Technology can be a two-edged sword. On the one hand, it gives regular people access to information and provides countless communications channels to convey it. On the other hand, Big Tech installs various tracking tools to gather data on what users are looking for. It’s a bit Orwellian and provides tech criminals with a big target. After all; if Google, Apple, Microsoft, and other tech giants have exabytes of data on their users, wouldn’t hackers want to steal it?

Which brings us to Windows 10.

Many of us current have Windows 10 installed on our devices, as of July 2017 it has been installed on over a third of personal computers in the world. By default, the keylogger that Microsoft included in the operating system is enabled. This means that all those PCs are sending keystrokes and voice information to Microsoft for their analysis. In other words, Big Brother Bill is watching you! But fear not, you can turn off the data spigot to Redmond and regain a little bit more of your privacy. Take a look at this article when you have a chance, it will show you how to turn off the keylogger. It’s a small step but it will help protect your privacy and reduce your exposure to data breaches.

It’s hard to imagine that an isolated, backwards nation enveloped in darkness can be effective at cyber attacks. Then again, the DPRK has proven remarkably persistent and successful in causing problems over the last seven decades. Apparently, the limited electrical power that is available in the country is being used to cause problems south of the DMZ.

DPRK

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One technology threat that is becoming more evident this year is ransom ware. This is a particular type of malware that holds computers and data hostage until a ransom is paid. It has become a popular way of hackers to monetize cyber crime, which is why such incidents are on the rise. For regular computer users, the costs of ransom ware usually runs into the hundreds of dollars and/or the loss of data. For critical infrastructure though, the costs are much higher.

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Some smart phones are coming with some extra, hidden functions already built in. Not only will you get a high-resolution screen, multi-megapixel camera, and all the latest software…you could also have malware lurking inside the phone’s hardware. According to SC Magazine, some new phones from China can be compromised remotely by thieves. Read the whole article, but here is a key paragraph that should cause concern:

Among the spyware apps that G Data discovered being used for nefarious purposes out of the box was one pretending to be the Google Drive app but actually identified by researchers as Android.Monitor.Gsyn.B which contains no functionality other than the ability to monitor and steal a wide range of data without the user knowing. It can, they say, listen in to telephone conversations, copy contacts, ask for location data, record audio with the microphone, disable AV software and read the device browser history. All highly useful resources for a would-be data thief.

Pre-installed malware on smart phones is yet another front in the fight between cyber thieves and innocent users. Even if you do everything right (i.e., software updates) and are careful how you use your phone, it may be compromised from the outset. The only advice I have on this is to work with your mobile phone provider to ensure that any known hardware vulnerabilities are addressed so you don’t get compromised.

It’s been said there are two certainties in life; death and taxes. Unfortunately for over 300,000 taxpayers, this also included getting their tax records stolen. I should know, it happened to me this year. Imagine my surprise when my CPA told me that somebody had already filed taxes under my Social Security Number. Eventually, I was able to file my taxes by mail and receive my refund…albeit five months late. It may be a while before the full extent of the IRS data breach becomes evident, in the meantime over a quarter million people will have to keep a close eye on their credit.

Data breaches are a fact of life nowadays, if you haven’t been affected by one yet chances are you will be in the future. Being prepared isn’t just about preparing for an unlikely event like a total collapse of society, it is about dealing with common events like data breaches. Keeping a close eye on your financial accounts and credit report is almost as important as securing your home. The Better Business Bureau has some advice on what to do in the event of a data breach, you can also find some helpful information over at CardRatings. What’s important is you remain vigilant when it comes to your finances because it can become a taxing matter in more ways than one.

There is an under-reported story that the mainstream media has largely ignored. In a nutshell, the computers in the White House were attacked by the Russians which caused a shutdown for over a week. This is big news but Official Washington isn’t saying much about it because it would cast the Obama Administration in a bad light. However, this event has bigger implications than any damage sustained by an increasingly marginalized, lame-duck President.

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