Monthly Archives: November 2016

Breach Brief – U.S. Navy, Madison Square Garden

us-navy-logoThe United States Navy announced on Wednesday that hackers have gained access to sensitive personal information of more that 130,000 current and former sailors. The information lost includes names and social security numbers.

According to Navy officials the information was contained on the laptop computer belonging to Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services a Navy contractor. The firm first notified the Navy on October 27.

Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Admiral Robert Burke issued a statement saying; “The Navy takes this incident extremely seriously. This is a matter of trust for our sailors.” He then went on to add that the investigation is still in its “early stages.”

The Navy is reacting by following all required procedures to notify and protect sailors affected by the breach.  Officials stated that additional information on the breach would be provided to affected sailors as it becomes available. Sailors will also receive credit monitoring service options in the future. The Navy insisted;  “There is no evidence to suggest misuse of the information that was compromised.”

This is the second major loss of Navy data involving Hewlett-Packard. According to the Navy Times HP reported to the Navy in 2013 that Iranian hackers compromised the unclassified Navy and Marine Corps Intranet.  Navy Times reported the personal data came from the Career Waypoints database, known as C-WAY, which sailors use to submit re-enlistment and Navy Occupational Specialty requests.

msgThe iconic Madison Square Garden Company reported malware in its payments systems has been capturing payment-card data for more than a year.

On Tuesday MSG warned customers the breach had exposed customer data found on magnetic strips of credit cards. Data collected included card numbers, cardholder names, expiration dates, and internal verification codes.

Madison Square Garden properties affected include the Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, Beacon Theater, and Chicago Theater. MSG has not announced how many cards are compromised but millions of people visit the properties annually.

Online Holiday Shopping 2016 – Security Basics

canstockphoto31830688Twice a year scammers crawl from underneath rocks and other nasty places to celebrate special holidays. First, tax season, then the holiday season. African-Americans using the Internet for holiday shopping need to be on guard against cyber crime.  Being aware of the scams and hazards can make a big difference in your holiday celebrations. 

The African-American Cyber Report is offering black people another season of valuable safety information to protect your holiday season so lets get started.

 

Card Skimming

Card skimmer courtesy of BBB.org

Card skimmer courtesy of BBB.org

Card skimming is actually pretty simple. Your credit or debit card information is copied when you swipe your card at a retailer or ATM. Cyber thieves install almost invisible devices or special software on retail card readers. This allows them to duplicate your card and steal your PIN. Its as simple as that. So how do you protect yourself?

First of all if something does not look or feel right stay way. For example is the face of the card reader loose or does it look kind of sloppy? Exposed glue or loose fitting parts? Do the buttons require more effort than normal to press? Does your card have to be swiped several times to work properly. Here’s a trick; pull or tug at the face of the reader. It may come off in your hand. Do the same at ATM’s. Check those buttons. Try to move them or lift the key pad. Check the card insert. Pull on that. Check to see if there is something in the slot or protruding from it. You have got to be alert! If you find any of these things notify the retailer and your bank if you have used it.

If possible use your credit card and not your debit card. It is extremely hard to get your money back from a bank debit card. But a credit card transaction can be cancelled and you will normally not be charged. Skimmers can be found anywhere even at Walmart.

RFID Card Protection

paypassThis is less likely but does happen. Your credit and debit card are sometimes equipped with a feature allowing you to charge things with a quick tap of the card on the pay terminal. You may have one of the cards with brands like PayPassExpressPay, or PayWave.

These cards have RFID (radio frequency identification) chips. With the right equipment criminals can scan your card and steal your card’s data. Protect your card by using a RFID blocking sleeve, or an RFID wallet available online at retailers like Amazon.

But as we said before this is not likely. An RFID reader has poor range so the scammer would have to be standing awfully close to read your card. Keep that in mind when you are fighting that crowd on Black Friday. 

 

EMV or Chip Cards Safety

chipcardYou should by now have the credit card with the EMV chip embedded in it. If not contact your bank or card provider and ask for it. That chip is used to encrypt the transaction data when you charge something. 

The objective of card chip was to reduce card fraud. This technology is not perfect. Some retailers have failed to switch to EMV even though the deadline passed in 2015.  Why? Retailers and customers complain that the process is too slow. Chip cards have reduced point-of-sale fraud. But the crooks have worked around it. The latest hazard is fraudulent “card-not-present” transactions online. Criminals can obtain the credit card number, security code, expiration date from criminal websites that sell this information. Personal information like your dog’s name or your mother’s birthday can be found on Facebook. They use this information to hijack your online accounts. That’s what happens when you put too much of your business online.

