Monthly Archives: March 2018

The Technology Blog

Protecting Your Android Smartphone or Tablet from Malware

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How to Defend Against Malware on Android Smartphones & Tablets

Google Android is the most commonly used operating system (OS) on smartphones. But it is also the most frequently attacked OS by malicious software, or malware. This can take the form of computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses or spyware. Apps can be created by any user online, including hackers, who can secretly embed malware to infect users’ phones.

Android smartphone apps can be infected with devastating malware and viruses.

Android smartphone apps can be infected with devastating malware and viruses. Investigate before you download!

Here are several things you can do to help protect your Android smartphone or tablet from malware:

  1. Download apps only from the Google Play Store . Google has an entire tech department dedicated to investigating apps and hunting down malware. The occasional bad app will slip through their net but it’s far less risky than downloading smartphone apps anywhere else.
  2. Scrutinize app reviews and ratings. You want an app that has 5-star ratings and positive reviews, but hackers can fake this information too, using a Trojan horse. Check for repeated and/or very short reviews – this can indicate fake content.
  3. Investigate the app’s creators. Businesses evaluate the developers of the apps they use. This is good practice for your personal devices as well. Research them online. Often a bad app will be flagged on a message board before it’s pulled from the app stores.
  4. Examine app permissions. Each app will request to access certain functions of your device. Think twice about downloading the app if permissions are attached to personal information, and make sure the access requested correlates to the app. If you are downloading a calculator app, why do they need to access your camera? Some of the riskier permissions to allow are:
    • Saving your data
    • Taking photos
    • Recording audio

Extra attention to these details will reduce the risk of malware attacks to your Android smartphone or tablet.

Four Ways to Secure Your LinkedIn Profile

By | Cyber Security, Email, Social Media | No Comments

Network Safely Online – Secure Your LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn is the top name in professional networking and deservedly so.  Users have found jobs by posting their resume, expanding contacts and reaching out to obtain that dream job.  It’s Facebook for business professionals.

Many people forget, however, that it’s still an online network that requires personal identification information (PII) to form a profile.  LinkedIn is just as susceptible to security breaches and identity theft as any other social media platform. As recently as 2016 the site was hacked, affecting users with weak profiles and inadequate privacy settings.

The job search is stressful enough.  Using job search tools shouldn’t be. Four key actions can be taken to help secure your LinkedIn profile.

Secure your LinkedIn profile to network more safely online

Secure your LinkedIn profile and be wary of unusual connection requests and emails.

 1. Beware of Fake LinkedIn Connection Invitations

It’s flattering when a CEO wants to connect with you.  But if you don’t know the person, don’t connect.  Hackers create fake profiles to impress and connect with you so they can steal your PII. These things should make you suspicious of a connection invitation from someone you don’t know:

  • Spelling and/or grammatical errors
  • A name or photo of someone you don’t recognize
  • Job profile that doesn’t fit with the timelines on their job history

Bottom line, read their profile carefully and consider searching for the company’s website before accepting their invitation.

2. Be Wary of Phishing Emails

Those emails LinkedIn sends you notifying of job changes, job recommendations and connection invites? Most are real.  But hackers can fake those too. Never click an email link before verifying the sender. Also, take note of the following red flags:

  • Spelling and/or grammar issues
  • Your familiarity with the sender – is their identity questionable?
  • Links – Hover your cursor without clicking over links in the email. This shows you where the link actually goes. If it’s not what they say it is, its a scam. Don’t click!

3. Create Strong Passwords for Your Social Media Accounts

Creating and regularly updating strong passwords is essential for ALL of your online profiles.  LastPass is a password manager app that automatically generates strong passwords, and only requires you to login once. It fills in the specific, unique password for each of your online network profiles so you don’t need to remember them.  Repeatedly using a single password for all networks is a common security mistake that opens you up to hacking across all your online profiles.

4. Use Two-Factor Authentication

LinkedIn offers two-factor authentication for all users – you simply need to set it up. This is the single most important step in securing your account. Use the following steps to add this security feature to your profile:

  • Access your profile and scroll to the bottom.  Click the link that says ‘Manage your account and privacy.’
  • Under the ‘Login and security’ section, click ‘Two-step verification’ and enter a mobile phone number where LinkedIn can send you a security code by text message.  Enter this in at the prompts to turn the Two-step verification on.

These few extra steps can dramatically improve your profile security. You can make professional networking and the job search less stressful knowing that your identity is more secure in your online profiles.

Fake IRS Refunds: The Latest Tax Scam

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Fake IRS Refunds: The Latest Tax Scam

Each year, the IRS publishes the ‘dirty dozen,’ a list of the top twelve scams hitting taxpayers. Making this year’s list is the false tax refund scam. A growing number of identity thefts are from tax preparers with lax data security. Regardless of how they access your personal information, the scammers file a fake tax return in your name and then put a REAL refund into your bank account.

The False Refund Tax Scam

The scammer contacts you, posing as a law enforcement officer or IRS agent. The person claims the refund was a mistake and must be paid back. Hackers have even developed automated messages threatening their victims with arrest warrants, criminal charges or social security blacklisting if the refunds are not sent back. These calls usually give a case number and phone number where you can return the money. Don’t fall for it.

Keep an eye on your bank account this tax season. If you see a refund amount different than what’s on your filed tax return, take action according to the type of refund:

  • Direct Deposit – Contact the Automated Clearing House of the bank where the direct deposit was sent.
  • Check – Write ‘VOID’ on the endorsement line on the back of the check. Immediately return it to the IRS location listed on the check. The city will be listed on the bottom text line, in front of the words ‘tax refund’. This IRS Scam Alert article lists IRS mailing addresses for returning paper checks. If you’ve cashed the check, you will need to contact the office to repay it and inform the IRS of the scam.

How to avoid the false refund scam?

  1. Ask your tax preparer about their data security. The IRS publication, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data, outlines their legal requirements and data security best practices.
  2. File as early as possible. This has shown to reduce the likelihood of fraud.
  3. Monitor your bank account for a refund deposit amount that doesn’t match the return you filed.
  4. Don’t cash a refund check unless it matches the return you filed. Return it to the IRS and alert them to the discrepancy.
  5. Be suspicious of email from the IRS. This is almost always a scam. The IRS does not contact taxpayers via email.