Posted in BE SAFE, Cyber Security, Identity Theft

Internet Safety

Hacker in actionCybersecurity-breach stories are so common lately, the headlines no longer shock. But don’t let familiarity breed contempt. In 2017, you can’t afford to grow complacent about Internet safety. As the following examples demonstrate, it’s crucial to guard your online data:

GovTech.com

“Hacking actions at nuclear facilities targeted traditional vectors like websites, emails and Microsoft Word documents that were infected as the method for cyberattacks. It needs to be back to basics of ‘security blocking and tackling’ for many, and consideration of even traditional cyber threats.”

Big CountryHomePage.com

“The FBI and Homeland Security issued a new warning to American energy companies about potential cyberattacks on nuclear facilities…Homeland security officials say the hackers penetrated the ‘business’ side of the nuclear facility.”

 

Fortune.com

“A wave of ransomware attacks spread like wildfire (in June). Many Microsoft Windows-based computers—specifically, ones not protected against a vulnerability in a Microsoft messaging protocol…began seizing up worldwide, locking employees out of their desktops, and displaying ransom notes…It’s still not clear what the initial attack vector was. But once inside, the worm could spread across computer networks.”

Password MattersHand with smartphone  and message weak password.

A hacker’s job is to crack computer passwords to access sensitive files and data. Sounds like a strange job. Once they obtain the password, they can do malicious things to the information stored in an account. Or worse, they may be able to harm the accounts of other people who share computer networks. So, the argument— “I don’t need a secure password because I don’t store important information in my account”— won’t fly. Passwords are usually the weakest security link within an organization’s network. Don’t fall victim to cybercrime. I keep my Twitter account @RJtheFiredog safe by routinely change the password. Create a secure password:

Allied Universal CybersecurityPassword Don’ts

  • Don’t use dictionary or foreign words, names, doubled names or first/last names and initials.
  • Don’t use simple transformations of words (7eleven, seven11, etc.) or any alphabet or keyboard sequence (backwards or forwards).
  • Don’t use your user ID in any form (as-is, reversed, capitalized, doubled, etc.).
  • Don’t reuse old passwords. Instead, choose a completely new password every time you change it. This one is tough for me because I love using and reusing Woof007. Don’t consider using short words (less than 8 characters), phone numbers, birth dates, social security numbers or numbers substituted for letters (like a zero instead of the letter O).
  • Don’t use ‘password’ as your password. (Believe it or not, statistics show that up to 70% of all user-passwords are the word ‘password.) Come on, People!
  • Don’t tape the password under the keyboard or anywhere else on the computer, the computer’s desk or in an unlocked file cabinet. Mischievous people will look for your password in these places like a thief looks for a key under the front doormat.

Virus detected message on a laptop screen. 3d illustrationPassword Do’s

  • Choose a phrase, and then use the first letters (‘A stitch in time saves nine’ would be ‘asits9’).
  • Use a password that has at least two alphabetic characters (a-z, A-Z) and at least one numeric (0-9) or special (punctuation) character. Always use a mixture of upper- and lowercase characters.
  • Choose a password that is easy to remember, so you don’t have to write it down. That’s why I like Woof007!
  • Select a password that you can quickly type. This keeps people from discovering your password by watching you type it. Is it just me or does it seem impossible to accomplish every bullet point on this list?
  • Change your password often—at least once every three months.
  • Implement a password-protected screen saver in case you must leave your workstation without first logging off. When possible, log off or lock your workstation by using CTRL + ALT + DEL.Set of vector isometric hacker icons

Smartphone Safety

Since smartphone saturation in the United States surpassed 80 percent of the population in 2016, hackers are targeting secure data stored on handheld devices. Keep your data safe:

  • Malicious people could gain physical access to your smartphone or tablet. Malicious people are rude. Someone has to say it! Protect your device with a password and run apps such as Android Lost or Find My iPhone to help recover lost or stolen smartphones.
  • Malicious emails and text messages can infect your smartphone with malware. To prevent this, periodically run anti-virus software on your device.
  • The camera and microphone on your smartphone can be remotely activated. Do not take a smartphone near classified information, and remove the battery before discussing sensitive information. I have an iPaw, so the battery can’t be removed.
  • Wireless networks may be insecure and subject to monitoring. Use VPN when accessing wireless networks and do not access sensitive information over shared wireless networks. Turn off Bluetooth when you are not using it, to prevent hackers from exploiting your device.shield security

About Allied Universal

Remember, cybersecurity and crime prevention are everyone’s responsibility. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

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Posted in BE SAFE, Computer Safety, Cyber Security, Disaster Preparedness

Online Safety in College

3D Teacher lecturing to students with laptopsPart 3 of a 3-Part Series 

College Safety

Attending college is a grand adventure, whether students choose to live on campus or commute. I’ve never been to college but I would love to play Frisbee with some of the students. It also can prove risky for anyone who fails to sufficiently prepare for potential emergencies.

