Protect Yourself from Scams Using These Holiday Cybersecurity Tips [Interview]

Holiday Cybersecurity Tips and Scams

December 20, 2015

Holiday Scams
Click Here for Podcast: AIR-2015-12-20.mp3

Scam artists don’t take days off, especially during the holiday season. With only a few shopping days left before Christmas, it is prime time for the con artists. Many people are so busy not paying attention that they become easy and vulnerable targets.

Internet scams are also rampant during the holidays because of peak buying. Expert cyber guest, Richard Lowe, wrote “Safe Computing is Like Safe Sex” a book about computer security. Richard says everyone should learn all that you can and follow their gut when computing. If it feels off, it most likely is, or as best said, when in doubt, do without!

Richard Lowe Computer Security Expert

Introduction to Holiday Cybersecurity Tips and Scams 

Note: The recording includes several other speakers and many commercials. The transcript that follows only contains my interview.

Safe Computing is Like Safe SexAnnouncer: you’re listening to aging info radio, with your host, Sue Zawacki.

Sue Zawacki: And for my Sue says sponsored by senior news 50. And better, what we appreciate, appreciates. We are talking about scams and fraud today with Christmas being five days away. And my next guest has written a book called Safe computing is like safe sex. It is all about computer safety. It came out in July it is available on Amazon.

My guest is Richard Lowe. He is a CEO, senior writer and author. Welcome Richard to aging info Radio.

Richard Lowe: Thank you very much. I’m pleased to be here.

Sue Zawacki: I am pleased to have you. We’re talking about scam artists. Of course, they don’t take the holidays off. So, people need to be aware. And they don’t need to get snowed by him. I mean, there’s a lot on the internet with all the shopping that goes on. And it just keeps becoming more and more popular to buy online. But let’s talk about social engineering.

Social Engineering

Richard Lowe: Social engineering is basically Khan is a con, they provide the hackers trying to convince you of something to get something from you – money or your social security number or something like that. So, they’ll pretend to be something they’re not. And that’s called social engineering.

Yes, and it’s the number one way that a hacker gets into your system or gets in does identity theft or anything like that. Somebody might call up for example, and claim they’re from the IRS, and then ask you for information about your various accounts. And you just gave them your various accounts and they’re not from the IRS because the IRS doesn’t do that.

Sue Zawacki: Be careful where you click is how I look at it.

Richard Lowe: Yes, and that’s the other form of social engineering is called phishing p h, a pH instead of f and phishing is where they send out an email that says your pay pal accounts about to be closed, you better respond immediately. And click here and you click there and you’re putting your password and username and while they have your password and username and stuck your bank accounts dry.

Sue Zawacki: So, we say if you see an email and they’re advertising something even with it being the busiest time of year for shopping, do not click on that go to that website and look for that, you know, item or whatever they’re say or selling. Because you do not want to click on those links. You’re just opening yourself up for a lot of possibility of being scammed.

Richard Lowe: That is correct. And basically, unless you absolutely know that the link is correct, don’t click on it just as you say go to the browser and type it in yourself. It takes a little more work but it that’s worth it.

Sue Zawacki: Well, it’s so worth it especially if you are going to buy it and use your credit card online to do that.

Richard Lowe: Yes, the more often there will there after credit cards and account usernames and passwords.

Sue Zawacki: Yes, those scammers and I’m sure of what the internet Of course, it’s 24/7. Once they get a hold of that in the middle of the night, that can definitely wreak havoc in anyone’s life.

Richard Lowe: Well, what they’ll typically do is sell those credit cards to various other hackers. So it multiplies very fast.

Sue Zawacki: Well, there’s a lot to be said, when you think about cybersecurity.

Richard Lowe: Oh, yeah. Yeah. And that’s why I wrote a book on it. And I wrote the book, primarily because people are afraid, and there’s no need to be afraid. And that’s the whole message of the book, don’t be afraid, just learn and know what to do. And then you’re fine.

