Posts Tagged ‘identity theft’
Thursday, February 16th, 2012
It seems that at least once a month we are reading a story about another large company being the victim of hacking. Reports on computer hacking into customer databases of large companies is becoming common news.
The latest victim is Microsoft’s online retail store serving India. Yes, computer giant Microsoft can’t even protect the personal data of its customers. That is scary!
I resisted online shopping for many years for this very reason. Occasionally, I am forced to make purchases online, but I am never comfortable doing so. It is obvious that large corporations are not doing enough to protect the personal information of their customers.
Todd Thiemann, product specialist at encryption company Vormetric, says, “As we saw with Sony, Stratfor, Zappos and others, hackers value this information and are selling it on a thriving black market to others focused on identity theft.” “Companies need to rethink how to value and protect customer data.”
On Feb 13, Microsoft took it’s Store India off line after word got out that the site’s customer database had been hacked. A group referring to itself as “Evil Shadow Team” took credit in a blogpost written in Mandarin.
Evil Shadow’s self-proclaimed leader, who refers to himself as 7zl, told Reuters the data had been found unencrypted on the website. On the blog post, 7zl declared himself to be a “patriotic hacker.”
In a statement to Reuters by a Microsoft spokeswoman, she said, the company is “investigating a limited compromise” of the company’s online store in India. “The store customers have already been sent guidance on the issue and suggested immediate actions.” “We are diligently working to remedy the issue and keep our customers protected.”
In addition, the hackers have released user name and password combinations that were saved in plain text by Microsoft. “Storing this data in clear text is playing with fire,” says Thiemann.
I have to ask the obvious question – why wouldn’t this computer giant have (and use) the resources and knowledge to encrypt sensitive data and not store data in clear text? (more…)
Thursday, January 12th, 2012
People who have been the victim of identify theft know it can take months or even years to clean up the mess. It is one of the most stressful experiences a person can have. The story I am about to share is very real. A close friend of mine was a victim of such a crime and the fact that resetting that person’s email password was all the thief needed to do to get the ball rolling is scary. This individual didn’t use simple passwords, yet the thief was still successful. Still, you should make your passwords and security questions unique and don’t use the same information for multiple accounts. Make the answers to your questions incorrect – just random information that isn’t even true. You may have to write down this information since all of us have so many accounts – making it impossible to remember everything. But, this minor inconvenience sure beats the major nightmare you will live if your identity is even stolen.
Herbert Thompson is an academic software developer who loves being a geek. He has stolen the identities of several casual acquaintances. In one case he gained access to a bank account in seven very simple steps. He didn’t use any programming tricks – only a little sleuth work.
As part of an experiment and with the permission of some people he barely knew, Thompson stole their identities to demonstrate to the public just how easy it is to gain access to personal data and banking information. His experiment only required some basic surfing for freely available personal data. The following steps show is how vulnerable we all are to security breach. (more…)
Thursday, December 29th, 2011
The hacking movement “Anonymous” had a very busy holiday season making its year end charitable donations – with other people’s money of course.
The group claims to have stolen thousands of credit card numbers and other personal information belonging to clients of U.S.-based security think tank Stratfor. One hacker said the goal was to loot funds from individual’s accounts to give away as Christmas donations. Some victims have indeed confirmed unauthorized transactions linked to their credit cards.
This time Anonymous vaunted about stealing Stratfor’s confidential client list, which includes entities ranging from Apple Inc. to the U.S. Air Force to the Miami Police Department and mining it for more than 4,000 credit card numbers, passwords and home addresses.
Austin,Texas-based Stratfor provides political, economic and military analysis to help clients reduce risk as its description states on its YouTube page. Stratfor charges subscribers for its reports and analysis and delivers them through the web, emails and videos.
It appears that proprietary information about the companies and government agencies that subscribe to Stratfor’s newsletters are not at significant risk. The main threat seems to be directed at individual employees who had subscribed.
“Not so private and secret anymore?” Anonymous taunted in a message on Twitter, promising that the attack on Stratfor was just the beginning of a Christmas-inspired assault on a long list of targets. (more…)
Tuesday, October 11th, 2011
New York bank tellers, restaurant workers and other service employees lifted credit card data from foreign tourists and residents as part of an identity theft ring that stretched to Europe, China and the Middle East – victimizing thousands.
111 people were arrested, more than 85 are in custody and others are still being sought. Five separate criminal enterprises operating out of Queens were dismantled. They were hit with hundreds of charges, said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, calling it the largest fraud case he’d ever seen in his two decades in office.