In our ongoing effort to save lives through training, the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System is expanding our online safety education to include residence hall fire life safety. Using building-specific information, students living in campus housing who attend subscribing universities will be able to log in to modules designed to train them to be safe, whether they live in a residence hall, traditional or suite-style residence, on or off campus. To help college students stay safe while attending college, we are doing a three-part blog series about campus safety.

Online SafetyRisk Chance Safety Security Unsure Weakness Concept

In part one, we offered helpful tips for keeping students safe relative to fire. Part two focused on personal safety while in college. For this final entry, we cover college safety relative to cyber security. Despite my lack of opposable thumbs, I find this topic extremely timely.

Each year, college IT departments deal with hundreds or thousands of new and returning students who show up with laptops, desktops, smartphones and tablets—all of which need to connect to the campus network. This is a scary proposition where online security is concerned, so students should prepare to eliminate risks, both for their own safety as well as that of their college.

College Safety Online

Cyber Security designMost college students today are infinitely more familiar with computer equipment than most of their parents and grandparents. JR has used Snapchat since he was a pup. Unfortunately, this familiarity can breed contempt, as most assume that cybercrime happens to other, less computer-savvy people. In fact, they are often referred to as “the click generation,” because they are so quick to click on website links and social media before considering the consequences. Another habit that puts them and their computers at risk is the sheer number of hours they spend online.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has an aggressive cyber security branch, which focuses on cyberspace and its underlying infrastructure, both of which are vulnerable to a wide range of risk—stemming from both physical and cyber threats and hazards. Sophisticated cyber actors and nation-states exploit vulnerabilities to steal information and money and are developing capabilities to disrupt, destroy, or threaten the delivery of essential services. The DHS current cyber security campaign, Stop. Think. Connect encourages Internet users of all ages to take responsibility for their own cyber safety.

Here are five tips to follow, to help keep college kids safe while they are online:

  1. Keep a Clean Machine—Utilize malware software. Run regular security scans. Scan every device before inserting into a computer. Think twice before inserting an unknown flash drive into any computer. Not only should the source who provided the flash drive be trustworthy, but his or her cyber habits should be beyond reproach. This seems like common sense.
  2. Protect Personal Info—Secure accounts with strong passwords. Change passwords often. Don’t write them on Post-it notes placed next to the machine. Set stringent security protocols on laptops, tablets, phones and desktop computers. Hackers and identity thieves can only access information provided over the Web. Stick to online activity that doesn’t require full name or contact information unless you are using a trusted site for online purchases, such as PayPal, eBay or and Amazon. Be skeptical of an unknown site that asks for email, credit card number or home address.
  3. Connect with Care—Refrain from clicking hyperlinks sent in emails. Avoid doing anything of a personal nature while using a public hotspot. Make sure connections are secure (encrypted) whenever doing online banking or paying bills. And even while using a trusted social media platform, avoid revealing items of a personal nature such as school name, favorite hangout spot, and make/model of your car. 3D Student in class with a laptop
  4. Be Web Wise—If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Sounds like the free steak’ website I read about was a hoax. Students should think twice before ordering online from an unknown vendor. Trust your gut. Use only trusted websites. Keep abreast of known Internet threats. Think before typing or clicking.
  5. Be a Good Online Citizen—Apply the *Golden Rule to everything done online and in person, too. Help fight cybercrime by reporting anything unusual to the Department of Homeland Security.
  6. Students should also contact campus safety department and IT department for the best practices and tips recommended for their specific institution’s systems.

*Do unto others as you would have done to you.

