The State of Internet Privacy & Security in America Today

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By Hector Cisneros

Our world is an ever widening set of connections, growing in complexity and diversity every day.  With each new type of connection comes the potential for hacking.  Every new Internet of things (IoT) device comes with the potential for loss of privacy. With each new type of counter-surveillance comes the potential for abuse from the government and criminals as well. Most of the technology we have invented sprang from an idea of how to make things easier, more user-friendly, and more useful to the average person. This approach often neglects the necessary safeguards needed to protect unsophisticated users from very intelligent and sophisticated criminals bent on taking advantage of the loopholes present in technology that has been rushed to market. In this episode of Working the Web to Win, we will cover the current state of US internet privacy and security, so that every consumer will be prepared for the onslaught of loss of privacy that is coming. So read on and learn how to protect yourself in the current era of Internet insecurity.

How did we get here? The road to perdition is not a straight and narrow one. It is full of ups and downs, winding curves and lots of dead ends. Our love affair with technology goes all the way back to the Stone Age. Technology for the most part is designed to make life easier. In fact, it expands our capabilities. Some would argue that our ability to create and use technology is what separates us from the animal kingdom. But there is such a thing as too much of a good thing! Especially if that “good thing” is not well thought out! Technology evolves faster than does our wisdom to employ it safely. That occurs for the most part due to the fact that our mental evolution is not linear.

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Our society is not homogeneous when it comes to understanding, using and even being responsible for the proper implementation of technology. (The Manhattan Project is an example of the yin and yang inherent whenever mankind makes a technological leap.) Using technology requires training, lots of learning and practice. To make matters worse, new tech products are often released with minimal testing. In fact, the release of today’s Internet-enabled products is often tested in the real world. This laissez-faire attitude with products connected to the internet (i.e. The Internet of Things) has left us very vulnerable to all kinds of malicious hacker attacks. At the same time, it has made it possible for a massive invasion of our privacy.

Big Brother Built-In - Many of these new products are designed to listen in and track most of what we do in our everyday lives. Some would say that the scenario can’t get any more Orwellian, but it can and will. Many of these new IoT products have artificial intelligence built into them as well. This new technology is being implemented with minimal privacy safeguards. Since all of these IoT devices are connected via the Internet, the possibility of losing control of the infrastructure of our lives depend is extremely high.

What do I mean by losing control of the infrastructure of our lives? That’s simple. Today, traffic lights, water systems, electricity, banking, gas lines, security monitoring, cell phone communications, air traffic control, our nation's defense, food distribution scheduling, you name it, all most everything is now managed via some kind of internet connection. Now many of these services are becoming more automated. That means these new AI IoT devices are very susceptible to hacking! Criminals, enemy governments, and terrorist groups no longer have to possess weapons of mass destruction to do this country real harm.  All they have to do is master the hacking of IoT.

Today evrything from Barbie Dolls to your Jeep Grand Cherokee can be hacked. According to an article in WIRED called How the Internet of Things Got Hacked-
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“Security researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek forever altered the automobile industry’s notion of “vehicle safety” in July when they demonstrated for WIRED that they could remotely hack a 2014 Jeep Cherokee to disable its transmission and brakes. Their work led Fiat Chrysler to issue an unprecedented recall for 1.4 million vehicles, mailing out USB drives with a patch for the vulnerable infotainment systems and blocking the attack on the Sprint network that connected its cars and trucks.”

Another example is The hacking of smart TV’s. In an article from in their Technology section written by  Nicole Kobie states: “One of the first devices to go “smart” was the TV – so it’s unsurprisingly one of the first to be hacked.

Columbia University researchers Yossef Oren and Angelos Keromytis revealed a vulnerability in the main spec for the Digital Video Broadcasting consortium, Hybrid Broadcast-Broadband Television (HbbTV), which is used by the vast majority of smart TV makers.

Dubbed the “red-button attack”, this man-in-the-middle hack could be used to intercept data – including sound and pictures – and use the stream to takeover apps being shown on the TV, letting hackers post to your Facebook, for example.

My last example is one from MIT Technology Review written by Tom Simonite where he discusses how the Chinese were caught trying to infiltrate U.S municipal water control systems. The article states: “The group, known as APT1, was caught by a research project that provides the most significant proof yet that people are actively trying to exploit the vulnerabilities in industrial control systems. Many of these systems are connected to the Internet to allow remote access (see “Hacking Industrial Systems Turns Out to Be Easy”). 
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APT1, also known as Comment Crew, was lured by a dummy control system set up by Kyle Wilhoit, a researcher with security company Trend Micro, who gave a talk on his findings at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas.

