Monday, November 30, 2015

The Personal Dangers of an Irresponsible, Online Social Life

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There are two aspects to social media life that have definite links to crime. The first one, and I believe the most important, relates to victimization due to the indulgence of too much personal information over social media networks.

The second relationship is your postings on social media and how they might implicate you in crimes--at least it can show propensity to certain psychological traits that may be subject to criminal actions. This information can be used against you in a court of law.

The Danger of Too Much Personal Information

If you stand back and look at what others are posting on Facebook, Google+, and others, you have to wonder whether they are really thinking about what they are doing. When some people go to the mall to shop, as in the holiday season, they invariably take pictures and make comments while they are out using their mobile device. Now listen, how many criminals out there are reading those postings?

If I were a criminal, I'd make these specific people an intense study. Once I knew who they were, I'd find out where they live, I'd get their cell number, and I'd keep a close eye on their routines. When the time seems right, I'd sit nearby and monitor Facebook so I'd know when they are gone and when they are headed back. In the mean time, I and my criminal buds would pay their home a visit--one the social media victim would never forget.

Social Media and Self Incrimination

Now, where social media becomes a means of self incrimination. Believe it or not, people that commit crimes many times have to brag about their capers. That goes for young kids as well as some older criminals. Take for example the case of teenage girls posting of video on social media of them roasting a kitten in a microwave (see video below).

I'm sure they didn't think it was so cool once the police arrested each one of them for the crime they so maliciously committed against an innocent, living animal.

Who's next, one of their little brothers?

The Dangers of High-Tech Gadgets and too Much Social Media

All of this leads me to the next thought... perhaps social media and the high-tech gadgets we've come to enjoy, depend on, and live by are somehow causing us to lose sight of the things that should matter the most to us. The next video, which is a TED Talk video on YouTube, accents just that.

In conclusion, social media is a great means of personal communication and the high-tech gadgets we use on a daily basis are also great tools for both personal enjoyment and business use, but we need to think about what we're doing when we post personal information.

Ask yourself this one question, "If there's a criminal out there watching me, is what I'm about to post going to enable them to harm me, my family, or my home?"

We use to hear "drink responsibly" in liquor commercials, but now we should be hearing, "post responsibly" where it pertains to our online social lives.

Al Colombo


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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Crime and Crime Prevention During the Holiday Season

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The Holiday Season means many things to many people. For most of us, it means family fun, parties with friends and co-workers, and gifts galore. Unfortunately, it also can mean a rise in crime in your neighborhood.

There are four main holidays during December:

  1. Christmas
  2. Hanukkah
  3. Kwanzaa
  4. New Years
During December crime rates climb the closer we get to Christmas Day. It does so because more and more people are being victimized by criminals who may not have committed an ill deed if it were not for lack of work, insufficient income, and an inability to buy gifts and food for their families. Although we all feel bad for those who lack the money to have a good Christmas, we must endeavor to protect our own interests by doing whatever we can to stop crime before it even happens.
"Unfortunately our criminals may not have the money to go get Christmas presents for their families so they find illegal ways of doing that," said Bryan Police Department Public Information Officer Kelley McKethan. (http://bit.ly/1MY1PDF)
The primary focus in this regard is the presence of gifts in your home, in your car, and the money you carry in your wallet or purse.
“It only takes ten seconds for someone to smash your window and grab those items and leave,” said McKethan. “If someone does confront you, then comply with their demands and be a good witness. If you can, try and remember what they look like, if they have tattoos, or what they were wearing so you can give police a description that may lead to an arrest.” (http://bit.ly/1MY1PDF)
The issue here is "opportunity." If you give people an opportunity to take what is yours by leaving packages and gifts sitting in plain view in the backseat of your automobile, someone's going to see them and be tempted to take them in any way possible. As officer Kelley McKethan said, they will break a window, unlock your door, and remove your gifts in record time without anyone being the wiser.

The same is true of your home. Do you leave your drapes open for the world to peer in? Do you leave gifts strewn across the kitchen table without closing your drapes and then go away for hours on ending shopping for more? Do you have a quality, monitored alarm system in your home, in your automobile? Perhaps you should consider buying one before the holidays arrive.

Personal Risks During the Holidays

The gifts you buy that you left in the backseat of your car and those you left sitting all over the kitchen table with the drapes open are not the only thing at risk here. You, yourself, may very well be targeted while on the street, in the mall, in a parking lot, in a store. Many victims are targeted simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, but there's more.

Victims do not become victims without some help on their own part. Criminals do choose their victims carefully as they do not want to run the risk of running into one that may have the propensity to defend themselves, to fight back and perhaps subdue them so they are caught by police. They watch how you walk, how you hold your head, what you look at, how you act, and how you interact with others.

