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  • Geebo 8:01 am on March 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Are new remote workers a security threat? 

    Are new remote workers a security threat?

    With the new coronavirus recommendations designed to try to prevent the virus from spreading any further, many companies are requiring their employees to work at home. For many, this will be the first time that they will be working remotely. All these new remote workers could also mean new security risks that their employers may not be prepared for.

    One of these threats is phishing attacks. We’ve discussed phishing attacks many times before and they’re nothing new for most companies. In short, hackers or scammers will send fake emails trying to get the recipient to click on a link or download an attachment. Usually, these links or attachments contain malware that can infect a corporation’s entire system. In the corporate world, these emails often look like legitimate emails from your employer. If you receive an email like this, hover your cursor over the link to make sure it goes someplace safe. If it has an attachment, verify the sender exists within your company and then verify with them that the attachment is legitimate.

    For example in the UK, an email was sent to all the employees of several healthcare organizations asking employees to click on a link so they could register for a coronavirus safety seminar. The link went to a website that appeared to be an Outlook Web App and when the user would enter their contact information that information would then be stolen.

    Another corporate phishing attack that has been on the rise is the impersonation scam. This when an employee receives an email from a company executive’s email address but wasn’t sent from the executive. Often this scam targets payroll or other financial employees. These emails will often ask for large sums of money to be wired or to change the bank account from where the money is normally held. If you receive one of these emails it never hurts to contact the executive directly by phone to verify the transaction being requested.

    While working at home can be distracting to some, take a moment to verify questionable emails. A few minutes out of your schedule is better than bring an entire company to a halt.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 13, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Phony coronavirus websites are on the rise 

    Phony coronavirus websites are on the rise

    Previously when we discussed coronavirus related phishing attacks, we mentioned that emails sent by scammers will try to disguise themselves as being from organizations like the CDC or WHO by using similar email addresses to the actual ones. For example, if the CDC were to send an email the address would be from cdc.gov. Scammers may try to use an address like CDC-gov.com. Not being satisfied with just posing as life-saving aid organizations, scammers are now registering coronavirus related domains in droves. These are the addresses that use to go to a website such as geebo.com.

    According to cybersecurity experts, scammers are registering domains such as coronavirusstatus[.]space, coronavirus[.]zone and survivecoronavirus[.]org just to name a few. A more comprehensive list can be found at this link. Scammers are registering these domain names either to use in phishing emails or to inject malware on your device. For the foreseeable future, if you get an email with a domain name that contains the word ‘coronavirus’ or other related terms, consider it to be harmful. Any links or attachments that these emails contain should not be clicked on as they could lead to malware which could potentially steal your personal or financial information. You could then unwittingly infect all devices connected to your network.

    And again, you should be on the lookout for other coronavirus scams as well. Like we’ve mentioned before, as of the time of this posting, there is no cure or vaccine for the coronavirus. Anyone promising you otherwise is trying to rip you off. Testing is limited in the US right now, anyone who is not a government agency or medical professional cannot test you for coronavirus and is either pushing snake oil or trying to steal your financial information.

    While the coronavirus, or covid-19 if you prefer, is a real danger and something we should be concerned about, don’t allow fear to get the better of you. In a crisis like this, panic helps no one. Look to your local media and state government about how the virus is affecting your area and heed those warnings. If we all work together, we can get through this.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Idaho, ,   

    Scary scammer targets 10-year-old on TikTok 

    Scary scammer targets 10-year-old on TikTok

    Children love social media. If they’re not messaging their friends they’re either interacting with celebrities and personalities or even creating their own content. One of the most popular social media apps among children is TikTok. It allows its users to create short videos or they can follow and watch the videos of other creators. As with most social media, users can interact with each other through comments and messages. If these interactions are not monitored it could lead to inappropriate contact and other potentially dangerous situations.

    A 10-year-old girl from Idaho was on TikTok and was recently contacted by a stranger through the app. The person who contacted her said they were looking for a ‘sugar baby’ that they could spoil with gifts and money. While this sounds like the actions of an online predator’s attempt to groom a child, this interaction took a different turn. The person who approached the girl said that in order to ‘spoil’ the girl they would need her parents’ ATM and bank card information. Thankfully, the girl was smart enough to tell her parents about the messages who in turn called local police. However, the alleged scammer could be from anywhere and no apprehension has been made and the suspect may never be caught.

