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ID theft up 47%, $5k ransomware hits, and grandma thinks Apple is rotten.

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Hi there,

On Thursday, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said it tracked a 47  IRS_tax_1040-378169-rx-edited-2.jpgpercent increase in identity theft complaints in 2015, and that by far the biggest contributor to the surge was tax refund fraud. Form 14039 is your best defense. I did and it took less than 2 weeks to hear back from the IRS and obtain my PIN. It was probably the smoothest transaction I've ever done with a government agency, much less the IRS. More here: "Defending From Tax-Fraud in 2016"


 

ransom-note-1.pngRansomware is one of the more vicious forms of a virus and ransom demands are increasing and we are seeing more of the strain known as "7ev3n" getting $5,000 a pop by taking control of the computer and its data, and destroying the machine in the process. Here's a screenshot of a 7ev3n ransom note. The problem is real and the stakes are serious. Consider this:

 

390,000 new viruses a day and over 25% of all viruses ever created were made in 2015.

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"The AV-TEST Institute registers over 390,000 new malicious programs every day." AV Test - An Independent IT Security Institute, January 26th.

This chart illustrates the growth of viruses, including ransomware. It's a snapshot of exponential growth representing a fundamental change in the nature of risk in our everyday personal and professional lives.  Consider that 27% of all viruses ever were recorded last year:

"Last year saw the greatest number of cyberattacks recorded around the world, with a total of 304 million samples, which means that more than a quarter of all malware samples ever recorded were produced in 2015 (27.63%)." Digital Forensics Magazine, January 28th.

Our 24x7 device protection from F-Secure goes a long way to protect, but we will be introducing a service from Malwarebytes specifically designed to prevent a ransomware attack on your computer or smartphone, soon.


 

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Lastly, a story about a widow that took two month's to finally get her deceased husband's password from Apple. That's not really a picture of her, I just couldn't help myself. The story is very real, however.

"Widow wins battle with Apple over deceased husband's password." Fox News, January 20th.

Leaving a major corporation between you and your digital assets, including passwords, is  becoming increasingly a really bad idea. Digital vaults are the answer and can act as a multi-generational safe-deposit-box for many, many digital-data-vaults-cta.jpgyears to come. You can get one here from the best - for 10% off with our voucher: http://www.totaldigitalsecurity.com/products/digital-data-vaults 

I keep tax returns, scans of passports and social security cards, precious photos and memories, and anything else I wouldn't put on a cloud service like DropBox, and have designated beneficiaries for my passwords and other documents so they will transfer without probate or hassle for my family. I detail the system more, here: http://www.totaldigitalsecurity.com/blog/digital-document-vaults-for-security-and-posterity

 

Thanks for reading,

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"The Hidden Business of the Internet" - It's hard to convey the extent of abuse we suffer simply as users of the internet, but a slick video by Mozilla (Firefox) comes close: https://youtu.be/7LcUOEP7Brc

28DISRUPTIONS-master675.jpg"When Your Neighbor's Drone Pays a Visit"  This is a great graphic but its happening in real life all the time, including to this New York Times Columnist.   We are still in the first innings of the Information Age and as technology continues to advance at exponential rates, our notion of privacy and security; virtual and physical, is being turned on its head. 

The Online Locksmith Scam - ā€œIā€™m not exaggerating when I say these guys have people in every large and midsize city in the United States,ā€ said John Ware, an assistant United States attorney. Be aware - if you just Google for a locksmith without checking legitimacy, you will most likely be scammed. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/31/business/fake-online-locksmiths-may-be-out-to-pick-your-pocket-too.html