It seems like there's no end in sight for ATM skimming: A thief obtains an ATM user's information and makes cloned ATM cards, which he then uses to steal the victim's money. How does he get this information? From the secret card reading device called a "skimmer" he installs over the machines card slot and hidden cameras to capture keypad entries. This crime is escalating, says the FICO Card Alert Service. Many card skimmer thieves get away with this crime, but occasionally, one is caught, such as the crook from San Diego who placed a skimming device in ATMs all over the States. Allegedly he got data from about 4,900 cards and stole about $500,000. This crook, like many, had the money wired to an overseas account. The skimming devices are placed on public "independent" ATMs, but bank ATMs are not immune to this possibility. Cards that are read via that black/brown/silver strip on the back are the most vulnerable, as this strip or "magnetic stripe" contains the card's data in plain, unencrypted text. Thieves get this data right off the strip with their skimming device. What You Should Know Never use a public ATM. These are so much easier for crooks to rig. The tampering may take place in the middle of a biting cold night, when nobody's around. Then the middle of the next night, the thief retrieves the data. This includes pumps at gas stations. This doesn't mean let your guard down if you're using an ATM inside a bank. That can be rigged too. First see if anything doesn't look quite right about the machines card slot. Inspect the slot before you insert your card. If it wiggles or the attachment of it seems out of place, don't use it. Cover your hand as you type your PIN into the keypad. Remember, there may be a hidden camera placed by a thief. If someone is standing behind you, no matter how innocent they look, don't be concerned about offending them if you conceal your hand. Gee, you'll never see that person again anyways. Due to the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, you'll be reimbursed for stolen money provided you report the theft within 2-60 days of the incident depending on the nature of your card whether it's a credit or a debit card. Always check your card statements to spot any suspicious activity.
If someone is "borrowing" your Wi-Fi service, there's more to this than just the nerve of someone secretly mooching off of you. Their use of your service could interfere with bandwidth and mess up your connection. If they're a bad guy hacker or even a skeevy child porn peddling pedophile and get caught, it can be traced to your connection-and you will have a lot of explaining to do to the authorities when they bang on your door at 4 a.m. with a battering ram. How can you tell if someone's riding on your signal? Log into your router to see what's connected. For less techy people, use the free Wireless Network Watcher to get the list of connected devices. Do all the devices on the list belong to you? Any that don't? Ones that don't are thieves. You will not know, of course, how often they mooch off you unless you bring up the list regularly. Make a record of this device/gadget list (or take a screenshot). How do you figure out whom the user is? Their devices name may coincide with their real name, address or other identifying information. But knowing who they are isn't important. Just encrypt your Wi-Fi network, as this will usually stop the mooching. Encryption is key. Keep in mind a savvy Wi-Fi thief can get past WEP encryption. If this is the case, change your password and make sure you are at least on WPA encryption. Then recheck the device list. Upgrade and update. Unfortunately, many routers have security flaws and hackers can still sneak in through a backdoor in your router. Make a backup of your settings, take screenshots if necessary. You will need to reset the router to factory settings, update all software and firmware, and then set things up all over again. Bear in mind that changing the encryption password means you will have to update the password on every one of your devices. What if there's no intruder but your connection is still slow? Evaluate your Internet speed: Do a search for "internet speed test" and see what you are supposed to be getting. Check your "throughput". Throughput is the measurement of data speeds within your home network. You can check your throughput with numerous online tools. This will show if your Wi-Fi speed is slower than the Internet speed. Determine how many devices your router will support. Some routers bog down after 5-7 devices. Many homes may have as many as 10-20 devices connected and not realize it. If so, you may have too many devices in the household. Disconnect all but one, then check the speed. If this is the cause, then you need a new router that can handle multiple connections. If you only have a few devices connected, however, then you may need a modem upgrade or router upgrade. Consumers already know their devices constantly need upgrading so shouldn't be surprised that their modem and router need to be swapped out every couple three years. Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to bestcompany.com discussing identity theft prevention.