Remember that safety in the 3D world, as well as cyberspace, is a priority for everyone all year long. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted in BE SAFE, Cyber Security, Disaster Preparedness, Uncategorized

Cyber Security and Robotics

mark_mccourt_120
Mark McCourt

happy robot presenter standing on white background 3d renderMany thanks to our guest blogger, Mark McCourt of Allied Universal. To maintain the integrity of Mark’s post, we have refrained from our usual “firedog-isms.” Check back next week to read about disaster preparedness and emergency management from a firedog’s perspective. 

The emergence of smart technology into the security sector is changing risk management economics and strategy in unique ways. Such technology leverages information management at its core for a more effective security program. Case in point is the burgeoning role of autonomous data machines (ADMs or robots) that are purposely built for security.I am not a robot conceptual illustration. Anti-bot security system at work.

Will the advent of robots eliminate physical security officers at a site? Not any time soon, but robots are a real force multiplier by adding effectiveness and efficiency to security programs. The use of ADM technology augments security personnel by providing “smart eyes and ears” that enable security officers to manage information and communicate quickly and effectively.

Threats, crime and mischief do not operate on a timetable, nor do they sleep. Robots provide 24/7 autonomous patrolling and monitoring including autonomous recharging without human intervention, so that a company’s assets can be secure 24/7.

Abstract Technology Background IIHence, the new partnership formed this year between Allied Universal and Knightscope has brought this sophisticated technology to California clients and it is expected to be offered nationally in 2017.

The reasons to include robots in your security program include:

  • Cost savings—cost reduction without sacrificing security coverage.
  • Constant coverage—24/7 physical security presence with autonomous patrolling and monitoring.
  • Force multiplier—More effective information sourcing and sharing, accessible in real time from the desk or on the run.
  • Monitoring, detection and alert capabilities—Human error is reduced with improved incident and response resolution time with analytics, information sharing and reporting capabilities.Angry man with a broken computer. Computers repair. Vector simple illustration.
  • Works with new platforms—A mobile app allows security officers to engage with the robots and use them as tools to cover more ground and do their jobs more effectively.

Leveraging robotic technology with manpower is the latest trend in asset protection. Blending the technology with people may prove to pay off for clients in the long run. It’s also a methodology more industries may soon tout as the new normal.

Remember that safety is a daily priority for everyone – in the 3D world as well as cyberspace. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Allied Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted in BE SAFE, Cyber Security, Safety at Home, Uncategorized

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Shopping Tips

 

Angela BurrellMany thanks to our guest blogger, Allied Universal Public Relations Manager Angela Burrell. 

Christmas shoppingThanksgiving is not only a time for expressing gratitude and enjoying family and friends, the holiday marks two of the busiest shopping opportunities in the U.S.—Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Follow these extra tips for a safe holiday and secure shopping experience.

Black Friday (Day after Thanksgiving) 

Staying Alert

  • Deals are now beginning well before Friday, with stores staying open later, so businesses and shoppers should plan for crowds.
  • Park close to your destination, in a well-lit area, and lock packages in the trunk, out of sight.
  • Avoid parking next to vans or large trucks that can block your vehicle from the sight of others.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. If you witness any suspicious behavior, leave the area immediately.

Black Friday saleGuarding Against Theft

  • Use ATMs in well-populated areas during the day, and do not leave receipts at the ATM location.
  • Never leave your purse or smartphone unattended in a shopping cart, on a countertop or in your car.
  • Take extra care with purses and wallets; carry your purse close to your body and your wallet in an inside or zippered pocket.

Protecting Yourself

  • Shop with others, when possible. If shopping with small children, establish a meeting point in case of separation inside a store or mall.
  • Teach small children how to seek help from store personnel or store security in case you are separated.
  • Report any suspicious activity to store/mall security or law enforcement. If you see something, say something.
  • Request a security escort to help with oversized purchases and to accompany you to your car if you feel vulnerable while shopping alone at night.
  • When returning to your vehicle, keep your keys out and lock your doors as soon as you are inside.Fotolia_124178374_XS.jpg

Cyber Monday (Monday after Thanksgiving)

Online Shopping

  • Shop with known businesses; do your research about their past performances and financial stability.
  • Conduct transactions on a secure server only; look for the padlock device on the browser’s status bar. The URL should change from http to shttp or https when asked for payment information indicating that the purchase is encrypted or secure.
  • Do not record your social security or driver’s license number online, as it is not needed for purchases.
  • Have packages delivered to an address where they will not be left unattended.

