Category Archives: Information

Cyberbully Protection | Psychology Today


R U there?  Can U hear me?  Will U plz make it stop?  My life is ruined.  I can’t show my face in public again…  No 1 listens, who can I turn 2?  R U there?  Plz make it go away:(

Cyberbullying words can cut and oftentimes the victim feels alone, scared, anxious, depressed and like there’s no one who understands them.  Although cyberbullying doesn’t directly inflict physical harm it does cut psychologically.  Sometimes it leaves scars that don’t heal.  Teens can quickly spiral to the dark side and have depressed thoughts that parents couldn’t even begin to fathom.

Do you worry about your teen being involved with cyberbulling?  According to a study released recently by the American Osteopathic Association, parents are concerned about the well being of their child in cyberspace.  The survey polled more than 1,000 parents of teenagers aged 13 to 17 and found that 85 percent of parents reported that their children had social media accounts and about 52 percent of parents admitted to being concerned about cyberbullying.  The study also revealed that one in six parents knew their child had been the victim of a cyberbully.  Additionally, most of the cyberbully reports were not a onetime occurrence but were repetitive.

Approximately 91 percent of parents believe they, not teachers, are responsible for preventing the long term effects of cyberbullying.   More than 75 percent of parents reported that they discussed cyberbullying with their children, while 86 percent said they joined their child’s online social network to help monitor their teens’ interactions online. Also more parents (2 out of 3) reported monitoring the security settings on their teen’s social media accounts.  And just who are the worst offenders?  This study found that girls are more likely to be the cyberbully.  About two-thirds of cyberbullying was done by girls, making it twice as common among girls as boys.

So what can parents do to protect their teen from cyberbullying?  For starters, review the tips below with your teen.

Top Sixteen Cyberbullying Protection Tips for Teens:

1. If you’ve become a victim of cyberbullying, take down your page(s)!  No exceptions!

2. Don’t fill out those online surveys.  If you do, be very selective about what kind of information you post.  No personal information!

3.  Give your parents access to your accounts.  This is for your protection.

4.  Only accept close and “real friends” to your social media sites.

5.  Don’t talk to strangers.  If you don’t know them, block them from your site.

6.  Don’t reply to any degrading, rude or vulgar posts.

7.  Block all people from your site who post those things in tip 6.

8. Report inappropriate posts, pics, videos, etc., to site operators.

9. Don’t delete inappropriate material.  Take a screen shot; print it out, or save it.  This is your evidence should you need it in the future.

10.  If a friend tells you that they see something bad about you online, ask him to print it out or save it for you.

11.  Tell a parent or a trusted adult if you are a victim of cyberbullying.  Don’t keep silent.

12. Never, ever, share personal information with others online that can come back to bite you.  If you want to share something big with a friend, do it face to face.  Don’t do it online where the world is your audience.

13. Never, ever, share your username and password with anyone except a parent.

14.  Make your username and password unique so that no one can figure them out.

15.  Don’t ever provide an itinerary of your day on your social media site(s).  It is not safe for others to know every step that you’re going to be making during the day.

16. Take a stand against cyberbullying.  Don’t only stand up for yourself but get others involved as well.  For example, start a school wide campaign.  If you are a victim of cyberbullying you are not alone.  Help break the silence and let’s put an end to bullying!


Smart devices – choose them carefully

A smartwatch on your wrist. A smart TV in your living room. Maybe even a smart fridge or other devices are now connected to your home’s Wi-fi.

But have you thought about what could happen if someone hacks them?
What kind of data flows through them?
What could they reveal about your habits, about your family?

Each time you get excited about a new Internet-connected device, take a minute to consider what online dangers you’re exposing yourself to.

Not many device makers are focused on security as priority, but you should pay attention to this aspect.

Better Business Bureau: Start With Trust

BBB Tip: Don’t Let an Eclipse Blind You to Scams


The “path of totality” where the total solar eclipse is visible will stretch through 13 states from Oregon to South Carolina. In the center of that 70-mile wide path, the total eclipse will last from 2 minutes to 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Outside of this path, observers will see a partial eclipse.

Big events also mean big opportunities for scammers and unscrupulous businesses. With a rare event like this, it is important to plan carefully and to trust your instincts. Here are some things to be wary of while you get ready for the eclipse.

Counterfeit Eclipse Glasses

You should never look directly at the sun, so to view the solar eclipse directly without damage to your eyes, you need special solar filter glasses. These are much more powerful than sunglasses. While sunglasses only block about 50% of the sun’s rays, solar filter glasses block more than 99.99%. Unfortunately, many of the solar glasses available online may be counterfeit or do not meet safety specifications. Your best bet is to stick with a brand whose glasses are certified by NASA and the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Here is a list of reputable vendors from AAS.