Is your antivirus software really protecting you? It's hard to know, right? You do some research, trust some experts, and then cross your fingers and hope that your computer is protected. Unfortunately, most people only find out that their antivirus software wasn't up to snuff after they get malware. If you've ever had to replace hard drives or motherboards after a virus attack, you'll know how much trouble they cause in time, money, and identity security. If you haven't lost any documents or hardware to viruses, trust me, you don't want to go there. All the better to have an independent lab like Dennis Technology Labs do some real world testing on antivirus software to see how they perform. Dennis Tech recently released their latest ratings for home PC antivirus software [PDF]. Dennis Tech describes itself as "an independent testing facility that evaluates personal and business technology." They specialize "security testing, using a world-class anti-malware testing framework." Translated, that means Dennis Labs simulates real-world situations and grades the software on how well it handles those situations. It tries to emulate an everyday user's experience by presenting it with real viruses and actual malware-threat websites. Some of the things that Dennis Labs tests for: Can the software detect threats? After the threat is detected, can the software protect your PC from infestation? If your PC is infected, how well does the software remove the damaging traces of the malware? Does the software go too far over-aggressively identifying legitimate software as a threat (false positives)? Three companies got the highest grade, Dennis Tech's "AAA" award: Kapersky Internet Security 2015 got a perfect score Norton Security ESET Smart Security 7 Dennis Tech also publishes a report for enterprise antivirus solutions [PDF]. If you'd like to know more about antivirus software, check out our other antivirus reviews to see which one will work best for you.
Some AdWare is more tolerated than others, but most is seen as bothersome to internet users. When you access and use programs with integrated AdWare, you may notice that advertisements seem targeted or relevant to your browsing history. This is a result of AdWare, and in most cases someone is making money. How Programs and Platforms Profit from AdWare Facebook and other large online businesses use AdWare to offset their development costs. With the revenue that AdWare generates, the company can upgrade and maintain programs. Data gathering and storage has been used for some time to help advertisers get good value for their marketing dollars. Advertising cost and value is calculated by clicks and conversion rates. Profiling Users to Maximize Marketing Potential Legally used AdWare can actually be beneficial to users. Advertisements help keep apps and websites free, or at least affordable. If you're using certain apps or websites, you're always going to see ads, but at least with AdWare there's a good possibility that the ads will be relevant to you. Pop up ads are bothersome, but can be controlled with your device's privacy settings, and by using a proper security program. How Ad-Serving Viruses Invade Our Browsers and Systems Spam and unauthorized AdWare is where the real problem exists. Without even knowing, many people allow malicious or threatening programs to run on their devices. They are sometimes attached to software that we download for personal use, or can come through email attachments. However they make their way onto our systems, proper antivirus software can keep problematic AdWare at bay. How Scammers Are Making Money from Malicious AdWare Scammers and hackers are making big money from personal information and email addresses. Bothersome pop ups and advertising banners collect IP addresses and any other information you share once you click on them. Often, names and emails are gathered through these links and then sold to third-party marketers. AdWare can generate revenue for scammers with every click, and the higher the conversion rate, the more valuable AdWare becomes. Don't Download Untrusted Content or Programs When you're online it's possible that AdWare is attaching itself to your computer in a variety of ways. Proper antivirus programs can protect users from ad-serving viruses, but it's important to understand these viruses if you're downloading files and programs. Most operating systems will prompt users in the event that a file is untrusted. This, however, is not on its own sufficient protection for your system. The Problems and Damage Caused by Ad-Serving Viruses Pop ups and other ad-serving viruses slow down connections and can potentially damage your operating system. Advertising is a billion-dollar industry that drives our economy and is of real value to most companies. When scammers profit from illegally gathered information, we begin surfing into murky water as a society. Protect your computers and devices with effective antivirus software, and cure your computer of ad-serving viruses. Enjoy the purest programs possible, and avoid being plagued by pesky pop ups. We entertain enough advertising throughout the day without supporting AdWare, so be sure to keep your devices free of ad-serving viruses that only lead to profits for scammers.
