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Public Wi-Fi Networks

Whether in a hotel or airport across the world, or in the coffee shop just down the street, chances are you’ve used free Wi-Fi hotspots. While convenient, they’re often unsecure. So how can you reduce your risk? Encryption — having your information scrambled into code — is key to staying secure online.
Whether in a hotel or airport across the world, or in the coffee shop just down the street, chances are you’ve used free Wi-Fi hotspots. While convenient, they’re often unsecure. So how can you reduce your risk? Encryption — having your information scrambled into code — is key to staying secure online. Watch this video from OnGuardOnline.gov to learn the signs that a site and hotspot are encrypted so you can protect your personal information when using public Wi-Fi hotspots.
  __________________ The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the nation’s consumer protection agency. The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace.

Be Cautious When Using Wi-Fi

The proliferation of mobile devices means that we can work or play online from almost anywhere, so it’s no surprise that public Wi-Fi networks have become more common. From hotels and coffee shops, to universities and city centers, Wi-Fi is widely available, but is connecting to these networks safe?The proliferation of mobile devices means that we can work or play online from almost anywhere, so it’s no surprise that public Wi-Fi networks have become more common. From hotels and coffee shops, to universities and city centers, Wi-Fi is widely available, but is connecting to these networks safe? If you were carrying on a highly sensitive conversation on a park bench with your closest friend, would you want everyone in the immediate area to gather around and eavesdrop? That’s essentially what happens—or what could happen—when you communicate online using public Wi-Fi, such as at coffee houses, hotels and airports. Non-secured public Wi-Fi makes it easy for hackers to read your email correspondence and the information you type to get into your critical accounts. Of course, with a VPN, your online activities will be unintelligible to eavesdroppers. A virtual private network will encrypt everything you do so that hackers can’t make sense of it. A VPN is a service you can use when accessing public Wi-Fi. A VPN will also prevent exposing your IP address. So, if you are going to connect to public Wi-Fi, make sure that you take some steps to keep your device and information safe. Follow these tips to stay protected:
  • Turn off sharing—Keep others from accessing your computer and files by turning off sharing when you are on a public network. This can be accomplished by visiting your computer’s control panel (on Windows), or System Preferences (Mac OS X).
  • Use a “Virtual Private Network”—If you frequently use public Wi-Fi, it might be a good idea to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN is like your own private network you can access from anywhere. You can subscribe to VPN services for a low monthly fee.
  • Avoid information-sensitive sites—When using public Wi-Fi, try to avoid logging in to banking and shopping sites where you share your personal and financial information. Only do these transactions from a trusted connection, such as your protected home network.
  • Use sites that start with “https”—Sites that begin with “https” instead of just “http” use encryption to protect the information you send. Look for this level of security on sites where you plan to enter login and other personal information.
  • Use multi-factor authentication – Find out which of your accounts offer two-factor authentication. This would make it next to impossible for a hacker, who has your username and password, to bust into your account—unless he had your phone in his hand—the phone that the two-factor is set up with.
  • Always log out – Don’t just click or close out the tab of the account when you’re done; log off first, then close the tab
  • Avoid automatically connecting to hotspots—Keep your computer or device from automatically connecting to available Wi-Fi hotspots to reduce the chances of connecting to a malicious hotspot set up to steal information. Make sure your device is set up so that it doesn’t automatically reconnect to that WiFi when within range. For example, your home WiFi may be called “Netgear” and will reconnect to “Netgear” anywhere, which might be a hackers connection who can snoop on your data traffic.
PC: For Windows Make sure no “Connect Automatically” boxes are checked. Or, go to the control panel, then network sharing center, then click the network name Hit wireless properties. Uncheck “Connect automatically when this network is in range. For Mac: Go to system preferences, then network Under the Wi-Fi section hit the advanced button. Uncheck “Remember networks this computer has joined.” Mobile: For iOS: Go to settings, select the Wi-Fi network, then hit forget this network. For Android: Get into your Wi-Fi network list, hit the network name and select forget network. __________________ Robert Siciliano is an Online Safety Expert to Intel Security. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked!

1.5 minutes can save you…a heap of trouble!

