The Talk You Need to Have With Your Kids

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Yes, it’s awkward. But the time has come to have “the talk” …  the talk about “dangerous celebrities” and safe surfing with your kids.

We know there are some warped individuals out there whose idea of fun is harmful, and without boundaries.  Celebrity sites have increasingly become the target of hidden malware and online scams. Cybercrime has found a new playground where they hide their poisoned code for unsuspecting visitors, many of whom are kids. Our kids.

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The lure of reading the latest scoop on a big name celeb proves irresistible.  Our kids think they’re visiting a site with pics and details about someone currently popular, someone all their friends will be talking about.  Right now, Jimmy Kimmel is at the top of the hit list with chances being one in five that a website linked to him will be laced with a nasty gift that will keep on giving: spyware, phishing, spam, adware, viruses etc.  One quick click is all it takes.

There is no turning back the clock on technology.  Our kids live in the same online, interconnected world that we do.  Protecting them means shielding them from harm but not from the truth. Not only do we need to become more aware and vigilant, but we need to teach kids the same skills to protect themselves, because we can’t always be with them. And they won’t always tell us where they’re going.

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McAfee has some helpful starting points parents can work with on their blog.  These include:

  • Commit to having ‘the talk’: explain how downloads of photos and videos are at high risk of containing bad stuff like viruses
  • Breaking news = red flag: don’t be tempted by the bait of some exciting new celebrity gossip. That’s what cybercriminals are banking on. Literally.
  • Protect your devices and identity: Don’t use any device online without protection. That means installing anti-virus/anti-malware programs on all computers, tablets, phones. Choose what’s right for you and your budget.
  • Stay on the main road: If you want to see something online, use YouTube or Vimeo so you don’t have to download. Because if it says “free download” beware of what else comes with it.
  • Get a sneak peek: when you hover over a link, you can see the URL appear. If the name in the URL is just a bunch of gibberish, or spelled incorrectly, walk away
  • Don’t log in or provide personal information: have a standing rule that kids ask before they open any attachment or link.  Because that click can lead straight to the lion’s den.
  • Put a PIN on it: teach your kids how to set up and use passcodes, and make sure you know what they are.

mcafee blogYou can click on the link here to read more. http://blogs.mcafee.com/consumer/dangerous-celeb.

The old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” takes on new meaning when you think of just how much we love our kids, and how far we would go to protect them. Their safety is everything. While we may wait to have that “other talk”, don’t put this one off.

Putting a Price Tag on Trust: The Home Depot Data Breach

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In a year of huge data breaches, The Home Depot security breach is proving to be the biggest yet. Upwards of 60 million users in both Canada and the United States could be affected. Yet, Home Depot took too long to officially confirm the news once the story broke, and when they did, the damage was already done. Now, they are facing a lawsuit which will become precedent-setting because how do you put a price tag on trust?

Welcome to the pitfalls of retail responsibility in the age of data insecurity. No matter how businesses may try to spin them, data breaches mean trouble somewhere down the line, and given the money to be made they aren’t going away. Cybercrime is booming beyond anyone’s expectations. Hackers halfway around the globe are constantly upping the game in their quest for information to sell on the black market. That information happens to be a digital summation of our lives: where we live, what we’re worth, who we are. Those little plastic cards that run our lives can also ruin them in one stroke.

The technical details of how cybercriminals lift card numbers, usercodes, and passwords have been well documented over the past year. Infact, the US Department of Homeland Security issued a security advisory in late August warning businesses of the threat of Point of Sale or POS malware, in particular one called “Backoff”  that stole information from credit cards (http://t.co/WiOpgp6c6M). It all comes down to a little piece of equipment we use every day. POS card readers are where we shop, eat, buy gas, withdraw money. And the scary truth is how easily they are tampered with. Crime rings buy or extort their way into fixing the actual hardware to mine data. Cybercriminals have figured out a less obvious route using remote access to command and control the devices so they transmit the data without detection. It’s enough to make anyone paranoid.

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Instead of being scared into action, however, businesses seem to have pulled the ostrich hiding its head routine, hoping it would all go away.  But it hasn’t gone away, and the lag time has only afforded the hackers more time to perfect their skills while we struggle to catch up.  A full week passed before The Home Depot officially confirmed the real extent of the breach. The scope of those potentially caught in the net of hackers is still being determined, with 60 million users a conservative estimate.

So just how do you tell 60 million users that their credit card data and other valuable personal information has just been released to the global criminal black market? There is no good way to spin that much bad news, not following recent announcements that Target, UPS, Supervalu Grocery stores,several major US banks, and Dairy Queen had also been breached. Brian Krebs had revealed the hack attack on Target.  On September 2, he broke the news on his website, KrebsOnSecurity, that “a massive batch of stolen credit and debit card information went on sale.” At the outset of the data breach, Home Depot shared dropped. Per an article in The Globe and Mail (trib.al/e8RZclg) , shares in trading fell 3.4%. Now, they face a class-action lawsuit.

The reported costs of a data breach vary, but according to Alcott HR Group, is starts at $5 million for one incident, and another source claims that has now doubled.  But the real loss is in what we cannot truly measure, and that is the very heart of retail business. How do you put a price tag trust, consumer confidence and lost customers?  Taking responsibility for your POS devices means taking the necessary actions to safeguard your customers. The rest of retail is about to learn an invaluable lesson at Home Depot’s considerable expense.