- Internet Explorer Security Warning: Here’s What to Do
Internet Explorer users beware: Homeland Security experts have noted a bug in the browser that can allow hackers to completely compromise an affected system. The U.S. Computers Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), part of the Department of Homeland Security, advised Monday that Internet Explorer users “consider employing an alternative web browser.” What can you do to avoid Internet Explorer putting you at risk? IE Bug May Allow Remote Access The Internet Explorer (IE) bug affects IE versions 6 through 11, which are running on most PCs packaged with Windows sold in the last decade or so. According to US-CERT, a “use-after-free” vulnerability in these IE versions allows cyber attackers to remotely run programming code on affected machines. US-CERT could find no “practical solution” to the IE vulnerability, and users of IE will simply have to wait until their software is patched and updated by Microsoft. However, more than a quarter of Windows users are still using Windows XP, which may not be receiving critical security updates. Microsoft programmers were “rushing” over the weekend to fix the potentially dangerous vulnerability, but cyber-security company FireEye Inc. warned that hackers have already been exploiting the bug. FireEye is still investigating the matter, but believe that the attacks appear to be “broad-spectrum intel gathering,” Reuters reports. How Can IE Users Protect Themselves? Homeland Security mentioned a couple ways to reduce the risk of cyberattack for current IE users. Here are some of our own: Stop using IE — at least, until they patch the vulnerability use Firefox or Chrome. Download EMET. Microsoft offers an Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) which can help users prevent software vulnerabilities (like the one in IE) from being exploited. No word yet on how simple this is to use. Avoid suspicious emails and websites. You should already be practicing safe Internet and email browsing, but make sure to avoid clicking unknown or suspicious links. Install the IE Update. Whenever it becomes available, immediately install the official update to IE. Although IE may not be a safe choice for browsing right now, this may be a chance for IE users to check out other browsers, such as Chrome and Firefox. Related Resources: Homeland Security: Don’t use IE due to bug (USA Today) 15 Online Behaviors That Make You Vulnerable to Scams (FindLaw’s Common Law) What Is the ‘Heartbleed’ Security Flaw? What Should You Do? (FindLaw’s Common Law) Bitcoin Phishing Email Alert: 3 Red Flags It’s a Scam (FindLaw’s Common Law)
- Should the FDA Regulate E-Cigarettes? FindLaw Survey Says…
The FDA published its proposed rules for regulating e-cigarettes Friday, but is it something Americans want? According to a recent FindLaw.com survey, more Americans support regulating e-cigarettes like tobacco than oppose it. However, more than half of Americans who have actually tried e-cigs disagree. 27% of Americans Oppose E-Cig Regulation Out of all survey respondents, 43 percent welcomed regulating e-cigarettes like their non-electronic counterparts, with only 27 percent disagreeing with such a shift in regulation. Maybe this isn’t that surprising, considering that only 15 percent of Americans admit to trying e-cigarettes. But the proposed rules won’t only affect e-cigarettes. The FDA wants to include cigars, hookah tobacco, and other “smokeless” tobacco-based products under the same new regulations. Part of the rationale behind the proposed changes is an attempt to regulate products that are being marketed to adolescents. FindLaw.com’s survey found that at least one-third of people between ages 25 and 34 have tried an e-cigarette, but most only did so once. This may explain why there aren’t more die-hard e-cigarette advocates railing against these proposed FDA changes. Of those who have smoked an e-cigarette at least once, 55 percent oppose the idea of regulating e-cigs like tobacco products. The FDA had attempted to ban e-cigarettes outright before, but federal courts blocked that move in 2010. E-cigarettes and their ilk have been enjoyed about four years of virtually no regulation, but that is likely to change with these new rules. FDA to Regulate All Tobacco Products the Same The proposed rules for regulating e-cigarettes are available on Regulations.gov for public comment. The 75-day comment period is part of the FDA’s informal rulemaking process, and it is necessary for the proposed rules to become finalized and legally binding. While the FDA’s proposed rules would make many changes, here are the basic points: The rules would expand FDA regulation over “tobacco products” to include e-cigarettes, hookah tobacco, “smokeless” tobacco, and cigars; The rules would prohibit anyone under the age of 18 from purchasing any of these covered tobacco products; The rules would possibly exempt hand-rolled premium cigars; They would require health warnings on all tobacco product ads and packaging; and They would include an “addictiveness” warning on all products containing nicotine. Critics of the new rules point out that e-cigarette makers will still be able to product and market flavors like mint mocha and pina colada, which were banned from regular cigarettes in 2009. Related Resources: FDA’s proposed e-cigarette rules draw mixed review (USA Today) FDA’s Proposed E-Cigarette Regulations Released (FindLaw’s Law and Daily Life) E-Cigarettes: 5 Burning Legal Issues (FindLaw’s Law and Daily Life) Cigarette Tax Increase Has Smokers Coughing It Up (FindLaw’s Common Law)
