10 Tips to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi

When you access the Internet at any of the world’s 6 million public Wi-Fi hot spots — at airports, parks, businesses, hotels, wherever — assume that anything you are sending or receiving is up for grabs: your emails, photos, files, passwords, credit card numbers. According to some estimates, up to 95 percent of public hot spots are insecure because their wireless networks do not encrypt users’ Web traffic. Without encryption, which scrambles data so it’s not accessible to others, eavesdroppers …

Watch Your Wi-Fi! Most Devout Users Are Clueless About Risks, AARP Finds

Although some 84 percent of American adults who use the Internet access it on a daily basis, new AARP research finds that many continue to engage in risky online behaviors — especially at free Wi-Fi hot spots that are potential hotbeds for computer hacking. While a quarter of the 800 adults surveyed for the new report said they use free public Wi-Fi at least weekly, most are clueless about the potential risks. And nearly half of the respondents flunked a …

Ransomware: $18 Million and Counting … in Only 15 Months

Catherine Heslep was logging off Gmail when her computer was hijacked, another victim of ransomware. “Your files have been encrypted,” the message on the screen proclaimed. “You will not be able to access them without an encryption code.” “The cost for the code was 60 bitcoin, which translates to $700,” she says. Getting no response, the cybercriminals issued another ominous warning the next day: “If you don’t believe us, pick five files and we’ll decrypt them to prove it. You …

Staying a Step Ahead of the Bad Guys

By Doug Shadel, AARP Washington state director An identity thief with just a few bits of information about you can max out your credit cards, raid your bank account, even mortgage your house. In this digital age, a criminal can literally become you financially and take over your life. Alice Lipsky (not her real name) did this all the time. Using both high-tech computer skills and low-tech methods like car prowls and stealing purses, she took on the identities of …

Frank Abagnale: Hackers Can Get Your Info in 15 Seconds

Frank Abagnale, former master check forger, has some sobering advice for the rest of us: Hackers likely already have your identity records. He says hackers can steal your identity in 15 seconds or less. Abagnale, who lectures on forgery, embezzlement and secure documents, spoke to attendees today at the AARP Ideas@50+ conference underway in San Diego. Among his other revelations: Children make better victims than adults because thieves can use their stolen identity for a longer time. The privacy button on …