In 2015 alone, 13.1 million Americans were victims of identity fraud. Even more shocking, identity fraudsters have stolen approximately $112 billion since 2009, which amounts to $35,600 stolen every minute. Thankfully, there are a wide variety of ways to protect your digital identity from the growing number of cybercrimes. These include shielding your keypad when entering important information, not using public Wi-Fi, using unique and different passwords for each website, and backing up your information in case of a ransomware attack. By following the guidelines in this infographic you can significantly increase your odds of not being a victim of cybercrime! Let us know in the comments how you are protecting your data.
Technology is in hyper-drive speed as it continues to advance. Because of these ongoing improvements, computers, printers, smartphones and other electronic items are finding their way to our landfills faster than ever. However, there are large amounts of dollars—billions, in fact—of recyclable materials in this e-waste that we can recoup if we take the necessary steps. Take a look at the staggering statistics that surround e-waste in this infographic. Need to properly dispose of e-waste at your workplace or home? See our blog on recycling old technology.
Discarded electrical appliances are called electronic waste, or e-waste. Computers, cell phones, TVs, refrigerators, monitors and microwaves are common e-waste items. Disposal of electronic items is one of modern society’s most critical environmental concerns. The issue is largely “out of sight, out of mind.” Here are the disturbing numbers and facts.
What is e-waste?
Any unwanted or obsolete electronic item – operational or not. Cell phones, televisions, VCRs, DVD players, stereos, copiers, fax machines, computers, monitors, CDs, etc.
Average e-waste produced every year The UN says 41.8 million tons of e-waste were produced last year worldwide. 90% was illegally traded, exported or dumped
On average each American generated 48 pounds of e-waste. (equivalent of every American throwing out 11 laptops every year)
Only 12.5% of total e-waste is recycled. The U.S. is the worst offender – 9.4 million tons/year
According to the EPA, recycling 1 million laptops saves the energy equivalent of electricity used by 3,657 U.S. homes in a year. Electronics are full of valuable resources such as silver, gold, titanium, fossil fuels, aluminum, iron, copper, and more.
Raw materials in e-waste
In 2014, $50 billion worth of recyclable materials was present in e-waste products.
Raw materials in single-year’s e-waste Silver $.3 Billion Palladium $1.8 Billion Aluminum $3 Billion Plastics $12.3 Billion Iron $9 Billion Gold $10.3 Billion Copper $10.5 Billion Last year,
Apple pulled $40 million worth of gold from recycled phones.
The Internet and e-waste
The Internet was supposed to decrease e-waste. But the advent of new devices means old ones are thrown out. other types of waste are decreasing; however, e-waste is growing close to 5% annually.
More than 5.5 million boxes of software go to landfills and incinerators.
Online downloads and streaming are causing CDs to become obsolete.
Millions of music CDs thrown away each year. Every month, approximately 100,000lbs of CDs become obsolete.
It takes over 1 million years for a CD to decompose in a landfill.
Most used and replaced electronics
Cellphones – Replaced every 22 months
Computer – Replaced every 2 years
Television – Replaced every 10 years
Printer – Replaced every 5 years
Where cell phones go to die
Approximately 350,000 phones are disposed of daily = More than 152 million phones each year.
More than 7.2 billion mobile phones in existence (the Earth’s population is 7.4 billion).
80% of phones end up in landfills. Exported to countries like Ghana, India, and China where civilians salvage electronics in hazardous/toxic conditions.
For every 1 million cell phones recycled, 35,274 lbs of copper, 77 lbs of silver, 75 lbs of gold, and 33 lbs of palladium can be recovered.
Americans throw out phones containing $60 million in gold and silver every year.
What can we do about e-waste?
Re-evaluate: Do you need that gadget?
Extend the life of your electronics: Buy a case. Avoid overcharging the battery.
Buy environmentally friendly electronics. Look for ENERGY STAR or Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Took (EPEAT) certification.
Donate used goods to social programs: Children safety initiatives; domestic violence victims, etc. Reuse large electronics. Use e-waste recycle bins.
With the need to maximize profits, companies are under constant pressure to maximize profits any way that they can. Take the automaker Volkswagen for instance. Volkswagen gamed the software in nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles to pass emission tests. The emissions from the cars were almost 40 times the permitted levels of nitrogen oxides. Dishonest accounting factors led to the downfall of Enron and WorldCom. In fact, since 1980 more than half of the 10 largest corporate bankruptcies were the result of unethical business practices.
The question now is do businesses that resort to unethical business practices gain an advantage over their competition? A recent study showed that the stock price growth of 100 firms with the most ethical cultures outperformed the stock market and their competition by almost 300%. They had a lower turnover of employees and higher employee job satisfaction. All in all good ethics lead to good business as we see in the infographic below. What are you doing to breed good ethics in your business to help it succeed? Reply in the comments below.
