Under Attack from Every Direction

 

The Equifax Hack

Equifax got hacked and now we are in danger of Identity theft. Most of us aren’t sure what we should do now. It is an absolute disgrace that consumers must protect themselves due to the actions (or non-actions) of an entity that they had absolutely no control over.

Equifax Says Site Vulnerability Behind Massive Breach; FTC Confirms Investigation

There was a patch available that would have prevented the hack, but Equifax failed to install the patch. Unfortunately, consumers are the ones who have to pay, not Equifax.

Experts are saying everyone should put a freeze on your credit report. This is not a good thing. First, it probably won’t be free and it is no guarantee your ID won’t be stolen.

Just look at what happened to one person with a freeze on his accounts. My Identity Was Stolen, Then TransUnion Let The Fraudster Unfreeze My Accounts.

For some reliable information about credit report freezes, check out the Federal Trade Commission’s site Credit Freeze FAQs.

CCleaner Hack

Nothing is safe anymore! Folks who want to keep their computers maintained and free of junk sometimes use a utility called CCleaner. I have used this program for years and never had a problem.

Fixing this hack could be troublesome, but not everyone using CCleaner got infected. The HowToGeek can show you how to find out if your computer was infected and how to fix it, but this may not be real helpful for novice users.

Phone Scammers

They don’t quit. The advice is to not answer calls if you don’t recognize the number, but the scammers find ways to get around that. They ‘spoof’ their number making you think it’s a local number or sometimes leave a message making you think it is really important. Not everyone has caller ID, but most do these days.

I solved my problem with those Robo calls by using a service called ‘Nomorobo’, but it may not be offered by your phone provider.  Nomorobo is available for iPhones, but it costs $1.99 a month. So far, I am not getting too many robo calls on my iPhone, but I will get it if that changes. Android users can try the beta. CallBlocker2017 is available in the GooglePlayStore.

UPDATE!

For iPhone only, get Hiya Caller ID and Block.  It’s free!

Some cell service providers may start offering this service, check with your service provider.

While many of us recognize scam callers and don’t fall for their scam, many older folks are too trusting and get taken for a lot of money. If you possibly can, check to see if you can get call blocking service for your older family members.

IRS Repeats Warning about Phone Scams

Social Media

I think most folks with access to the Internet use social media in one form or another. I know a lot of my friends and family use Facebook on a regular basis.

The hoaxes and fake websites I see there are astonishing.

Account in Violation of Terms of Service’ Facebook Phishing Scam

Unless someone is using ad blocking apps on their browser, the chances of getting infected by going to a risky site are getting better all the time. The hackers can infect an insecure site relatively easy.  These hoaxes and fake news sites are constantly ‘Shared’ by gullible users.

What Can We Do?

There isn’t much we can do about hacks for major sites like Equifax. We can sign up for services that monitor our credit reports, but this is no guarantee we will be safe.

We must depend on security tech companies to warn us about computer programs like CCleaner being hacked. If we use good security programs like the excellent Malwarebytes and keep our systems updated, this will help. I have it on good authority Malwarebytes removed the infection from CCleaner.

Note: Only the pro version of Malwarebytes runs in the background. The free version must be manually activated to update and run.

Using a password keeper like LastPass to store and create unique passwords may be one of the best lines of defense. Never ever use the same password on more than one site!

We can use call blockers to keep those robo and scam calls from getting through. More and more service providers are offering this service, so if your provider doesn’t currently offer call blocking, ask them to provide it and keep checking.

Check to make sure the sites you visit have SSL applied.

Example:

Note the ‘s ‘after https, and the padlock in front of the web link. You can click the padlock to see the verified by. If there is no ‘s’ on http, leave immediately unless you trust the site.

 

We can no longer just hope for the best and get by without actions our part. While we can’t protect ourselves from hacks like the one for Equifax, we must do what we can on a personal level.