I've put together a great holiday crime prevention resource for you consisting of many dos and don'ts offered by police departments and others across the nation. I provide referring links so you can actually visit each resource for additional information. This is in the form of a sizable PDF ebook of sorts. It's free for the asking by signing up below.

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Tips For Minimizing Security Risks on Social Media

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In my blog post entitled Privacy Vs. Networking, published on What on Earth are We Doing Here, we discussed the issue of privacy while networking socially on the Internet and how much of the problem sits with the user, not specifically the network we're on.

All of this is quickly changing as more and more of us become far too comfortable with sharing far too much on the social media channels we frequent. The following short video, entitled "Social Media & Privacy - Be aware of what you share," on Mohammad A. Itani's YouTube channel, features a number of common sense dos and donts that act as a reminder of how little privacy we really have on Facebook, as one example.

Summary

First, read the condition and terms before signing on the dotted line. Secondly, Be frugal with what and how much personal information you offer when signing up for these services. And third, don't spill your guts out there and expect to keep your life private.

Do you have other ideas on how to stay safe in the world of cyber-life? Please share it with me!

Al Colombo


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Monday, October 26, 2015

Video: The Contrast Between Worlds

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I, and likely you, come from a nation where life is fairly good, jobs are available, and no one--or almost no one--starves for lack of food. Most of us have become use to living in a safe, secure environment where we almost feel as though we are safe and that we, alone, control our own destiny.

This morning, during a coffee break, I am doing what I usually do, and that is to listen to an informative Ted Talks video. This one, entitled "Two nameless bodies washed up on the beach. Here are their stories," narrated by Anders Fjellberg, involves two Syrian refugees that evidently died in an attempt to swim across the channel to enter the UK. Neither of them made it there, but instead washed ashore--one in a small Norwegian town.

"When two bodies wearing identical wetsuits washed ashore in Norway and the Netherlands, journalist Anders Fjellberg and photographer Tomm Christiansen started a search to answer the question: who were these people? What they found and reported in Norway’s “Dagbladet” is that everybody has a name, everybody has a story and everybody is someone."

Fjellberg's research showed that both individuals, in an attempt to make a better life, had been desperately trying to make it to the UK. The one young man (left, below) came from a middle-income family. It was this young man that had first gone to Turkey in an attempt to get an education. However, he was not accepted by the college and was prevented from returning to Jordan, so he found himself in an impossible situation.

Fjellberg says that police had found another deceased swimmer along the shore who wore an identical wet suit. And amazingly enough, they were able to determine where both of the wet suits came from. They were able to do that through an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chip buried inside both of them.

Fjellberg says, "Many may think that this story about [these two young men] is a story about death, but I don't agree. To me this is a story about two questions that we all share, what is a better life, what am I willing to do to achieve it?"

From here, Fjellberg talks about some of the things that equate to "a better life." Among those things cited are, the right and ability to come and go as we please, and the right to do so without fear of death.

Please take a few moments to watch and listen to Anders Fjellberg, who incidentally works as an investigative reporter with the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet, as he provides the details concerning the cause of these young men's situation in the remaining months, weeks, and days before their untimely deaths: please click here.

Note: For more interesting sources of interesting videos, please click here.


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Monday, October 19, 2015

Why Alarm Systems and Crime Prevention Go Hand in Hand

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Preventing crime is what security is all about. It does little good to install an alarm system if your intent is merely to catch criminals already in the act of aggression.

The primary purpose of a video surveillance or electronic security alarm isn't any different than that of a quality deadbolt lock on all the doors--it's all about stopping a criminal before he/she commits the crime.

According to the Crime Prevention Website, "During research interviews by criminologists and post arrest interviews by me and many of my colleagues over the years most burglars (who expressed a preference) said that they were definitely put off by alarms!" (click here)

Right from the beginning, UL (Underwriters Laboratory) burglar alarm standards called for overt bell boxes, foil tape on windows, and other visible devices. This overt policy has not changed even though the tools of the trade have.

Even more importantly, the mere placement of yard signs and other visible means of protection without the actual functioning alarm system to go with it is not necessarily a wise idea either. When a crook decides to take the risk, he will enter the home or business without hesitation, in which case a working and monitored alarm system is invaluable.

If you're a home or business owner and you need advice on the type of alarm system to use, I recommend that you first talk with friends and colleagues who have an alarm system. Find out how they feel about the alarm company that did the initial installation. Did they do a good job of installing the components? Are they doing an equally good job of monitoring the system? Do they respond in a timely manner when there are problems?

Contact at least three alarm firms and have them come to your home or business for an on-sight evaluation. Don't accept a quote over the phone, and if one of them is unwilling to come to your home/business to visually evaluate the situation, say thank you and do not go any further with them--there is no one-size-fits-all alarm system.