 

Tech Support Scams


tech-support-scam-popupNew tablets, laptops, smartphones and big screen televisions are big sellers on Black Friday. Tech support scams are common all year round but the efforts by scammers increases during the holidays. 

These scammers are intent on getting you to pay for support or software you don’t need or simply doesn’t exist. This includes extended warranties. They email you with a sales pitch or issue warnings from what appears to be a Microsoft representative. Be aware! Anti-virus companies do not call you to let you know you have a computer virus. Don’t ever agree to let anyone access your computer from a remote location. Don’t download any software online that you are not sure of. If you don’t have the expertise to know then consult a professional.

Computers often come with a ton of useless software or games. This is known as bloatware or crapware. Be careful! These programs can cost you money. They often entice children and adults to buy things without them even realizing it.

 

Phony Bank Calls

During the holiday season you are using your bank and debit cards more often. Beware if someone claiming to be your bank or credit card company calls you. Remember when it comes to your money you should be asking the questions.

Scammers will call victims claiming to be investigating card fraud or suspicious activity. They will ask questions that reveal your personal information like your credit card number or PIN. Don’t answer these questions. Hang up and call your bank from a number you know. Or stop by in person. These scammers are professionals at alarming you and getting you to reveal information used to rip you off.  When it comes to your money only deal with people you know and trust. Never, ever reveal any personal information to a voice over the phone.

 

Email and Phishing Scams

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.net

Be careful where you click! Be extremely cautious about clicking on or downloading coupons in your email. It may be ransomware. This is a malicious software program that locks up your computer until you pay to get it released. It happens a lot and is one of the hottest computer scams going on right now.

Clicking on the wrong email may release malware on to your computer that steals information, monitors your activity and changes your settings. It may even secretly take control of your computer and email itself to all your contacts. Understand that scammers can duplicate an email from Macy’s, Walmart and any other major retailer. Check the return email address to make sure you know who its from. Check the retailers website for information regarding sales, coupons and possible scams. 

Be careful about holiday contests. When you fill out a contest form you maybe giving out personal information. Same for holiday coupons that ask for your name, email address and other personal information.

This holiday season; Be Alert! Be Aware!

 

 

 

Black Women in Technology Doing Their Own Thing – Stephanie Lampkin

stephanie-lampkin

Stephanie Lampkin, Founder-CEO Blendoor

Technology and diversity are not synonymous. But that is not to say that African-Americans and people of color are not making efforts and having success in the cyber realm.

Black people have a saying; “Step out on faith.” That means you believe in yourself and a higher power to succeed. These sistahs have knowledge and talent and have stepped out into the tech industry with new and powerful ideas that can change the world. Black women are breaking the mold and shattering stereotypes by making a difference in the tech industry. 

One of the biggest problems in the technology industry, and industry in general, is racial prejudice. It is common for people with so called “black sounding” names to be passed over for employment opportunities. One black woman has decided to fight back.

Stephanie Lampkin launched Blendoor to fight racial bias in hiring practices. Blendoor was one of the winning companies at Google Demo Day. Lampkin’s company also won Tech.Co’s Startup of the Year competition in 2015.  Blendoor is a recruiting application that shields the prospective job candidate’s name, picture and dates to help curtail racial bias in hiring. Blendoor is focused on providing candidates to companies based on “merits not molds.”

“It’s quantifiable,” said Lampkin. “We realized that hiding names and photos created a safer space. Women and people of color felt better sharing their information.”

Racial bias in hiring has tools. Ethnic sounding names and faces of color are often rejected and using the well traveled professional networks can be an obstacle. 

Lampkin believes women, people of color, members of the LGBT community and other minorities in Silicon Valley feel alienated by job search websites that reveal a candidates name and headshot.

Lampkin told Forbes.com; “I know a number of really successful, Ivy League-educated, African-American people between 35 and 45 who refuse to use LinkedIn out of fear of discrimination. These companies are founded by white guys. There’s a psychology I understand as a woman of color that’s driven how and why I’ve shaped the product the way I have.”

Lampkin 31, is an amazing story. She was born into a welfare household and her mother was at one time homeless while pregnant with her. Yet Lampkin over came incredible odds to become the CEO of a technology start up. She learned how to write code by the time she was 13 then went on to graduate from Stanford and MIT and worked for five years at Microsoft.

