Skype Safety Tips for Kids and Parents

By: jayneandd

The internet is a dangerous place especially for kids who are not tech savvy enough to realize a potential threat lurking on the web. Skype is a free video chat and instant messaging service widely used for family and friends to keep in touch with each other. Parents and kids often use the service as it was intended, but sometimes kids and parents get a rude shock.

Skype users have been affected by such items as a video of a naked person, inappropriately touching themselves, tasteless messages sent to young unsuspecting individuals, and compromised personal information. Online safety is a priority to keep both children and parents out of harm’s way.

Skype Safety Tip #1

Always monitor your child while they are using Skype. Know who your child is chatting with and make sure nothing inappropriate is happening in the chat room. One of the best ways to do this is to make sure that the computer or tablet being used is in a common room of the home.

Skype Safety Tip #2

Make sure personal information is kept private by updating privacy settings. First, make sure to use a long, unique password that uses a combination of numbers, letters and characters to prevent the account from being hacked. Next, update privacy settings on Skype to limit communications and protect your private information. Teach kids not to put personal information in a Skype profile because some of it could be made public.

Skype Safety Tip #3

Teach kids about “stranger danger” and what to do if they are approached out in the real world and what do to if they are approached online by a stranger.  Teach children to tell a trusted adult immediately if they are approached by a stranger on Skype or any other internet chat service.

Skype Safety Tip #4

Protect your computer by making sure an antivirus or anti-malware program is installed. Skype users can be subject to viruses and malware that can cause computers to run slowly, corrupt data, and cause vulnerabilities.

Skype Safety Tip #5

Report any incidents to local authorities.  Take a screen shot of the chat and save everything of importance to give to police.  This includes the username of the other party, the time and date of the conversation, and any other pertinent details about the conversation.  The incident will be investigated.

 

Eraser Challenge Draws Concerns from Parents and Schools

By: Pink Sherbet Photography

A dangerous game called “Eraser Challenge” has gone viral and is fast becoming popular with teenagers. The game challenges teens to use an eraser and rub it back and forth on their arm between the wrist and the elbow while reciting the alphabet. Teens come up with a word for each letter that they rub onto their skin with the eraser.  Opponents compare the wounds of the game after they reach the letter Z.

Bethel Middle School got wind of the game when several students started showing up in the nurse’s office with marks on their arms from playing the game. Students confessed to the game and after some investigation the Principal of Bethel Middle School Derek Muharam said a random collection of a dozen students were found to be playing different games as part of the challenge.

“They’re saying the alphabet but they’re creating a word for it,” Principal Derek Muharem said. “So it’s a for apple, b for boy.”

Muharem also reported that students were sharing erasers which makes the game not only dangerous but also unsanitary.  A letter was sent home to parents regarding the challenge which can be read in full here.

There were approximately a dozen students in various grades participating in the game when it was originally reported in March.  Since that time many Youtube videos have begun popping up with the “Eraser Challenge” as a featured element. Some of the videos have anywhere from 5,000 up to 30,000 plus hits.

Some of the wounds experienced by students playing this game include pain, severe irritation, bleeding, scarring and possible infection.

“I don’t understand why kids are mutilation themselves or doing things to hurt themselves,” said parent John Luhrs whose daughter is in sixth grade at Bethel Middle School.

The school has notified parents and said that no student will be reprimanded for their actions. The goal of the school and the parents is to make sure that kids stop attempting to hurt themselves by succumbing to peer pressure that looks cool on the internet.

 

 

Simple social media etiquette guide

By: Jason Howie

Our lives are filled with social interactions online and offline. These social interactions are often guided by instincts and social conventions placed upon us by the cultural we live in. Many of us in the 21st century are painfully aware of how much of a role technology plays in our social lives. There are entire media sites devoted to helping us enhance our social reach. There are some basic social etiquette rules that are a good idea be followed both online and offline.