The attack began in December 2012, says Wilhoit, when a Word document hiding malicious software was used to gain full access to his U.S.-based decoy system, or “honeypot.” The malware used, and other characteristics, were unique to APT1, which security company Mandiant has claimed operates as part of China’s army (see “Exposé of Chinese Data Thieves Reveals Sloppy Tactics”).”

If you do an Internet search you will find hundreds of examples of how IoT devices are being hacked. I know that security experts are working on plugging the security holes, but a lot of that work is happening after the fact, not in pre-release testing! No one is testing cheap Chinese electronic devices being sold everywhere (Including on the internet). Heck, I would be willing to bet that some smart hacker is going to start selling his own vulnerable IoT devices to the unsuspecting public so that they can have their own crew of zombie devices in the field, ready to do their bidding – without having to actually hack them. They will just use the built-in back door already there.

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What can we do as individuals? Make sure you take responsibility for your own privacy and internet security by thoroughly completing your due diligence on any IoT product you plan on purchasing or using. Make sure you have proper safeguards in place to protect your personal information and assets. We have written blogs about how to protect yourself from hackers in the past. Check out the recent article we wrote called “The Crypto Crunch – Ransomware Run Amuck” - to find 13 things you can do to protect your digital devices.

What can we do as a Business to protect itself? A lot! Read our article called “Are You Prepared for the Onslaught of Cyber-Attacks?” It provides more than two dozen ways a business can implement procedures, security products and techniques to protect themselves.

You can purchase dedicated security devices to increase network protection for the office. You can also employ intruder traps and a variety of hardware, software detection devices to help stem the tide of cyber-attacks by hackers. Using a commercial grade secure smartphone can also be a wise move as well. US government officials use specially hardened smartphones to protect their communications. Anyone can purchase a Blackphone or encryption software from Silence Circles (and others) to exponentially increase their privacy and security.

Use a VPN to Mask your IP Address - Something that has been getting a lot of attention
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lately is the use of VPN’s. Virtual Private Networks are not new. However, using them as a gateway to get on the internet will hide your IP address is. Hiding your IP address makes your IP address anonymous and thus eliminates many forms of censorship and tracking.  An Article on Guiding Tech by Yadon provides a great explanation on what it is and how it works. By using a VPN, you can mask your IP address which ensures a greater level of privacy and security.

There’s More - There are also many plugin’s and browser settings that can increase privacy and security.  You can always turn off cookies in your browser and many browsers have an incognito mode (although not totally private) as well. I use SearchLock in my Chrome Browser and it provides a higher level of privacy than just using the incognito setting. If you go to the browser store and search for privacy plug-ins you will find several you can try. Along these same lines you can get popup/Adware blockers you can add to your browsers as well. We have mentioned many ways to protect your systems privacy and security in other articles. In my article the “Piracy of Privacy - The looting of Privacy in America”, I provide 12 ways you can improve your privacy without breaking the bank. In my article entitled “Is Google Watching you”, I further provide another half dozen ways to protect your privacy on the internet. 

To these 18 ways to protect yourself, I would also add:
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  • Minimize the use of Artificially Intelligent devices. These devices keep your private information on tap to function.
  • Use a throw away email address whenever possible (one you get from Gmail, yahoo etc.).
  • Use one-time use credit cards to limit your financial exposure.
  • Only use https addresses when browsing on the internet. These addresses are more likely to be legit, which is why Google gives them a higher ranking factor.
  • Use PayPal to add an additional layer of protection to your purchases.
  • When traveling (especially overseas) use a prepaid smart phone without installing any of your private info on it.
  • If you want the best security, buy a secure smart phone like the Blackphone from Silent Circle.
As a society, we are now dependent on the internet for many daily activities. These include: banking transactions, product and service purchases, travel reservations, TV access, most of our communications, you name it, we rely on the internet for too many things to be without it now. Americans would go through tremendous withdrawal pains to say the least. With this in mind, we need to step up to the plate and take responsibility to protect ourselves and to urge the business community and our government to take decisive action to make the internet safer. This responsibility starts with educating ourselves and taking action using what we have learned.