But Lampkin learned that was not enough. She was still ignored for jobs at major technology companies. As a black woman, Lampkin admits it was probably because she “did not look the part.” She just didn’t fit the mold of what tech companies are looking for. Deliberate or not it is commonly known as pattern matching. Lampkin states that often veterans and disabled people are also sifted out of the candidate pool.

Lampkin remembers advancing deep into the interview process for a prized job at a well-known tech firm in Silicon Valley. In the end she was told her background wasn’t “technical enough” for a role in software engineering.

“The recruiter told me a sales or marketing job might open up,” said Lampkin. She landed at Microsoft where she spent the next five years. Lampkin is nobody’s fool and understands that being a black women was not an asset in the tech industry. Repeated job rejections have taught her that.

Blendoor is not a one way street for companies looking to improve diversity in its ranks. Job candidates can also use the app to examine a company’s inclusion programs and diversity of its executive staff. 

The app will also collect data on who is applying to tech’s most sought-after positions and who is getting them.  “Blendoor wants to make companies accountable using data,” Lampkin said.

Now you know.

 

 

 

ALERT! – Amazon Email Scam – ALERT!

amazon-logoCyber criminals are sending out fake Amazon emails telling you that there is a problem with your order.

Customers are being told to resolve the problem by clicking on a link to confirm certain information. The scam warns victims failure to do so will freeze their Amazon account. 

The email directs people to a replica Amazon website. These websites are excellent forgeries and can fool even experts. It makes it very easy to fall for the scam.

Once on the fake website the customer/victim is asked to input personal information. When customers/victims have entered in their details, they are asked to click a ‘Save & Continue’ button. This then takes them to Amazon’s official website making it even more difficult for most people to suspect or detect any fraudulent activity.

Don’t fall for this scam. If you receive this email contact Amazon customer support to check your account. Do not click on any link in the email and don’t use the phone number in the email. That could be the scammer as well. Even if the email is real you are better off being safe than sorry. You can learn more about this scam and how to protect yourself by visiting Get Safe Online.

Celebrity Cyber Report – Andre Iguodala, JayZ vs. The Prince Estate

iguodala-suit

Andre Iguodala

NBA players, like most pro athletes, make a nice income. Well lets be real; they make a helluva lot of money. Now one of their own, Andre Iguodala, is introducing them to a new game, tech investing.

Iguolada, the Golden State Warriors All-Star and NBA Finals MVP, is an investor in several companies with his business partner, Rudy Cline Thomas. Recently Inguodala and Thomas participated in a question-and-answer session with startup owners at LinkedIn headquarters in San Francisco.

Iguodala made a savvy business move by joining the Golden States Warriors. He became part of one of the greatest teams in NBA history but also moved closer to the Silicon Valley. Iguodala came to the Bay Area with his eye on a championship and the tech start up investment opportunities.

The NBA star is doing his best to get other players interested in the start up game as well.

“I’m just trying to get my colleagues to understand that there is a space for us outside of our normal investing,” said Iguodala. “You normally see players investing in the barbershop. You see the music companies. You see a lot of real estate. You don’t see many go outside of their comfort zones. We want to change that.”

Since joining the Warriors Iguodala has jumped on the Silicon Valley tech scene like an errant pass.  He joins other NBA stars that include his teammate Steph Curry who invested in a online coaching service app, and a  social media platform. L.A. Clippers star Chris Paul co-created Game Vision, an app that uses games it claims will increase court vision awareness. Laker great Kobe Bryant has launched a $100 million dollar venture capital firm and Carmelo Anthony has created his own firm, Melo7 Tech Partners.

Many NBA players and other professional athletes have made millions outside of playing sports. But Iguodala points out that there is more to be made than just standing in front of a camera and endorsing a product.

“That’s the biggest thing, because the way we dealt with businesses in the past is a direct transaction: You pay me this amount and I’ll take a picture or endorse your product. I think the landscape has changed as far as endorsements are concerned because consumers are smarter. They know what’s authentic, what’s organic and what’s genuine.”

Because of this belief  Iguodala and Cline Thomas launched the National Basketball Players Association’s inaugural tech summit. This gathering took place last July and hooked up current and former NBA with key tech execs in San Francisco. Using his influence as the vice president for the player’s union Iguodala made it happen.

