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  • Words from the Boss: Cloned Debit Cards Add to ATM Thefts

    Technology makes our lives easier, or at least it's supposed to; yet, as our understanding  improves and complicated processes, such as computer programming, become more user-friendly,  some decide to use these innovations to prey upon others.

    ATM skimming-devices, for instance, have evolved from clunky, obvious pieces of fake auto-bank teller equipment to sleek, undetectable theft devices that are unnoticeable to untrained eyes. As the equipment becomes better, the criminals grow in sophistication, often stealing hundreds of thousands in others' money before being discovered. Read More

  • GPS Application Leads Police to Thieves

    A recent rash of New Hampshire thefts caused police to investigate and warn the public not to leave valuable items inside vehicles parked in the state's national park areas--especially at trail heads. U.S. Forest Service agents also cautioned visitors to lock their cars.

    A recent investigation was launched after thieves smashed car windows to get into vehicles, stealing electronics and cash.

    Unfortunately for the unwitting criminals, police were able to track down them down within hours due to quick action stemming from a victim's GPS application on his cell phone. Most of these smash-and-grab type cases go unsolved, especially due to the remote locations, time delay between the crime and report, and absence of witnesses to the crime.

    In this case, the victim went to the State Trooper barracks and borrowed a police computer to track the location of his Smartphone; the phone was in a nearby community, and appeared to be with someone walking.

    State Law Enforcement officers called the community's police department, who dispatched officer to the area; the officer spotted a group of juveniles outside the residential area. A local Forest Service special agent also assisted, helping police determine four teens as the likely suspects. Police recovered the majority of property and the teens eventually confessed they'd participated in the crime spree, or were guilty of receiving stolen goods.

    While the case remains under investigation, police expect charges to be filed shortly. Ah, technology!

  • Hotels Top Identity Theft List

    Identity theft is the new watchword; hackers, thieves and criminals are continually discovering new methods to twist technology in an effort to steal personal information. Social media networks, cell phones, discarded utility bills and outright theft of personal property are all means employed by thieves to hijack your personal information.

    Trustwave, a security and compliance company, provides security information services and end-to-end solutions for businesses in an effort to protect confidential information systems. A recent report shows that hotels are now the top source for credit card data theft, surpassing restaurants for the top spot; nearly 40% of all personal data in 2009 came from hotels/motels compared to just 13% of thefts from restaurants.

    Hackers target hotel/motel booking and reservation centers due to the high-number of credit card numbers these entities keep "on-file." Like the Internet, once a credit card is in the system, it's available. A successful hacker can steal thousands of credit card numbers and, in essence, thousands--or millions--of dollars. Credit card numbers are used for numerous hotel services, such as bars, beaches, golf courses, swimming pools, gift shops, spas, and other recreational areas; however, they're all processed through one main database.

    Since hotels use proprietary systems, they're easy for hackers to exploit: a computer system at one hotel is similar, if not exactly the same, as the computer system at a competing hotel.

    The other unavoidable fact of hotels and motels are the number of employees who have access to the computer system and your personal data. According to an ABC News Report; "You have so many different employees going through the system that it allows them to either skim cards or put in malware that lets the bad guys hack into the system."

    In June 2010, Destination Hotels & Resorts had its computer system hacked and the credit card data of more than 700 guests from across the country was stolen; in January, Wyndham reported that their computer systems were breached and hackers accessed information from 31 hotels between November 2009 and January 2o1o. They never reported how many cards were compromised.

    Credit card companies usually don't require consumers to pay for unauthorized charges, but credit card users must report the theft in a timely manner to ensure their identity remains safe; the best method to is to check statements regularly and keep tabs on credit reports.

  • U.S. & Russian Spy Rings Mimic Hollywood

    If you've been reading or watching the news lately, you undoubtedly know that the United States and Russia are in the midst of a so-called spy swap.  On June 27, the FBI arrested 10 people on charges that they were deep-cover spies working for the Russian government but living for years in the United States. Their job, according to the DOJ, was to determine U.S. "secrets by making connections to think tanks and government officials." Read More

  • GPS and Video Surveillance in School Buses

    In Richmond County, Georgia, the  Board of Education wants to install GPS tracking devices and video cameras in the county's school buses in an effort to make the bus routes safe--or safer--for children.

    If installed, parents will be provided with accurate times for pick-up and drop-off, which will enable families to keep better track of their children. Some parents, however, feel that GPS trackers and video cameras may result in stalking and spying. While many parents feel that this new technology is a good idea, some parents feel that video cameras and  may lead to stalking and spying. The parents' concern is two-fold; it's unethical to "spy" on children, and they (parents) fear that others may be able to track their children in order to abduct them.

    The school district takes a different point-of-view: The buses are state property, and according to Georgia law, schools are allowed to monitor their assets.

    The cost of installing a system for the district will run in the range of $40,000; money that the district will have to raise if they wish to install two video cameras and one GPS unit on every bus, and will ask the Richmond County Board of Education to purchase the equipment for 128 buses.

    According to WJBF-TV in Augusta, the district's intent is to install a camera in the aisle and one in the front of the bus, monitoring activity on the bus on a consistent basis.

    GPS trackers and cameras will operate when the bus is running, and drivers won't be able access either piece of equipment,  "but school authorities will be able to view any recorded information at their discretion. The school has attempted to reassure parents by stating that the new equipment is being installed to increase efficiency, and that the school board is not interested in spying on students."

    The umbrella benefit is that bus drivers, responsible for keeping children safe, fall under the scrutiny of the district, ensuring that bus drivers “…are conducting themselves in a professional manner.” Corporations, like UPS, have used GPS trackers to ensure employees stay within company guidelines while using corporate assets.

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