    While most children love apps like TokTok that doesn’t mean they should be on them unattended. Most platforms including TikTok set the minimum age of users to 13 in their terms of service. Even if children meet the minimum age requirement that still shouldn’t mean they can be left on any social platform without having some form of monitoring. A good rule in helping keep children safe online is to instill a no devices after bedtime rule. If your children are using iPhones or iPads, iOS has parental controls that you can learn to use here. If your children are on Android phones and tablets parental control instructions can be found here. You can also find tips and tricks to keep your children safe online at the US Attorney’s Office website and NetSmartz.org.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 11, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ice cream, misnformation, UNICEF   

    UNICEF victim of coronavirus misinformation campaign 

    UNICEF victim of coronavirus misinformation campaign

    We’re sort of sorry to bring you yet another scam related to the covid-19 coronavirus. However, since there is so much misinformation surrounding the virus we felt it was better to be repetitive than not inform our readers.

    As we’re sure most of you know, the United Nations Children’s Fund, more commonly known as UNICEF, is the United Nations agency responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide. Much like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), Unicef has become the victim of a misinformation campaign about the coronavirus outbreak.

    Worldwide a fake message has been spreading around social media attributed to UNICEF. The message falsely states that ice cream and other cold foods should be avoided in order to prevent coronavirus. The message has been translated into many languages and spread around the globe. This may sound much like a harmless prank but these posts also contain other false information about the virus which can be seen below.

    False post attributed to UNICEF

    This is a prime example of how fast misinformation can spread and be seen as truth in our globally connected world. Do not rely on social media for vital health information. In times of crisis like this, it is best to always check with scientific experts and medical professionals. As always, we recommend closely watching the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization as they are the foremost authorities on epidemics like this.

    Knowledge is power and right now it’s a power that could potentially save your life.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 10, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Coronavirus scams are having real-world effects 

    Coronavirus scams are having real-world effects

    Previously, when we discussed scams related to the coronavirus outbreak they were mostly theoretical. Now, many of these scams have taken root in the real world and have cost their victims large sums of money. Here are some of the scams that you should avoid.

    We realize that not everybody is going to be happy with us calling some ‘alternative’ medicines a scam but if we can help one person from ingesting potentially dangerous toxins then we feel like we’ve done our job. There are several supposed cures for coronavirus that are being touted online from garlic to miracle minerals and colloidal silver. While garlic is mostly harmless it doesn’t affect coronavirus in any way. However, so-called miracle minerals contain very toxic chlorine dioxide. Colloidal silver is equally as toxic and can damage your kidneys, cause seizures and even turn your skin blue.

    In British Columbia, Canada scammers are calling residents offering them phony coronavirus testing kits for a cost. Canada has free healthcare for its citizens and actual testing is being done at provincial health offices. In the US, while tests are in short supply, they are only available through medical professionals. Anyone offering a testing kit over the phone or online is merely trying to scam you.

    In Maine, US Senator Susan Collins, the Chairman of the Aging Committee, is warning her constituents about fraudsters who are pressuring their victims into buying a non-existent coronavirus vaccine. The scammers will tell the people they talk to that if they don’t pay for the phony vaccine now they won’t be able to receive treatment from their primary care doctor on any vaccine clinic. Again, as of this writing, no vaccine or cure for the Covid-19 coronavirus has been developed yet.

    In the United Kingdom, scammers have taken close to $1 million in surgical mask schemes. Victims have paid high dollar amounts for surgical masks that were never delivered. As has been stated before, while these masks have been hard to find they do not prevent the wearer from contracting Covid-19 or any other virus. The masks are only effective when worn by someone who already has a respiratory virus. Medical professionals are worried that the fear and misinformation over the virus may cause a shortage of masks in medical facilities worldwide. So unless you’re already infected, wearing a mask will do nothing to stop the spread of the virus.

    If more people started acting rationally instead of giving in to fear and misinformation we could weather this outbreak in a much more effective manner.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: airport, , , huntsville, Huntsville International Airport, ,   

    Modeling scam victim almost lured into trafficking 

    Modeling scam victim almost lured into trafficking

    Whenever we discuss the modeling scam we usually talk about how it could lead the victim into spending a lot of money that they don’t need to. For example, a number of online and radio ads for modeling jobs are actually just sales pitches for overpriced classes or photo packages. However, there is a much darker side to the modeling scam that can have grave consequences for the victims involved and that is human trafficking. Traffickers often pose as modeling or talent agents in order to find victims and a recent story shows what lengths they will go to find their victims.