Here are some additional tips for safe viewing:

  • Regular sunglasses, even very dark sunglasses, are not enough.
  • Warn children of the danger in viewing the eclipse without protective eyewear.
  • Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device.
  • Do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer – the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury.
  • If the filters on your eclipse glasses are torn, scratched, punctured or coming loose from their cardboard or plastic frames, discard them.

If you are unable to get glasses, one way of indirectly observing the eclipse is by using a pinhole projector. NASA has instructions on how to do this, as well as files to print out and use,

Accommodation Scams

If you are looking for a place to stay during the eclipse, be careful if you are booking online through a third-party site. Check with to see what previous customers’ experiences have been. Make sure to correspond within the website or app and not through other means. Always double check that a listing is on the real website and emails are coming from official addresses. Using a credit card offers the best fraud protection. Don’t deal with anyone who asks for payment outside of the platform’s approved options.

There have been reports of travelers who booked hotels for the eclipse long in advance (before it was widely publicized) only to see their reservations canceled or moved to hotels far from viewing spots. Some of the original rooms are then offered again at a much higher rate. If you are traveling out of town for the eclipse and have a hotel booked, make sure you double-check your reservations before heading out.

Event Scams

Cities across the path of totality are holding eclipse festivals with both free events and VIP viewing parties. Scammers may set up fake events or charge people for access to free public parties. These tips for avoiding summer festival scams can also help you separate real eclipse events from fake ones. NASA has information on many events.

Bus Scams

Traffic will likely be very heavy on any road between a major city and the eclipse path. A bus might sound like great option, but be careful you don’t make a reservation only to end up without transportation. Make sure you deal directly with a bus or limo company to avoid scammers using a legitimate business as a front. Go to to look for Accredited Businesses and read reviews and complaints before you book.

This month’s eclipse may be a rare chance to see an extraordinary astronomical event right in your backyard. That urgency and unique opportunity are what can make scams successful. Remember to do your research and always trust your instincts — if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

If you are the victim of a scam related to the eclipse, you can go to to file a scam report.


No secret bank accounts to pay your bills

by Colleen Tressler

Another day, another scam. Case in point: the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports that scammers are telling people they can pay their bills using so-called “secret accounts” or “Social Security trust accounts” and routing numbers at Federal Reserve Banks. In exchange for personal information, like Social Security numbers, people get what they think is a bank account number at a Federal Reserve Bank. But this really is just a way to get your personal information, which scammers can then sell or use to commit fraud, like identity theft.

It’s good to keep in mind that people do not have accounts at Federal Reserve Banks. Only banks can bank at the Federal Reserve. But what happens if you try to use this “secret” account? Well, the Federal Reserve Bank will deny the payment, since you don’t really have an account there. Once the payment is rejected, you’ll be notified that you still owe the money – which is about when you might figure out that this was a scam. At that point, you may owe a late fee or penalty to the company you thought you were paying. You also may owe fees to your bank for returned or rejected payments.

If you see a video, text, email, phone call, flyer, or website that describes how you can pay bills using a Federal Reserve Bank routing number or account, report it to the FTC. It’s a scam. And remember: never give your credit card, bank account, or Social Security number to anyone who calls or emails and asks for it – no matter who they say they are.

How much is your personal data worth? (Calculator)

Personal data about millions of Internet users is sold on the Dark Web all the time.

We’re talking about email addresses, dates of birth, home addresses, passwords and usernames, bank account numbers, social security numbers, etc.

When you think about how much this data is worth to you, you’ll probably think that it’s priceless. But the reality might surprise you.

Use this calculator to see how much your personal data is really worth:

Maybe now you’ll have a better understanding of why it’s so important to protect it.

The Hackable Human – 6 Psychological Biases that Make Us Vulnerable


There’s a red thread that you can follow in each story about cyber attacks. If you pay attention, you’ll see how human nature is deeply rooted in the mechanics of successful cyber compromise.

Technology is only half of the story. When cyber crooks launch their assault on your devices and data, they don’t target just the security holes on your system. They also aim to prey on your weaknesses.

But how do attackers know which buttons to push to make users click on infected links, even when all the signs spell “danger”?

Today’s article focuses on just that: some of the cognitive traits that make us, humans, hackable (myself included, of course) and how to fight them.

Social engineering and its many tentacles

When you think about cyber criminals, you might be tempted to reduce them to the “hoodie-clad, lone wolf who does nothing but code” stereotype.

However, nowadays, cyber crooks are highly skilled in the art of digital illusion. They have a strong portfolio of tactics and knowledge, including:

  • what Internet users like to do online and which brands they trust
  • which wants and desires make these users act towards achieving them
  • which technology products have the most vulnerabilities that can be exploited
  • where they can purchase malware that can get them what they want (money, data or both)
  • how they can build a business by recruiting more cyber criminals to spread their malicious software.

