TIPS: Stop.Think.Connect. December 2012 Update

 Shared from an email to me from U.S. Department of Homeland Security .


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During the Season of Giving, Don’t Give Out Your PersonalHoliday Gift InformationFrom smartphones and tablets to gaming systems and e-readers, this year’s holiday wish lists are more wired than ever. Many of us will immediately load photos, user accounts, and other personal data onto our new gadgets, eager to enjoy them.

However, if you are giving or receiving the newest tech toys this holiday season, don’t forget to secure new devices from cybercriminals on the hunt for personal information. Smartphones, tablets, and other electronics are now as powerful and functional as many computers. Therefore is important to protect those devices just like you protect your computer or laptop. The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) provides the following tips to safeguard your data:


  • Lock your device when you are not using it. Even if you only step away for a few minutes, it’s enough time for someone else to steal or destroy your information.
  • Disconnect your device from the Internet when you aren’t using it. The likelihood that attackers or viruses scanning the network for available devices will target you becomes much higher if your device is always connected.
  • Keep software up to date. Install software patches so that attackers cannot take advantage of known problems or vulnerabilities. Many operating systems offer automatic updates.
  • Consider creating separate user accounts. If there are multiple people using the device, someone else may accidentally access, modify, or delete your information. If you have the option, create different user accounts for each user and set the access and privileges for each account.
  • Establish guidelines for usage. If there are multiple people using your device, especially children, make sure they understand how to use the device safely. Setting boundaries and guidelines will help protect your data.
  • Back up your data. Whether or not you take steps to protect yourself, there will always be a possibility that something will happen to destroy your data. Regularly backing up your data reduces the stress and consequences that result from losing important information.
  • For specific information on securing gaming systems, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s OnGuard Online. For smartphone security tips, visit the Federal Communication Commission’s Smartphone Security Checker, a new resource that demonstrates how you can be safer when using a mobile device.


For specific information on securing gaming systems, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s OnGuard Online. For smartphone security tips, visit the Federal Communication Commission’s Smartphone Security Checker, a new resource that demonstrates how you can be safer when using a mobile device.

For more cyber resources and tips, visit

Federal Communications Commission Smartphone Security Federal Communications Commission LogoChecker Released to Help Secure Mobile Devices

Today the Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign will host a Twitter Chat with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time to discuss smartphone security. Established in 1934, the FCC regulates radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable communications across the country. In addition to its regulatory responsibility, the FCC is committed to seizing the technological and economic opportunities of the new millennium.

To help the growing number of smartphone users, the FCC developed the Smartphone Security Checker, a new tool to help consumers ensure their mobile devices are secure. “Mobile cybersecurity threats are growing, and it’s important to understand how to protect your smartphone just like you protect your computer,” said Jordan Usdan, Director of Public-Private Initiatives at the FCC. “The FCC’s Smartphone Security Checker provides numerous resources, including tips and easy-to-follow instructions, to help consumers take steps to guard against smartphone security threats.”

The Smartphone Security Checker is just one of several FCC cybersecurity initiatives. The FCC PROTECTS Initiative cracks down on the stolen phone and tablet resale market in an effort to make smartphone theft a crime that doesn’t pay. The PROTECTS Initiative consists of three key pieces: (1) creating a database to prevent stolen smartphones and tablets from being reactivated on a mobile network, that will dramatically reduce their value of stolen devices on the black market; (2) putting in place automatic prompts on smartphones and tablets for consumers to set passwords and take steps to secure their devices; and (3) increasing awareness of the importance of increasing smartphone security.

Click here for more information on the Smartphone Security Checker, and click here to report a stolen smartphone.

To participate in the Chat, use the hashtag #ChatSTC beginning at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time today Tuesday, December 18th.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement Cracks Down on Immigration and Customs Enforcement LogoSelling Counterfeit Goods During the Holiday Season


During the holiday season, many websites are set up to dupe consumers into unknowingly buying a host of counterfeit products, such as professional sports jerseys, DVD sets, clothing, jewelry, and luxury goods. While we each have a role to play in being vigilant in where and how we purchase online merchandise, we are not alone.

As one of the U.S. government’s key weapons in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) leads the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) and is working diligently to make this holiday shopping season a safer one. On November 26, 2012, ICE HSI seized 132 domain names that were illegally selling counterfeit merchandise online to unsuspecting consumers.

Using the expertise of its 21 member agencies, the IPR Center shares information, develops initiatives, coordinates enforcement actions, and conducts investigations related to intellectual property (IP) theft.

In its third year, the IPR Center has targeted websites selling counterfeit products online in conjunction with Cyber Monday. Additionally, recognizing the global nature of Internet crime, this year the IPR Center partnered with European Police Office (Europol). ICE Director John Morton said the partnership will “enable us to go after criminals who are duping unsuspecting shoppers all over the world. This is not an American problem, it is a global one, and it is a fight we must win.”