  1. Texting an “I’m running late” message, canceling a date via email, or declining an RSVP by not RSVP-ing. First, every effort should be made to arrive on time. Yes, things happen like car accidents, road work, or a late baby sitter. A text just doesn’t suffice. Call the person and tell them why you are running late. It is just in poor taste to cancel a date via email. It is something that should be done in person. If an event calls for an RSVP there has been a lot of planning put into the event. Not sending an RSVP that declines the invitation is much worse than not sending back the RSVP at all.
  2. Turn off your phone, laptop, tablet, or other mobile device when you are on a date whether that is at the roller skating rink or at a quiet dinner. You are attempting to be social with another human being for the evening and it is rude to ignore them in order to text your friends about the amazing time you are having. The person your with will definitely notice that they are not being paid attention to. If you can’t shut off your phone at least turn off the sound or put it on vibrate so that it doesn’t interrupt the flow of the evening.
  3. Keep your personal grudges, arguments and conversations offline! Everything is saved online in one form or another and once it is out there in the big bad world of the internet it will be out there forever.  Once you put your grievances online, everyone will want to give you their two cents and it won’t help solve the problem, it will just stir the pot. If you don’t want anyone to see your dirty laundry, don’t share it where can be seen.
  4. Don’t break up or announce someone’s death via text. Some things are just meant to be hashed out face-to-face especially a break-up.  A death in the family should be addressed over the phone or in person.
  5. Engage in good eye contact and really listen to what the person you are with has to say.  Good eye contact doesn’t mean staring a hole into someone’s head, it means looking them in the eye more than anywhere else including down at your phone or off into space.  Good eye contact and eager listening can lead to great conversation and could lead to a deeper social connection offline than you would ever get online.

NXT-ID claims Wocket™ is useless to thieves

By: bozontee’s golden zebra

Once upon a time, Dr. Seuss wrote a book called There’s a Wocket in my Pocket where a little boy talked to strange creatures living in his house. Nobody really knew what a Wocket was though. NXT-ID, Inc., a biometric authentication company, wants everyone to carry around a Wocket™ in their pocket. The company NXT-ID claims Wocket™ is useless to thieves has plans to launch the Wocket™ in New York City on May 28.

Wocket™ is considered the newest smart wallet heading to the e-commerce market. At the launch consumers and media will get the first look and feel of the smart wallet that claims to zeroize each sale immediately making the Wocket™ useless to thieves.

The patent-pending Wocket™ uses biometric solutions to secure consumers’ mobile platforms. The smart wallet is designed to replace all the cards in your wallet without the need for a smart phone. It will be 3.7”W x 2.75”L x .39”H. The smart wallet only becomes accessible through a unique combination of voice, PIN or pattern. It was designed to keep Wocket™ transactions separate from regular transactions in order to keep Wocket™ transactions secure by zeroizing each card after use.

Wocket™ isn’t the first smart wallet on the market. It is an evolution of the smart wallet’s already on the market. Google offered a smart, virtual wallet to help consumers’ keep their information secure. Google Wallet comes in the form of an app or a card that stores credit card and loyalty card information all in one place.

Security is the biggest concern for smart wallets since they were designed with consumer security in mind. The Google Wallet offers 24/7 fraud monitoring and Google Wallet Purchase Protection. If your phone or card is lost or stolen it can be disabled through a Google Wallet account.  The Wocket™ doesn’t offer a protection program instead it offers a guarantee.

According to the FAQ, the creators say, “while we can’t ensure that your card never gets stolen, we can guarantee that it’s worthless to anyone that gets a hold of it. Each time after the dynamic card is used, it is zeroized. Thus, it is merely blank piece of plastic to any ambitious thief.”

There are very few other smart wallets on the market. The Wocket™’s biggest competitor appears to be Google Wallet, but there are a few other smart wallets attempting to emerge on the scene including the PING wallet and the SmartWallit.

Medical Records are New Target for Cybercriminals

 medical records

Cybercriminals don’t have any scruples when it comes to gathering personal data. They have been known to steal credit card information as well as personal identification such as a social security number.  Now we can add medical identity theft to the list of things that cybercriminals are eager to steal from unsuspecting victims.

Redspin, a cybersecurity company, reports that approximately 30 million Americans have had their personal health information breached or disclosed since 2009. Redspin’s report also claims that 4 million records were breached in the single largest incident.

Health data is becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyber thieves because of the migration of information to mobile devices. Medical professionals use laptops, tablets and other mobile devices to access personal medical data which puts the data at risk if it isn’t encrypted properly or secured properly.

“This should be a clarion call to the healthcare industry,” reports Respin. “The trajectory is predictable yet preventable. With PHI data on more portable devices used by more “under-educated” employees, it is a virtual certainty that there will be more breaches. Mitigating that risk must become a higher priority throughout the entire industry.”

Cybercriminals who hack medical information are looking to steal everything from prescription information to Social Security numbers and credit card information. Medical billing records contain almost all of this information in one place.

Medical data is sought after for numerous reasons by thieves. Last year, CNBC ran a report about medical identity theft targeting victims in order to receive medical services, devices or prescription drugs.  It could take years before the theft of information is noticed.