At least three bank workers, retail employees and restaurant workers would steal credit card numbers in a process known as skimming, in which workers take information from when a card is swiped for payment and illegally sell the credit card numbers. Other members of the criminal ring would steal card information online. This form of theft has become quite common.
I wonder if thorough background checks were performed before these employees were hired. Often, in these type of cases, employers learn (after it’s too late) employees had a criminal background. Employers could also install inexpensive computer tracking software that monitors and records the online activity of its employees. In addition, surveillance cameras can be installed to watch the cashiers. They must have needed to write down the credit card numbers and surveillance would have caught them doing so.
After employees stole the credit card numbers, they were then given to teams of manufacturers, who would forge Visas, MasterCards, Discover and American Express cards. Realistic identifications were made with the stolen data. (more…)
Monday, October 3rd, 2011
Edythe Schumacher logged onto the social networking site recently and a picture of her sister popped up immediately, inviting her into a Facebook chat. After a bit of small talk, Schumacher’s sister – Susan Palmer – encouraged her on to apply for a government grant, saying she’d just received one. For an up-front fee of $2,000, Schumacher was assured, she’d get access to up to $500,000.
Unbeknownst to Schumacher, her sister’s Facebook account had been hacked by an impersonator skilled enough to pretend to be her own flesh and blood. The fake Palmer eventually talked Schumacher into wiring $2,000 to an address in Massachusetts.
Facebook account hijacking has been around as long as Facebook itself. While it often amounts to little more than childish pranks, the theft of someone’s identity on Facebook can lead to real harm. Imposters have successfully tricked victims into wiring money before — a common scam involves contacting friends and writing an email with dramatic claims of muggings, accompanied by desperate pleas to wire money. It’s not a bad idea to install computer surveillance software on your computer. Should you become the victim of online crime, you stand a better chance of tracking down the criminal.
There is a growing concern over the numbers of older Americans who have begun to use social networking tools but have yet to develop the necessary skepticism for the online world.
That’s why it’s a good idea for children and grandchildren to aid older Facebook users with privacy settings. There’s no need to make family member names available to strangers.
Read more@ msn
Friday, September 30th, 2011
According to the recent release of Symantec’s Norton Cybercrime Report 2011, global cybercrime costs nearly $400 billion and affects 431 million adult victims annually.
With so much at stake and society relying even more on nearly 24/7 online access, Internet privacy has become an increasingly vital commodity. There are numerous computer security programs you can add to your computer to assist you in protecting your personal information.
Here are some tips on protecting your privacy on the internet:
•Realize the cost/benefit anytime you provide your personal information online. “For instance, social media, such as Facebook, may allow you to connect with friends and family across the country,” Blevins said. “At the same time, you are potentially giving up lots of private information about your personal life.”
•Be aware of the privacy settings on all social media that you use, and check them frequently in case the operator has changed them.
•Use the “cookie” notices on your web browser. “All cookies aren’t necessarily bad, especially for websites that you like to visit frequently,” said Blevins. “However, you don’t have to accept all cookies, especially for new sites, or those you may not trust.”Use an email address and login ID that does not include personal information. “For instance, you may think that you are leaving an anonymous post or comment that just includes your login ID,” he said. “However, if your login ID includes your last name and the year you were born, it may be easy to infer who is the author of your post.”
•Beware of any site that offers you some prize for providing your personal information. “Most likely it will be used for direct marketing purposes, but it might also be used for fraudulent activity.
•Make a habit of reading and reviewing the privacy policies of all sites with which you do business.
Wednesday, September 28th, 2011
Timothy Noirjean, of Woodbury, Minnesota, was charged with identity theft after allegedly hacking into women’s Facebook accounts, in February and March of 2010, in order to steal photos which he subsequently posted on porn sites. The computer hacker apparently pilfered photos of thirteen women ranging in age from seventeen to twenty-five. Police also discovered over 200 other women’s email addresses and security information, along with additional folders containing women’s names and pictures. Unfortunately, authorities said they’re unable to remove the stolen images from the various sites.
A few ways you can protect yourself is to set your privacy settings on Facebook so that only your friends can view your site, hide your email address and any other personal information that someone could use in identity theft, don’t friend anyone you don’t know, and install computer tracking software. This software is fairly inexpensive and helps you monitor who has been using your computer. Even if you aren’t computer savvy enough to understand how to interpret the results of the software, it will be helpful information if you should ever need to track down a computer hacker who has accessed your computer. (more…)