While HSI will continue to aggressively pursue product counterfeiters and those who sell counterfeit products, there are things you can do to safeguard your transactions online during this holiday season. ICE offers the following tips to help you avoid buying counterfeit goods:


  • If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Research the seller or website you’re buying from. Does the company have a brick and mortar store? If so, try calling during business hours.
  • Do your homework. Educate yourself on the correct logo or spelling, packaging, hardware or stitching of whatever you are considering. It also helps to visit an actual store to examine the real deal up close. Take pictures and compare them to the seller’s images.
  • Don’t ever buy an item that you learn about via bulk email (“spam”). Your chances of receiving the item at all are less than 50%.
  • Don’t conduct business with an anonymous seller. Get the person’s real name, business name (if applicable), address, and phone number. Verify this information before buying. And don’t send your payment to a post office box.
  • Save copies of all of the emails and other documents involved in the transaction. Then, if you discover that an item is counterfeit, you have documentation to help you deal with the problem.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask lots and lots of questions.
  • Look at the whole picture and review the facts. Misspellings on a website, no way to contact the seller other than email and product prices that are too good to be true could mean you are about to get scammed.


Counterfeit criminals are robbing from legitimate companies, many of them U.S.-based, and hurting the men and women who depend on those companies for their livelihood. You can help fight piracy and counterfeiters. To report intellectual property theft or to learn more about the IPR Center, visit

DHS Component Spotlight: Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

It is that time of year again when people are busy preparing their travel plans to enjoy the holiday season with family and friends. With thoughts of good cheer, spending time with loved ones, and buying last minute gifts, it is easy to become distracted and forget that cyber criminals are actively looking for ways to steal your sensitive information and money – especially while you are using mobile devices while traveling.

The good news is that protecting yourself from this type of nefarious activity is fairly easy to do. By following the simple security tips provided below from TSA, you can significantly reduce your chances of becoming a victim and having your festive holiday become a dismal nightmare.

  • Ensure all of your mobile devices, like your smartphone, have the latest operating system, and for your laptop, download security software updates. By taking these precautions, you’re protected against current viruses, worms, spyware, Trojan horses, spam, and other dangerous forms of malware.
  • Before you connect to any public Wi-Fi hotspots, like at a hotel, airport, train/bus station, or café, you should confirm the name of the network and exact login procedures with appropriate staff to ensure that the network is legitimate.
  • Because many public Wi-Fi hotspots operate in an unsecure manner, you should avoid using these networks to perform sensitive transactions such as banking and online purchases.
  • While in public places, you should always check your surroundings to ensure unauthorized individuals are not able to view sensitive information on your mobile device screens or the keys that you use to enter information.
  • In order to prevent theft, unauthorized access to, and/or loss of sensitive information, never leave your mobile devices – including any USB/external storage devices – unattended in a public place. If you plan on leaving the devices in your hotel room, be sure those items are appropriately secured.
  • Before leaving a hotel or café, or exiting a taxi, airplane, train, bus, or any other facility or mode of transportation, make sure that your mobile devices, including any USB/external storage devices, are with you and not left behind.
  • If you have a Bluetooth-enabled device, you should turn off the Bluetooth setting when not in use to prevent unauthorized individuals from connecting to your device and gaining access to your sensitive information.
  • And, last, but not least, you should avoid connecting your mobile devices to any public computer or charging station to prevent malicious software from being installed and/or having your sensitive data being accessed.

Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign Speaks to Northern VirginIa Girl Scouts of the USAGirl Scout Troop About the Importance of Cybersecurity


Kristina Dorville, Director of DHS’s Cyber Awareness Programs, discussed the importance of protecting cyberspace with 40 Girl Scouts on December 4, 2012. Together they talked about the potential online risks, like cyber predators and bullies and identity theft as well as walked through a few case studies including what to watch out for when downloading music online.

The Northern Virginia event is part of a larger partnership with the Girl Scouts and the Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign that was announced in August 2012. The partnership promotes cybersecurity awareness to over 3.2 million girls across the country. The Campaign will continue to work with the Girl Scouts to educate girls about potential cyber risks and how they can avoid them. Click here to read more.

Girl Scouts of the USA was founded in 1912 with the goal of bringing girls out of isolated home environments and into community service. Through enriching experiences, such as field trips, sports skill-building clinics, community service projects, cultural exchanges, and environmental stewardships, Girl Scouts seeks to grow courageous and strong young women. For additional information on Girl Scouts of the USA, please click here.

To learn more about how you can get involved in the Stop.Think.Connect. National Network, which is available to non-profit organizations, click here. Federal, state, and local governments are invited to join the Cyber Awareness Coalition. There is no financial fee associated with joining either group.

For more information on the Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign, please visit or email us directly at StopThinkConnect@HQ.DHS.GOV.

Stop.Think.Connect. Social Media

Updated: January 3, 2013 — 12:48 am

The Author

Rich Fleetwood

Rich is the founder of SurvivalRing, now in it's 24th year, author of multimedia CDs and DVDs, loves the outdoors, his family, his geeky skill-set, and lives in rural southern Wyoming, just below the continental divide (long story, that...). Always ready to help others, he shares what he learns on multiple blogs, many social sites, and more. With a background in preparedness and survival skills, training with county, state, and national organizations, and skills in all areas of media and on air experience in live radio and television, Rich is always thinking about the "big picture", when it comes to helping individuals and families prepare for life's little surprises.

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