Secret or deceptive methods have been use for centuries to cover up private messages to keep them out of the hands of enemies or those without the need to know. Steganography or the practice of concealing information dates back at least 500 years. In the digital age our messages have advanced from Morse code to digital code transferred through the Internet. From the 20th century and beyond we still look for ways to protect or conceal our messages just as they did centuries ago, but now we use encryption. Check out this infographic on the evolution of encryption technology, which has abounded throughout the last century and continues to do so today at an accelerated rate.
A few weeks ago I received a notification from Facebook to let my friends know that I was safe from a bomb that apparently went off near me. I live in rural Utah and couldn’t find anything related to the bomb in the local news outlets. Unfortunately, a real bomb went off in Pakistan nearly 8,000 miles away. I later found out that Facebook had a glitch in their system, causing the same notification to be sent to many throughout the world. This made me realize that social media is a quick new way to communicate during a disaster.
As early as 2007, residents where a disaster hit started using hashtags in Twitter as an organized way of tracking what was happening in the aftermath of a disaster. You can easily find updates to a disaster when you know which hashtag is being used. Today we have a better understanding that social media is a quick way to communicate the effects of a disaster to a broader audience. The infographic below from our friends at the University of San Francisco demonstrates just how beneficial social media has been during different disasters. After perusing, let us know your thoughts in the comments section.
The other day I took my niece and nephew to a local McDonald’s for lunch. As we walked in we were greeted by a large touch screen that had an “Order Here” sign above it. Customers can order how they want their food right from the screen. But being a person who would rather talk to a human, I walked up to the counter to place my order. Whether this move to automating the ordering process is in response to demands for a minimum pay increase or if the new generation is more comfortable touching a screen than talking to a human is still up for debate. But it got me thinking about what other processes or jobs are being automated in our new world of touch screens, Internet of Things, and mobile devices.
With the advancements of technology, humans are being removed from situations where they could be hurt or even killed. Sophisticated remote devices are used to check for bombs and life-threatening chemicals. Drones patrol the skies over battle zones and can even attack targets that have been identified by someone in a remote location.
Not long ago the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was badly crippled by an earthquake and then a tsunami. The lingering radioactive fallout as well as the unstable structure of the plant made it nearly impossible for someone to investigate the area without dying. Scientists developed an autonomous drone to fly into the area and investigate. The drone self-guides with the use of lasers to avoid obstacles and can even replace its own batteries and work where GPS doesn’t.
Not only are we seeing the first steps to replacing minimum wage labor at fast food restaurants, the same is happening at grocery stores. One person can now supervise up to 10 registers where customers scan their food and other goods before paying. No longer do we need someone to provide change or scan our card card thanks to the automated payment.
A few years ago you were out of luck on getting cash if you weren’t fortunate enough to get to the bank during “bank hours.” That was until the Automated Teller Machine, otherwise known as the ATM, became a feature of banking. Along with online banking, you can now deposit and withdraw funds at all hours of the night as well as weekends and holidays without needing a human to handle the transaction.
Warehouses that fulfill hundreds if not thousands of order per day are improving efficiency by automating the packing and shipping of goods. They have also automated the process of transporting goods from one point to another, saving the company money and improving efficiencies. If Amazon is correct, UPS and FedEx delivery drivers will one day be replaced by drones, which will leave our orders on our doorsteps.
So much information has become digitalized! Our music is now files rather than tracks on CDs (or if you’re older, grooves on vinyl). Pictures are now viewed on a computer or mobile device rather than being printed. In the past, in order to protect your photos, you would store them away from moisture and heat. Now we worry about hard drive crashes. Backing up these new digital versions is necessary, especially for preserving family pictures, which can’t be replaced if they are lost or otherwise damaged. Rather than burning copies to DVDs or backing up to hard drives and then safeguarding those copies at mom’s house, we now rely on cloud backup. With a few clicks of a button you can back up your music, photos, and other precious data to an offsite location to ensure that they’re protected in case of an emergency. And to further simplify the process, you can schedule backups to run when your computer is idol.
We might not always like where automation is taking us, but there is no escaping the fact that automation is becoming more and more a part of everyday life.
Now where is my e-reader? I want to check if that bestseller has been automatically downloaded.
Money. Power. Politics. A new Porsche. Any one of those can be sufficient motivation for a hacker to ply his trade. These days, even with the most sophisticated security in place, hackers continue to break through the inner sanctums of government, industry, and business to steal secrets and other sensitive information like weapons technology and credit card numbers. These guys are so good that some end up making a legitimate profession by using their hacking skills. Let’s take a look back to learn about the most prolific computer hackers and the motivations behind their exploits.
As long as there have been computers, there have been hackers. Through the use of computers to gain unauthorized access to everything from radio station phone lines to government agencies, hackers have a wide variety of motives for their actions. Join us as we list the most prolific hackers to date.