More than 30 NBA players participated in the three-day event.  “The response was amazing,” said Iguodala. “A lot of them, said, ‘Wow, we didn’t know what you meant?'” Cline Thomas added, “Some players are already investing. All it took was some exposure.”

JayZ vs. The Prince Estate

Prince’s record label NPG has gone to war with JayZ’s Roc Nation and it’s parent company Tidal.

Prince’s record label, NPG Records, filed the lawsuit in Minnesota accusing Roc Nation and Tidal of copyright infringement. NPG claims Tidal streamed Prince’s music without permission after his death. NPG Records gave Tidal exclusive streaming rights to the album, Hit ‘n Run Phase One, but for only 90 days. But NPG claims that after Prince’s death, Tidal began streaming as many as 15 of Prince’s other albums. NPG never agreed to that and characterized the move as exploitation.

Roc Nation disputes the claim. JayZ’s label says they have paperwork proving “various agreements between the relevant parties”  giving them rights to the music. NPG says it hasn’t seen any of these “agreements.” Roc Nation/Tidal and NPG have been at odds for some time, but Tuesday’s lawsuit has opened a new front in the battle.

Like all wars the sides and the issues are often complicated. This legal battle is complicated by a recent deal between Prince’s estate and Universal Music Publishing Group. According to Minneapolis Star Tribune Universal was named “the exclusive worldwide publishing administrator” for all of Prince’s music. Tidal took issue with the agreement and filed its own paperwork claiming that a previous contract gave it exclusive streaming rights. 

After the death of many celebrities and artists their estates become worth far more than they ever were in life. And Prince is no different. So the war has begun.

Racism Online: Facebook Profited From Racist Ads

Facebook-logo-PSDFacebook has allowed advertisers to discriminate against people of color. As simple as that. The world’s largest social media site is also the greatest collector of personal information in the history of mankind. To profit from this data Facebook allowed companies to advertise to certain groups while excluding others. The result is that African-Americans and people of color couldn’t learn about certain jobs, housing and financial opportunities; i.e credit.

Facebook has labeled its ultra targeted advertising capabilities as “Ethnic Affinity” marketing. Concern has grown among policy makers and civil rights leaders that marketers have used “Ethnic Affinity” marketing to discriminate against minorities. 

Facebook assigns users an “Ethnic Affinity” based on the pages and posts they have liked or engaged with. Facebook claims it bans advertisers from discriminating against racial or ethnic groups. 

Advertising that excludes people based on race, gender and other sensitive criteria are prohibited by federal law in housing and employment. Yet Facebook has made it possible and profitable. According to The Verge last year Facebook posted revenues of $17.93 billion in revenue in 2015 up 44 percent from 2014.  Almost all of it came from advertising. Facebook earns $13.54 for every user, up from $9 in the same quarter last year and that includes African-Americans and other minorities.

Facebook’s “Ethnic Affinity”marketing has come under fire from federal lawmakers for permitting advertisers to restrict its ads. This is known as red lining and it was common during the pre-civil rights era.

Pro Publica, a non-profit independent news website, exposed the practice after it placed an ad for a housing-related event that deliberately excluded African-Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanics. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is responsible for enforcing fair housing laws acted by engaging Facebook with “serious concerns” about this discriminatory program.

Facebook users have filed a lawsuit seeking class action status against the social media behemoth. The group asserts that “Ethnic Affinity” marketing is discriminatory ad-targeting technology that violates the Fair Housing Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of Northern California stated; “There is no mechanism to prevent ad buyers from purchasing ads related to employment/housing and then excluding based on these illegal characteristics.”  Facebook says the lawsuit is without merit and it will fight it.

However, Facebook has responded to the complaints and modified the discriminatory advertising program. Facebook’s vice president of U.S. public policy Erin Egan told USA Today, “We are going to turn off, actually prohibit, the use of “Ethnic Affinity” marketing for ads that we identify as offering housing, employment and credit.”

Facebook’s decided to change after discussions with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Illinois) and the Congressional Black Caucus, and Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) and the  Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Egan added that Facebook’s changes, in part, came from “constructive dialogue” with advocacy groups such as the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Fair Housing Alliance, and the Center for Democracy & Technology, the Brookings Institution and Upturn.

Regardless of what Facebook says, it isn’t killing “Ethnic Affinity” marketing altogether. Instead, the company claims to be building tools that will automatically disable the targeting for ads that involve housing, employment or credit.