Most likely, I mean, everybody can be hit by a hacker or social engineering. Because everybody, you can’t protect against everything, but you don’t have to live in fear. The problem is, fear tends to paralyze you, and you don’t need to be paralyzed. Just learn what the dangers are and how to protect.

The 419 (Nigerian) Scam

Sue Zawacki: Now let’s talk about the online Nigerian scam. How does that work?

Richard Lowe: That’s called the advance fee fraud scan, also known as the 4019. Scam, which is the penal code in Nigeria that it violates. And what they do is they try and come up with something to get money from you in advance of delivering a product.

So, Nigeria, what the most famous one is the Nigerian king who, you know, has a $1.2 million, and some savings account here in the United States. And his brother died, and he needs your help to get it out. And you it sounds kind of legit, you say, Sure. And he sends back an email that says, Oh, darn, we need some money for passports, we need a couple $1,000.

And you say, okay, fine, you send them a couple 1000 and it grows and grows and grows. And in the middle of that, you commit some minor, which you think are crimes. So, you’re starting to get hooked to the greed gifts hook, the crime part gets hooked. And people have lost hundreds of 1000s of dollars on these things. Just getting sucked deeper and deeper and deeper.

And the most interesting one has to do with romance, where they will come online and one of the dating sites and pretend they’re somebody. And then they find out all about you on your social networks. And then you start telling them things about yourself and they start making inferences.

And before you know it, you’re sending money to somebody who you think is going to be a future boyfriend or girlfriend and they’re actually some buddy in some country somewhere that has nothing to do with anything. And I read about one in the AARP magazine where some lady lost almost $350,000 over the course of six months because she believed this guy was in love with her.

Protect Your Credit Cards Online

Sue Zawacki: We’re talking about scams and fraud today. We’re very close to the holiday. Please keep your eyes wide open. Be very aware of what you’re doing with your credit cards do not use a debit card online ever. And also, do not give out any information if it doesn’t feel right. It isn’t right. Right. Richard Lowe?

Richard Lowe: That’s correct. Yes. I mean, follow your instincts. Follow your gut.

Sue Zawacki: Okay, well, we’re gonna move into the best way to protect or use passwords, what’s your input there?

Richard Lowe: Well, the first thing you want to do is make sure that every single online account has a different password. Because what happens is, let’s say some big company that you shop on is hacked, and they’re all they get all the passwords and usernames from them. T

hat’s happened quite a few times. If the if you have the same password across all of your accounts, and all of the accounts have the email address as the username, they the hackers has got the password for all of your accounts, not just the one that was stolen. So, if you have different passwords for all of your accounts, the only one that’s at risk is the own is the one that’s being hacked.

And that reduces your risk considerably. So that’s the first thing you want to do. But then you ask, but I have 200 accounts online, me I have over 1000. How do I keep track of all these random passwords, that’s you get a product, one of them is called LastPass. And that keeps track of all the passwords for you. And all you have to remember is the one password to that.

Note: I no longer recommend LastPass due to some serious breaches that exposed private data. Instead, I use Sticky Password, which is far more secure.

And it’s actually nice enough to fill in the blanks for you. So, if you go to a site, you want to log in, it fills in the username and password for you. You don’t have to even type it in anymore.

Sue Zawacki: Is that a website?

Richard Lowe: Yeah, and it generates random passwords that you don’t have, because you don’t have to remember them anymore. Yes, You don’t have to remember them anymore. So, they can be weird characters, funny looking symbols and stuff because you don’t care.

You don’t even have to enter them in a resume for you. That’s convenient. Yeah, it has some also some nice things where you can put in your credit card numbers, and it can fill in those blanks for you as well and save you a little time.

Sue Zawacki: And did you really feel that is so secure? I mean, to give all that information over?

Richard Lowe: Well, I depend on it. So obviously, I feel it’s secure. That’s their that’s their mission, their job? I mean, obviously, there’s weak links everywhere on the internet, you have to trust somebody. So, I prefer to trust a company that does it for a living rather than anybody else. There are other products out there. You want to trust one? Or do you want to trust 100 different websites?