Once you have three quotes under your belt, sit down and evaluate them.

Remember, bigger is not better. Look for longevity, quality, and long-term costs. Just because an alarm system is "free" when you get it is no indicator that you'll pay a respectable price in the long term. Weigh the entire package of each firm to assure that it's the right company, right system, and right dollars in the short as well as long term.

If you have questions, send them to me at allan@tpromo.com.


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Monday, August 3, 2015

Are We Painting Ourselves Into a Proverbial Corner by Embracing IoT Technology?

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It's been said more then once that technology will be Society's downfall. In light of what I see going on today--how private industry and the Federal Government itself are connecting everything in sight, including our critical infrastructure, to the Internet--this is exactly what's happening, or should I say, this is what's going to happen. It's a matter of when, not if.

What makes it even worse, these criminals are afforded the comfort of their own homes as they reach out across the sea to do us harm. From that vantage point they can beat at the front, side, and back doors of our most cherished utilities, defensive portals, and much more, and they can do it from the comfort of their own armchairs.

And now, we as individuals and companies are contemplating the connection of oodles of electronic sensors that we intend to install throughout our homes, businesses, and gov agencies to the Internet for the entire world to "see." Talk about an intelligence officer's dream! In short order all kinds of devices will begin to appear on the clothes we wear, as we're already wearing some of them on our wrists and around our necks. And, in due time, they'll migrate from these spots into our very bodies.

With all of this tech coming into so many lives, and collecting so much information about consumers and workers, there is a broad potential sensorsrity risk. Malicious software can steal personal information and activity patterns from consumers, and if someone uses personal devices for work, enterprise-level intelligence can be at risk, too. click here to read more.

Technology can be a wonderful thing, but it also might be the very means by which the dictators and tyrants of today's world somehow enslaves us. This reminds me of the young boy who painted his parent's garage floor gray. He was so intent on doing a good job that he painted himself into a corner where there was no escape, no door to make his exist through. The question is, are we painting ourselves into a corner with all these connected technologies?

Isn't our smartphones enough of a risk? Think about it.

Al Colombo


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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Find out who is lying or hiding something

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Eye Talk. - They eyes show how people think.

Discover who is lying or hiding something by Eye Talk.

Asking the right questions at the right time for the right reason - get the eyes to talk.

    The 3 Key Indicators:
  • The eyes show how people think.
  • The face shows how people feel
  • The hands display how people react.

The secret is in using the MiM Questioning methods to find out the Why ? and for interrogation to find the Fear. The MiM method heightens situational awareness!

MiM is NOT only body language... it is language based ( questioning methods to comprehend the situation and clarify position)... It is used for interviewing, investigation and interrogation. The learning method 'heightens situational' awareness which has been applauded by the top security and investigative minds.

Try out the Eyes for now, so that you can see a tangible result.

You can download the Free App onto your phone. In this way, you can view the info just before meeting others in order to prime your brain and align your nervous system in order to derive the mind-set of Heightened Situational Awareness.

The app will give you a series of services including up-to-date news and a variety of social media channels sponsored by ISIO.

Go to MiM to obtain the E- Connect Course Application Tool and to purchase the Master in Mind lie-detection course. The cost is surprisingly low and you have access to the on-line lessons, which includes valuable information on cultural differences for up to one year from the date of purchase.


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Sunday, May 17, 2015

How Alarm Systems Deter Crime

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In my early years in electronic security, as a technician and alarm company owner, I thought in terms of catching thieves rather than preventing crimes. My focus was clearly on technology for detection and not prevention, but over time I came to understand that I had it backwards. That lesson didn’t come soon enough though as I was in the business more than 16 years before I figured it out.

It was sometime in the early 1990s that this revelation took place, while I was an associate editor with Security Distributing & Marketing Magazine (SDM) in Chicago. I was doing research for a story on burglar alarm systems when I discovered that UL actually requires overt placement of security devices, such as bell boxes, the use of foil tape on windows, and more. The idea is simple. We want would-be criminals to see that there’s an alarm in place so they go elsewhere. Of course there are other things we need to do as well as additional items that the end user must have in place to assure prevention. Some of them I have covered in previous blog posts and articles throughout the years.

Yard Signs and Window Decals
Perhaps one of the most-simple actions that we take as alarm professionals is to install yard signs and decals on key windows outside the business or home. End users, if your installing alarm company fails to do this, you need to give them a call because chances are, the technicians who were there installing your system likely ran low on them or they forgot. In either case, you need to make the front office aware of the issue so they can send someone out to make it right. The fact is, yard signs and decals, although not the only solution to crime, do act to slow, minimize, even stop criminal action.