Fotolia_111324631_XS.jpgProtecting Data

  • Secure web servers that contain customer information.
  • Add the latest anti-virus and anti-spyware software to your computers, and update firewalls regularly.
  • Check your receipt to ensure that the actual price paid is the same amount charged to your card.
  • Monitor your credit card statements for any unauthorized charges.

www.AUS.com

Remember that safety is a daily priority for everyone, whether in the real world or cyber space. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Allied Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted in Computer Safety, Cyber Security, Identity Theft, Safety at Home

Tax Season Cyber Safety

Piggy Bank Accounting. 3D rendered graphics on the subject of 'Financial Accountancy'.March and April usher in several spring-time events: St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and another annual American ritual — tax time! I’m so glad I don’t have to file taxes. It’s one of the benefits of being a dog. Unfortunately, tax season is prime time for cyber criminals to strike. The IRS expects more than 150 million individual returns to be filed this year, with four out of five returns (above 80 percent) to be filed electronically. Included within those returns are social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, birthdates, and financial records for millions of Americans, which leaves the Internet teeming with highly confidential information.

According to a study done by a financial strategy company called Javelin, the total number of identity theft victims in 2015 was 13.1 million, totaling $15 billion. In its most recent report, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) revealed that, in 2014, they received more than 2.58 million reports of consumer fraud. I wonder how many cats are involved in fraud. They seem pretty suspicious, to me! Among fraud complaints:3d Burglar has someones credit card

  • The average amount lost by alleged victims was approximately $2,000.
  • The median figure of loss was about $500.
  • In total, approximately $1.7 billion was lost by self-reported victims of fraud.
  • The most common methods of initial contact by fraud perpetrators was telephone (54%) and email (23%).

If you electronically file your taxes, here are some tips to help keep your data safe:

  • Vet the provider who electronically files your return. Authorized e-filers are registered on the IRS website at gov.
  • Monitor your social media presence. Google yourself to uncover any bogus Facebook, or LinkedIn information using your name.
  • Beware of scam Facebook mess Clicking on a tax-related link in your newsfeed may be convenient. But it could connect you to a phishing site. I think that people who scam with spam are scum.
  • Optimize your security. Use the latest, most comprehensive firewalls, anti-spam/virus software. Also, update security patches and choose strong passwords to protect your online return. When possible, enable two-step authentication, which adds an additional security step required for login. Here is a link to comprehensive instructions for installing two-step authentication on a variety of computer platforms: org/2stepsahead/resources
  • File your tax return ONLY on secure HTTPS sites. These encrypted sites will safeguard your information. So make sure a picture of a little lock appears in the website address field.
  • Beware of Wi-Fi hotspots. If you need to access a bank account while you are out, don’t use public Internet service. Cyber criminals can potentially intercept Internet connections while you are filing highly personal information. Don’t do anything relative to your taxes while using public Wi-Fi. Experian reports that seven percent of people do their taxes while logged into unsecured networks.
  • When in doubt, throw it out. Links in emails could direct your computer to malicious sites. If an email appears weird, even if you recognize the sender, delete it.
  • Carefully screen emails that appear to have come from your bank. If they do not contain your financial institution’s website domain name, immediately report the breach to your bank. And don’t forget to delete!
  • Shred documents that contain personal data. Doing so is worth the hassle, because many criminals dig through trash cans in search of sensitive information.
  • Don’t respond to emails claiming to be from the IRS. The IRS does not contact people by mail.
  • Never download documents from or click on links in tax-related emails. One click could unleash information-gathering malware on your computer.
  • Refrain from doing tax-related researching using your web browser. You could be lured to a malicious site.

18 april calendar circleThis year, taxes must be filed by April 18, because Emancipation Day falls on the regular deadline of April 15. Nice that we get a few days of tax relief because of the holiday! So take the extra few days to make sure you are cyber safe. Remember that Internet safety is a daily priority, not just during tax season. So be sure to think about ways to #BeSafe all of the time. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

 

Posted in Cyber Security, Disaster Preparedness, Terrorism, Workplace Safety

Cyber Attacks. Would you be prepared?  

