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Internet Security and Your Computer… Are You Safe?

Posted on 16 April 2010 by Total Secure Shredding

Hey Folks,

Let’s face it… when it comes to surfing the Internet it can very much seem like the “Wild Wild West” even to those of use who consider themselves “Computer Savvy.”

Every time we look around another story surfaces where a computer has been hacked and personal consumer information has been disclosed and sold to God knows who.

Last Saturday I was able to sit down and speak with Dan Libby, a local San Diego Expert in Computer Forensics and Information Systems Security. Dan spent 25 years in government service with a major intelligence agency.

I know it definitely opened my eyes to a few items with regard to securing your computer.

I was under the impression that Adobe PDF’s were extremely secure and I made sure to attach PDF’s to emails I send out whenever possible.

But Dan noted that Adobe PDF’s have been ranked as the #1 Vulnerability by the US Government when it comes hackers being able to access high profile networks… including those of the government!

Once a hacker injects a code into a PDF and you consequently open that PDF (or any document), the hacker has the opportunity to take control of your computer and add it to the hacker’s “Zombie Network.”

Your IP Address can then be sold on the Black Market to “Spammers” who can then Send Spam Emails All Night Long… Using Your Computer!

Did you know that over 90% of all spam sent in the world is sent from people who don’t know they are sending it?

Dan says that most important thing you can do to prevent the hacking of your computer is to “Update, Update, Update!”

Once a threat has been identified, software companies will take measures to mitigate that threat by providing updates to their software.

“If you don’t update update, you’re running software with known security vulnerabilities.”

Here’s a few things you can do right now to help eliminate computer hacking threats:

  • Update all your programs. When a programs notifies you that there is an update available, take the time to download and install the update. It’s typically a very simple process with the software walking you through.
  • Turn off your computer at night. Dan says, “They can’t get to you if your not on the network.”
  • Install a firewall on your computer either hardware or software based.
  • Install anti-Virus and anti-Trojan software and make sure it’s updated.
  • Keep a look out for suspicious email and it’s definitely a  good idea to not open any email attachments that you’re not expecting.

To listen to the entire interview, click the link below:


Until next time.

Keep Totally Secure,

Mike

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You’re Asking Me For WHAT!

Posted on 09 December 2009 by Total Secure Shredding

Combo Lock Credit CardHey Folks,

Last weekend I was getting a new hosting account set up with a new web site hosting company that was recommended to me. I’m starting to get things set up for a new Internet project that I’m working on – unrelated to Paper Shredding… But I Digress.

Everything went smooth with entering all my details on-line including my credit card information.

This actually took place last Saturday so I figured I would hear back from the company the following Monday that everything was now set up and I could start using my account.

But strangely enough I received an email from a “technician” which stated the following:

Hello,
Before we can approve your new hosting account,
please fax the following into our offices:
1.) Credit card used to sign up the account
2.) Photo ID of the person's name on the credit card
Please fax this to:
ATTN:  New Accounts
Fax#:  xxx-xxx-xxxx
Once we receive this information we will immediately
process this order.
If you do not have access to a fax machine, you can
also scan this information and attach it to this email.
Thank you.

A number of things immediately started coming to mind about how weird this is…

I’m not new to ordering stuff on-line… As a matter of fact, I do it all the time – sometimes for large dollar value items.

Strange enough, this purchase was actually a relatively low cost item.

And since I run a Secure Paper Shredding Company, I’m so stranger to ID Theft – I hear these stories all the time. Not to mention my company checking account was hacked for a few grand last year!

So here is how I responded:

Why do you need this information?

This email seems odd… Real close to losing the sale!

Mike Krauss

The next day, Sunday (which I also found surprising), I received the following response:

Hello Mike,
Thank you for contacting us back
This is to protect both the security of "COMPANY NAME"
and of it's customers (or soon to be customers in your case)
to prevent fraud orders. If you are worried due to security,
you can cover up all the numbers but the last 4 digits on
the credit card as they are the only ones we need for
verification. I hope that helps and if there is anything
else we can do for you please feel free to let us know. We
are here to help with anything else you might need.
Thank you for your time.

At this point, this company gets kudos for having some pretty good customer service. But still being worried about their security measures, I replied with the following on Monday:

I’m hesitant to even send a copy of the credit card with the account number blocked out except the last 4.

In No Way will I send a copy of my driver’s license.

Just to let you know, I’m the owner of a Secure Shredding Company in San Diego and I take ID Theft Extremely Serious.  Also, I’d like to think I am a little more knowledgeable about ID Theft and the laws that are in place to prevent it.

I suggest you take a look at your company’s written “Red Flag” rule policy for preventing ID Theft. This policy is Mandated by the FTC and since you are requiring such sensitive items from customers, there has to be a written policy in place ensuring these documents, once received, are handled properly and then destroyed.

Also, if your Visa/MasterCard Merchant Account agreement is anything like mine, you also know that requesting picture ID to accept a credit card violates that agreement. I assume you take a lot of credit card payments via the Internet, putting your merchant account in jeopardy doesn’t seem like a wise idea.

There must be other ways to verify the legitimacy of a new account – the way you decided on is extremely inappropriate.

When I opened a hosting account on GoDaddy this wasn’t a requirement. I see a big billboard behind my office for Host Gator and I wonder if they also require this type of account verification.

In any event, you’ve given me “fodder” for my next blog entry on ID THEFT.

Depending on how you respond to this email will determine whether I can trust your company any further or simply ask for a refund. (The amount is already pending in my account.)

Regards,

Mike Krauss

CEO & President

Total Secure Shredding, Inc.
When Security Matters Most

3584 Hancock St.
San Diego, CA 92110

Toll Free: (800) 536-4832 x750
Office: (619) 295-5474
Direct: (619) 889-7518
Fax: (866) 669-0729

MKrauss@TotalSecureShredding.com
www.TotalSecureShredding.com

www.Twitter.com/PaperShredding

Since I’m sure they don’t get many emails like this from Owners of Shredding Companies, this email was followed up with a phone call from the company from a live person who simply asked to confirm the last 4 digits of the account number on the credit card I used to purchase the web site hosting account – Nothing more, Nothing Less – Which seemed to be a reasonable request without me having to give up valuable personal information.

Again, I give this company credit for having some pretty impressive customer service…

The point of all this is that nobody should ever ask you for a photo copy of your ID and your credit card when making any type of credit card purchase. And even if they do, they better have damn good reason for asking

With ID Theft being so rampant these days, you cannot take any risks with your personal information – no matter what you may be purchasing – the potential costs of ID Theft are way too high.

I hope this serves as a good reminder to you all to protect any and all of your personal information…

And also, maybe my email served as a good lesson to this company, which appears to be a very good company and in the end earned my business, to not take requests for personal information so lightly.

Until Next Time…

Keep Totally Secure,

Mike

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