Cyber Risk: Are You the Weak Link?

Are you the weakest link?By Scott Aurnou

In 2012, a young scam artist based in Asia posing as a private investigator simply purchased the personal information for more than 200 million users directly from credit reporting giant Experian and then posted it for sale online. The only reason we know about the incident is that the U.S. Secret Service caught it. Experian didn’t.

Cyber criminals know that the weakest link in most computer networks is the people using it. Verizon’s highly respected Data Breach Investigations Report has repeatedly noted that most attacks start with employees. Attackers use “social engineering” to trick their victims into allowing unauthorized system access, data theft and even specialized stealthy attacks used to quietly steal massive amounts of sensitive data over time. These attacks frequently exploit our natural tendency to want to help others. They can be in person, electronic or over the telephone, and there are a variety of ways they can be used to take advantage of you:

“Phishing” attacks are designed to steal your personal, financial or log-in information through an email, text message (referred to as “smishing”) or even an automated phone call (“vishing”). The attacks often appear to come from well-known and trusted companies like banks, airlines or industry groups and contain attachments or links to websites that look legitimate but are really there to steal account log-in information or host malware ready to attack the recipient’s computer as soon as he clicks on any of the links. These emails and messages can also be used to lure victims into contact with scam artists posing as potential clients or officials offering to release substantial funds if only the target would be so kind as to hand over detailed personal information or a sum up front.
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Posted in Fraud & Scams

How Effective Are Biometric Security Measures?

Computer Security Tip of the Week

Scott Aurnou – Biometric security measures like fingerprint scanners have been incorporated into a few products recently, but do they provide effective protection or are they more of a novelty at this point?

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Posted in Laptops & Desktops, Network Security, Security Tip of the Week, Smartphones & Tablets

Lawyers and Email: Ethical & Security Considerations

Secure EmailBy Scott Aurnou

The specter of attorney-client privilege has a long and well-respected history in litigation… but means nothing at all to a hacker. “Delete this email if you are not the intended recipient” or similar language theoretically sounds imposing, but essentially does nothing to protect firm or client data from any nefarious actors who view it (though they may get a good chuckle before reading the “forbidden” email).

In May 2014, LexisNexis published a study pertaining to law firm security awareness versus actual practices with respect to communications and file sharing with clients. Almost 90% of those surveyed used email to communicate with clients and privileged third parties. The vast majority of attorneys surveyed also acknowledged the increasingly important role of various file sharing services and the inherent risk of someone other than a client or privileged third party gaining access to shared documents. Yet only 22% used encrypted email and 13% use secure file sharing sites, while 77% of firms relied upon the effectively worthless “confidentiality statements” within the body of emails to secure them.
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Posted in Cloud Security, Laptops & Desktops, Network Security, Privacy Issues, Smartphones & Tablets

What is Social Engineering?

Computer Security Tip of the Week

Scott Aurnou – Why would a hacker engage in a potentially time-consuming and difficult attack against a well-guarded computer network or secure location when he or she can simply trick someone into giving them access? Learn about the basics of social engineering here.

If you enjoyed this video, you can see more on TheSecurityAdvocate YouTube channel.

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Posted in Fraud & Scams, Laptops & Desktops, Network Security, Security Tip of the Week

Compliance for Developers of Medical Applications and Software under HIPAA and Other Regulations

HIPAABy Kaiser Wahab and Susanna Guffey

Information and data supplied by patients via smartphones and the Internet are poised to drastically lower costs associated with medical care and make it easier for doctors to treat patients, even remotely. However, developers should keep in mind the particular regulatory and compliance issues that arise when dealing with personal medical information.

This article provides a brief overview of the legal framework and best practices that developers should heed. First, it discusses the handling of health information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, commonly referred to as “HIPAA”. Second, the article discusses potential Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation of certain medical applications or software that may also function as “medical devices.” Lastly, it discusses general concerns and best practices for mobile application or software developers.

I. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

What companies are regulated by HIPAA?

HIPAA establishes the rules that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services uses to regulate the transmission of protected health information (PHI). PHI is any individually identifiable health information that is held or maintained by a Covered Entity or their Business Associates (defined below). Examples include demographic information past, present or future physical or mental health or condition of the patient; information pertaining to payment of healthcare services; and genetic information. For example, a mobile medical application that allows patients to transmit personal health information via their mobile devices would be handling PHI.
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Posted in Guest Posts
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