Cyber Security concept on keyboard button

While we usually cover safety issues relative to incidents such as falls, earthquakes, or fire, the damages of failing to observe cybersecurity safety protocols, which — though life-threatening, can be equally devastating. Cybersecurity Awareness Month is observed in October, and is designed to raise awareness about the risks of electronic data and information breaches that can happen to individuals, companies and organizations. I guess I should consider myself lucky that my lack of opposable thumbs limits my ability to tweet. So it keeps my electronic risk at a minimum.

Last week, the focus of National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2015 was on the “smart world,” meaning all of the internet-connected devices that exist — from phones to thermostats. And here, I’ve always thought of “smart world” as contestants on the TV show, Jeopardy. This week, we focus on building the next generation of cybersecurity professionals, with an emphasis on promoting education and awareness to spark interest in the field. Education is essential for companies that want to protect their critical data from hackings and/or breaches.

Tips for Business Owners

Up to 95% of breaches are caused by human error. Notice that canines are not even mentioned. Whew! So, it is vitally important to train employees, first by giving them context, so they understand the consequences of data breaches and hacking incidents. Then, employers can guide them about best practices such as protecting passwords, carefully guarding data relative to outside agents, avoiding phishing scams, and adhering to data storage policies. Empower employees to alert management when something seems suspicious or odd or such as when someone from graphic design requests company financial data for something other than an infographic. Also, make sure staff members are careful not to post sticky notes with passwords on their monitors. I don’t use sticky notes, myself. They get stuck to my fur.

Additional best practices include:

  • Set automatic updates. Instruct IT to program automatic operating system and software updates, so the latest virus definitions and security protocols are always in place. Asking staff to perform these tasks manually opens you up to risks.
  • Establish login tracking. Login monitoring should be in place to spot external access attempts and identify employees who are accessing sensitive information or data outside their purview.
  • Set a security “fence” around sensitive data. I’m not usually a major fan of fences. But, in this case, they seem like a good idea. A company’s most important data (for example, personal customer information) should be protected behind a company firewall at all times. Restrict access to this data to a select few staff members. Also, make sure it is protected from potential download to personal devices or hard drives.

Tips for individuals to protect data and avoid cybersecurity issues:

  • Follow password procedures. Using “12345” or “password” for computer passwords is not recommended. Staff members should be trained about methods for selecting strong passwords and protecting sensitive documents.
  • Avoid storing data locally. News stories often recount employee losing laptops or thumb drives, with the device contents being used for illegal purposes. Discourage individuals from storing sensitive data directly on their devices. For greater security, instruct them, instead, to access data online. I guess that’s the mysterious “cloud” I keep hearing about? How safe can a cloud be for storing sensitive data?
  • Protect mobile devices. Employers increasingly allow employees to use their own devices to check email and access work data. Before approving this practice, instruct employees about methods for wiping their devices if they are lost or stolen. For maximum protection, establish and follow written “bring-your-own-device” procedures.
  • Don’t download unapproved software. Malware and other nasty computer bugs often reside in seemingly innocuous software. Beware of employees downloading free PDF-maker tools from the web. This software could be a launching pad for an attack. Staff should only download IT-approved software or apps to either their computer or mobile devices.
  • Don’t click on unknown links. Many businesses are targeted with official looking emails that provide an “important link.” Clicking on the link could infect the user’s computer, which can then travel throughout the employer’s network. Encourage employees to run suspicious emails by the IT department for a thorough review and safe deletion. Makes sense to me!

Remember that safety is a daily priority, so be sure to think about disaster planning all of the time. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about our system, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted in Cyber Security, Disaster Preparedness, Fire Life Safety Training, Health & Welfare

Are you Cyber-Secure?

Cyber Crime , Keyboard conceptIn countless ways, technology improves our lives. Consider the expediency of mobile check deposits, security system monitoring, online shopping and bacon-related Smartphone apps! Unfortunately, many of the features we’ve come to appreciate, and even depend on, undermine our safety. Since October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we would like to remind our subscribers and friends to create a safe, secure and resilient cyber environment.

When the White House proclaimed October 2004 the first National Cyber Security Awareness Month, the Internet looked very different than it does today. Smartphones and social networks are just two of the electronic innovations of the last decade. Americans are communicating more frequently, with more people, and sharing more personal information than ever. As a result, cyber security threats and attacks are gaining momentum. With more than $525 million in losses due to online criminal activity in 2012, proper security measures are a critical component in keeping your identity and finances secure.

