set a password that your child doesn’t know before allowing them to explore on your tablet or iPad. It could save you a surprise on your credit card bill.

Set Rules and Guidelines

While you might have parental controls in place to keep out some of the bad stuff, it’s still important to have additional rules and guidelines about using technology to keep your young child safe. Our kids are only allowed to use the computer or tablet while they are sitting down (to prevent drops and breaks) and have to stay within sight of Mom or Dad so that we can keep an eye on what they are doing. Our preschooler is only allowed to use his approved apps, while our his big sister is allowed to explore a little more. However she still needs to surf only with our supervision and ask permission before visiting a new website she hasn’t been to before.

What rules do you set for your children online?

 

Thanks to our guest contributor.
Kim R. is a busy working mom of two in small town Iowa. She blogs at www.twokidsandacoupon.com, providing readers with daily information on frugal family fun and living. 
Image courtesy of Creative Commons License Wikipedia

This image, originally posted to Flickr, was reviewed on  by the administrator or reviewer Leoboudv, who confirmed that it was available on Flickr under the stated license on that date.

Protect Valuable Data With Online Cloud Backup Solutions

Will cloud computing replace the hard drive, the flash drive and the DVD drive? It might. Google laptops and iPads don’t have hard drives, and similar technology is coming down the pipeline. Tech writers like Jeremy A. Kaplan of FoxNews.com believe that physical drives will soon be obsolete, and artists, scrapbook fanatics and photographers are tossing away their flash drives and DVDs in favor of hosting their photos on social media sites like Facebook and Pinterest. These sites store photos (and more) to the cloud.cloud computing is here to stay

What is cloud hosting? It’s an online storage system that allows you to back up data over public or proprietary networks on an offsite server. There are several types of cloud backup services that people use in their daily activities without even knowing it; iCloud, iTunes, Evernote and Facebook are a few consumer favorites, and Google, Amazon and Dropbox also offer cloud storage solutions for individuals and companies to store and share large files. If you haven’t considered using these cloud backup services yet and you’re still saving your data to your hard drive or on CDs and DVDs, find out why the rest of the world is moving to the cloud.

Storm’s Coming

There are a number of reasons why IT managers and computer users would want to push for cloud storage solutions to replace other means of storage. For starters, cloud storage solves the data-access problems brought on when natural disasters (think Hurricane Sandy) strike. Without a secured backup plan, Continue reading Protect Valuable Data With Online Cloud Backup Solutions

Resource for Learning about Security and Cybercrimes

In the last several years, cybercrime has become an increasing problem, especially with its ever evolving nature. The criminals using cyber methods to get what they want are smarter than your average thief, which means that to really protect yourself from this sort of crime, it’s smart to learn as much as you can about how these crimes happen. One great place to start is at Master of Homeland Security list of the Top 100 National Security Resources.

While a list of one hundred different sites is an immense amount of information to explore, there are a few on the list that really stand out, either because they are very informative or just simply an interesting collection of information. Not all of the sites necessarily pertain to cybercrime, but they all are security related.

First on the list is In Homeland Security, a site which provides news and information about both terrorism and homeland defense. The information isn’t just limited to the US either. There are several international news articles.

Then, second on the list is a really interesting blog by the TSA which Continue reading Resource for Learning about Security and Cybercrimes

Keep the Change, You Filthy Animal: Home Security Tips From Kevin McAllister

In the iconic 1990 John Hughes-produced film, “Home Alone,” eight-year-old Kevin McAllister is accidentally left behind when his family frantically takes off for a Christmas vacation in Paris. While his mother desperately tries to get home to her unattended son, Kevin, played by Macaulay Culkin, has to defend the family’s home from a pair of blundering burglars, Harry and Marv. Kevin’s creative security devices and traps are hilarious and inventive and end up saving the day.

“Buzz, I’m Going Through All Your Private Stuff! You’d Better Come Out and Pound Me!”

Today, more than two decades later, the type of scenario in “Home Alone” could be solved instantly with cell phones, Internet, high-tech security and other technologies. Unfortunately, we also have more to worry about, like the valuable information stored on our phones and computers. While home security has come a long way over the years, we can still take a page out of Kevin’s book when it comes to protecting our homes, along with utilizing the tools we have today.

“This is My House, I HAVE to Defend It!”

Kevin tried to keep the bad guys out with rigged doors, creative traps and psychological confusion. Before realizing Kevin was left behind, his mother, Kate, tries to remember anything she forgot like turning off the lights and shutting the garage door. Thankfully, home security today isn’t so exhausting. The newest security technology even lets you turn off lights, lock doors and even see into your home when you’re not there. A resource from the LifeShield home security systems blog suggested using alarm sensors not just on your doors and window, but within your home as well. They can sound an alarm and/or send a text message to your phone. Many security companies offer apps that you can easily access your settings and monitor your home.

“When I Grow Up and Get Married, I’m Living Alone!”