    In Huntsville, Alabama it’s believed a 21-year-old woman almost fell victim to human traffickers posing as a modeling agency. If it wasn’t for her mother losing her car in the airport parking lot the woman might have never been seen again. When an airport employee saw the woman frantically looking for her car the employee stopped to help the woman. As they got to talking the woman said she had just dropped off her daughter at the terminal and that her daughter was leaving for a modeling offer in Phoenix. The mother told the employee that the agency even bought her daughter the ticket to fly to Phoenix. Thankfully, the airport employee had been trained on how to recognize human trafficking.

    Thankfully, they were able to find the woman before she boarded the plane. The employee was able to convince the woman that the modeling offer may not be on the up and up and arranged to have a police officer escort her at her destination. The employee then called the ‘agency’ to tell them that the woman would be escorted by police. It was shortly thereafter when the woman received texts from the fake modeling agency saying her flight had been canceled. Both Homeland Security and the TSA have said that the phony agency has been linked to other instances of human trafficking.

    If you or a family member has ambitions of getting into modeling, have realistic expectations of what can be achieved in such a field crowded with treachery at every turn. Always do as much research as you can into any offer or opportunity you might find. Not everyone can be a model but these scammers, predators, and traffickers target victims who believe they have a shot in the modeling or entertainment industry and take advantage of their dreams. The Federal Trade Commission website has some tips on how not to get scammed by modeling ads.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on March 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Presidential candidate puts fake census ads on social media 

    Presidential candidate puts fake census ads on Facebook

    Since the US census only takes place only once a decade, it gives scammers the opportunity to find a new generation of victims. Previously we’ve discussed how census scammers may try to either steal your personal information or get you to give them money. Then it may or may not come as a surprise to you that a member of the government may be using the census to try to get you to give them money, specifically to make donations to their presidential campaign. And what if we told you that not only was this person allegedly using phony census ads to solicit campaign donations but that they have held one of the highest offices in the land.

    Facebook recently removed a series of misleading ads that claimed to be from the Official 2020 Congressional District Census. One of the main purposes of the actual US Census is to determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives. So by claiming to be an official Congressional district census, you can see how it could lead to confusion. not only that but the 2020 census, which starts March 12th, will be the first US Census that you can complete online which could lead to more confusion from the deceptive ads.

    If you were to click on one of these ads you would be asked a series of questions before being taken to the candidate’s campaign website where you’d be asked to make a campaign donation. Here’s a handy picture of what one of the ads looked like. We’ve edited the picture in order to remain impartial.

    While some may decry this ad as FAKE NEWS since anyone can buy a Facebook ad, a BBC investigation found that the ads were backed by the candidate’s official campaign and the candidate’s own political party.

    Those who oppose this candidate may be well within their right to say actions like this not only undermine an official government function in the census, but it also appears to severely undermine the Democratic process in America.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on March 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Coronavirus scams are as bad as the disease 

    Coronavirus scams are as bad as the disease

    The coronavirus crisis has not gotten any better over the past few weeks. Tragically, it has claimed more lives and more cases are being reported every day. The crisis has created such a climate of fear that scammers have tried to seize every opportunity to take advantage of that fear. It’s gotten so bad that Amazon has removed one million products that made false coronavirus claims and Facebook has cracked down on misleading ads about coronavirus. This is not something that either of these companies does lightly. Just about every State Attorney General has also warned their constituents to wary of scams related to the outbreak.

    When we first discussed coronavirus scams, we discussed phishing attacks that are used to infect your device with malware. Those phishing attacks have become more sophisticated as many of them are now trying to disguise their emails as coming from places like the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control. A great way to tell that these emails are fake is checking the email address it was sent from. If it’s from the WHO the email address would end in who.int while the CDC’s would end in cdc.gov. You should also always hover your cursor over any links contained in the email to see exactly where the links may take you. The odds are they’ll take you to a site infested with malware or one designed to try to steal your personal information.

    We’ve also previously discussed how con artists from all over the world are trying to sell snake oil cures. Again, as of the time of this post, there is no vaccine or cure for the coronavirus. Anyone who is trying to tell you otherwise is either woefully misinformed or trying to sell you something that is at best a placebo and at worst toxic and dangerous.

