Spam Down, Email Threats Still High

Antivirus maker Symantec’s Intelligence Report for June shows a marked drop in spam received by business email users worldwide. Their metrics show businesses received a little less than half the spam they usually receive over a month. Perhaps the spammers are taking vacation days as well? Continue reading “Spam Down, Email Threats Still High”

Hulk Hogan vs Streisand Effect

Recent news around Hulk Hogan’s sex tape once again demonstrates the unintended consequences described by the Streisand Effect.

It’s amazing how often the Streisand Effect impacts both celebrities and organizations. For example, consider the recent news around Hulk Hogan.

Back in 2012, unknown people were shopping around a sex tape of wrestler Hulk Hogan. Never ones to be above petty gossip around washed up celebrities, the Gawker site released a small, edited portion of the tape to prove it existed and reap millions of clicks.

By 2015, the mainstream public had completely forgotten about it, and Hogan was working for the WWE, making money well past his prime.

So what happened next? The Streisand Effect stuck. Wikipedia defines this as the “phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet.” Named for how Barbra Streisand’s 2003 attempts to suppress photos of her mansion actually increasing interest in them.

Back in 2015, the mainstream public had pretty much forgotten about Hogan’s sex tape, and he was back to performing in the WWE, which is pretty impressive for a 61 year old. However, this all came crashing down when Hogan decided to file a $100 million privacy lawsuit against Gawker years late.

The lawsuit immediately turned the existence of that tape from a forgotten minor scandal to top story, and immediately increased interest in the original tape. This new interest caused the full tape being released by the people who originally sold it to Gawker.

This new, full version includes a long, racist rant that caused the WWE to not only end their partnership with Hogan, but strip any and all references to him from their site and media.

Even worse for Hogan, the sudden interest in the full tape, along with the public reaction around his racist rants, may end up being the best defense against Hogan’s case according to Fortune.

If ever there was a lesson to be learned in social media, it’s “don’t discount the Streisand Effect”.

WTAM 1100 – Passwords & Kerbals

Even the most advanced security can be defeated by a poorly chosen password. On this week’s #Tech Tuesday segment on WTAM 1100 Newsradio, Bill Wills and I discuss basic tips on how to choose a strong password. I do recommend the use of a password managers, such as LastPass and DashLane.

We also talk about Kerbal Space Program, a fun but smart physics-based game for all ages with an interest in rockets and spaceflight. More information and a free demo can be found at kerbalspaceprogram.com.

Listen to #Tech Tuesday on WTAM 1100 Newsradio in Cleveland every Tuesday at 7:50am. Follow Bill Wills on Twitter as @billwillswtam and myself at @agent3012.

WTAM 1100 – Protect Against Tax-Related Identity Theft

Tax Forms
Play Audio – WTAM 1100 Newsradio – Tech Tuesday – March 24th, 2015:

WTAM 1100 Newsradio Cleveland OhioA long-time listener of WTAM’s Wills & Snyder in the Morning show reached out to me via email, asking about the security concerns he should consider when using tax-preparation software like Intuit’s Turbo-Tax.

Being able to file your taxes electronically is a huge time-saver, so it’s a bit scary to hear news about hackers committing tax-related identity theft to steal your money by filing their own tax return in your name ahead of time.

Based on what has been reported, the servers for Intuit (the company that makes TurboTax) are not being broken into or hacked. In most cases, the criminals are using social engineering and other tactics to get your social security number and other personal information, guess your tax-preparation site password, or convince you to give access to your financial information. These are techniques used for criminals on any online account or service, including your bank or shopping accounts.

To help protect yourself from this type of identity theft, it’s important to first make sure you are not making your Social Security number easily available to thieves. Avoid carrying your Social Security card (or other documents that might have your SSN on it) when it’s not needed. Avoid giving your SSN to any business or organization that asks for it, but doesn’t really need it. Never give out your personal information to anyone over the phone, via email or on a website unless you can confirm who is asking for that information and initiated the contact.

To protect your tax-preparation software accounts make sure you are using a secure account password. Easy to remember passwords may be easy to guess, giving criminals access to your account. You might consider a password managers like LastPass or Dashlane to keep unique passwords safe but accessible.

Next, make sure you’re not setting up any easy to guess forgotten password security questions. For example, the answer to “Where did you go to high school?” might be discovered by visiting your Facebook and other social media profiles.

Make sure you’re practicing safe online browsing habits, like not clicking on email attachments or clicking on unknown downloads. Keep your operating system, software and antivirus suite up to date. Malicious software like viruses or spyware on your system could be used to capture passwords, including those from your online tax preparation site.

For more information on keeping safe with your tax information, visit the FTC and IRS page on tax-related identity theft.