“Computers, Smartphones and other electronics have become a prevalent part of our daily lives,” said FEMA Region V Administrator Andrew Velasquez III. “Everyone needs to understand how frequently cybercrimes occur and arm themselves with the latest information and tools necessary to protect their families against potential fraud.”

cyber_security firedog 2

Cybercriminals don’t discriminate. So don’t be a target! Protect your privacy and guard against fraud by practicing safe online habits. The good news is that 96% of Americans feel a personal responsibility to be safer and more secure online. Here are a few tips to safeguard yourself and your computer:

  • Set strong passwords. Effective passwords have nothing to do with the users or family members’ names, birthdays, wedding anniversaries or addresses. This information is readily available. Try to come up with something that includes upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters in random order. And don’t write it down on a Post-it note next to your computer!
  • Change passwords regularly. To BE SAFE, come up with a new password for all of your logins once every 72 days. And don’t use the same password for every account! I used to use TheBaconator as my password. But I guess that would be easy to crack.
  • Don’t share your passwords with anyone. This one is difficult for me. I love to share!
  • Keep a clean machine. This includes making sure your operating system, browser, and security software are up to date. Don’t ignore the message to install updates. Oftentimes, these include critical virus protection. It’s difficult to keep my keyboard clean since I type and walk with the same paws.
  • Protect your personal information. Use privacy settings. This applies to your computer as well as your mobile phone. Although it is admittedly inconvenient to have to enter a password every time you want to access your cellphone, don’t sacrifice your security on the altar of convenience.
  • Connect with care.
  1. Links in email, tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, delete or mark as junk email.
  2. Get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots. Limit the type of business you conduct and adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your machine. I prefer to use my own Smartphone as a personal hotspot instead of tapping into public networks.
  3. Protect your financial information. When banking and shopping, check to be sure the sites is security enabled. Look for web addresses with “https://” or “shttp://” (which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. “http://” is not secure.)
  • Be cautious about online offers. This is particularly important as the holiday season approaches. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Uh-oh. Does this mean the 100 lbs of bacon I ordered was a scam?
  • Report cybercrime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center and to your local law enforcement or the state attorney general, as appropriate.
  • Maintain an open dialogue with friends, family, colleagues and community about Internet safety.

With the slogan, “Heads up. Stop. Think. Click,” FEMA encourages Internet users to think before they click. Their campaign also includes helpful hints for preventing malware, instructing kids about Internet safety, installing safe Smartphone apps, safely shopping online, preventing identity theft, protecting laptops, sharing public wi-fi networks. Detailed information and short videos can be found at OnGuardOnline.gov.

On October 24, 2013 at 3 p.m. ET, join a Twitter chat about protecting your colleagues and family from cybercrime. This will be a great opportunity to ask questions and hear from experts at the Federal Trade Commission, Department of Homeland Security, Stop.Think.Connect.org, and others. Follow @FTC and use the hashtag #ChatSTC to join the conversation. I’ll be tweeting away. Connect with me @rjthefiredog.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

Posted in Cyber Security, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Communications, Social Media

Global Tweet-a-thon for Law Enforcement

Girl on Twitter BirdSince being founded in 2006, Twitter has evolved from a virtual gathering place teenagers casually discuss fashion and celebrity news to a 175,000,000-member platform used by law enforcement and emergency management professionals worldwide to share best practices and educate the public about disaster preparedness and recovery. Celebrating the medium, police agencies around the world will connect via Twitter on March 22 to participate in a 24-hour Tweet-a-thon beginning at 8 a.m. EST. I’ve had my own Twitter account since August 2009 and I find it’s a great way to communicate.

The Global Police Tweet-a-thon is sponsored by Cops.net. So far, 90 agencies have signed up to participate. And there is still plenty of time for interested parties to register. All that’s required to enter is submission of agency name, contact information and time zone. Just email the founder of LAWS Communications, lauri@lawscomm.net. All agencies will use the same hashtag, which is yet to be determined, in order to call attention to police work and issues that police officers face as well as promote the use of social media in police work. The hashtag I like most is #bacon.

“We hope to send (a message) to non-law enforcement that their police officers are up to speed with social media, and that they should use social media to talk with police officers and to be stewards of public safety,” explained event organizer Lauri Stevens.