Surfing the web "cautiously" isn't enough to protect your computer these days. Viruses are lurking everywhere, and even if you are smart with your online searches, you can still end up with a virus that could cost you lots of time and hard earned money. If that isn't enough to convince you, here is a list of the top ten reasons why you should purchase antivirus software. 1. Protects Your Files, Personal Information, etc. You have probably seen the pop-ups that appear online that say something like, "Click here for a free flat screen television!" You most likely ignored it (and if you didn't, you should have), and closed out of it. Or maybe you received an email with a heart-breaking story that asks you to forward the message or reply to the email. Once again, you probably deleted it. These scenarios could have been scams or a virus, and when you ignored or deleted it, you probably thought you were safe. However, that is not the case. Just being smart isn't enough to keep viruses from attacking your computer and getting into your personal files or records. Once a virus is in your computer, it can destroy your hard drive and wipe out the files that once existed. Antivirus software can detect these viruses and protect your files from outside forces trying to mess with your hard drive. 2. No Manual Computer Scans If you are not sure that you want to spend the money on antivirus protection because you can scan your computer manually, you may want to consider just how much time and effort goes into that. Dealing with malware takes time and it is a process. You have to scan the computer, get rid of any infected files, and then start the re-installment of the operating system. It's a pain trying to fix malware, and it is a pain that you don't have to deal with if you have an antivirus software that is there to solve those types of problems. Antivirus software will do the hard work for you, and then some. No more waiting to use your computer while it completes a scan and then having to go in and do the deletions yourself. 3. Parental Controls The internet has dangers lurking at every corner. Inappropriate material can be accessed by anyone, including your children. If you want to protect your children from accidentally accessing something harmful, then setting parental controls is one of your better options. Several antivirus software products come with parental controls and allow you to protect your children. 4. Keeps You From Infecting Others If you are communicating with other people on your computer, then you need to consider purchasing antivirus software. Whether it is by email or instant messaging, you could unknowingly send a virus to one of your friends or co-workers. Antivirus software works to protect those individuals that are connected to you and keep emails and other messages that have viruses from being passed on. 5. Protects Finances Hackers do not only have the ability to access the personal files stored on your computer's hard drive, they have also developed techniques to get in to your bank accounts and records. By stealing that information, they have the ability to rob you blind from behind a computer screen. Antivirus software can detect these techniques and prevent outside sources from accessing financial information. 6. Blocks Untrustworthy Websites When you come across a website online that could be potentially harmful to your computer, antivirus software can detect that and warn you before you pursue browsing that website. In addition to websites, antivirus software can notify you when an email contains a virus and will steer you clear of those things that will cause damage to your computer or hard drive. 7. Identity Theft Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America. On average, nineteen people become victims of identity fraud every minute. It is a crime that is more prevalent than you may realize and it is getting worse. Stealing identities is the number one internet fraud crime right now, and without protection, you could become a victim. You store important information on your computer whether you realize it or not. You may not be saving documents or files, but every time you access a website, it is recorded. Identity thieves are finding ways to track you down one way or another and hack into your computer, eventually figuring out how to steal your identity. Antivirus software can monitor and flag websites or emails that may result in identity theft and provides you with the peace of mind that your personal information is safe. 8. Speed Adware can slow your computer down, a lot. Antivirus software gets rid of adware and other things that may slow your computer down. 9. Less Spam "I really enjoy going through junk mail," said no one ever. Spam and junk mail is a hassle. Each morning you have to shift through all of those pointless emails in your inbox. Antivirus software weeds a lot of that out and keeps mass or spam email to a minimum. 10. Last Line of Protection Like it was stated previously, just watching what you search for online is not enough to protect you from viruses. Being smart online will help, but it is not enough to ensure that you will be able to avoid those sly viruses. Antivirus software serves as that last line of defense. Viruses have to get through that protection to get to you, and that isn't an easy feat. Good antivirus software protects you from those harmful viruses and keeps them away from your hard drive.