Robert Gregg, chief executive of ID Experts, a cyber security firm, compared the value of different types of identity thefts for CNBC. He said, “A financial identity can be worth $5 to $10 if you have all the info. A medical identity can be five to 10 times that amount just because how easy it is to monetize that information once the bad guys get it.”

Signs that your medical information may have been breached:

-Unexpected medical bills for services not performed.

-Notice of health plan benefits saying benefit limit has been reached.

-Medical records show a condition you don’t have.

Review your medical history, report anything out of the ordinary, and never share medical information or personal identification information.

Steam Family Sharing Available to Users

Valve has announced that “Family Library Sharing” is now available to all Steam users. The Steam Family Library Sharing allows family and guests to play one another’s games. It is used by players who share computers and who want to share their available library of games with one another. Players can save their own achievements and progress in the game to the Steam Cloud.

How does it work?

Players enable Family Library Sharing on their shared computers. The familiar accounts that log in to them can be authorized for game sharing. A request is made to the friend or family member that you want to share a game with. One you are authorized, the games become available for “access, download and play,” according to Steam.

How much sharing is allowed?

Authorization for Family Library sharing can be given on up to 10 devices at a given time, and for up to five accounts. Simultaneous usage of an account is prohibited. Some Steam community members have begun to complain about this issue. They have suggested that it isn’t sharing when a friend borrows a game and is given a “few minutes” to purchase the game or quit because the owner of the game wants to play it at the same time.

What happens with game data?

Steam allows individual members to save game places, earn achievements and save application data in the Steam Cloud. According to GameSpot, “Lenders can’t access games that aren’t available in their region or games that require a third-party key, account or subscription.”

Is it safe?

Keeping your account and game libraries safe should be a priority. Sharing any kind of data through multiple devices can open the way for hacking to occur. Steam can revoke and close an account if your library is used to cheat.  Make sure the only people you share your game library with are ones that you trust.  Steam recommends that you only authorize familiar computers that are known to be secure and that you never give your password to anyone.

Bitcoins Vanish and Mt. Gox Goes Dark

Bitcoin is a buzz word in the news lately.  Almost half a billion US dollars worth of bitcoins vanished into thin air last week when the bitcoin exchange Mt.Gox went dark.  It helps to understand what bitcoins are to understand why customers are upset about the disappearance of virtual funds.

What are bitcoins?

Bitcoins are virtual currency that approximate cash on the internet. The coins are purely digital and not linked to any government entity. The coins are not backed by any bank or government.  The virtual coins are mathematical algorithms that are exchanged directly between two parties online with no middle man. That means no bank, no government, and no other authority over the printing, distributing or mining of the coins.

What is a bitcoin worth?

According to a Simple Bitcoin Converter, 1 bitcoin is worth $657.60 USD at the time of this post. The exchange rate does fluctuate.

What is the idea behind bitcoins?

The idea behind bitcoins was to create a currency that is completely segregated from a country’s government. For example the United States has no control over the creating, distributing or backing of bitcoins as it does with American currency. Bitcoin was aiming to become a universal currency that changed the current economic system.

What happened?

A rumor appeared that several hundred thousand bitcoins disappeared from one of the dominant exchanges for bitcoin trading.  Slowly the rumor unraveled to become fact. Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles bowed in apology at a news conference in Toyko after revealing that it had lost almost 750,000 of its customers’ bitcoins. On top of the large amount lost, which equates to almost half a billion dollars in US currency, Mt. Gox also lost 100,000 of its own bitcoins.

Karpeles said that technical issues and “some weakness in the system” opened the way for the fraudulent withdrawals.  He did not delve into detail about what the “weakness” or address what the technical issues were.

What is being done for victims of the fraud?

Customers who lost bitcoins have assumed a risk by using a currency not backed by any central bank.  There are no regulations in place. Mt. Gox has shut its operation down and is filing for bankruptcy protection. Some victims are attempting to bring about a class action suit against the once popular exchange.

According to Wall Street Journal, Gregory Green filed a claim with an Illinois District Court seeking damages and restitution.  The claim alleges that Mt. Gox engaged in “unlawful, deceptive, and unfair conduct that is immoral, unscrupulous, and causes substantial injury to consumers.”

Recourse might be very difficult for the victims of the vanishing bitcoins because the exchange was never regulated and never backed by any government or bank. In the meantime, bitcoin enthusiasts believe that the missing coins can be found and are hunting them down themselves.