Here is a list of articles we have written that can help you get a broad overview and a deep understanding of this subject. 
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  1. Dirty Tricks Can Deep Six Your Business
  2. The Hack Attack Is Back
  3. I-Spies Are Looking for You
  4. The Trouble with Texts - New Text Virus Hits Europe
  5. The Grinch Goes Digital
  6. How to Safely Whet Your Appetite for Smartphone Apps
  7. It’s Time for Some Hi-Tech Spring Cleaning
  8. How Do I Hack Thee? Let Me Count the Ways – A Cyberstalking Primer
  9. How to Survive a Big Mac Attack
  10. Attack of the Botnets
  11. Who Wears a Black Hat on the Wild, Wild Web?
  12. How Close is the US to Experiencing a Digital Pearl Harbor?
  13. Cyberstalking for Fun & Profit - Is There a Cyberstalker in Your Future?
  14. Big Data Comes Wrapped in Big Danger
  15. Spring Cleaning Means Taking Out the Cyber Trash
  16. Chinese Hack Attack!
  17. Trick or Tweet? The Vulnerabilities Inherent to Twitter and All Social Networks
  18. How Freeware Can Cost You BIG
  19. Are You Prepared for the Onslaught of Cyber-Attacks?
  20. The Crypto Crunch - Ransomware Run Amok
  21. The Byte Before Christmas
  22. Working the Web - Is There a Cyber Attack in Your Future?
  23. Cyber Security Shuffle
  24. Is Google Watching you
  25. Piracy of Privacy - The looting of Privacy in America


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I hope you do the research necessary and take the time to learn and understand this grave threat tour modern life. It is one of the gravest threats to our generation (even greater than that of ISIL terrorists). The above articles will provide a broad understanding along with a wealth of links and information to help protect you and your businesses. Since the government is asleep at the switch when it comes to cybersecurity this problem is ours to deal with. I hope you decide to roll up your sleeves and do your part.


That’s my opinion, I look forward to hearing yours.

In this article I have discussed the current state of privacy and internet security in America today. I have provided many examples of what we can do to improve our privacy and security, to keep cybercrime and hackers at bay. I have also included dozens of links to other articles that provide further details and options to help you improve your privacy and security, both in business and your personal life.

If you feel your business could use some help with its marketing, contact us at 904-410-2091. We will provide a free marketing analysis to help you get better results. If you found this article useful, please share it with friends, family and co-workers. You can find other articles on our blog by typing in “marketing” or your desired search term in the search box at the top of this blog. Also, don’t forget to plus us, on Google+.

Hector Cisneros is COO and director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.”

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How to Start a Career Using Social Media!

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By Hector Cisneros

If you are seeking employment in today's competitive job market, you're looking for every edge you can get to beat the competition. Social media can be that edge. When used in a systematic and focused way, social media can provide you with multitude of job seeking avenues and connections that you could not achieve using just your feet, friends and a phone. In this article on Working the Web to Win, we will explore how any would-be job seeker can gain worthwhile employment, start their career and join today's workforce, with a job that they want, and the potential they seek.  This is a comprehensive article that covers all aspects of using social media for your search. So read on and learn how to use social media in the war to win gainful employment.

Let’s begin our journey with an understanding of what I believe are universal truths that will help you get an edge over your competition for a long term gainful career. First of all, I believe that a person with a positive attitude will have an advantage over those looking to take shortcuts to get a job. I believe in avoiding trickery, being consistent and fully understanding what you want in a career. Even if you’re not sure of the type of job you want, being positive and ready to serve when needed, will always help you make the right connections and meet the right people who can help you.

Six Reasons to Join and use a Social Network?  If you haven’t joined a ton of social networks yet, here are six important reasons to make the leap. First, a large social network can help you further your career. It allows you to connect with colleagues and share vital information. It can help you find vital information on potential employers. It can be a stepping stone to your next job or career move. It allows you to hunt for new jobs effectively. It allows you to showcase your skills. Most importantly, it can connect you with people that can help you.