When all the elements I’ve just mentioned come together, you get a rough definition of what social engineering is. Its mission is clear: to persuade the victim to give up confidential information or perform actions that cause a security breach.

Anything you can think of, cyber criminals use on a daily basis: instilling fear, creating confusion, impersonating trusted people or entities, sabotage and a plethora of other mind games.

To bring down the bigger targets, social engineers spend time thoroughly documenting their attacks. They have to make sure that their plan can be executed to perfection. If you’ve watched Mr. Robot, you know how it works. (If you haven’t watched it, please do.)

The further you move from clear thinking and rational decision-making, the stronger the grip that cyber criminals have on you.

Our imperfect human nature turns us into liabilities for our own online safety. Add carelessness and distractions to the equation and you have the perfect scenario for an attacker to take advantage of.

The sooner we accept our faults, the faster we can learn to become stronger when confronted with cyber threats.

6 Psychological biases that favor bad decisions

Certain thinking patterns breed poor decision-making. Just like hanging out with the “cool” gang in high school gets to many teenagers to start smoking.

The 6 preconceptions below are traps we set up for ourselves and which Internet crooks exploit. It’s time to be honest with ourselves and admit that we can do better.

1. Anchoring bias

When you first bought a computer, you were probably told or found out that you need antivirus. Ten or twenty years later, you probably still believe that antivirus is the only solution you need to keep your computer safe.

This is the anchoring bias in action! Relying too much on the first piece of information you received (the “anchor”) will affect how you act going forward.

If your job and your personal life have changed in the past 10 years, then so has Internet security. It’s time to let go of the past and make decisions based on what’s going on at the moment.

anchoring bias

2. Availability heuristic

“I don’t need antivirus or other security products. My brother doesn’t have antivirus and he never got hacked!”

The availability heuristic makes people overestimate how important the information that’s available to them really is.

Knowing someone who somehow got by without AV doesn’t mean that roaming around the web without any kind of protection guarantees your safety. That person may have a ton of malware on his PC without even knowing it.

So remember: the related situations you know are not the industry average. A tiny bit of research using trustworthy sources will give you a better impression of what’s objectively recommended.

3. Information bias

More information isn’t always better. This is what the information bias is all about.

You’ll find this to be especially true in cyber security. It’s easy to get caught up in all kinds of details, but you don’t need all those details to strengthen your online safety. You just need the right ones.

That’s why you may find it difficult to make a decision after reading tens of articles on the subject. The deeper you dig, the more complex it becomes.

I’m not saying you should fall into the anchoring bias I mentioned earlier. But you should choose the details that suit your purpose and acton them.

Internet security advice is abundant, but applying it is what makes a real impact.

4. Ostrich effect

“Look at all this news about cyber hacks! There’s nothing I can do about it, so I’ll just ignore it.”

As you can imagine, this bias comes in when we stick our heads in the “sand” and decide to just ignore negative information.

But we both know that ignoring an issue doesn’t make it go away. As humans, we may be hardwired to avoid psychological discomfort, but acting on this feeling is when change happens.

If you’re uncomfortable with negative cyber security news (which is torrential nowadays), it’s because you know that even you could become a victim. But sitting idly by is not going to stop that.

Ostrich effect

5. Placebo effect

You already know this one and you probably stumble upon it more often than you realize.

“I don’t go on any strange website, so there’s no chance I’ll get infected.”

Or: “Antivirus is all I need to keep my data and devices safe.”

The placebo effect might make you feel safe, but it doesn’t mean that you are safe. Cyber criminals don’t get scared because you strongly believe in your cyber security habits.

So don’t mistake your perspective for reality. They rarely overlap in Internet security matters.

6. Overconfidence

“If I got infected with malware, I would know.”

This well-established bias is all about people who are too confident of their abilities. It can happen to anyone, but overconfidence can trick you into making bad decisions.

Remember that this is a subjective perspective, so you should check the facts to see if you’re not building a false sense of security.

Oh, and if you did get infected with malware, you most likely won’t notice. Second-generation malware, which roams the Internet today, is incredibly stealthy and damaging. It can infect your computer in a matter of seconds and trigger the attack at specific moments (for example, when you do online banking transactions).

It’s important that you train yourself to spot threats and avoid them, but your intuition, skills and experience can’t replace cyber security technology.

Developing cognitive humility

These 6 cognitive biases are a gold mine for cyber crooks of all ranges. They know that people tend to neglect cyber security because of these preconceptions or because they lack the time or skills to do better.

