Social Engineering Techniques – Pretexting

Social Engineering Techniques – Pretexting

Pretexting is a social engineering technique wherein a hacker uses false pretenses to engage with with his/her intended victim in order to get information from that target. Basically it’s a lie with a made-up story to go along with it. Pretexting is often used to gain trust, and when trust is gained by the pretexter, data and privacy are in danger.

A classic example of pretexting in the offline world is someone pretending to be a pizza delivery guy (or gal) to gain access to the front door of a house. Once the door is open, the would-be criminal can peek inside, look for valuables, guard dogs, and the layout of the home. Pretexting in the online world tends to be electronic, such as IMing with someone over a long period of time and gaining their trust on a social networking site by pretending to be someone they aren’t.

Pretexting can be found anywhere sensitive information or privacy issue are a concern: your home, your work, or even you local cable company.

It would be virtually impossible to steer clear of a master pretexter, but you can keep your eyes (and ears) open (figuratively speaking) for someone online or offline who seems relatively innocuous at first, but then gets a little too nosy. Just remember that loose lips sink ships and you should be fine.

Image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/flipmovie/.

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Online Safety for Kids

Online Safety for Kids

It’s getting close to the middle of the school year for most kids, and by now they’re probably pretty comfortable with the swing of things. As such, you’re probably finding your kids on the home computer surfing the Internet, “studying” online (haha), and chatting with their friends the web. As a parent and a tech geek, I’m all for kids learning and playing online. But as the school year progresses, most kids become lax in their safety consciousness when online.

It’s always a good idea to remind your kids about the importance of online safety, but here are three things you should make sure to keep on top of all year long:

  • Don’t give out personally identifiable information:

    First names are probably fine, but a last name should always be kept under wraps from anyone your kids interact with online. Other things to keep quite about are the locations of their home and school, frequent hangout spots, and after-school schedules. The last thing you want is some creepy stranger taking a 3 hour drive to visit your kid at little league!

  • Keep kids social networking profiles private:

    Places like Facebook allow kids (and adults) to post anything they want at any time they want, with little to no repercussions. Make sure that your kids don’t accidentally invite a web perv into their online life with an open and public profile.

  • Let an adult know about cyberbullying:

    Cyberbullying is no joke, and it’s happening more and more. Be sure to keep an open and honest dialog with your kids about online harassment, whether it’s about them, their friends, or someone they know at school. No child should have to live in fear or shame because of a cyberbully.

If you keep those three things alive and well during the entire year, your kids will have a much better, and safer, time on the Internet.

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January 28th, 2011 is World Data Privacy Day

January 28th, 2011 is World Data Privacy Day

Friday, January 28th, 2011 is World Data Privacy Day. With a New Year comes a new time to stop and think about how data privacy affects you and your family. Whether you’re accessing information online by a mobile device, social networking sites like Twitter or Facebook, or if you’re using other online services, information you type in, request, or log in with is being captured and acted upon by others.

As a Digital Citizen, it’s up to you to watch the watchers… to ensure that your data is being handled properly by the sites and services you choose to use. As such, you should educate yourself on how sites are tracking your information, storing your data, or processing your logins. If you don’t, who will?

For more information about data privacy, you can visit our blog posts tagged with “Privacy“, or the Washington State Attorney General’s page on Internet safety. Feel free to also check out the StopSign privacy policy for details on how we deal with privacy issues. You can also leave a comment below with any questions if you like.

If you're looking for great anti-virus software that won't break the bank, try StopSign. You don't pay extra for tech support for difficult malware, and our web protection software just works. Download & install StopSign to find out why our members choose us over the other options.

Internet Privacy and Internet Safety Tips for 2011

Internet Privacy and Internet Safety Tips for 2011

A New Year brings in a lot of new things to everyone… New hopes. New dreams. And yes, sometimes it brings in some new bad things, too. Such is life. But while we can’t help make your favorite sports teams win, and we can’t do anything about that crazy co-worker in the cubicle next to you, but we can give you some tips on how to stay safe online in 2011.

You can bet your bottom dollar that Internet privacy concerns, identity theft, malware distribution, cyber attacks, and a host of other technology-related problems are only going to rise and morph over the course of the year. (They always seem to, don’t they?!) Keep yourself, your family, your information, and your money safe by following the tips below:

  • Change your passwords:

    Yep. All of ‘em. I know I mentioned it last year, but if you didn’t change your passwords then, you really should change your passwords right now. The safety and security of the information on your PC is literally a password away from being grabbed and abused by unscrupulous characters on the web.

  • Patch it up:

    You’ve got a computer. You’ve got software. And you’ve probably got patches you can apply to them all. Unpatched machines and software leave holes open that hackers can take advantage of, so patch your PC today. Doing so will not only keep your machine secure, it might make a program or two a bit more peppy or give it a few more features.

  • Desocialize your network:

    Look, I love Twitter, Facebook, an LinkedIn just as much as the next guy or gal, but every now an again you should review and do a little housekeeping on your social networking profiles. Think about it: Do you really need Jake, formerly of accounting, on your friend list now that he’s gone and you only added him because he was a co-worker in the first place? I didn’t think so.

  • Geolocation in moderation:

    Our blog post “Stranger Danger: Geolocation Features and Internet Safety” still stands, in my personal opinion, as one of the most important blog articles written in 2010 from both a personal safety and Internet safety standpoint. If you haven’t seen it, please read our article on geolocation safety tips now, especially if you’re using any of the location-aware features of Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare, or any other service or device.

I sincerely hope these tips help you stay protected. Happy New Year, and I hope you have the best of luck with all of your Internet privacy and Internet security concerns in 2011.

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