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  • How is Your Cyber Security this Cyber Monday?

    It’s Cyber Monday. Your e-mail inbox is probably flooded with announcements of one-day deals. (Especially if you haven’t checked it since before Thanksgiving; you may also have gotten announcements about Black Friday sales, Thanksgiving sales, weekend sales, Early Bird sales, Early Access sales…the list goes on, and on, and on.

    If you’re shopping, or browsing, be careful. Here are some tips to help keep you safe, from staysafeonline.org and the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team.

    First, be careful where you shop. Make sure the vendor you’re dealing with is a reputable one. If you haven’t heard of the vendor, look it up and look for reviews.

    Check the site’s privacy policy. Some vendors share your information with partners and allow others to add your e-mail address to their mailing lists.

    Secure Internet with Cyber SecurityWhen you’re at a site, look at the URL. Fake websites may look identical to real ones, but the URL may use a different spelling or domain, like .com rather than .org. If you’re submitting personal information, make sure the address reads https:// or that it has a closed padlock icon. (The padlock icon may also be in the bottom right corner of the browser window.) This means the information you submit is encrypted while it’s being transmitted. The website Understanding Web Site Certificates tells more about what to consider.

    Also, be aware that some online stores and resellers on sites like eBay are selling toys recalled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC), according to a report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund (PIRG). For example, PIRG was able to buy a $15 Disney Gadget Pencil Case that was recalled in August 2015.

    The CSPC lists tips for toy safety here, and provides a searchable database for recalled products here.

    Cyber Security Computer Crime: Internet Phishing a login and password

    Second, don’t click on an e-mail link or a link from a social media site to go to a vendor. It could be a phishing attack. Phishing attackers send e-mails or use links to pretend to be trustworthy vendors, like a credit card company. But their links will take you to a malicious site that sometimes looks like the real one, where they can steal your personal information. Instead, type in the vendor’s name or perform an internet search for the vendor.

    Third, keep your internet security software and apps up to date.

    “Having the latest security software, web browser and operating system is the best defense against viruses, malware and other online threats,” according to staysafeonline.org.

    Finally, follow these other online safety tips.

    Online shopping with Cyber Security

    Use a credit card, preferably one with a low credit limit, for online purchases. Credit card laws that limit your liability in case of fraud may not apply to debit cards.

    Check your bank statements and credit reports regularly. Everyone is allowed one free credit report per credit bureau per year, and some states allow more.

    Use a separate e-mail address just for shopping, and be careful about any information you give online. Treat your personal information like you treat your bank information.

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner Cyber Security

  • Majority of Puerto Rico Without Power Following Electrical Plant Fire

    puerto-rico-blackout-via-nbc - Puerto Rico Most of the island was without power - image via NBC

    On Wednesday, September 21, a huge fire at a southern Puerto Rico power plant caused a blackout in 1.5 million homes and businesses.

    "The entire island is without power," Angel Crespo, director of Puerto Rico's fire department, told the Associated Press.

    As of Thursday afternoon, more than a million were still without power, including my mother-in-law, Ruth Lezcano.

    She told her son Jimmy that her main concerns were lack of water and uncomfortable heat and humidity.

    The blackout knocked out pumps at water plants, leaving her and many others without water.

    Fortunately, she had water storage. She keeps five five-gallon buckets (like the “Homer” buckets from Home Depot) full of water in case of hurricanes. She’s been using a bucket for each activity that uses water, like washing dishes, bathing, and flushing the toilet.

    “She hasn’t been able to do laundry for a bit, other than light stuff she can wash in the sink,” her son said.

    The blackout left islanders uncomfortably hot. The temperature on Wednesday and Thursday in the suburb of San Juan where she lives was 87 degrees, according to Weather.com. At night, it fell to 77 degrees.

    The power loss created more problems than just temperature discomfort.

    During the blackout, Jimmy was worried because he couldn’t contact his mother via her cell phone.

    “She probably had it turned off to save power,” he said.

    We sell small generators and other emergency power equipment that are excellent during this type of emergency.