Here are Five Things You Need to Know About Social Media

1.    Social networks are the primary source for job candidate acquisition today. Gone
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are the days when newspapers dominated the job hunt.  Yes, you can still look for a job in the paper, but it's much more efficient to search social media and job sites to find the right job you’re looking for. The number one place people look for a job is “LinkedIn”.  Job sites like monster and ZipRecruiter all post job listings on Twitter, Facebook and yes, LinkedIn. Just search for them on the respective social nets and see what's there.
2.    LinkedIn is the number one place businesses look for new employees. Employers like LinkedIn as a business-friendly social media network. Their sales people use it to generate leads and close more business. However, many businesses love using LinkedIn to post jobs because they feel it produces better candidates.  As a matter of fact, many businesses have company pages designed to recruit potential employees while they are still in school.
3.    As a member of a Social Networks – you are both a user and a product of the Social network. When you join any social network you become a subscriber with all the benefits and privileges that a network has to offer.  However, you are also a product in their database of users, which is bought and sold on a daily basis. This means you need to make sure that your profile is polished and professional and that zero grammatical errors are present. You need to choose your words carefully and you need to make sure you connect with individuals and groups that can help you achieve your goals.
4.    Social Media sells your information to advertisers and other vendors. All social media networks also sell your posts and information to other vendors. Your posts are often sold to Google to be added to their organic search stream. Vendors also routinely buy your profile information for sales and recruiting purposes. Heck, you can look up (often for free) or buy anyone's profile on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Google+. For the most part they are free for the taking.
5.    You do not own what you post. The network does. Social networks are not free! When I tell people this, they often seem surprised. But they shouldn’t be. You get to use
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the social networks you join for free! You sign a EULA stating you have little or no rights to anything you post and you get to use their functions at no cost to you, except that they own all of your data. This means you have zero privacy, so make sure you post wisely! Here are some reasons why they are not free.  (a.) It takes time and effort to set up a social network profile. Your time has value. If you multiply your efforts posting to 5 to 8 networks, you have invested a considerable amount of time. (b.) You also have to provide useful, relevant & timely content for your audience to grow daily! If you’re not posting useful information, your profile has minimal usefulness to others. It takes time and effort to do the research to find the best content and it takes time to post the information and format it for each of the different social networks. Time equals money. Time spend equals money spend!

You need to grow your network so that it has reach and depth. Here are the fundamentals of Growth. First, posting useful content on a regular basis is paramount. Second, inviting others to follow and connect with you on a daily basis also needs to be a priority. Third, engaging your connections on a daily basis by asking relevant questions and sharing their useful content makes them more likely to reciprocate. Fourth, you need to spend some time each week managing your connections so that you’ll weed out the riffraff and keep your other connections happy. If you want to grow your network to a large number, you need to invite lots of people to follow you. Remember to stay within the boundaries set by each network. As a rule, most networks will let you invite more as you're following gets bigger!  Of these fundamentals, connecting with others needs to be done daily. Use my “Rule of 3” to grow your network. Invite at least three people a day to connect with you for steady growth. (Invite 10 if you can, and to really see big growth – invite 30).

How to Grow your Social Network based on your Skills and Knowledge. You will have
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to actively connect with people by following and inviting them to connect with you – daily! If you know what skill set you have, target industries that need that skill set. Follow the leaders in your industry in LinkedIn and Twitter at a minimum. The more networks the better. Send email, direct messages and InMails to HR managers, recruiters and decision makers weekly. Follow up with postcards and regular snail mail as well, just to stand out from the competition (chances are they didn’t send this kind of mail). Include your resume along with a list of projects you have worked on, played a critical role in, and or headed up.  This includes projects completed in college and those completed as an intern.

Post/Send links of samples of your work & projects. Also send links to your testimonials and endorsements pages. Post useful, timely and interesting articles (curated posts) on a regular basis. Ask for opinions and comments. Share posts generated by others and give them credit (i.e. Retweet). This is especially true for industry leaders and influencers. Blog about subjects in your industry (these are authoritative posts). Creating quality articles can showcase your skills and expertise. Make sure you share your blogs with friends and coworkers and ask them to share them as well. I like Blogger, but many also use LinkedIn’s Pulse and Slide Share. Repurpose your blogs with e-zines and local publications to get more coverage. Convert them to vlogs & podcasts as well. Create short video blogs (Vlog) that teach others how to use a product or to explain a concept or procedure. This shows you're willing to help others and also shows off your expertise.

Here are some Simple Techniques for Supersizing your Social Nets.  If you invite 30 people a day to connect and have a non-connection rate of 75%, you will still grow by 2,738 new followers in one year! Here’s the math.  30 x 365 = 10,950 invited followers. 10,950 x 75% = 8,212 people who unfollowed or did not follow back. 10,950 – 8212 = 2,738 net followers!

