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Facebook's Zuckerberg Gets Hacked

While Facebook privacy issues are becoming a concern for most users, you would think that the CEO of Facebook should at least be protected. Apparently that is not the case. Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page was hacked last week. The founder of the social networking giant found himself to be a victim of what many users often face, and I hope it prompts him to incorporate more robust security into the fabric of Facebook. In fact, my experience is that people’s willingness to pay attention to privacy and data security goes up exponentially when they have experienced a breach first hand.

Here is what The Guardian had to say about Zuckerberg’s breach:

“Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page has been hacked by an unknown person who posted a status update suggesting that the site should let people invest in it rather than going to the banks. The page belonging to the 26-year-old Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder who was named Time‘s Man of the Year in 2010, was hacked some time on Tuesday.” (The Guardian)

This hacking comes at the heals of the announcement that Facebook is worth about $50 billion after investors such as Goldman Sachs and a Russian venture capital firm started to take interest in the company. Many believe that those who made Facebook what it is today, the users, should be able to invest and profit from the billion dollar company. One significant breach of Facebook’s data could reduce that valuation by about 40%, as the loss of user trust would be devastating.

The following message was posted to Zuckerberg’s page:

This posting has since been removed and there has been no comment from Facebook on the hacking. This just goes to show you that if the CEO and Founder of Facebook can get hacked, so can the average user. Perhaps now Zuckerberg and the team at Facebook will take a closer look at privacy settings.

John Sileo trains organizations on Information Offense: Controlling identity, data and social media exposure before an attack takes place. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer, Homeland Security, FDIC, FTC, Federal Reserve Bank, Blue Cross Blue Shield and hundreds of corporations and organizations of all sizes. Learn more about his high-content financial speeches.

Financial Speaker Sileo Shares Story on Fox & Friends

Financial Speaker John Sileo Appears on Fox & Friends

John recently appeared on Fox & Friends to debunk myths about electronic pickpocketing. After the show, Fox host Steve Doocy asked John to stick around to talk about his personal experiences with identity theft, data breach and fraud. Having experienced these crimes first hand, John became a professional financial speaker with clients including the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, Pfizer, Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Federal Trade Commission. To see John in action, visit his Financial Speaker page.

Identity Theft Expert John Sileo on 60 Minutes


Achilles, an ancient Greek superhero — half human, half god — was in the business of war. His only human quality (and therefore his only exploitable weakness) was his heel, which when pierced by a Trojan arrow brought Achilles to the ground, defeated. From this Greek myth, the Achilles’ Heel has come to symbolize a
deadly weakness in spite of overall strength; a weakness that can potentially lead to downfall. As I formulated my thoughts in regard to New Zealand, I realized that the same weaknesses are almost universal — applying equally well to nations, corporations and individuals.During a recent 60 Minutes interview, I was asked off camera to name the Achilles’ heel of an entire country’s data security perspective; what exactly were the country’s greatest weaknesses. The country happened to be New Zealand, a forward-thinking nation smart enough to take preventative steps to avoid the identity theft problems we face in the States. The question was revealing, as was the metaphor they applied to the discussion.

For starters, let’s assume your business is strong, maybe even profitable in these tough economic times. In the spirit of Sun Tzu and The Art of War, you’ve dug in your forces, preparing for a lengthy battle: you’ve reduced costs, maximized your workforce, and focused on your most profitable strategies. As your competitors suffocate under market pressure, you breathe stronger as a result of the exercise. But like Achilles, your survival through adversity blinds you and even conditions you to ignore pending threats. You begin to think that your overall strength translates into an absence of weaknesses; and in general, you might be right. But Achilles didn’t die because of his overall strength, which was significant; he died because he ignored critical details. What details are you and your company ignoring?

Information, like Achilles himself, is power. And maintaining control and ownership of your information is quite possibly the most threatening Achilles’ heel any data-reliant business faces. Companies that don’t actively take control of their data are prime targets for identity theft, social engineering, data breach, corporate espionage, and social media exploitation. Regardless of your title, you have a great deal to learn from Achilles’ mistakes, and a significant opportunity to protect your own corporate heel.

Achilles 3 Fatal Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Admit Your Vulnerabilities. Achilles forgot that he was human, failing to take inventory of his weakness in spite of superior strength. Though his faults were limited — a small tendon at the base of his foot — his failure to protect himself in the right spots proved fatal. When protecting data, it is imperative to understand that your greatest vulnerabilities lie with the people inside of your company. No matter how secure your computer systems, no matter how much physical security you deploy, humans will always be your weakest link. The more technological security you implement, the quicker data thieves will be to attempt to socially engineer those inside your company (or pose as an insider) to capture your data. Admitting vulnerabilities doesn’t have to be a public, embarrassing act. It can be as simple as a quiet conversation with yourself and key players about where your business is ignoring risk.

The three greatest human vulnerabilities tend to be: 1. Unawareness of the risks posed by data loss, 2. Lack of emotional connection to the importance of data privacy (personally in professionally) and it’s affect on profitability, and 3. Misunderstanding that in a world where information is power, it’s no longer about whom you trust, but how you trust. These symptoms suggest that your privacy training has either been non-existent or dry, overly technical, policy related and lacking a strong “what’s-in-it-for-me” link between the individuals in your organization and the data they protect every day.

