The Need for Security

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Have you found that there are a few more barriers to your normal Internet experiences these days.  It seems like everyone thinks that you may be a criminal and you have to prove who you are…all the time.  Well, there is a reason for that and we are going to talk about it right here.

As more and more of our life moves online we have become inundated with little quizzes and text messages and exercises that we feel are useless just to do what we have been doing for years.  Well, things have really changed.  There are a lot more conveniences that come with our connected world, but there are also threats that we never seem to have been concerned with before.  I am going to relate just a little story here to you and hopefully convey the seriousness of the situation. 

On this website where you are reading this post or viewing this slideshow, there is a little store.  It contains a few things that I created and a lot of things that my wife has created.  I worked on it after I retired from public education so I could see if I could do it.  It turns out that I could and before you know it, I had a store where people could find my stuff and buy it.

Well, one day in January…early on the morning my phone began to buzz…a lot.  It turns out that I had a sale…and another…and another…and another.  As I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes I could see that a lot of the sales didn’t go though.  As a matter of fact…most didn’t.  I panicked.  I was being hacked.  Setting up the store was hard enough…stopping it was something I didn’t know that I was supposed to know how to do quickly.

I was able to suspend the store activity and then I researched what happened.  Here are some slides of the day.  These pages represent a fraction of the stolen credit cards that were run through my store for the express purpose of finding those that hadn’t been canceled yet.  Every failed transaction had several credit card attempts on the individual sale as evidenced by my credit card processing company.

On this first page you can see the orders that had failed but there are also several that went through.  One of them had a calendar date from the day before, but all of these purchases were made during the day…in India. 

By the time it was done, over $78,000 of fraudulent charges were run through my account.  Only three went through and I refunded those transactions.  Additionally, I worked with the credit card processor and my experts at Word Fence to lock down my site and store and this has never happened again.

At this point, I attributed this to the fact that I was naive and I just needed to have my own ducks in a row.  Well, again…I had a lot to learn.

Bank of America taught me a lesson.  Full disclosure…I am a current Bank of America Customer and account holder.  Coincidentally, they are also a contracted agency for the distribution of unemployment benefits for those persons affected by the pandemic.  My daughter, who is no longer a BOA customer, was one of those affected.  It was temporary and so the account was set up and then used and then she went back full time.  She left the money there on the card that they gave her as her own little emergency fund.  She didn’t have to worry…after all it was Bank of America.  The spend millions on security for their bank.

Even so…in one hour…a $1 charge was placed on the card number and paid…700 times.  Sometimes a business would charge an account $1 to verify that it was a real account before you purchase something…but not 700 times from a foreign country. 

Bank of America had they typical automated help line that had no information and by the time you got a real human…the suspicion was on you, the customer…not the fact that you were robbed.  Still Bank of America did finally respond and their caring response took several weeks.  They claimed that they were doing a thorough investigation and to prove it well, they refunded the total amount stolen…Transaction by Transaction.

So what can we do if our most protected banks are vulnerable? 

  • Play Defense!!  No football team ever won a championship unless they anticipated what an adversary was going to do and was ready for them.  First
  • Have Multiple Accounts
  • Check them everyday for charges that you didn’t authorize
  • Think before you click on links in emails, text messages, and especially Facebook Messenger
  • Think before you share any links or respond to what appears to be the most benign question.
  • Use a Credit Card and not a Debit Card.  See the Speech made by Frank Abignale to Google.  I will place the link on the Webpage here.
  • Check these credit card accounts as well.
  • Lock up your identifying information on Social Media
  • Check your data on Social Media.  See who you’re sharing stuff with.
  • Most importantly…check your emotions.  Social engineering is the most effective way scammers have to get you to give away information.
  • Security blocks are annoying but necessary in this world
  • Fraudulent Emails about purchased you never made were meant to get you angry so you respond to them
  • 2 factor authentication is necessary.
  • Change your passwords often…make them tough…lock them up.

The reason that you need to do these things is that your identity and security are not a “set it and forget it” proposition. As time went on, the “Captcha” program that I installed on my website got updated and the settings went back to “deactivated”. Once again my store was used to filter stolen credit cards.

You can also play offense.  Getting Identity protection is important.

For years, I was a public school educator.  Now, I am a teacher and a coach.  It’s time to learn about tools that help. 

Register on this website for the schedule of FREE Webinars using ZOOM.  You don’t need a paid account.  I’ve taken care of that.  The interactive nature allows you to ask and get questions answered. 

The schedule is listed under live events and please view as much of the free content on this YouTube Chanel as well.

Thanks.  See you again soon in a safer cyberspace.