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Using Someone Else’s WiFi- Can They See Your Activity?

Several times a week, we are asked this exact question – If I am using someone else’s WiFi,  can they see my search history, read my email or otherwise monitor my activity?

Simply put- unless they are extraordinarily gifted tech geniuses, not really.  In other words, they can see that you are connected to their WiFi and can see the length of connection but your device’s anti-virus and other firewall programs will prevent them from accessing your desk/lap tops hard drive and other devices’ internal and cloud storage.

That said, if you are up against a very savvy tech thief, (the types that sit outside hotels and passively offer free connection bait – usually ones that looks very similar in name to the hotel’s WiFi, e.g. MarriottGuest1 rather than MarriottGuest), bide these steps (added to by our friends over at xqiz.it :

1) Most importantly, use HTTPS.

2) You should use non-logging DNS servers (hint: NOT Google’s DNS servers).

(At this point, in the US, you are reasonably well protected from someone doing a man-in-the-middle read of your communication. Unless you know how to manually manage your certs, you’re never safe in other countries, particularly places like China and any of the former Soviet states, where the governments tend to have access to the certificates that the local cert authorities provide for encryption and signature validation.)

3) Java and Flash must both be disabled. Failing to disable these allows local code to go around the settings you use from above. (Little known industry secret: Most sites that use Flash use small pieces of invisible Flash content to track you.)

4) Do not use Chrome. Its primary purpose is to de-anonymize you so that Google can track you completely.

5) Use the private surfing option in your browser (preferably Firefox) to reduce the chance that your browser fingerprint is discernible (unique/identifiable) by the server.

Our advice? Use common sense- if in public, be very careful; if in private, know your source.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As Always,

Stay safe.

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Not Liking Your Online Profile? Clean It Up & Track Yourself.

online-profile

Cleaning up your online profile―and creating the one you want―is becoming easier for the layperson as we understand how information flows and accumulates on the internet.

First, find out about yourself.

Facts:

1. 85% of search-engine users do not venture beyond the first page when researching someone.

2. Nearly 90% of recruiters conduct some sort of online investigation into recruits, and of these,

3. Almost 45% dropped someone from consideration based on information they found online.

Solutions:

1. Enter your name in the search bar of Google, Yahoo!, and Bing, three of the most widely used search engines.

2. If you have a common name, like Susan Smith, do a few different searches, adding your current or past employers or your hometown to your name.

3. Search images as well for any potentially embarrassing sorority pillow fight pics.

If nothing appears about you, that’s great if privacy is your only concern. But if you want to create a good impression for clients, employers, or potential new acquaintances, it helps if results return with positive entries (a blurb about a promotion,  civic association membership announcement, a listing of volunteers at a charity events, etc.)  and these results will be at or near the top of page one if you have few other online notices.

If you see negative results (an embarrassing photo on a friend’s website, an inglorious, angry rant on FB or a really odd purchase you made), chances are others, including prospective employers, will see them, too.  The beer keg handstand that was funny back in the day isn’t so amusing to an HR manager considering you for a company position who may believe it depicts poor judgment.  I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been brought on to research and then polish up someone’s online profile (or, increasingly, from parents of intern or college-age children).   You can remove the items yourself, ask your friend on whose timeline these goofy pics show up to take them down, push down these unwanted results until they appear way further down in the Google search engine return by running a strong paid social media campaign or pay professional reputation companies or investigation firms that perform this task. But from your desk, at the very least, please keep an eye on your internet self by:

Setting up alerts. To get an e-mail when your name is mentioned in news stories, blogs, or videos, go to google.com/alerts and enter your name, your e-mail address, and how often you would like to receive updates (daily, weekly, as they happen). Again, if you have a common name, add your company, hometown, profession, or job title. This service won’t alert you to everything (Facebook entries, for example), but it will help you keep track of new information that might come up on search engines.

For a service that tracks your mentions on major social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook, try the aptly-named Mention. The platform can also alert you whenever someone includes your keyword in a post.

The most important advice we can give people is: do not post anything that you yourself cannot wholly control, including the ability to retract the post entirely from the internet.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

 

How To Tell If You Are Being Tracked Via Cell Phone.

spying

Have an unshakable feeling that someone is tracking your whereabouts and conversations via your cell phone? Given the ease of use and access to spyware tools these days, coupled with your involvement in a hostile situation (divorce, child custody or partnership split), you just might be right.  Know what to look for and what to do.

Access is key

Since installing tracking apps and spyware requires physical access to your phone, the easiest way to prevent these mobile intrusions is to keep your phone secure. Obviously, though, you can’t take your phone everywhere – you have to shower sometime – make sure you set a PIN to your phone – and make it a difficult one (no birthdays, addresses, anniversaries, etc.).

Has your iPhone been “jailbroken”?

In order to install tracking or spyware to your iPhone, a process called “jailbreaking” is required to bypass Apple’s strict security.  The person tracking you may have been in a rush and they might not have deleted jailbreaking apps, the most commonly used are: Cydia, Icy, Installer, Installous and SBSettings.  Simply swipe right on your home screen to search your phone, as they won’t necessarily show up with an app icon.

Check your bills

If there’s a tracking app or spyware on your phone, it will more than likely contain a GPS aspect to it which would send your data usage through the roof.   Check your bill for a spike in this usage.

Signs you may have tracking apps or spyware installed

There are tell-tale signs that your phone might be tracking you without your knowledge, such as:

  • Does the battery run down a lot quicker than it should, and stay warm even when idle?
  • Does it stay lit when you try to turn the screen off, or light up when you’re not doing anything?
  • Is it slower running apps than normal?
  • Are there unfamiliar applications running in the background?
  • Does it take forever to shut down?

Don’t ignore odd messages

If you receive a text message full of what looks like computer code, or garbled numbers, it is possible it’s an ‘instruction’ message sent by the remote controller of the tracking software on your phone; the spyware works by receiving such messages and although they are meant to go unnoticed, may sometimes appear in your inbox.

How to remove tracking apps and spyware

Keep your phone’s software up to date, use anti-malware software and delete anything suspicious. But the only sure way is to do a full backup to your computer, reset your phone to factory settings and then reinstall everything one by one, making sure to only reinstall apps you know and trust.

If you’re using an iPhone that you suspect has been jailbroken, upgrade to the latest version of iOS as this will reverse the jailbreak and remove the malignant software – just make sure you’re backed up first.

Finally, run one of the below top five (as determined by Lifehacker) malware removal products:

  • Spybot Search & Destroy (Windows, Freeware)
  • SUPERAntiSpyware (Windows, $30)
  • ComboFix (Windows, Freeware)
  • Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware (Windows, $25)
  • HijackThis (Windows, Freeware)

(They are found on CNet and, reviewed there as well.)

The bottom line is situational awareness.  If you are in the process of a divorce, business partnership split-up, other litigation, etc.  believe that someone will try to get an inside peek into your life.  Remain vigilant.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

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