Keypad Visibility in Commercial
Having a keypad in the front foyer of a story may seem risky, given the fact that there are usually a host of buttons/keys on

them that a child might use to send a silent panic alarm, set the fire alarm into motion, or issue a distress or call for medical help. This is absolutely so in cases where the installing alarm company failed to deprogram those critical keys out of the system, but for alarm professionals who give all this serious thought, it’s not a problem. In most cases there’s a second keypad at a separate employee entrance or in an office in a non-public location of the store.

Multiple Siren Speaker Boxes
First, it’s always wise to install trumpet speakers, especially in commercial applications. Second, it’s also wise to place them in a metal box when these speakers are placed outside the store or in visible locations within. Perhaps even more important is to include tamper switches inside these boxes such that if someone removes or pries them from the wall, or they open the cover, the alarm system sounds off, summoning the police in the process. The visibility of multiple speakers and speaker boxes inside and outside is usually enough to unnerve even the best and most experienced of burglars.

In conclusion, there are things that can be done to enhance and equip alarm systems to suppress crime in a natural manner so the crimes we normally detect won't happen in the first place. Although the few items mentioned above are important elements in the crime prevention equation, there are many others that can be used to further deterrence.

Be sure to check back for part 2, and if you have a question, feel free to use my Comments and Questions form in the left column.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Algorithm: a full-length movie about hacking

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Algorithm is a full-length movie about hacking. It centers on a group of local hackers who stumble upon a covert operation that eventually gets several of them incarcerated, interrogated and killed. It serves to illustrate the extent to which hackers can go and to what ends.

One of the reasons why I believe that hackers hold an important part in free speech and the future of freedom is the fact that they seek open, free flow of information. The average hacker lives to uncover secrets and lies.

I'm not speaking of criminal hackers, but purists who's ideals are such that profiting from their skill is not in their belief system. This drive toward purity on the Internet is what I admire and support, although I have never hacked a computer myself and never will--simply because I do not have the necessary skill sets to make that happen.

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Hacking, along with graffiti artistry, may one day be the only means we have to read the real news of the day as governments and corporations seek to censor what we read, hear, and watch on a daily basis, and that censorship will only increase over time.

So, without ado, I present the movie, Algorithm.


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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Know Who's Knocking Before Unlocking

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In my last blog post I talked about keeping your family safe and I provided a 10-point list of things you can do to help in that mission. Today, I'd like to discuss the means whereby you can fulfill some of those points, specifically items 1 through 4.

There are many types of intercoms to choose from. Working our way down from the top two categories we're looking at:

  1. Professionally Installed, and
  2. Do It Yourself

First, allow me to say that professionally-installed intercoms are usually of better quality and they usually look better and work more proficiently than their do-it-yourself counterparts. For example, where the former will involve the routing of wires into the basement through the walls, the latter will usually not. In other words, unless you're a pro, it's unlikely you'll be able to hide your wires.

The next decision that you will have to make involves the following:

  1. Hardwired, or
  2. Wireless

Do-it-yourself intercoms are available that are hardwired as well as wireless, the latter using batteries for their method of power. The cost of this type of system is relatively high by comparison, but you will save on hiring a pro by installing them yourself. The drawback to this, however, relates to the on-going need to replace batteries and the eventual risk of corrosion and the destruction of the metallic elements inside the battery compartments.

Another possible choice is video, in addition to an intercom. Cameras come in all shapes and sizes and they offer you a unique service--they allow you to view the person(s) at the door without their knowledge. Obviously, if the caller is brandishing a gun, if there are several people and you don't know any of them, you might not want to answer the door at all. Instead, you may want to dial 911 in order to get ahead of an event that may still occur. Cameras can be installed anywhere on the house in order to watch from various approaches.

Cameras are available that contain infrared LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) that light an area in front of the camera. There are cameras available that can see 30 feet ahead while there are others rated for 100 feet. The farther the distance, the more the camera will cost. If you're looking at the doorways, a 30-foot model will usually do the job quite fine.

Another choice is that of a video intercom where both intercom and camera are contained in the same system. The fact that both are contained in the same unit makes it easier for you to look and talk. It also means less muss and fuss on installation because instead of a camera mounted on the overhang, now it's in the outdoor intercom unit next to the door. Instead of two sets of cable to install, one of them through the attic, now there's only one.

The outdoor video intercom unit looks like a common intercom, with the exception that there's a large black section behind which there's a camera. Some criminals will know that there's a camera there, but many won't.

No matter which way you decide to go, having a means of communicating and viewing the caller is critical to your safety. Even having a simple through-the-door lens/viewer will give you a leg-up on who's standing on the other side BEFORE you unlock and open the door.

All products shown are made by Aiphone and Samsung


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