Tag Archives: hacker

Hotels Top Identity Theft List

Identity theft is the new watchword; hackers, thieves and criminals are continually discovering new methods to twist technology in an effort to steal personal information. Social media networks, cell phones, discarded utility bills and outright theft of personal property are all means employed by thieves to hijack your personal information.

Trustwave, a security and compliance company, provides security information services and end-to-end solutions for businesses in an effort to protect confidential information systems. A recent report shows that hotels are now the top source for credit card data theft, surpassing restaurants for the top spot; nearly 40% of all personal data in 2009 came from hotels/motels compared to just 13% of thefts from restaurants.

Hackers target hotel/motel booking and reservation centers due to the high-number of credit card numbers these entities keep “on-file.” Like the Internet, once a credit card is in the system, it’s available. A successful hacker can steal thousands of credit card numbers and, in essence, thousands–or millions–of dollars. Credit card numbers are used for numerous hotel services, such as bars, beaches, golf courses, swimming pools, gift shops, spas, and other recreational areas; however, they’re all processed through one main database.

Since hotels use proprietary systems, they’re easy for hackers to exploit: a computer system at one hotel is similar, if not exactly the same, as the computer system at a competing hotel.

The other unavoidable fact of hotels and motels are the number of employees who have access to the computer system and your personal data. According to an ABC News Report; “You have so many different employees going through the system that it allows them to either skim cards or put in malware that lets the bad guys hack into the system.”

In June 2010, Destination Hotels & Resorts had its computer system hacked and the credit card data of more than 700 guests from across the country was stolen; in January, Wyndham reported that their computer systems were breached and hackers accessed information from 31 hotels between November 2009 and January 2o1o. They never reported how many cards were compromised.

Credit card companies usually don’t require consumers to pay for unauthorized charges, but credit card users must report the theft in a timely manner to ensure their identity remains safe; the best method to is to check statements regularly and keep tabs on credit reports.

Hey Smartphone Peeps, Read This!

The Smartphone industry has become as hot, and unavoidable, as social media.  As company and government offices move toward providing smartphone for “indispensable employees,” people who don’t want to be chained to their office 24/7 are finding a new reality.  Moreover, let’s not forget to mention the millions of high school students that need smartphones…
I know, I know; it’s a school requirement.

Increasing use increases risk of phone viruses.  Consumer demand for “the latest and greatest” has ignited competition between manufacturers that are eager to outsell competitors and sate consumer appetites.  Today’s smartphone doesn’t need a ton of features.  There’s an App for that.

Apps, or “Applications” are software programs that run on a smartphones operating system to make the phone, and its owner’s life, simple.  In most cases, this is true.  However, the introduction of the iPhone redefined the smartphone industry: Why buy a Blackberry, with 10,000 buttons on it when you could own a touch-sensitive phone that was sleek, easy to use, and fit nicely in your pocket?  Soon after the iPhone came Google Android and Verizon’s Droid.  Recently the Kin became available; its main selling point is social media integration.  Other “cool” smartphones include Aria, Panther, Symbian, and–of course–Blackberry Bold 9800 (better late than never).

The nuclear smartphone race launched the app race.  All good stuff.  Nevertheless, like all good things, they come to an end, in this case meaning that more malware and spyware applications’ manufacturers that want to steal your intellectual and physical property.  Malware on cell phones isn’t new, but it’s become more prevalent on smartphone platforms.

These “bad guys” are targeting smartphones at higher rates, and, according to mobile security provide Lookout, an average of 9 malware/spyware infections were discovered every hundred Smartphones as of last month (May 2010).  A Dark Reading article on the malware highlights the fact that electronic infections took 15-years to reach their current levels.  Mal- or spyware on smartphones has reached the same level in a couple of months.  (May’s infection rate doubled November’s).

John Herring, founder of Lookout, stated, “We call this the 1999 factor: It feels like about 10 years ago in terms of prevalence of threats.  There was a tipping point between 2000 and 2002 [for PC threats] that was driven by broadband.  The same trends are going to hold true here” (with smartphones).

Veracode, another mobile phone security provider demonstrated why malware is dangerous;  Tyler Shields, senior security researcher with Veracode, developed and released a spyware app that targets Blackberries, steals all contact info, both text and e-mail messages, plus allows hackers to listen in on calls.  Scarier still, the spyware application can track the infected phone using GPS.

Blackberry infections are usually spying programs due to the Blackberry’s early introduction to corporate America.

As smartphones become more user-friendly, it’s important to understand that our phones provide more information than our computers, including location (GPS), automatic payment info, e-mail, text, phone call records, voice mails, text, and a record of numbers called by the phone.

If you need your smartphone scanned for viruses or malware, call U-Spy Store’s corporate headquarters in Chicago at (773) 529-2SPY (2779), or send us an email.