 

PSN Hackers Target PS4 Users, Sony Stays Silent

In December of 2013, PlayStation 4 users began seeing a problem with “irregular activity” on their accounts.  Sony reset PlayStation Network passwords after noticing the irregular activity that users were complaining about. Several users saw charges being made to their accounts while their game system was off.  According to Gaming Bolt, users are still reporting the same issues that were reported months ago.  And there seems to be a direct link with FIFA games.  In FIFA games there are several things you can buy with real money. Some users link their credit cards to the games in order to buy the things wanted or needed in the game being played.

Many users have complained that it wasn’t just PlayStation Network hackers targeting PS4 users. Some Xbox 360 users have faced similar hacking attempts. One user claimed, “Something similar happened to me on Xbox 360, was charged $135 and they bought FIFA and season pass and crap. Microsoft cleared it all but it took 3 weeks and they temporarily closed my account during the investigation.”

Sony isn’t talking. Although the hacks began months ago the big gaming giant has yet to say anything about the hack attempts.  No one knows if Sony is working on the problem or whether any effort has been made to make PSN secure.

PSN users need to make sure their accounts can’t get hacked. One way that users can prevent hackers from stealing their information is to create a complex password that isn’t used anywhere else. Users should also change that password frequently. Users should report any suspicious activity as soon as possible and they should never, ever give out personal information like credit card numbers or social security numbers.

U.S. Secret Service Investigating Possible Data Breach at Sears?

Sears Holdings Corp. is launching an investigation in the wake of cyber attacks on other retail stores.  Sears, the retailer run by Edward Lampert, has not revealed any details of an actual attack or security breach.

Sears spokesman Howard Riefs said in a press statement, “There have been rumors and reports throughout the retail industry of security incidents at various retailers and we are actively reviewing our systems to determine if we have been a victim of a breach.”

Riefs added that there has been no information to indicate a breach so far which completely contradicts a report made by Bloomberg News.  Bloomberg News, using an un-indentified source, reported that the U.S. Secret Service was involved in investigating a secret breach at Sears.  The U.S. Secret Service is remaining quiet on whether or not it is actually investigating a breach at the retailer.

What is known is that the U.S. Secret Service is leading the investigation into last year’s cyber attack on Target and last year’s attack on Neiman Marcus.  The Target breach lead to the theft of approximately 40 million credit/debit card numbers and over 70 million pieces of personal data.  Neiman Marcus has also faced the harm of a data breach.  The luxury retailer had 1.1 million credit and debit cards hacked by malware that infiltrated terminals point of sale systems.

Target, Neiman Marcus and other retailers who have experienced data breaches are attempting to gain back customer support by doing a lot of damage control. Target has offered free credit monitoring  and identity theft protection to customers for free for one year as part of its damage control efforts.

The rumor that Sears is investigating a possible security breach may still harm the retailer.  Lampert has struggled to make Sears profitable after 28 straight quarters of declining sales. A tarnished image from a potential data breach isn’t going to make shoppers rush out to buy anything from the retailer.

Original reports of the Target and Neiman Marcus breaches made clear that it could take months to confirm that breaches were made, how many victims were affected, and account for what data was stolen.

Stolen Identity Refund Fraud: Who, What and Why

Stolen Identity Refund Fraud (SIRF) is a category that falls under identity theft. It involves the theft of the “tax” identity of the victim. As the tax filing season descends upon us we need to be aware of the very real threats of having an identity stolen.

Victims of stolen identity refund fraud have had their lives ruined. The criminal steals the “tax” identity of an individual for the purpose of filing a tax return. The criminal will obtain information about the victim and use it to obtain his or her social security number. The thief will then submit a false tax return in the name of the victim claiming a tax return. Forbes report claims that “unfortunately, in many instances the refunds are issued.”

The victims are left to discover the fraud when they go to file their tax returns. The IRS refuses to send out a refund because a return was already filed under the name of the individual.  The burden of proof rests on the individual to prove that their identity was actually stolen and that they did not file a return in the first place. It can be a very lengthy process for an individual to get straightened out with the IRS and it can be an even lengthier amount of time for any resolution to happen.

Sadly, stolen identity refund fraud victims are the elderly and individuals who are not required to file tax returns. Criminals who steal this information often get away with it for a long time before being caught. Often the victim finds out when they apply for state or federal benefits and cannot receive them due to information found on the fraudulent returns.

The IRS and the Justice Department have begun cracking down on identity theft and have been active in fighting identity fraud. The IRS makes it clear that the agency is devoted to preventing identity fraud. The website has information on how to report suspected identity theft and the precautionary measures that people can so they don’t become a victim.

The Secrets that Identity Thieves Don't Want You To Know