Archive for August, 2012

College is a time for kids to try on different identities and see how they fit. But as parents, it’s our job to make sure their true identity doesn’t get stolen by thieves.

Students are increasingly vulnerable to identity theft. Attacks against victims 19 years old and younger accounted for 9 percent of identity theft complaints in 2011, according to the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Data Book. And victims between the ages of 20 and 29 represented 23 percent of all complaints for the same period.

“They’re naïve, distracted, and often living in communal settings where others can access their computer, smartphone, mail and more,” warns Adam Levin, cofounder and chairman of IDentity Theft 911 and


Guess what? There’s a new fraud trend in town, and USA Today got the scoop with help from IDentity Theft 911′s experts.

Naming tropical storms has been around since 1950, largely to avoid confusion among forecasters when more than one storm is brewing. But Hurricane Isaac, , has taken this anthropomorphic practice to a new level.

Rush Limbaugh says the storm, or the hype around it, is Obama’s fault. A Ron Paul for President Facebook fan page wonders if the storm has a vendetta against the GOP for denying him the nomination. (The post didn’t get too many “Likes.”) The asks readers if the hurricane’s possible path suggested it was a Democrat. And the Internet wonders if it the storm will be as strong as the drinks served by the Love Boat bartender, Isaac Washington. (See attached image, courtesy of .)

Despite the many faces attached to this hurricane, we know tropical storms are no laughing matter. They endanger you, your loved ones and your personally identifiable information.


My phone rings whenever an IDT911 client is hacked, suffers a data breach, or is a victim of identity theft via digital means. My job as chief information security officer is to look at all the digital evidence.

When possible, I reconstruct the cyber attack. It’s C.S.I. work. By reconstructing the attack, often I can tell where it came from, how it unfolded and—most importantly—who did it. It’s a way of finding and preserving digital evidence. There’s a reason that it’s called forensics.

Digital forensics can be divided into four categories. Knowing what they are and how to handle them in the event of an attack can help me do my job and restore your company’s daily operations.


SocialScout, IDentity Theft 911′s social media monitoring tool for parents, has earned the coveted Parent Tested Parent Approved™ award.

SocialScout competed against many entries for the seal of approval, which is awarded by PTPA Media’s volunteer parent testing community to products of high quality, effectiveness and value. SocialScout is currently sold exclusively with the Parent Teacher Association.


By Adam Levin

It started out as a data breach like many others. The of a small medical practice in a wealthy suburb of northern Illinois, The Surgeons of Lake County, and broke into a server containing email and electronic medical records. But instead of sneaking out undetected and selling the stolen data on the black market, they took a novel tack – encrypting the data and posting a message demanding a ransom payment in exchange for the password.

The move from fraud to extortion in cases of data compromise is frightening for several reasons. First, it suggests that the criminals knew exactly what they were doing, and that they deliberately targeted digital medical records as part of a well articulated strategy – an approach that we can expect to see employed more frequently as the digitization of records and broadening of access become the norm in the health care industry. Secondly, this M.O. implies a tremendous confidence in the criminals’ power to disrupt – and a calculation that the illicit ROI from blackmail would exceed the price that the data would command on the black market.

All of this is ultimately made possible by the digitization of medical records and the placement of those records on networks – often unprotected ones. It gets you thinking…


The Olympics are supposed to celebrate the best in human nature, bridging divides of culture and nation through sportsmanship and fair competition. Inevitably, however, the Olympic Games also can become a stage for failure, for people so blinded by ego and the will to win that they compromise all the noble principles for which they supposedly stand. From Tonya Harding’s role in the attack on her figure skating rival Nancy Kerrigan in the lead-up to the 1994 Olympics to Tyler Hamilton’s recent admission that he used performance-enhancing drugs, which led the International Olympic Committee to strip him of his 2004 gold medal, some athletes knowingly supplant truth and hard work with “the ends justify the means” philosophy and subvert the foundation of the games.



By Adam Levin

When it comes to protecting our privacy, our data, and consumers from identity theft; government leaders, particularly those in our nation’s capital, have been as effective as the U.S. men’s soccer team at winning Olympic medals. We haven’t captured one since our bronze and silver twofer in 1904.

Similarly, for over a decade, American politicians have tended to treat identity theft, privacy and security as issues best handled by their successors. Whether it is the sophistication of the crime or fear of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Bankers Association, their abysmal record shows up in the headlines nearly every week, as cyber criminals, hacktivists and identity thieves pull off after with no foul calls and, in some cases, .

Lately, however, a precious few politicians have at long last sprinted ahead and taken some shots on goal against the bad guys. As Teddy Roosevelt would say, they are in the arena. They’re competing. They are making some awesome plays.    These players have become deadly serious, organizing special units to focus on the crime and throwing perpetrators in prison for a long time.



Ah to be young, talented and more than a little Type-A. When McKayla Maroney took home a silver medal in the vault, she was not impressed. Her podium pout proved it.

Now her famous scowl has earned her Internet darling status, inspiring the meme The site features Maroney’s smirk photoshopped onto images of famous places and moments in history. Rainbows? McKayla is not impressed. In fact, she’s not impressed with a lot of things, including the Sistine Chapel, NBC and Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

This Olympian has high standards, as she should, and we imagine she would be equally unimpressed with the biggest privacy violators in the 2012 (In)Security Games. Without further ado, here they are:


McKayla Maroney. Missy Franklin. Kirani James. These Olympic gold medalists have inspired us with their athleticism and poise—on the floor, in the pool or around the track. When you watch them perform with equal grace in media interviews, it’s hard to believe they’re just kids.

Until they remind us, that is. Maroney’s many facial expressions—including a podium pout after winning silver instead of gold on the vault—have earned her Internet stardom in multiple memes. Franklin, a big fan of Justin Bieber, reacted with giddy delight after receiving props on Twitter from the pop idol himself: “I just died! Thank you!”

Meanwhile, their fellow Olympians, even those who are older and more experienced, are channeling their inner teenager with “poor judgment” and “small acts of impropriety,” noted the . First there was the expulsion of the American judo fighter Nick Delpopolo after a drug test showed traces of marijuana in his system. (He claims to have unwittingly eaten a pot-laced treat before the games.) Then swimmer Ryan Lochte admitted to urinating in the pool during race warm-ups. And how could we not notice when the North Korea women’s soccer team threw a tantrum by refusing to take the field for 40 minutes because South Korea’s flag was accidentally placed on the stadium scoreboard?