Although we have many conveniences today when it comes to protecting our home and family, make sure you prepare for any situation. Talk to your kids about what to do in emergencies. In “Home Alone,” although Kevin was only eight, he obviously had the sense not to answer the door to strangers and to call the police (eventually). Talk with your family about emergency plans and teach your kids how to make emergency calls and how to set the alarm system. Keep phone numbers, addresses, medical information, etc. easily accessible and visible for everyone in case something unfortunate happens.

“Had Enough? Or are You Thirsty for More?”

To keep Harry and Marv from pilfering his family’s valuables, Kevin came up with some creative schemes to hold them at bay. He strung together cardboard cut-outs and played loud music to make it look like a party was going on. He even played a violent movie to scare the burglars into thinking there were already thieves inside the house. Realistically you don’t have to come up with such elaborate hoaxes, but you still might want to take a cue from this crafty kid. Leaving a light on and maybe some music or the television can make robbers second guess if someone is home or not. Again, home automation is a convenient development that can save you from a break-in and also save energy. You can use a single screen to control alarms, water sprinklers, lights, heating and air conditioner, according to technorati.com.

“It’s Only My Imagination, It’s Only My Imagination.”

If you have a bad feeling, don’t disregard it; go with your gut. In the movie, Harry poses as a police officer to get invited into the McAllister’s home and learn about their trip. This gave him information he needed in order to plan a heist. If you are suspicious, take measures to ease your mind. Unlike in the early 90’s, there are simple Internet sites that give you background checks instantly. If there is an instance of you inviting a stranger into your home, even a maintenance person, maid or babysitter, you have the right to know their history. Sites like Angie’s List and Care.com are good resources when looking to hire someone you can trust. In this digitally dependent age, information is key.

One amazing giveaway! Amazon $40 Gift Card and One Year Kids Email service free

We recently had a chance to share with you our experience with KidsEmail.org. Now you get a chance to try them out too – for FREE! Thanks to KidsEmail.org for sponsoring this generous giveaway you can enter to win one year free KidsEmail service program as well as receive a $40 Amazon Gift Card! 

Hmm with Christmas just around the corner I wonder what you will spend it on?

kidsEmail.org is an email service (just like your hotmail or gmail accounts) but designed just for kids and their parents. Parents can use the tools available to teach their children responsible online and email habits while keeping them safe from cyber bulling, inappropriate ads, language and images, and yes, you can even set it to detect “stranger dangers.” Read our full review of the service to find out more.

Entering is easy. Just use the Rafflecopter form below. This contest runs Nov. 11-18, 2012. Entries will be verified.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do your kids need a safer email account? KidsEmail.org may be the answer

As parents we have been warned of the increasing risk of identity theft to our children, often because information is so easy to access. But there are also a number of other online dangers that parents need to address as our children use the Internet more frequently. These dangers include cyber bullying, stalking, pornography, spam, viruses and inappropriate email messages and pictures. With children ranging in ages from 17-6 I’ve found that somethings work for keeping the older children safe online and some things work well for keeping the younger children safe online, especially while they are sending and receiving email. One of my favorite tools so far I have found for the younger children is Kids Email.org.

Kids Email is an email system that is designed with kids ages 6-12 in mind, but there is also a teen tool available. Here is what Kids Email does in a nutshell:

We decided to give Kids Email a try, since I refused to give in to the younger children’s request for a cell phone and email is one of the ways that they can easily keep in touch with grandparents which live far away.  Here are some of the features mom liked:

  • privacy, security and safety online
  • filters out all the “stuff” and just offers the kids a clean and easy to use email system
  • several different features that I can tailor towards our family’s specific needs and concerns
  • easy to set up and use
  • free trial with no credit card required
Kids Email.org is easy to use.  You simply register (no credit card required) and then answer some simple yes or no questions about the security settings you want to use.  These questions include things like do you want copies of emails sent and received sent to your email or who do you want to allow emails from?  You can set up more than one email address so you can tailor made your security settings age appropriate for each child.
One of the things I liked about these settings is that I can manage the kids email accounts down to the minutes they spend on there as well as even ground them from their email and set the dates and times of the “grounding.” I hope I don’t have to do that, but it is nice to know that these options are there if I need them.  I can also run reports of the activity on the accounts.
Next the girls got to jump in and have some fun.  They selected from 10 different templates that gave them a specific look whenever they signed into their email.  My middle daughter selected the princess  fairy template which gives her a cute pink and purple background for her email account.   Then the emails began!  Just to test drive they sent emails to grandma, grandpa and dad and once they received responses I think that they were hooked!  (I recommend sending all those who may be getting a message from the kids a message about the new account so that they recognize it and can add it to their safe list).
I like that I can design each email account to do what our family needs it to do for security, safety and fun.  KidsEmail provides a safe way to teach my children about email and Internet responsibility and use as they learn all those rules that even the most mature adult has trouble remembering sometimes, because after all “my friend sent it to me” so it must be safe.
There is a one month free trial available, but after that it is a paid service.  I know what you are thinking, but guess what you don’t have to give your credit card to get the free trial.  That was a big plus for me right at the beginning.  The current price is 13 months with up to six email accounts for $38.95.