Alias: The Homeless Hacker
Name: Adrian Lamo
Country of Origin: USA
Current Status: Threat analyst
Best Known For:
Using coffee shops and libraries as his command centers, Adrian earned his alias by hacking into The New York Times, Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft.
After an arrest and 6 months of house arrest in 2003, Lamo became an American threat analyst. He was one who turned in U.S. soldier Bradley Manning (now known as Chelsea Manning) for leaking thousands of government socuments, which shined the spotlight on the now infamous WikiLeaks website for the first time.
Name: Withheld from public
Country of Origin: Greece
Current Status: Inactive following arrest in 2008
Best Known For:
This hacker has never been publicly identified, though it is suspected he was a 58-year-old math teacher. Astra spent over half a decade hacking into the aviation company Dassault Group’s inner sanctums to steal and sell weapons technology information.
Alias: Dark Dante
Name: Kevin Poulsen
Country of Origin: USA
Current Status: Senior editor for Wired magazine
Agenda: A new Porsche 944 S2
Best Known For:
Being the first American to be banned from the Internet and computers for 3 years after his release from a 5-year prison sentence for hacking.
Poulson hacked the phone lines of a local radio station to rig a competition in which he would be the 102nd caller, winning the grand prize.
Alias: Cumbajohnny, Segvec, Soupnazi, Kingchilli
Name: Albert Gonzalez
Country of Origin: USA
Current Status: Inactive, currently in prison until 2025
Best Known For:
Starting shadowcrew.com, a website that gained up to 4,000 followers where stolen or fake passports, driver’s licenses, bank account information, debit and credit cards, etc. were bough and sold.
He hacked TJX Companies and Heartland Payment Systems to steal upwards of 45 million debit and credit card numbers. Gonzalez was arrested in 2008 for this crime.
Alias: The Condor, The Darkside Hacker
Name: Kevin Mitnick
Country of Origin: USA
Current Status: Security consultant and author of two books
Agenda: Social engineering
Best Known For:
Being “the most wanted computer criminal.”
Mitnick started his illustrious career by bypassing the punch card system on the city bus line in Los Angeles. Soon he was hacking Motorola, IBM, the Pentagon, and others.
In 1995, a judge placed him in solitary confinement, fearing Mitnick’s skills were so diverse he could start a nuclear war by whistling codes into a payphone.
Name: Jonathan James
Country of Origin: USA
Current Status: Committed suicide in 2008
Best Known For:
Being the first juvenile to be tried and sentenced for hacking in America.
At 15, James began hacking into the Miami-Dade School System, Bell South, the Department of Defense, and NASA. He also intercepted source code for the International Space Staion, causing NASA to shut down its computers for 3 weeks to fix the breach.
Name: Vladimir Levin
Country of Origin: Russia
Current Status: Whereabouts unkown
Best Known For:
Without using the internet, but instead, a telecommunications system, he was able to gain access to millions of dollards, which he siphoned off and split between his 2 partners. After serving 3 years in prison, he was ordered to pay back only part of the money because that was all that could be recovered.
Name: Gary McKinnon
Country of Origin: England
Current Status: Currently lives in England
Agenda: Looking for evidence of UFO’s
Best Known For:
Hacking into 100 American military and NASA servers from his girlfriend’s aunt’s house. He deleted sensitive software, files, and data.
Later he shut down 2,000 comptuers in the US Army’s Military District of Washington network in just 24 hours, making it the largest military computer hack of all time, rendering the US military network inoperable for days.
Alias: Syrian Electronic Army (group)
Country of Origin: Syria
Current Status: Active
Agenda: Support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
Best Known For:
Hacking US President Barack Obama’s and the Associated Press’ Twitter feeds are just two of the high-profile altercations they’ve been involved in. The Syrian Electronic Army has also attacked political opposition groups, western news organizations, human rights groups, government websites, and US defense contractors.
Alias: Anonymous (group)
Country of Origin: Multiple
Current Status: Active
Agenda: Social causes
Best Known For:
Being a group of individual members (known as Anons) from around the globe who unite for social causes.
Anonymous has attacked government, religious, and corporate websites. Among their targets are the Vatican, the FBI, the CIA, Paypal, Sony, MasterCard, and Visa , as well as the Chinese, Israeli, Tunisian, and Ugandan governments.
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Every few years we are forced to upgrade the devices that are so much a part of our everyday lives. In fact, we explored the limited lifespan of technology in a recent blog post. For example, the resolution on your new camera soon becomes grainy when compared to what’s available just months after you’ve made your purchase. Smartphone operating system upgrades soon make it impossible to run the apps that you so love. That 42” TV just doesn’t show your football game like the new 80” 4K Ultra HD that stares you down every time you hit the electronics section of your favorite store.
