Be on the alert for Hurricane Matthew phishing scams. The term phishing was reportedly coined in the late 1990’s by hackers who would “fish” for information from potential victims in order to steal their AOL account. (You can find the US Federal Trade Commission’s consumer guidance page on phishing here.)

Any event, local or global, large or small, tragic or otherwise, can and will be leveraged by scammers to trick the unwary. Hurricane Matthew is one such event. The US Department of Homeland Security has posted a cyber-crime alert on potential Hurricane Matthew phishing scams. Below is an excerpt of their dos and don’ts:

Password. STOP!

Password. STOP!

Many tech bloggers write about the need for strong passwords. It makes sense that we should have strong, not easily guessed passwords, but what defines strong? How easy or difficult is it for a cybercriminal to hack your password?

One common technique used by hackers is called a brute-force attack. A brute-force attack is a trial-and-error method of guessing your password. Hackers use specially-crafted programs to cycle through dictionary-based words, non-dictionary words and all possible combinations of alpha-numeric characters in an attempt to glean the “key” protecting your sensitive data. The limiting factor is compute power. The more processing power the hacker can leverage, the faster your data can be hacked.

Keep your data safe. Practice good password habits.

Good Password Habits

Passwords… Not exactly a topic that generates much excitement. Yet in a world of increasing Internet connectedness, passwords are very important—one of several key security layers used to protect our sensitive data.

The first password I remember ever having to worry about came from a temp job in the early nineties–my first sustenance work as a NYC starving actor. I was hired to inventory the computer systems of a Bank of America corporate office and was assigned an account on their local area network (LAN) to record the inventory information I was to collect.

This was my first time logging into anything. The first time I needed a password for anything–there wasn’t even a password on my obsolete-the-day-I-bought-it Mac Classic.


Danger! Malware Ahead!

Malware. We’ve all heard of it. It’s been headline news. The US Dept. of Homeland Security issues daily threat alerts. Software companies and device manufacturers scramble to patch discovered exploits. Many of us have had friends, family or colleagues who have been infected.

Malware. Malicious software. We know it’s bad.

When it comes to malware threats, there are no sacred cows. Not little old ladies. Not Pope Francis. Anything and everything is fair game for infection and has most likely been compromised at some point in time. In addition to the usual slate of victims such as financial institutions, government agenciesmedia websitesretail outlets and nuclear power plants (really!), some telling examples include hospitals, schools, senior citizens and churches.