Thursday, April 18, 2019

home buying scams

This is the season of buying or selling homes. Here is when you will start to get calls from prospective investors or companies who are looking to invest in a certain town or properties. It is important to verify anyone who would contact you especially out of now where. They may send you a mailing or call you on your phone in attempt to gain your trust and access to your information or worst take your money.

When you sell your home, it is so you can make some money on the sale. So, when you are asked to provide money upfront for processing fees then this is a sign you may be dealing with a scammer. They may ask for administrative fees which could range from 200 dollars to about 1000 dollars. When an offer is made on your home it will be in writing. Once the offer is made it will be up to you to accept or deny the offer. Once there has been an agreed upon price then you will get your money.

The buyer is too eager to buy. This is another tell sign you may be dealing with a scammer. You get and email or a phone call from a person who stated they are interested in purchasing your home because they are relocating, and they must move immediately, or they haven’t even looked at your property. I don’t care who it is if they haven’t requested pictures or seen the home chances are they have no intention of buying your home they want to see what information or monies they can get from you.

Lastly when you are contacted by a “we buy old homes “company you must do your homework. We can verify most information on companies online. Chances are there will be some type of verifiable information online you could check if you get a bad feeling about the company or the person you are dealing with go with your gut and don’t do business with them.

I hope this is helpful as always please leave a comment

Mark Carbajal

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Security issues with Iot.

We have become a wireless device world. This is a great thing as we can share connect many devices to a local network to perform various tasks. The connectivity is a great advantage to small business as well as by connecting many devices can be a cost savings but there is a risk to small business when you are connected in this way. In 2018 there was a rise in cyber-attacks and the impact to the suffered by the public. What I am concerns me now is the wireless devices we have at home. We have cameras, locks, refrigerators, thermostats and lights just to name a few which most likely make up a local home network. We must take steps to prevent hackers from accesses your home network.

What concerns me even more is there are many small companies who make iot devices. They are often cheaper and work the same way any of the more expensive iot devices work. The problem is that all companies are responsible for providing security update to a home device. I know that I have some wireless devices in my home that have not received an update in years. When I investigate what happened to the update some companies have discontinued the product, or the company went out of business. This is happening more and more, so you need to make sure if you are getting an update that you allow it and if not find out why as you may have to upgrade your device or buy a new device from a more established vender.  What I do is 2 a year I make sure my devices are updated and I check with the vender to see what the status is with the company and my product.

Any devices which contain storage of important material should must be stored off line. When I store information on certain subjects of a personal nature my banking, credit cards or any other important documents I store them in an offline drive. This will allow me to recover from any online attack and should I be a victim of an online cyber-attack they will not get any useful information. 

The biggest access to iot device I have seen when it comes to iot devices is the default passwords. When you connect your iot device to you network and get all the initial updates to your device you must change the default password. I would use a pass phrase which are longer and easier to remember than a password.

I hope this helps as always please leave a comment

Mark Carbajal

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Is Venmo Safe?

Venmo is the app you can use to pay for items or exchange monies between friends. The question then is Venmo safe and secure? In my opinion when anything connected to the internet is not completely secure. However, just like any payment app you must take steps to safeguard your banking and credit card information. So, there are some steps to use to help secure your personal information when using this payment app.

When receiving payments especially large payment never hold a large balance on the app. You should transfer this money immediately to a secure account. The Venmo app allows you to share with friend’s payment and what it was for. I would highly recommend keeping all payment private on the app. When transferring monies to a person it should be only people you know. The app connects to your contact on your phone there will be some people who show up on your feed you do not realty know so bare that in mind when exchanging monies. If you must make a purchase, you should use a more secure app like Paypal.

You should add security features such as push, text, email notification as well so you know when monies are being exchanged on your account. You can also set up a PIN that must be entered before the app is opened.

Remember this app is an easy way to exchange monies between friends and that’s how it should be used.

I hope this is helpful as always please leave a comment

 Mark Carbajal

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Secure your echo or Alexa

This is the most updated and popular digital assistant. This device is in many homes and it is use for many things such as order food, reading recipes and playing music. We are now connecting many of our house appliances to the device as well like the microwave and refrigerator.  Since we are becoming more dependent on this device to perform many daily functions it would be a good idea to implement some layered security around these devices to protect our digital assistants from a cyber-attack.

Although you can connect your phone apps to you echo device some of your app may have financial information. I would not connect any application on to the echo device with financial information on them especially banks or credit card information. In my opinion we are a long way from allow that type of information to be available on a voice activated device.

