It Always Feels Like Somebody’s Watching Me!

At first glance, this picture does not look particularly controversial or even interesting. But if you look closely, there is something extremely important going on here. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, has placed a piece of tape over the webcam on his computer. It’s a remarkably low-tech solution to a fairly high tech problem, which is that hackers have figured out how to access the camera in your computer to spy on you.

The process of hacking a webcam is a bit too complicated to explain concisely here. If you are curious about the details, I recommend checking out episode 5 of the Hackable? podcast.

How you can protect yourself:

First and foremost, be skeptical of any link or attachment you receive in your email in box. If you get a link or attachment from someone you do not know, don’t click it! This is how they get you. If you have any question, contact the sender to make sure they actually sent the content to you before you click the link or open the attachment. Better safe than sorry.

Secondly, cover your camera! Zuckerberg’s low-tech and low cost solution works great! You can use tape or a post-it. If that is a little too boring or lacking in style, or you don’t want to have to rip a piece of tape from your camera when you want to use it, you can get a little slider device from etsy.

It’s a scary world out there when people can, in some cases, peer right into your bedroom through your computer camera. Fortunately, protecting yourself is fairly easy and cheap.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me at 773-632-8330 or patrick@loftus-law.com.  And finally, as always, I am honored by your referrals.  To learn more about my practice, please shoot me a line!  And if you are looking to buy or sell property, I would love to set you up with one of my fantastic real estate brokers.

Find Out If Hackers Have Your Personal Data and What To Do About It

This is not about real estate, but I feel like data security is important enough to share this with you all.  I am sure you can all recall hearing about data breaches that seem to seem to occur not so infrequently these days.  In 2016 alone, Verizon, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Myspace (thanks, Tom), Democratic National Committee and Yahoo were all victims of hackers, which resulted in the inadvertent disclosure of personal data of millions of people.  Your email password, phone number, address, etc. might be floating on the “dark web” to be purchased by bad guys who want to steal from you.  Ok, so maybe my personal information is out there.  How do I know?  What do I do about it?

How do you know your data has leaked out in one of these data breaches?

One way to find out is by going to https://haveibeenpwned.com/.  Type in your email address, and you can see if your email address is associated with one of the many data breaches that has been publicized over the past several years.  It is not a perfect system.  Not every data breach has been publicized.  But it seems to be a pretty good tool to get started.

Oh crap, my data was leaked!  What do I do?

Firstly, change the password on any breached account.  Secondly, use a password manager to generate a genuine, secure password for every site you use that requires a password.  I don’t have any password managers to endorse (hit me up if you are a password manager company that wants to sponsor this blog post).

Shout out to the podcast, Reply All, whose episode #91 “The Russian Passenger” inspired this post.  Check out the podcast and the episode notes here for more information about securing your data, including more information about password managers.