By becoming aware and accepting that we have our limitations and weaknesses, we can help us develop better strategies to protect us from ourselves. Not just in cyber security, but in life as well. This is what it takes to build cognitive humility.

So try to take a few minutes now to go over the biases listed above and see if they got in your way lately. Making a conscious effort to “override your default settings” can help you gain clarity and make better choices for your cyber safety.

The one key habit to cultivate your Internet safety

How you perceive things, your outlook basically, determines your actions. A perspective distorted by biases cannot lead to sound decision-making.

If you think that you don’t need anything else than antivirus on your system, you may continue to be exposed to nasty financial malware or ransomware.

In the malicious hacker’s playbook, mental weakness = vulnerability. Attackers don’t exploit this with technology, but, as you now know, social engineering comes with a large toolkit.

cyber criminal

Counteracting inevitable missteps is certainly possible. All it takes is sticking to one key habit that I’ve found helped me a lot. But before I share it, let me ask you:

Have you noticed how we think more clearly after something bad has already happened?

In hindsight, we make better decisions because we’re not limited by fear or scared of the unknown. At that stage, we’re not overwhelmed by emotion. Instead, we rely on logic and see things for what they are.

In real-life, however, I noticed that we’re more inclined to learn from our own mistakes rather than others’. It’s natural, and I’ve done the same many times over. But in cyber security (and some other fields), personal mistakes are usually costly experiences.

So the right moment to decide which cyber security products you should use and which advice is worth applying is now! Not tomorrow, not the next weekend.

“Now” is a great time. A time that’s not troubled, when your computer is malware-free and there are no constraints to rush you into poor decisions.


The Internet, the Deep Web, and the Dark Web

If you’re into computer security at all you may have heard of terms like “Deep Web” and “Dark Web”. The terms can be confusing so here are the basics:

  • The Internet: This is the easy one. It’s the common Internet everyone uses to read news, visit Facebook, and shop. Just consider this the “regular” Internet.

  • The Deep Web: The deep web is a subset of the Internet that is not indexed by the major search engines. This means that you have to visit those places directly instead of being able to search for them. So there aren’t directions to get there, but they’re waiting if you have an address. The Deep Web is largely there simply because the Internet is too large for search engines to cover completely. So the Deep Web is the long tail of what’s left out.
  • The Dark Web: The Dark Web (also called Darknet) is a subset of the Deep Web that is not only not indexed, but that also requires something special to be able to access it, e.g., specific proxying software or authentication to gain access. The Dark Web often sits on top of additional sub-networks, such as Tor, I2P, and Freenet, and is often associated with criminal activity of various degrees, including buying and selling drugs, pornography, gambling, etc.While the Dark Web is definitely used for nefarious purposes more than the standard Internet or the Deep Web, there are many legitimate uses for the Dark Web as well. Legitimate uses include things like using Tor to anonymize reports of domestic abuse, government oppression, and other crimes that have serious consequences for those calling out the issues.Common Dark Web resource types are media distribution, with emphasis on specialized and particular interests, and exchanges where you can purchase illegal goods or services. These types of sites frequently require that one contribute before using, which both keeps the resource alive with new content and also helps assure (for illegal content sites) that everyone there shares a bond of mutual guilt that helps reduce the chances that anyone will report the site to the authorities.

Safe shopping: how to spot a trustworthy website

Here’s how to spot a legit online shopping website from a scam one:

1. Visit the About page or check out the Footer. A legit one provides complete information about the company.

Did you find all the necessary identification data? Is there contact information, such as the street or phone number?
If you only found a contact form, that’s a bad sign.
Another bad indicator is if they’re using a free public domain for their email address, such as Gmail or Yahoo, instead of the website’s domain.

2. Take your time and read the Terms and Conditions, Guarantee, Privacy and Return / Refund policies.

This way, you’ll stay informed and know your rights. You might discover hidden charges or services.
Check if the company offers shipping insurance or refunds, in case your package is lost or damaged.
You should also pay attention to discrepancies – does the website say one thing on a page and contradicts somewhere else?

3. Other red flags: poor grammar, misspellings, stolen photos, stock photos, low quality / resolution photos.
And, as a rule of thumb, if a product’s price is much lower than you can find on any other websites, you can bet it’s a scam.

Information Sharing

Information sharing is essential to the protection of critical infrastructure and to furthering cybersecurity for the nation. As the lead federal department for the protection of critical infrastructure and the furthering of cybersecurity, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has developed and implemented numerous information sharing programs. Through these programs, DHS develops partnerships and shares substantive information with the private sector, which owns and operates the majority of the nation’s critical infrastructure. DHS also shares information with state, local, tribal, and territorial governments and with international partners, as cybersecurity threat actors are not constrained by geographic boundaries.