Sue Zawacki: Now? Do you recommend people changing their passwords often?

Richard Lowe: Generally, you want to change? Well, the recommendation is to change them every 90 days, I find out a little bit laborious, because I have so many accounts. So, I try and go through once a year and set aside a few hours and just change them all once a year.

Sue Zawacki:  You feel that really does protect you.

Richard Lowe: I don’t know, you know, they recommend the security experts recommend 90 days. So if you really want to be saved, change them every 90 days. And that’s because if your account gets hacked the database of all those passwords, database being a collection of data or passwords gets sold.

And it might take them some time to use the credit card data or the account. So, if you change the password, then they lose that access.

Sue Zawacki: Right now, how would someone protect themselves while browsing on the web? What do you give out for tips here?

Richard Lowe: Well, make sure you have it up to date antivirus products, and there are quite a few good ones out there. Make sure your firewall is up to date. If you’re running Windows 10 These things are taken care of for you. I would recommend a product like Norton or McAfee. There are others that don’t use Internet Explorer anymore.

Note: I cannot recommend Norton or McAfee any longer. Instead, I recommend Bitdefender.

Note: Microsoft now recommends their new browser called Edge.

Internet Explorer is actually Microsoft is getting rid of use something like Chrome or Firefox because they’re a lot safer. And number one, get a product as a free product called AdBlock Plus as an extension in your Chrome or Firefox and it removes all advertisements in the reason why you want to do that, is because a lot of infections are coming in through banner ads and advertisements.

Note: I no longer recommend AdBlock Plus. I now recommended uBlock Origin.

And they’re very hard to police. And there have been some pretty significant infections, almost pandemics on the internet of infection through banner ads. So, by getting AdBlock Plus and installing it, and it’s really simple, it will remove all those ads for you. It makes your browsing faster.

Of course, it annoys the people who want advertisements to get to you but who cares. And it protects you. And that’s becoming more and more important these days because that attack route is becoming very common.

Sue Zawacki: Yeah, cybersecurity is a big one. And remember the Nigerian scam, you cannot save the king and you don’t need to pay for romance, right, Richard?

Richard Lowe: Yeah, yeah, somebody out of the blue. If you’ve never met them and you don’t want even if you have met them, you don’t need to give them your money without really checking their credentials and things like that. Yeah. Maybe even having a second party check their credentials.

Sue Zawacki: Absolutely. And I’m here with Richard Lowe. We’re talking about scams and fraud today, especially on the internet. And we’re gonna get Richard Lowe’s. Words of Wisdom coming up next, right here on Aging info radio.

Sue Zawacki: We are only five days away from Christmas and yet scam artists do not take holidays off be aware of wherever you’re putting your information out whether it be on the internet or you’re using a credit card and do not use a debit card if you can avoid it this time of year it can definitely save you any possibility of being scammed or any fraud going on but I’m here with Richard Lowe.

He has written a book Safe Computing is like Safe Sex. It is available on Amazon on in paperback and on Kindle and would be a great gift for anybody that spends time a lot of time on the internet. But Richard Lowe, you are a world of information, and I would like your words of wisdom for the day.

Richard Lowe: The words of wisdom is don’t be afraid In the internet, just buy my book or a book like it, and learn how to protect yourself. And then you can be relatively safe as safe as you can be anywhere in the world. And you don’t have to live in fear. Just learn and understand the ramifications of what you do and then be smart. Like, think before you click is an important thing to remember.

Sue Zawacki: And you don’t have exchanged money. Most of the time correct, Richard?

Richard Lowe: Well, yeah, you especially if you don’t know the person, absolutely. I’ll give him any money and if they ask you for money for something that sounds suspicious and don’t.

Richard Lowe: Listen to your gut. Well, thank you for being my guest today. And thank you for writing your book Safe computing is like safe sex. And you have a happy holiday. You too. Thank

Richard Lowe
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