Over the years, numerous police agencies have held tweet-a-thons or tweet-the-beat events to create awareness of police work and call attention to related issues. So far, early entries are from all across the United States as well as Canada and the UK. I’m trying to get all of my canine cohorts to sign up so we can communicate via the Tweet-a-Thon instead of through the Twilight Bark.

One state that understands the importance of relying on social media in times of crisis is Louisiana, where the Chief of Police in Thibodaux said he’s promoting transparency in policing actions and furthering proactive social media integration. A 2012 University of Maryland report called “Social Media Use during Disasters,” revealed detailed information about the public’s use of social media, both generally and during specific disasters, and addressed what prompts the public to use social media during disasters as well as what deters such consumption. The only thing that deters my consumption of bacon is a fully belly.

The report includes specific examples of social media consumption during key catastrophic events including 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 Haitian earthquake. The case studies provide insights into how the public uses social media and other media, including preliminary lessons learned from these notable events. Most experts agree that if Hurricane Katrina had occurred after Twitter caught on, the exchange of information between victims and public agency officials likely would have been greatly improved.

Louisiana Police Chief Scott Silveri said his agency “will participate in the tweet-a-thon because (we) hope that other agencies break from the reactive isolationist nature of traditional law enforcement, and begin realizing the benefits of sharing timely and relevant information through social media.”

To participate in the Tweet-a-thon, email Lauri Stevens at lauri@lawscomm.net with agency name, contact name and email address. Then mark your calendar for March 22 and don’t forget to tweet! I’ll be tweeting and would love to start a conversation with you.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services helps commercial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning training system motivates and rewards tenants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!

Posted in Cyber Security, Disaster Preparedness

More Security Tips to Safeguard your Smartphone

dog on the phone and looking th the sidePart 2 of a 2-Part Series

This week, we continue our coverage about Smartphone security by focusing on the final five steps you should take to safeguard your cellphone. For the first five tips, check out our previous post. Most people guard their computers more carefully than their mobile phones. So a good rule of thumb is to treat your Smartphone as a very powerful mini-computer that makes phone calls. I suggest guarding your bacon with this same zeal.

Most Smartphone owners store lots of sensitive data. And chaos ensues if a thief gets his or her hands on the data. If you take steps to protect your phone, losing it will be a minor annoyance instead of a major catastrophe. Losing bacon, on the other hand, is always a major catastrophe.

Here are the final 5 steps you should take to safeguard your Smartphone (the first five tips appear in last week’s post):

6. Close Bluetooth connections.

When a hacker exploits an open Bluetooth connection, it’s called Bluejacking, Bluesnarfing or Bluebugging. I wonder if it’s related to bloodhounds biting. Sounds close to me. This type of hack requires intruders to be in close proximity to the phone they are hacking (within 30 feet of the device). But be aware that your Smartphone could be hacked via the active Bluetooth connection whenever you’re in a busy airport, hotel lobby, restaurant, hotel or dog park…to name a few hacker hotspots.

7. Make sure the free apps you download are actually free.

Some Apps that are labeled “free,” but are actually thinly-disguised data theft devices. Downloading one of these applications gives the app complete access to your phone. Thieves can use the app to steal data such as credit card and bank account info. What’s more, these apps can turn your phone into a launch pad which scammers use to attack other peoples’ data relative to SMS text messages and Smishing scams. Be smart and discreet about what you download. Read reviews first. And make sure the apps you download come from reliable sources. My favorite apps are Dog Park Finder, Map My Dog Walk, My Pet Ed, and Dog Translator.

8. Don’t store sensitive data.

Do you store passwords, pins, Social Security numbers, credit card or bank account information on your Smartphone? If so, delete it all today. Whether you have created a document expressly for this purpose, or sent yourself an email from your home computer, you should never store important information on your phone. Criminals are adept at detecting hidden information such as credit card numbers inside Contact notes or entered as phone numbers.  Believe it or not, even if you try to disguise sensitive data, adept thieves will be able to crack the code. So make sure you delete all documents and emails containing sensitive information.

9. Clear browser histories.

Not clearing the browser history on your phone can be just as dangerous as staying logged into the website of your bank or your favorite online store. Phone thieves could use your browsing history to hijack accounts, steal your money and wreak havoc on your financial future. Here are links that walk you through deleting your history on an iPhone or an Android. My browsing history includes lots of websites about bacon and pork chops. I wouldn’t want an identity thief to get a hold of that!