If this is true inside of your business, rethink your training from this perspective: Your audience members (employees) are individuals with their own identity concerns, not just assets of the company who can be forced to follow a privacy policy that they don’t even pretend to understand. By tapping into their personal vulnerabilities regarding private information (protecting their own Social Security Number, etc.), you can develop a framework and a language for training them to protect sensitive corporate information. Like in martial arts, where you channel your opponent’s energy to your favor, use your employee’s humanness to your advantage. Pinpoint these vulnerabilities and shine the light of education on them.

Fight Prevention Paralysis. One of the most unfortunate and destructive character traits among humans is our hesitation to prevent problems. It is human nature to invest time to prevent tragedy only after we’ve experienced the pain that results from inaction. We hop on the treadmill and order from the healthy menu only after our heart screams for attention. We install a home security system only after we’ve been robbed. Pain motivates action, but the damage is usually done. You can bet that had he the chance to do it all over again, Achilles would slap a piece of armor around his heel (just like TJMAXX would encrypt their wireless networks and AT&T would secure their iPad data).

Prevention doesn’t get the proper attention because its connection to the bottom line is initially harder to see. You are, in essence, eliminating a cost to your business that doesn’t yet exist (the costs of a future data breach: restoring and monitoring customer credit, brand damage, stock depreciation, legal costs, etc.). This seems counterintuitive when you could be eliminating costs that already exist. But here is the flaw in that method of thinking: the cost of prevention is a tiny fraction of the cost of recovery. When you prevent disaster, you get a huge return on your investment (should a breach ever occur). Statistics say that a breach will occur inside of your organization, which means that by failing to invest in prevention you are consciously denying your organization a highly profitable investment. Why would you insure your business against low percentage risks (fire), but turn the other way when confronted with a risk that has already affected 80% of businesses (data breach) and has an almost guaranteed double digit ROI? It is your responsibility to demonstrate how the numbers work; spend small amounts of money preventing, or vast sums of time and money recovering.

Harden the Riskiest Targets. Once you have admitted to and cataloged your vulnerabilities and allocated the resources to protect them, it is time to focus on those solutions with the greatest return on your investment. A constant problem in business is knowing how to see clearly through information overexposure and pick the right projects. Just think of how much stronger Achilles would have been had he placed armor over his heel (which was human) rather than his chest (which was immortal). There is no financially responsible way to lower your risk to zero, so you have to make the right choices. Most businesses will gain the greatest security by focusing on the following targets first:

  1. Bulletproof Your People. Most fraud is still committed the old fashioned way – by manipulating trusting, unsuspecting people inside of your organization. Train your people for what they are: the first line of defense against fraud. Begin by preventing identity theft among your staff and then bridge this personal knowledge into the world of professional data privacy.
  2. Protect Your Mobile Data. Laptops, smart phones and portable drives are the most common sources of severe data theft. The solution to this very powerful and ubiquitous form of computing is a quilt-work of security including password strengthening, data transport limitations,  access-level privileges, whole disk and wireless encryption, VPN and firewall configuration, physical locking and human decision making (e.g., don’t leave it unattended the next time you get coffee at your corporate conference).
  3. Prevent Insider Theft: Perform thorough background checks, reference verification and personality assessment to weed out dishonest employees before they join your organization. Implement an ongoing “honesty meter” for your employees that ensures they haven’t picked up bad or illegal habits since joining your company.
  4. Classify Your Data. Develop a system of classification that includes public, internal, confidential and top secret levels, along with secure destruction and storage guidelines.
  5. Anticipate the Clouds. Cloud computing (when you store your data on other people’s servers), is quickly becoming a major threat to the security of organizational data. Whether an employee is posting sensitive corporate info on their Facebook page (which Facebook has the right to distribute as they see fit) or you are storing customer data in a poorly protected, non-compliant server farm, you will ultimately be held responsible when that data is breached. You must be aware of who owns that data, today and in the future, when your storage company is bought out or goes bankrupt.

We have much to learn from the foresight of New Zealand; they are an excellent example of how organizations should defend their Achilles’ heel. To begin with, they have begun to acknowledge their vulnerabilities in advance of the problem (in fact, their chief vulnerability is that dangerous form of innocence that comes from having very few data theft issues, so far). In addition, they are taking steps to proactively prevent the expansion of identity theft and data breach in their domain (as evidenced by the corresponding educational story on 60 Minutes). Finally, they are targeting solutions that cost less and deliver more value. I was in New Zealand to instruct them on data security. Ironically, I gained as much knowledge on my area of expertise from them as I believe they did from me.

John Sileo speaks professionally on identity theft, data breach and social networking safety. His clients include the Department of Defense, the FDIC, FTC, Pfizer and the Federal Reserve Bank. Learn more about bringing him in to motivate your organization to better protect information assets.

Fun Social Engineering Training?

Businesses often make social engineering (or fraud) training boring! And that’s bad for your bottom line, because no one ends up remembering how to protect your organization against threats like data theft, corporate espionage or social networking exposure.