    Much like when a natural disaster occurs, price gouging is also being committed for legitimate supplies that will be useful if everyday services become disrupted. Bottled water is one of those items as are surgical masks. Speaking of the masks, you shouldn’t be going out to buy a crate of masks unless advised by a medical professional. Surgical masks are designed to keep the wearer from spreading any infection and doesn’t prevent wearers from getting one. Not only that, but there are also counterfeiters who are selling bogus masks that don’t do anything at all. There have also been reports that bogus websites have been popping up claiming to sell masks and other items that aren’t selling anything at all. Instead, they’re just stealing your financial information.

    Even the greedy among us are being scammed by buying into phony investments that promise a return when you supposedly invest in companies that will supposedly cure the virus. On the flip side, the charitable among us are at risk as well as many scammers will be posing as charities that either claim to be researching a cure or helping those affected by the disease. Always carefully research any charity you think is worth donating to.

    For more information please check the Federal Trade Commission’s website about coronavirus scams.

    As always, if you want to keep abreast of the ever-changing situation please go to the websites for the World Health Organization, or the Centers for Disease Control.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on March 4, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , checks,   

    The never ending check scam 

    The never ending check scam

    The other day, we discussed how the rental scam is one of the most prevalent online scams. If we had to pick one that’s more rampant than that, it would have to be the phony check scam. This is a scam that’s been plaguing the online classifieds market since almost the beginning. However, fake checks are used in so many scams there’s hardly a scam going today that doesn’t use them.

    At it’s most basic, the check scam works like this. Someone will send you a check, they’ll ask you to deposit it in your own bank account and then for whatever reason, they’ll tell you to send a portion of the money back to them. Your bank will let you have access to the money long before the bank discovers it’s a fake. By this time, you’ve probably spent part or all of the money and the scammers have made off with the rest. Unfortunately. since you were the one who deposited the phony check, you’ll be responsible for paying back the bank. Fake checks are used from everything to selling something online to phony employment scams.

    According to the Federal Trade Commission, the fake check scam cost US consumers $28 million in 2019 with the average victim of the scam losing $2,000. The scam has also increased in frequency by 65% since 2015 meaning that even more people are falling victim to the scam. The FTC says that people in their 20s are more likely to fall for the scam than people in their 30s are older. If you are a young person and you think a check you received might be a fake, please don’t hesitate to ask your bank if the check is phony or check with a trusted older relative or friend. It never hurts to ask.

    The best way to tell if a check is fake it to look for any discrepancies. Is the check from a different person or company that you spoke with? Is the address on the check different from that person or company? If the answer is yes to either of those questions then the check is more than likely a fake. But if someone sends you a check and ever asks for you to return a portion of it for whatever reason, it’s almost guaranteed to be a fake.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on March 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , medical privacy, Walgreens   

    Major pharmacy leaks customer data 

    Major pharmacy leaks customer data

    Out of all your personal information that could be potentially exposed, it’s probably your medical history that you would least want to be public knowledge. After all, your medical information is the most personal information you have. It’s so personal, in fact, that Congress passed a monumental law back in 1996 to better protect patient privacy. That law was the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, otherwise known as HIPAA. The government has been known to level heavy fines against medical providers when patient privacy has been. One of the nation’s leading pharmacies may now be getting ready to be on the receiving end of one of those record fines.

    Walgreens recently announced that their mobile app had a flaw that could have potentially exposed customer’s names along with the medication they’re taking and other health-related information. According to Walgreens

    The bug allowed “a small percentage of impacted customers” to view one or more personal messages containing limited health-related info of other app users “between January 9, 2020, and January 15, 2020.”

    However, they say that no customers’ financial information has been released. That’s not to say that medical information can’t be used for nefarious purposes. In the past, medical information that was made public has been used to blackmail people.

    Walgreens is said to be sending letters to those affected in the breach but they have also been quiet on the number of customers who have been affected. This isn’t the first time Walgreens has run afoul of HIPAA. In 2013, they were fined $1.4 million when a pharmacist inappropriately shared a customer’s medical data. Imagine how much the fine could potentially be now with a nationwide breach.

    Unfortunately, there’s not much a patient can do once their medical information is out in the wild. At best, they can sue the medical provider for damages but once medical information falls into the wrong hands it’s out there for good.

     
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