Small businesses are more dependent on the Internet than ever before, but 83 percent don’t have a formal cybersecurity plan to protect against cyber threats. As larger companies improve cyber defenses, American small businesses are now more vulnerable targets. According to Symantec, they were subject to hundreds of millions of cyber threats in just the first few months of 2012. A typical cyber-attack can cost a business, on average, close to $200,000 — enough to put many of them out of business.
The charges outlined in the FTC’s recent lawsuits against one software business and seven rent-to-own companies are surprising — some might even say creepy. These companies installed software on rented computers that gave them the ability to hit the “kill switch” if people were behind on their payments. But according to the FTC, it also let them collect sensitive personal information, grab screen shots, and take webcam photos of people in their homes.
Like the character in the 70s movie “Network,” many people are “mad as hell and not going to take this anymore.” What’s causing all this anger? Robocalls. Yes, those annoying pre-recorded messages that try to sell you something you don’t need. You may have heard, for example, from the infamous “Rachel” from “Card Member Services” whose recorded voice promises she can reduce the interest rate on your credit cards.
Earlier this week, we wrote about a recent twist in so-called scareware schemes, where scammers send alarming messages to try to convince you that your computer is infected with viruses or other malware. Then, they try to sell you software to fix the problem. At best, the software is worthless or available elsewhere for free. At worst, it could be malware — software designed to give criminals access to your computer and your personal information.
The Federal Trade Commission cracked down on a massive international scam that tricked tens of thousands of computer users into believing their computers were riddled with malware and then paying the scammers hundreds of dollars to “fix” the problem.
Today, we are more linked, networked, and wired than ever before. Not only do we use the internet to stay connected, informed, and involved, we use it for many routine tasks, like submitting taxes, applying for student loans, and even powering our homes.
Been reading up on Apple’s newly unveiled iPhone 5? So have scammers.
For months leading up to the announcement, scammers have already been finding ways to cash in on iPhone 5 buzz — through phishing emails promising sneak peeks if you just clicked on a link, or phony texts offering a chance to get your hands on one. According to news reports, clicking the links installed malware on your computer, or took you to a phony site asking for your personal information.
Attorney, Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, FTC
Are you in the mobile app business? If so, you’re probably considering some important questions, like what to tell users about your app, what information to collect from users, and what to do with any information you collect.
There’s been a lot of talk about breaking records these past few weeks. But here’s one you won’t see on the sports pages: the FTC’s $22.5 million settlement with Google, the largest civil penalty ever against a single defendant. The penalty stems from FTC charges that Google didn’t give users of Apple’s Safari Internet browser the straight story about the use of tracking cookies. That, says the FTC, violated the terms of Google’s 2011 privacy settlement.
First, some background on the original case. Last year, the FTC sued Google for violations stemming from the roll-out of Google’s Buzz network. Among other things, the FTC said Google assured Gmail users it wouldn’t use their information for any purpose other than to provide email service, but then didn’t honor that promise. The result: an order mandating comprehensive privacy protections for consumers and civil penalties if Google didn’t live up to the terms of the settlement.
These days, bullying doesn’t just happen in the schoolyard. Bullying has followed kids into cyberspace as they spend more time online and on their phones. Cyberbullying happens when kids bully each other through emails, text messages, online games, or social networking sites. It might involve sending mean messages or posting embarrassing photos. But there’s something you can do.
On August 15, 2012 the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention will host a webinar, Cyberbullying: What You Can Do. Join the webinar to hear partners from the Federal Trade Commission and the National Crime Prevention Council discuss how schools, parents, and communities can all work to help prevent cyberbullying.