Archive for June, 2011


No doubt, Sony’s PlayStation Network breach has left many wondering how safe their credit card information is when it’s stored online. My 15-year-old son plays Xbox LIVE, which so far, seems safe. But I’m sure parents of kids who played on the PlayStation Network thought their data was safe, too.

So I decided to take a 3-hour tour of Xbox LIVE with my son. Who better to show me all the millions of opportunities where he can spend my money? He’s been on Xbox LIVE for two years and I was stunned by how much more is offered since I’d last taken a good look at the site.

I went through all the terms, and let me tell you, this alone can take three hours if you’re a slow reader. When you sign up—and you’re the one signing up unless your kid is 18—you’re asked for your name, the type of credit card, the number and verification code, expiration date and your ZIP code.

After the PlayStation debacle, I’m a little concerned that my credit card information is safe. A spokesperson for Xbox told me via email that “The security around our Xbox LIVE service and member information is our highest priority.”


By Ondrej Krehel,

There are more than 200 million iPhones and iPads out there in consumer land. Most of them are connected to a Mac or PC via iTunes, Apple’s popular music player and file sync program.

Every time the phone or tablet is connected, by USB, to the host computer, iTunes can automatically sync your selected music, documents, photos and contacts. There’s no prompt when you download Lady Gaga’a new album and add it to a playlist that’s on your phone. The music simply shows up on your device after a short background sync.

But what about when you use multiple computers for multiple devices? What about those pesky wires? This is what Apple’s trying to work around with its recently announced iCloud service.



Concerned about your safety online? The Obama administration has introduced a new set of rules aimed at boosting Internet security. The proposal got its first public hearing Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where a privacy-minded Congressman and administration bureaucrats argued for the proposal.

No one at the hearing raised concerns, levied by some cybersecurity experts, about possible problems with the proposal, including that the federal proposal might limit some tougher state laws already in effect. Instead, the committee focused on the need to do something at the federal level to combat cyber attacks.

“I think this is probably the greatest challenge facing our country today,” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chair of the Judiciary Committee, . “What happens if one of these cyber terrorists closes down one of our power grids? I mean these are major concerns.”

As part of the , Identity Theft 911′s Chief Privacy Officer Eduard Goodman spoke about online tracking.  The good news?  New legislation may protect you.  Click to listen.


More than 360,000 Citibank customers had their private information hacked last month, nearly double the , according to a press release issued by the bank on Wednesday.

The hackers accessed customers’ names, account numbers and email addresses. They did not get to see other information especially useful for committing fraud, including Social Security numbers, dates of birth, card security codes and expiration dates, according to the bank.

The attack affected Citi’s Account Online system, but not the company’s main transaction processing network. The company assured consumers that they won’t have to pay for any fraudulent purchases resulting from the data breach.

Commissioner Ann Cavoukian, Ph.D., from the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, talks about Privacy by Design (PbD). PbD is a concept developed to ensure privacy by making it the default.

Privacy is about freedom. It is the right to be left alone… and to control what others know about us, and when.

Privacy by Design is a proactive approach to protecting privacy by building it right into how technologies, business practices, and physical spaces are designed, and how they are used. It anticipates and prevents privacy invasions before they happen.

It’s also a way of making sure that the privacy and freedom that we enjoy today continue to exist into the future.

Find out more about Privacy by Design, and what you can do to help shape the future of technology at

By Ondrej Krehel,

As our smartphones have become our wallets and personal computers, holding everything from banking to social network information, they’ve become targets for hackers, scammers and criminals. Our phones hold a treasure trove of data—and the bad guys know it.

A screen lock is no longer enough.

Dream Droid, a botnet-type of malware program, recently . It got its name because the malware activated at night, affecting users while they were asleep. Originally it was thought that 21 apps were infected, but an independent security firm found an additional 30 apps. Google flipped its famous kill switch—a scary, but seemingly necessary, piece of code that accesses phones without users’ permission and deletes the offending software. About 260,000 Android users were hit. The phone’s IMEI identifier numbers were stolen, but no other personal user information was breached.



Hundreds of thousands of Citibank customers had their account information accessed by hackers recently, according to an announcement Wednesday by the bank. Hackers gained access to the accounts through Citi Account Online, the bank’s online banking website.

About 1% of the bank’s card customers were affected by the breach, .

Customers’ names, account numbers and contact information, including email addresses, were illegally accessed. Hackers failed to get other information including birth dates, Social Security numbers, card security codes and expiration dates.

“We are contacting customers whose information was impacted,” a spokesman told Reuters. “Citi has implemented enhanced procedures to prevent a recurrence of this type of event.”

[Related Article: ]

is’s Staff Writer. Chris graduated with honors from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and has reported for a number of publications including The New York Times, TIME magazine and Popular Mechanics.

This article originally appeared on .


The recent breach has spawned a renewed interest in single-use (also called disposable, secure or virtual) credit card numbers. A single-use credit card number is basically an alias for your actual credit card number.

Most of the major credit card issuers offer this service, but it goes by different names. Citibank calls them virtual account numbers. You log on to your Citi account and follow the steps to generate a . When shopping online, you use this number instead of your real account number. Purchases that you make with your temporary number show up on your statement like all of your other transactions.

Each time you shop online, you log on to your account and generate a new single-use number. Each of these numbers is attached to the same credit card account. From a security standpoint, here’s the advantage: If someone hacks into one of the websites where you’ve shopped and obtains your account number, the hacker gets the temporary number you used and that number can’t be used again. Your real credit card number is safe.

A drawback is that these numbers expire. The length of time that the numbers are valid varies among issuers. Discover calls them and they expire on the same date that your actual credit card account number expires. Bank of America calls this service and their numbers expire after one year. So if you’re using one of these numbers for a recurring payment, you’ll need to update your account information when the number expires.

American Express and Capital One don’t currently offer this service. A spokesperson for Chase said that the issuer has a similar program for commercial accounts. Chase doesn’t currently offer this service to consumers but cardholders can use Verified by Visa, which involves keying in an additional password when you pay for an item. When you enter your card number, a window appears. You enter requested information plus your password, and this verifies your identity.

[Featured products: ]’s Credit Card Expert, Beverly focuses on credit card issues and provides insight about current news that affects the credit card industry and consumers. She’s a nationally recognized expert on credit card issues and is also the co-author of .

This article originally appeared on .

By Matt Cullina,

Loving parents will do anything to protect their children. Unfortunately, many of them are unaware of the risk to their kids’ identities.

But parents can take steps to protect against identity theft. They can follow the tips below and seek out expert fraud services like ours through their insurance carrier, bank, credit union or employer.

Identity fraud is a serious risk for children. The Federal Trade Commission reports that victims aged 19 and younger accounted for 8 percent of all identity theft complaints in 2010, up from 7 percent the previous year.