- Joe Biden’s Cadillac on Craigslist Offers a Key Security Lesson
Want to own a piece of presidential history? A man in Delaware is selling Vice President Joe Biden’s old Cadillac on Craigslist. Jeff Finkle, the seller, was apparently previously unaware that the car belonged to the VP. It was until Finkle allegedly found “important numbers,” like Biden’s wife’s number, programmed into the Bluetooth that he made the connection, according to Business Insider. When selling a car, you want to make sure to secure all of your personal information and property. So here are some security precautions to remember when you’re selling your car. Delete cell phone numbers. These days, many cars come with hands-free Bluetooth phone systems that allow you to program phone numbers directly into the car. Make sure that you delete all programmed cell phone numbers before you sell your car. Biden’s wife probably wouldn’t be too happy if a stranger started calling her or gave out her number. Get rid of saved GPS directions. One of the most important pieces of information to get rid of before selling your car on Craigslist or through any other means is saved GPS locations. Although GPS devices can be helpful in giving directions or piecing together accidents, they can also be a source of personal information. This is especially relevant if your home address is saved in the car’s GPS. Toss out personal identifying information. Hopefully, Vice President Biden got rid of any other property that may have identifying information on there before he sold his car, like letters or documents with confidential information. For many people, their cars are like traveling storage bins and it’s easy to leave things behind. However, do a thorough check before you sell your car to ensure that you get rid of any old mail or documents. These papers could bear your Social Security number or bank account information, so remove them to avoid identity theft. Whether or not the Craigslist listing is really Joe Biden’s Cadillac, forgetting these security tips when selling your car is akin to inviting criminals into your life. Related Resources: VP Joe Biden’s former Cadillac can be yours (Delaware Online) After a Car Break-In: 5 Keys to Recovery (FindLaw’s Blotter) 10 Cities with the Worst Car Theft Rates (FindLaw’s Blotter) Dealer Sells Car Too Cheaply, Has Buyer Arrested (FindLaw’s Free Enterprise)
- ‘Kill Switch’ to Be Standard on Smartphones by 2015
Worried about losing your phone? Smartphone manufacturers and American cell carriers have agreed to make “kill switches” standard on all smartphones manufactured for sale in the United States after July 2015. Huge names in mobile tech — Apple, Google, Samsung, and Microsoft — have all signed on to a new “Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment” aimed at beefing up anti-theft features on mobile devices. “Kill switches” would allow owners of compliant phones to remotely “erase contacts, photos, email and other information” as well as lock the device, reports CNN. How will this “kill switch” program change your smartphone? Some ‘Kill Switches’ Already on Market Since smartphones have proliferated in the last decade, phone thefts are leaving consumers more and more vulnerable. A 90s-era flip phone contained very little sensitive data compared to a modern iPhone, and smartphone thefts in major metro areas have added up to millions of dollars in losses. Because of this increased danger from smartphone thefts, some smartphones already include “kill switch”-type security features. The Find My iPhone app included with all current iOS devices has allowed theft victims to track down their stolen Apple devices and sometimes even catch the perp. With the latest version of iOS, Apple users can also remotely wipe or lock their phones, making it harder for thieves to sell the devices. Android devices have a similar feature, allowing users to locate, lock, and even erase a phone or tablet remotely. While these features are fantastic security tools, they are not an industry standard on all smartphones sold today. Push for Legislation Prompts Voluntary Program Because there was no guarantee that your phone would have a “kill switch,” legislators had been pushing to make them mandatory. In response to lawmakers, mobile manufacturers and cell service providers agreed to a voluntary commitment to make “kill switches” a reality in every phone by mid-2015. In a release Tuesday, the participants in the “Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment” promised all compliant smartphones will offer: Remote wiping of a user’s data if a phone is lost or stolen; Rending a smartphone inoperable without a PIN or password (except for 911 functionality); Preventing reactivation without authorization, even with a factory reset; and Reversing the “locked” state when the authorized user recovers the device. This voluntary agreement is not a law, but it should provide that most smartphones in the U.S. market will have these features by July 2015. Related Resources: Tech Companies Commit to Offering a ‘Kill Switch’ for Preventing Phone Theft (The New York Times) CNN Anchor Carol Costello Reports iPhone Robbery (FindLaw’s Celebrity Justice) Apple Crime in NYC Spikes 40 Percent (FindLaw’s Blotter) NYC Cops Nab Alleged Rapist Via iPhone App (FindLaw’s Blotter)
- 15 Online Behaviors That Make You Vulnerable to Scams
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