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Cyber defense

We Need a National Cyber Defense Agency

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If you’re like most Americans, the idea that our country doesn’t have a unified cyber defense agency is about as unthinkable as a presidential contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Welcome to the desert of the real. Our cyber defenses are scattered across three agencies that don’t always communicate well (a generous appraisal) or in a timely fashion, and we’ve never been more vulnerable. As Ronald Reagan (quoting John Adams) famously said during his […]

  • Tax fraud

    Yes, You Still Need To Be on the Lookout for Tax ScamsColumn, Identity Theft

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    You may have easily missed a major piece of news that broke last week amid the media-feeding frenzy generated by the release of Donald Trump’s “Access Hollywood” tapes and Hillary Clinton’s Wikileaked Wall Street speeches. Authorities in India busted nine — yes, nine — bogus IRS call centers, arresting 70 people on suspicion of tricking (and often scaring) Americans into sending money to settle “pressing” but nonexistent tax bills. The victory certainly wasn’t as historic […]

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    Why College Freshmen Are Chum for the Cyber SharksColumn, Identity Theft

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    Identity theft and countless other scams are often among the first life lessons learned by newly minted college students. As summer draws to a close, members of the Class of 2020 face an unimaginable number of potential pitfalls. Be prepared to meet the specific challenges ahead. Most incoming college students will at some point find themselves feeling overwhelmed by their newfound freedom. With the exception of sleep away camp, it will be longest stretch of […]

  • kids hacked

    5 Ways Your Kids Can Get You HackedColumn, Data Security, Personal Finance

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    For adults, home is a refuge, but for children it is a never-ending treasure hunt. While you’re out — you know, paying for the place — it’s a safe bet your kids are getting into your stuff, and when it comes to things digital, that can be a serious problem. As a seasoned parent, you’ve had that shock a thousand times, looking up from your phone, tablet or computer to the sight of a child […]

  • How the Government Is Doing a Terrible Job Protecting Your Social Security NumberColumn, Data Security, Blog

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    The Social Security Administration sent 352 million notices by snail mail in 2015. With volume like that — much of it containing valuable fraud-enabled information — you’d think the SSA would have a great system for protecting sensitive personally identifiable information from the constant threat of identity-related crime. Think again. Recently, the Office of the Inspector General of the SSA published a report entitled “Social Security Administration Correspondence Containing Full Social Security Numbers.” While it […]

  • Ransomware Is a Real Threat (Even to You, Apple Users)Column, Data Security

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    Maybe the thought actually occurred to you that something was “phishy” about that link, but that’s so 30 seconds ago. You clicked and now your computer screen is locked. Behind that frozen screen lie your personal files — everything from photos to tax documents — all of it encrypted by a third party that promises to return access for a ransom, which is usually between $200 and $5,000, according to the FBI. Encryption can be […]

  • The Real Tax Nightmare May Be on the WayColumn, Blog

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    Tax Day has come and gone. You pulled together the myriad facts and figures that determine what you owe, or the size of your refund. And now you’re waiting for your checks to arrive — or, if you are the nervous, slightly paranoid, type like me, you may be worried about an audit or some other correspondence indicating that you’ve got work to do. While potentially daunting, it’s unlikely an audit or legal notice awaits […]

  • Will the Obama Administration Side With Debt Collectors?Column, Blog

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    With the Supreme Court in flux, the highest authority in U.S. law has punted a landmark case over to the executive branch, effectively asking it to decide whether debt collectors can charge interest rates so high they’re deemed illegal in some states. In Madden v. Midland Funding, LLC., a debt collection company purchased the plaintiff’s charged-off debt, but the plaintiff resided in New York state where the usury limit is 25% annually. The complaint was […]

  • How Tim Cook Is Securing Steve Jobs’s Legacy with EncryptionColumn, Data Security, Blog

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    Steve Jobs understood what people want. His insistence on making hard things easier — for instance, using a personal computer — was an essential part of the Apple success story. Apple CEO Tim Cook has been doing the same thing — but now the “hard thing” is privacy and encryption. Apple has consistently earned top marks for its privacy and data security policies. That said, since the San Bernardino shooting, which left 14 dead and […]

  • Why Hillary Clinton’s Emails Matter This YearColumn, Data Security, Blog

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    There is no shortage of punditry about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s homebrew server, and the resulting fallout, aka “Emailgate.” Whether you read the commentary dedicated to killing her candidacy, or calmer voices focused on the bigger picture of national cybersecurity, Secretary Clinton gets failing marks — and rightly so. Unlike some of Secretary Clinton’s critics, I don’t believe that the email controversy is, first and foremost, proof of some deep character flaw that […]

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