    Ready.gov recommends keeping cell phones charged and having an alternate power source. Also, have an emergency contact outside the immediate area that all family members can use to pass information about their safety.

    buying-ice-via-fox-news - Puerto Rico Locals had to buy ice to keep their food at a safe temperature - image via Fox News

    Lezcano, who is diabetic, also had to worry about her insulin. Insulin manufacturers recommend storing it in the refrigerator. Insulin supplies in use may be kept at room temperature (between 56°F and 80°F). High temperatures could cause her insulin supply to go bad.

    Ready.gov recommends that people with special medical needs make backup power plans and contact their power company before an outage so it can prioritize getting power to their home.

    Although one Twitter user jokingly compared the blackout to “The Purge,” a movie in which crime is legalized for 12 hours and emergency services are suspended, Lezcano said there didn’t seem to be any more crime than usual. She was concerned about running low on supplies: traffic was snarled, and lines were long at supermarkets and gas stations, according to USA Today.

    Police officers directed traffic at major intersections all day Thursday. Four were hit by cars.  One person was hospitalized after being trapped in an elevator overnight, according to USA Today. Another was killed by carbon monoxide poisoning from a leaking generator. Broken generators also caused 15 fires around the island. All the fires were extinguished, and no one was injured in the blazes.

    Lezcano was hoping the power would return Friday. In the meantime, she sat outside and people-watched, her son Jimmy said.

    “She was bored because she couldn’t have her Netflix,” he joked.

     

    February - Power Banner - Puerto Rico

  • You Really Need to Change Your Email Password

    It’s time to change your email password.

    email password

    On May 4, 2016, a hacker stole hundreds of millions of email account passwords and information and – get this – sold the batch for $1. Calling himself “The Collector,” he is behind what could very well be the largest email security breach in history. With email accounts compromised from Gmail, Outlook/Hotmail, Yahoo, and many others, there’s a possibility your email address is part of this collection.

    Cyber security can give us a false sense of security if we’re not vigilant to what’s going on. Using easy to guess passwords (birthdays, addresses, etc.) or common words (such as “football” or “basketball”) make the hacker’s job a lot easier. Instead, longer and more complex passwords are more secure than simple, short ones.

    One thing you can do to make your email password even more secure is to activate the two-factor authorization. What this does is that, before your password can be changed on a new device, you will receive a call or text message with a security code to input. So, if your phone isn’t with the person attempting to get into your account (i.e. hackers), they won’t be able to access it.

    In order to do that, go to your email settings and activate it right away! You also have the option to have your device remember it’s you, so you only have to do the security code the first time.

    Besides taking security precautions, make sure you’re also using your email wisely.

    Email is a great way to send files to friends, families, and coworkers. However, if an attachment looks suspicious at all, do not open it! It’s possible that one of your contacts has been hacked, and they are unaware of these bogus emails being sent from their account. So if you aren’t expecting an attachment, or think one is suspicious, ask before you open. Some attachments may release malware or spyware into your computer, compromising your own contacts as well as your personal data.

    Phishing email passwordNext, beware of phishing scams. These are fake emails and businesses that lure people in to gain their personal information. Remember, never give out passwords, credit card numbers, or your social security number through email or another unsecured or untrusted site. In fact, unless you know the for sure who you are emailing, do not give any personal information at all (even if you do know them, sending personal information can still be dangerous if your account does end up being hacked).

    Changing your password regularly is another good way to avoid getting hacked. Use a combination of letters, numbers, upper and lower cases, and symbols. This way, the chances of someone guessing your password is greatly reduced. Also, don’t use the same password for every website you visit. Since many people use the same password for multiple platforms, hackers that gain access to one of your passwords may think it’s the same on other sites (i.e. bank account), so keeping your passwords different can prevent this easy access.

    When handling sensitive information such as credit card and social security numbers, you work hard not to flaunt it out in public and to keep it as safe from prying eyes as possible. Your email and online passwords should be taken care of with equal interest. Cyber security is essential for everyone with an online presence, no matter how small it may be. Protect your information. Change (and strengthen) your passwords.

     

    February - Power Banner

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