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7 things to do on a daily basis
  1. Share a positive quote for the day!
  2. Share a current interesting article in your industry, especially on LinkedIn.
  3. Encourage others to read and share your posts.
  4. Thank everyone who follows you or says something nice about you.
  5. Check LinkedIn and other job boards daily.
  6. Connect with at least 3 new people every day.
  7. Provide written testimonials & endorsements for others, especially on LinkedIn.
8 Things to do every week
  1. Check your profile stats every week.
  2. Contact people who are looking at your stats to connect with them.
  3. Look for influencers to read and share your posts and ask them to share your posts as well.
  4. Share the best post of the week on all your social networks. Encourage others to make comments.
  5. Join and actively participate in group discussions, especially on LinkedIn.
  6. Write and publish a weekly quality article on Blogger.
  7. Create and publish a weekly Vlog on YouTube.
  8. Share your blog and Vlog posts on LinkedIn, your other networks and ask people to subscribe to your networks!
Save time and energy by limiting your online social networking. I recommend no more than two hours a day. Don’t forget to engage in face to face networking. Join local industry groups, Meetups and other social networks. The local Chambers of Commerce offer a special job seeker membership; I’d take advantage of this offer. Spend a little, get a lot. Get LinkedIn Premium to make job hunting easier. They have a free trial that you can turn off at any time.

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Always strive to look professional and competent.  Make sure your posts are checked and double-checked for grammar and spelling errors. Always give credit where credit is due. Understand your audience and provide posts at their educational level. Minimize tech speak and acronyms if at all possible, even if you’re in TECH. Keep your posts short & sweet!

Take Advantage of your audience’s preferences. Curated & authoritative posts with videos & pictures are read and shared more often. This is followed by posts with audio and then text only. There are generational gaps for followers. Baby Boomers have very different preferences than do Millennials.  Younger audiences prefer more instant and visual messages. Being mobile-friendly is a must!

Use Leverage to Magnify your message. Whenever possible, post to as many social networks simultaneously. Use aggregation tools like Hootsuite, Hootlet, Tweet Deck & others to schedule your posts. Use information gathering services like Google Alerts, PaperLi & others content services. Gather & organize your posts in advance, then schedule your posts with the aggregation software of your choice.

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Use Hashtags Whenever Possible.  Hashtags are used in twitter, Google+, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and other networks. Hashtags (# symbol) placed in front of a word, makes that word searchable to users of that social network.  That’s right, even the people you’re not connected to can find it.  This allows you to transmit your message beyond the confines of your network connections.

Thank all followers whenever it's appropriate. This includes new followers, mentions, retweets, shares, forwards, comments and even questions. Use “Grandma’s Rules” of social engagement (“you are your manners”). Rules like: Be nice to people. Be courteous. Say please & thank you, help others, etc. If you want people to connect with you, be nice to them. A simple thank you and lending a helpful hand carries more weight than you realize.

Ask and you shall receive. If you want people to share your information by retweeting and sharing your comments and latest post, ask them to do so! You have a 33 % greater chance of them sharing your post if you just ask. If you want to engage people, be engaging, ask open questions, and compliment them on their achievements & good fortune. Console their grief. Be sure to like, comment, share and retweet their posts! Don’t be pushy. Like begets like!  If you don’t ask, you won’t receive!

Recruiters are looking for specific skills + value added individuals! They might check
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your profile because you have the right skill set or because your profile is in a similar industry.  They might contact you because you have a significant list of endorsements or testimonials. Another reason could be that you provided them useful & relevant information in a group discussion or blog. A recruiter may find your comments or content in a blog to be of high quality, timely and/or useful. Or they may just follow you because they hunt by numbers – the more the better.

Some final keys to success. Dedication is your friend. A good attitude goes far beyond just your immediate reach. Bring or add value, where ever you go. It gives you an edge! Smile and be authentic with everyone you interact with. Get the skills needed to compete in your chosen industry. Be patient and persistent. Help others and be courteous. Being respectful when speaking to superiors and potential employers carries real weight. Learn everything you can about your industry.

If you’re really looking to launch a career vs just getting a job) this article provides you a step by step outline of what you need to do to make social media your best weapon of choice to win the war of career advancement. Following these steps will not only improve your chances of getting a great job, but more importantly, it will help you achieve a launching point in the career direction you choose to be in. This article outlines many ways to connect with the right people in the most efficient ways possible and it will get you where you want to be in the shortest possible time frame.
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That’s my opinion, I look forward to hearing yours.

You can find other related articles by searching this blog. Just type in “Job Search” or Social networking” in the search box at the top of this blog. Please share this article with your friends, family and associates. And please don’t forget to Plus us on Google+.

If you feel your business could use some help with its marketing, contact us at 904-410-2091. We will provide a free marketing analysis to help you get better results. If you'd like a free copy of our eBook, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," please fill in the form below and we'll give you instant access to it. Your information is always kept private and is never sold. You will also receive our weekly newsletter covering current trends, events and happenings on the web.

Hector Cisneros is COO and director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.”

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