What’s a Wireless “Sniffer” and Why Should I Care?

by Robert Siciliano

Airport Wi-Fi

A sniffer is a software program used by IT administrators to monitor network usage, investigate network problems, investigate network misuse and abuse, identify configuration issues and determine the state of a network’s security. Sniffers ultimately decode the data so it is readable in words, numbers and computer code.

Note that last part: “determine the state of a network’s security.” That is a big one. This is because while good-guy IT security professionals use sniffers to determine the security of a network, bad guys also use them to see your data as it travels from your device to the router communicating the wireless internet signal. … Continue Reading

Smartphones and Privacy – The Frightening New Stalking Software Coming to a Government Near You

by Jim Malmberg


February 20, 2013 – What does your smart phone say about you? Can it tell people where you have been? Can it tell them what you’ve done? The answer to both questions is “yes.” But the real question that you may find more interesting is, “Can it tell someone where you will be in the future and pinpoint a time that you will show up there?” The answer to that question also appears to be “yes”, and with frightening accuracy. … Continue Reading

Consumers and Financial Privacy: Helpful FDIC Resources

by Debra N. Diener J.D. CIPP G

Senior Man On Phone Using Laptop At Home

It is so important to learn about financial privacy — your rights and your ability to have greater control over what financial institutions do with your personal financial information. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has a website that provides an array of consumer-oriented reports and information. … Continue Reading

Helpful “Homework” for Parents: FTC’s Guidance on Protecting Your Child’s Information at School

by Debra N. Diener J.D. CIPP G

child handprints

While it doesn’t seem possible, summer is almost over and many kids will be starting back to school soon. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has just posted a very helpful article outlining the steps parents can take to protect their children’s personal information at school.

In the article, the FTC summarizes some of the avenues available to parents under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The article identifies two key aspects of FERPA — one, that it protects the privacy of student records and two, that FERPA provides parents of school-age kids with the right to opt out of sharing contact information with third parties. … Continue Reading

Are Your Mobile Apps Up To No Good?

by Robert Siciliano


Most of us have heard the saying “It’s 2am, what are your kids doing?” and you may know, but do you know what your mobile apps are doing? I know before I started working in the industry, I would not have given a second thought to this, but consider this.

Why would an app designed to monitor your mobile’s battery need to know your location via your GPS? How come some gaming applications ask users for their phone numbers? Mobile applications, especially free ones, require some level of your personal data in order to supplement development costs. This means “free” isn’t exactly free. … Continue Reading

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Were You Unwittingly in the “Zombie” Army that Attacked the Internet?

The powerful attack on the Internet last week raised many questions — who did it? how did it happen? and could it happen again? Some of those answers are still unknown and could be for awhile. But what is known is that the Internet attack involved millions and millions of computers around the world. And we’re learning that not all of the computers involved are those of companies — some of the computers used, as well as other devices, are ones in people’s homes.

Nicole Perlroth outlined these disturbing facts in a recent New York Times article (see, “Devices Like Cable Boxes Figured in Internet Attack”; page B1, March 30th). … Continue Reading

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FRAUD ALERT: Fake Employment Agency Fools Job Hunters with Scam Calls

The BBB is dedicated to fostering honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers in the U.S. and Canada, instilling consumer confidence and contributing to a trustworthy marketplace for all. … Continue Reading

Prevention vs. Cure: Facing the Worst-Case Scenario

There’s an old saying: “There’s no such thing as bad PR.” Well, it’s not true, at least where healthcare is concerned. While starlets and bloggers may thrive on scandal and controversy, consumers look to their healthcare providers for reliable, quality care and privacy. … Continue Reading

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