10. When in doubt, purge it out.

You might be surprised by how many people fail to remove sensitive personal data from their Smartphones before exchanging, donating or selling it. The only way to entirely eliminate the data on your phone would be to physically shred the device. If this sounds a little severe to you, you may prefer securely deleting the data, which is relatively easy to do.

Your identity is your most important asset. So take precautionary steps to vigorously defend and protect it. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services helps commercial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning training system motivates and rewards tenants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!

Posted in BE SAFE, Cyber Security

Take Steps to be Smartphone Safe

Phone with key

Part 1 of a 2-Part Series

If you’re among the 46 percent of people in the world who own a Smartphone, you’ve likely experienced the panic that sets in when you think you’ve lost it. I only experience this kind of a panic when I lose bacon. Whether the phone ultimately proved to be temporarily misplaced or if it permanently vanished, you had legitimate cause for alarm. After all, the amount of sensitive data most users store on their phones is astounding—direct access to savings and checking accounts storage of personal passwords for social media and email accounts, contact information for friends and colleagues. What’s more, even if you guard your phone with your life or your guard dog, the information contained on it could potentially be hacked or compromised by a virus when you are using a public wi-fi connection.

According to data released by Find My Smartphone by Lookout, which allows Smartphone users to track missing phones, the top 10 cities most at risk for lost or stolen phones include:

  1. Philadelphia, PA
  2. Seattle, WA
  3. Oakland, CA
  4. Long Beach, CA
  5. Newark, NJ
  6. Detroit, MI
  7. Cleveland, OH
  8. Baltimore, MD
  9. New York, NY
  10. Boston, MA

Regardless of where you live, your phone could be in danger, as 113 Smartphones are stolen or lost every minute in the U.S. I’m sure the statistic for bacon thefts is even more shocking. So, if you fail to protect your phone with a password, back up your data and install a program that can wipe the phone’s memory remotely, losing your phone could start you on the path to an identity-theft nightmare.

To help keep you safe while surfing the web using your Smartphone, we would like to share the top 10 steps you can take to make sure your Smartphone is safe. This week, we’ll cover 5:

  1. Create a Password. Admittedly, it’s a hassle to unlock your phone every time you want to use it. But consider this: if you could put a lock on your wallet, wouldn’t you do it, despite the inconvenience? A phone password is by no means foolproof. However, it might just provide a deterrent for potential thieves who will move on to an easier target. I’d go with “RJtheFiredog” if I were you. It’s a great password.
  2. Log out of Security-enabled Apps. Would you keep a major credit card or a bone on your desk at work? Setting up your Smartphone to automatically log into sensitive accounts is like carrying credit card passwords in your wallet right alongside the cards. Of course no one thinks they will be victims of theft. As we so often caution at RJWestmore, the best thing to do to be safe during an emergency is to be prepared. So treat your Smartphone as though you plan on losing it. Don’t value convenience over security.
  3. Adjust settings so your Smartphone won’t automatically connect to available WiFi networks. To BE SAFE, disable the feature on your phone which allows it to immediately connect to available networks. You can usually find this feature under your phone’s settings. When you opt to use a public wi-fi, consider the fact you could be sharing your screen with a hacker. Then, proceed with caution.
  4. If you shop online, download shopping apps instead of browsers. You usually have a choice when using your Smartphone to order items on sites like Petco, Amazon, eBay, Overstock or major retailers like Target and Best Buy. Dedicated shopping apps are preferable to browsers which return full-site results, because applications are specifically designed to ward off phishing and other scams. But be careful before downloading that the app is legitimate. Oftentimes, while you are browsing using your Smartphone, sites will ask if you want to download the application. Opt in, as this is for your safety. I’d like a pork-chop delivery app. I guess they haven’t created one yet.
  5. Download remote wiping software. Dozens of apps and services enable you to locate your phone and wipe data clean. Even though certain tech-savvy hackers may be able to disengage these applications, adding the feature will provide you with extra protection in your phone protection plan. Here’s a sampling of where to go to procure the appropriate app if you have an iPhone, Android, Blackberry or Windows-based phone.

Check our blog post next week, when we’ll share the final five steps to take to protect your Smartphone or your dog bone. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services helps commercial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning training system motivates and rewards tenants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!