We’ve all heard the ads saying that 15 minutes can save you 15%. Some ads claim to save you more in even less time. Well, the FTC can save you lots of headaches in about a minute and a half. We recently released new short videos explaining the basics about three topics that affect millions of us:We’ve all heard the ads saying that 15 minutes can save you 15%. Some ads claim to save you more in even less time. Well, the FTC can save you lots of headaches in about a minute and a half. We recently released new short videos explaining the basics about three topics that affect millions of us: Renting an apartment or a house
Car title loans
Recovering from identity theft
But wait, there’s more! For the low, low introductory price of…well…nothing, you can find even more videos and information at consumer.gov. It’s just what you need to know – and what you need to do – about managing your money, protecting your credit,managing your debt, and dealing with identity theft. We hope these resources are helpful – and if they are, feel free to share. You can grab and share the consumer.gov videos – post them on your own website or blog, share on social media. And order free consumer.gov materials, in English and Spanish, to hand out at work, school, club, or wherever else people might need consumer protection basics, plain and simple. _________________ The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the nation’s consumer protection agency. The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace.

Keeping Your Kids Safe from Identity Theft

Child identity theft is growing at an alarming rate, and it often goes unnoticed for years at a time. It occurs when an individual uses the personal identifiable information of a minor—obviously without consent—to open new accounts or lines of credit. Child identity theft is growing at an alarming rate, and it often goes unnoticed for years at a time. It occurs when an individual uses the personal identifiable information of a minor—obviously without consent—to open new accounts or lines of credit. The consequences can be very serious, and can negatively impact a victim’s ability to get a job, enroll in college, qualify for financial aid and scholarships, and even join the military. There is good news for parents who are worried about protecting their children’s identities: a significant number of child identity theft cases involve a parent or other close friend or relative who stole the information and used it fraudulently. In fact, as many as 27% of child identity theft casesinvolved the parent or someone close to the household. Why is this good news? While it is rather heartbreaking, it is easier to protect your child's personal information from someone close than from some hackers halfway across the world. Unfortunately, the rest of the cases of child identity theft had nothing to do with family members or friends. So how do you go about securing your child’s information and keeping it safe from outsiders? First, if you live in a state that will allow you to do so, you can put a freeze on your child’s credit. That will prevent new accounts from being opened, and it might be a good preemptive step if there are people in your family with financial worries, if there’s been a divorce or custody issue, or other reason for concern. Just know that removing the freeze can involve a waiting period so you’ll want to do so once your child is old enough to need his credit. Next, you may be called on far too often to share personal information about your child. It might be school forms, doctor’s office forms, summer camp registration, sports league sign-ups, and more. The sad truth is a lot of these types of registrations ask for a ton of sensitive data on your child that they don’t really need, and they may not be doing their best to keep that information secure. Think of it this way: why does your child’s baseball team need such detailed information? Why does a field trip form from the school need his insurance or Medicaid account number? What does the school plan to do with his Social Security number since it’s legally not allowed to be used as an identification number? For that matter, does the dentist really need his Social Security number, and yours? If you’re not asking these questions and asking how the organization plans to keep this data safe, then you might want to reevaluate who has access to your child’s important information. Social media is another common avenue for identity thieves to gather information on children. Are you oversharing? Is your maiden name or your wife’s maiden name listed in the Facebook profile so her high school friends can find her? Are you sharing photos from your child’s birthday party or sending out “happy birthday” wishes to your six-year-old over Facebook (hint: unless your six-year-old has a Facebook account, he won’t see the post anyway)? Here’s the problem… with that one birthday post from an ill-named account, a criminal can find out your child’s name, birthdate, and mother’s maiden name. Those are three of the pieces of the puzzle that a thief needs to open accounts in his name. One quick peek through a doctor’s office records, school cafeteria records, or sports league records can provide him with the final piece, the Social Security number. Finally, if you have reason to believe your child’s identity was compromised, don’t ignore it. If you’re receiving strange statements with your child’s name on them, a tax notice from the IRS in your child’s name, employment or medical statements that you didn’t authorize, or if you’re suddenly receiving credit card offers in the mail addressed to your child, there’s a good chance someone has already stolen his information. Take action immediately by filing a police report and following the steps outlined by the Federal Trade Commissionfor child identity theft. ____________________ Identity Theft Resource Center® (ITRC) is a nonprofit, nationally respected organization dedicated exclusively to the understanding of identity theft and related issues. The ITRC provides victim and consumer support, public education, and advisory services to governmental agencies, legislators, law enforcement, and businesses.  Victims may contact the ITRC toll-free at 888-400-5530.