Egan went on to say that “There are many non-discriminatory uses of our ethnic affinity solution in these areas, but we have decided that we can best guard against discrimination by suspending these types of ads. We will continue to explore ways that our ethnic affinity solutions can be used to promote inclusion of underrepresented communities, and we will continue to work with stakeholders toward that goal.”

Breaking It Down

First of all I am a Facebook user. Ok so who isn’t? But I have some serious issues with Facebook and it’s totally corporate behavior. By corporate behavior I mean that Facebook has engaged in a behavior that it had to know was wrong at best and illegal at it’s worst. But by being a corporation it got away with this racist practice as long as it could, took the profits before getting caught, and then saying “Ok, you got us. Sorry. We’ll fix it.” This is blatant corporate behavior and it it was deliberate. How can a company like Facebook, with a genius at the helm and literally thousands of very intelligent employees not see “Ethnic Affinity” marketing being misused? I’m not saying that Facebook designed the program to be discriminatory but it was being used that way and they had to have seen it. But as long as the money was rolling in and no one was complaining then lets keep it going. This is simply inexcusable. Yeah sue ’em! Make em pay! This cannot be tolerated!

Race and Technology – Uber Drivers Shun Blacks Cheats Women


uber-and-lyft-side-by-sideThe
National Bureau of Economic Research has found that Uber and Lyft drivers discriminate against black riders and cheat women.  In a not so surprising announcement MIT, Stanford University and the University of Washington researchers announced blacks are more likely to wait longer or have their Uber ride cancelled altogether. Researchers also found that women were driven on longer and more expensive routes than men.

Technology is not color blind nor gender neutral. A black sounding name can eliminate you from technology enabled services like Uber and Airbnb and jobs.  Companies like AirBnB have been sued for having users who openly discriminate against minorities. (See also: Race and Technology: Airbnb Steps Up Fight Against Racism.)

For those not familiar with Uber and Lyft these are mobile apps that allows users to request rides from their smartphones. Both companies have experienced explosive growth challenging taxi companies in some major cities. According to Uber and Lyft their technology is less discriminatory when compared to taxis. Both companies use apps  that match passengers with drivers using an algorithm rather than  hailing cabs on the street. But again, not surprisingly, some discrimination is still happening.

The research was performed by sending riders to Seattle and Boston. These riders then hailed about 1,500 rides over a of six week period. Researchers discovered a “pattern of discrimination” in Seattle where black passengers had to wait longer than white passengers. At times the wait was as much as 35 percent longer.  Research also found that if you had a black sounding name in Boston your ride was cancelled more than twice as often as passengers with white-sounding names.

For women the situation was not much better. The research revealed that women were more likely  to be overcharged by drivers. The study showed that drivers started the trip early or ending it later after their female rider was dropped off.  To keep costs under control routes used in the study were pre-planned so as not to exceed more than two miles. One female study participant reported the driver going through the same intersection three times during the trip. Another reported being was taken on the freeway passing several exits although her drop-off point was only a mile away. Women participating in the study also reported drivers becoming “chatty” while taking them on elongated routes.

In response to the study to Bloomberg Technology a spokesperson for Uber defended the company’s record saying, “Discrimination has no place in society and no place on Uber. We believe Uber is helping reduce transportation inequities across the board, but studies like this one are helpful in thinking about how we can do even more.”

Breaking It Down

Discrimination is a fact of life, especially for black people. Hearing of technology enabled services like Uber and AirBnB shunning black customers does not surprise anybody who is black and aware. Why? Because we are not dealing with technology alone but with people who use the technology. And people will discriminate, period. Why? Because we have all had negative experiences with people who are not like us. And that creates a negative stereotype. So all we can really do is encourage companies to enforce upon those who use their technology to avoid discrimination it if possible. There are ways to do this including ejecting those that violate the policy. But again we are dealing with people and this is never easy. Now, I have no problem with people who are cautious about who sleeps under their roof. Unlike an Uber ride, which can be dangerous at times, inviting an unknown person into your home can be a deadly vulnerability. This is where everything you own is, where you eat and sleep, your sanctuary. Yes, it is a dangerous decision. But do not make such a decision if you are not aware that anyone can come through the door. And don’t assume that you are in danger if that person is black. Some people fear black people just because they are black. Black people fear how they will be treated in society just because we are black. Now what do we do?