Too often, fraud and social engineering workshops cover just the concepts that define fraud rather than the feelings that signal it’s actually in process at the moment. The key to training your executives, employees and even customers on fraud is to let them experience what it feels like to be conned. In other words, they need to actually be socially engineered (manipulated into giving away their own private information) several times throughout the training so that they begin to reflexively sense fraud as it is happening. Like learning to throw a ball, there is no substitute for doing it for yourself. Fraud detection is similar; it takes actually doing it (or having it done to you) to fully understand the warning signs. Anything less will leave your audience yawning and uneducated.

This social engineering video was recorded at a fraud training I did recently for the Department of Defense, and it demonstrates how fun it can be to train someone on detecting fraud, and how profitable. As silly as it might seem, the skills necessary to detect fraud can be taught in very entertaining and engaging ways. After watching the video, take a minute to understand the basic skills your employees and executives will need to Stop Fraud:

Fraud Training Step 1: The Trigger

The trigger, or what causes you to be on high alert, is actually very simple—it is the appearance of private information in any form (your identity, customer information, employee records, intellectual capital, etc.). Anytime someone requests or has access to any of the names, numbers or attributes that make up identity, or to the paper, plastic, digital or human data where identity lives (whether it is yours or your organization’s), the trigger should trip and sound an alarm in your head.

There are hundreds of examples of fraud triggers in the workplace. Here are a few of the more common:

  • When someone is requesting information about you on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
  • When someone requests information about your company, computer login or co-workers in person or by phone
  • When you are clicking on a link in an email
  • When you are entering data into a website

When your identity is being requested in any way, slow down and ask yourself: Is the risk of giving this piece of identity away in this specific situation worth the benefit?

Fraud Training Step 2: Hogwash!

Your team should be trained such that anytime their reflex is triggered, a phrase or picture automatically pops into their head, whether they actively think about it or not. If the word (also called a trigger) is a bit out-of-the-ordinary and the picture is humorous, you almost can’t help but noticing when it appears. The trigger that I use when I train is the word HOGWASH! Here is my definition of Hogwash:

Hog’wash |hôg’wô sh | n. 1. A gut reaction that someone is manipulating you for their own gain, or feeding you a line of bull in order to deceive you (e.g., I’ll just borrow your password for a short time); 2. Healthy skepticism that persists until the person requesting information from you proves they are worthy of your trust.

When the word Hogwash pops into your head, picture a pig feeding at a trough. Better yet, picture the person (who is requesting your information) feeding at a trough (the image is what makes it fun and memorable – don’t be afraid of the silliness – it works). As they provide legitimate reasons for needing the information and adequate reassurance that your data will be handled securely, they begin to rise from the trough. But don’t let them off the hook yet, because social engineers are masters at using your natural biases against you.

Fraud Training Step 3: Vigilance

When an outsider has access to your identity or critical business data, your trigger should automatically activate without thinking about it (Hogwash!). Your first response should be to heighten your level of observation, to become more vigilant. View the situation as a child would—with curious eyes. You can even borrow what we teach our children to be more aware in dangerous situations—Stop, Look and Listen:

Listen to your instincts. Ask yourself if your identity is safe. Is there a change in the environment that makes you uneasy or uncertain? What is your gut saying? Would a spy give away this information? Is the benefit you are receiving worth the data you are sharing? Be a healthy skeptic (i.e., not paranoid, but vigilant) of anyone who is requesting sensitive information. The final and most important step is to follow up with the right questions, or interrogate the enemy.

Don’t make privacy a policy, make it part of your culture. Start by engaging your troops, not putting them to sleep.

If you are interested in having John Sileo conduct fraud training and social engineering workshops for your organization, contact him directly on 1.800.258.8076. His satisfied clients include the Department of Defense, the FDIC, Pfizer and the Federal Trade Commission.

Are Your Kids Safe Online?

As a parent you are often worried about what your kids are being exposed to on the Internet. Apparently so are Facebook and the PTA. They have teamed up to teach parents and children about responsible Internet use. They plan to cover cyber-bullying, internet safety and security and “citizenship online,” according to a news release.

“Nothing is more important to us than the well-being of the people, especially the many teenagers, who use Facebook,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer.

Facebook is the number one social media site with over 500 million users and a minimum age requirement of 13. Even that requirement can be easily fudged because Facebook has no way of verifying a user’s age besides asking for their birth date when they register. Parents are having trouble deciding whether to let their children join Facebook prematurely and what they should be cautious of if they do so.

Learn more on Protecting Your Children Online.

It is important to be educated when dealing with any form of social media or social networking website. Social networking is immensely powerful and is here for the long run, but we must learn to harness and control it. You should know the ins and outs, pros and cons, risks and rewards to using these online tools. Because teens and children don’t necessarily have the life experiences to recognize the risks, parents must educate themselves and pass that knowledge on with open and honest discussions on Facebook and Online Safety.

John Sileo became one of America’s leading Social Networking Speakers & sought after Identity Theft Experts after he lost his business and more than $300,000 to identity theft and data breach. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To learn more about having him speak at your next meeting or conference, contact him by email or on 800.258.8076.