The most important step it to make sure your home network is secured. This would mean you have changed the default password to your wireless network. I would recommend using a passphrase as it would be longer and easy for you to remember. When possible, you should have separate Wi fi networks. One for your banking or personal information and the other for your regular stuff like shopping. Always make sure you update firmware and firewall.

When you are changing passwords on your network you should consider changing the wake word on your echo device. You have the option of changing the wake word. This is one I highly recommend because the wake word “Alexa” is already out there. Once a person sees the echo device they automatically know what the wake word is so do yourself a favor change it.

Lastly since the echo device records a short message on every order given I would go in and delete the recordings. I would delete recording on directions to a location, any health issues or banking request made on the echo device.

I hope this information is helpful as always please leave a comment

Mark Carbajal

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Are home security cameras worth it?

In the past I have written about what types of home security cameras are available and how you should place cameras in your home to record any events which could occur in your home. The question I often get is it worth the investment? My answer is always yes! You want to protect your valuables in your home. Technology has advanced so much that home security camera is not only better but relatively inexpensive, so it would be a good investment. Here are a few other things to consider.

Home security cameras are a great deterrent for criminals. Any cameras you purchase should be mounted security in a valuable location so everyone knows you have made an investment to protect your home when you are not there. There are many all in ones you can use to record any events inside your home which allow you to not only record the event in your home, but you can sound an alarm even use an intercom to speak to persons in your home.  The best thing is most security cameras are very simple to connect to your mobile device.

When it comes to protecting your home the last thing you need to worry about is cost but the fact is you can get a good home security camera for a very little cost less than 100 bucks. The only suggestion is that you purchase a security camera from a reputable company. Now depending on what you are securing in your home you may not need to have a monthly monitoring either you can get a DVR/NVR which could record an event with limits on how long the video will be available for.

I hope this was helpful as always please leave a comment

Mark Carbajal

Thursday, February 7, 2019

best way to prevent car theft

This is one that happens often I have seen in many cases when a vehicle is targeted because of valuables left in plain view or because a car was just left unlocked with all the distraction leaving a car unlocked is common. When we enter and leave our personal vehicle we must remember some simple tip to keep our vehicle safe.

The first suggestion is simple secure your vehicle. When you park your vehicle either in the street or in the drive way make sure your windows are closed and the vehicle doors are locked. Some people think it would be ok to leave a window opened or cracked during the summer months, but you are just inviting a theft or break in of your vehicle to take place. So, take a moment before you leave to secure your vehicle.

Another bad habit is leaving your vehicle running for just a second. This is a bad habit as you are also inviting a theft or possible break in of your vehicle. In the winter or colder temperature, we tend to leave our vehicles running to warm up the vehicle. In some states this is a violation. If you must warm up your vehicle you should be inside the vehicle. Never leave the car alone when running.
Any valuables should not be visible for the outside of your vehicle. When you secure your vehicle, your valuables should be secured in the trunk or glove compartment. You do not want to make your vehicle a target. This would include loose change which we tend to keep in the cup holder a very bad habit.

Lastly you should invest in a theft prevention device. We spend so much money on our personal vehicles especially if you park out in the public street. Theft prevention devices are relatively inexpensive and such a great investment to help protect your vehicle.

I hope this is helpful as always please leave a comment

Mark Carbajal

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Smart phishing scam

In this day in age of communication we must pay careful attention to the emails we open. It is clear the number one email account is Google or Gmail accounts. The google accounts are easy to open and if you have purchased a mobile device chances are Gmail is one of the account already integrated into your device. So, it should come to no surprise that there is an Gmail phishing scam targeted to Gmail users. Google has taken steps to protect you from this type of attack, but you must have good personal safeguards in place to protect your Gmail account from phishing scams.

In most cases you would be able to identify a phishing scam, but the most recent phishing scam appears slightly different. What scammer does is creates an email with the information of someone you know. Once the email is created they will send you an email with an attachment in hopes you will open it. After you have opened the email and attachment you will be prompted to enter in your username and password again on a very convincing sign in page. The sign in page appears just like a Google sign in page. The fraudster in this case have gone to great lengths make the logo and tag appear to come from Google.

To safeguard from this attack of any others phishing scams is to not access the account through the email sent to you. When you receive an email from any account you have your best bet is not to open the attachment and then go directly to your account then log in to see what must be address. You will get emails from banks, credit card and other accounts alerting you to check your account for one reason or another do not be alarmed. If there is a concern just contact the organization directly do not use the attachment sent you.

I hope this is helpful as always please leave a comment

Mark Carbajal