The rapid advance in technology is causing a glut in tech devices such as computers, mobile devices, camcorders, game systems, computer hardware, and video players. In 2014 the world produced 41.8 million metric tons of e-waste. To put that in perspective, that amount of garbage would fill 1.15 million 18-wheel trucks. If you lined up those trucks they would stretch from New York to Tokyo and back again! The EPA estimates that only 15-20% of e-waste is recycled and the rest goes to the landfill. Once the materials in the computers start to break down or are incinerated, they release a variety of toxins that are harmful to the environment as well as to humans. Unfortunately, a lot of that e-waste could have been recycled, up-cycled, or useful to someone else.
I found out that I am part of the 68% of consumers who are stockpiling old devices for no reason. For starters, I have an old iMac G5, a ‘90’s Compaq computer, and a handful of phones and mp3 players. You can probably relate. So it’s time we start doing something about the problem! It’s time we stop dumping them and adding to the fastest-growing source of waste; instead, we can save time, space, and money by properly “disposing” of out-of-date devices.
There are many local organizations that would love your old tech; for example, schools and low-income members of the community. And your donations are tax deductible. If you don’t want to spend the time to find a taker, there are organizations that will pick up your items, refurbish them, and donate them to someone in need. human-I-T is one organization in particular and is a non-profit that transforms unwanted or inoperative technology and makes it operational again for those in need. Consumers as well as companies like LinkedIn, Google, and Cars.com have all reduced e-waste and benefited the community by donating technology to human-I-T.
If you are worried about the data on the device, organizations that refurbish outdated technology follow strict guidelines on removing data from devices so that it can no longer be accessed. This process follows guidelines specified by such laws as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA).
Your old tech can find new life with low-income families, veterans, those with disabilities, and schools and organizations. Consider that in 2014 human-I-T was able to divert more than 15 tons of e-waste from landfills. But even more importantly, what was once considered waste was turned into tools to help kids to stay current in their studies and the unemployed to find jobs.
It might be the oldest attitude in the books: “It won’t happen to me.” Or, “I’ll take care of it later.” But there is a reality that can be costly to businesses, even to the point of taking a business offline or out of commission for good. We’re talking about cyberattacks. They can happen to anyone, anytime. The cost? —Six figures? Seven figures? Ten figures? Depending on the size of the business, any one of these amounts is possible. Take a look at our infographic to explore the true cost of poor cybersecurity.
THE TRUE COST OF POOR CYBERSECURITY: The 5 Worst Data Breaches and Most Costly Viruses
Everyone thinks it always happens to someone else and they are safe from a cyberattack. The companies and individuals on our countdown certainly thought that. Cyberattacks can happen to anyone at anytime. Whether it is hackers or self-replicating viruses, poor cybersecurity can end up costing you a lot.
5 Worst Data Breaches
#1 American Business Hack
Records Lost: 160 million
A hacking ring from Russia and Ukraine targeted banks, retail chain stores and payment processors, stealing more than 160 million credit and debit card numbers and more than 800,000 bank account numbers.
Records Lost: 145 million
No credit card information was compromised; however, hackers stole customer names, addresses, date of birth, and other personal information. Password information was also compromised. The online auction house simply asked customers to change their passwords immediately.
#3 Heartland Payment Systems
Records Lost: 130 million
Heartland, one of the world’s largest payment processing companies, was hacked using malware, resulting in the loss of credit and debit card numbers. The mastermind behind the crime was given a 20-year jail sentence, the longest handed down for a computer crime. Heartland ended up paying credit card companies $100 million in claims settlement related to the breach.
Records Lost: 94 million
The parent company to stores like T. J. Maxx and Marshalls has said hackers took credit and debit card numbers, and in some instances entire customer identities were stolen, including driver license numbers. The breach ended up costing TJX $256 million and was masterminded by the same person who was in charge of the #3 Heartland hack on the countdown.
Records Lost: 80 million
Names, Social Security numbers, and other sensitive information ideal for identity theft were taken from the second largest health insurance company in America. The hack was said to have originated in China.
5 Most Costly Viruses
PCs Infected: 2 Million
MyDoom was a worm spread through e-mail. 1 in 4 e-mails carried the virus at one time. Mydom was a line in the program’s code (mydomain) and thus, after adding an “o”, it was named.
PCs Infected: 2 Million
Self-replicating worm spread through e-mail.
PCs Infected: 500,000 (That’s about 10% of the world’s computers at the time)
Malicious program hidden in an email attachment. ILOVEYOU was the first virus that attached itself to an e-mail.
PCs Infected: 12 Million
Confliker was a worm that scanned computers for weaknesses, logged keystrokes and downloaded code from hacker websites. This virus is still active and as of August 2015, is still infecting about 1 million computers worldwide.
#5 CODE RED
PCs Infected: 1 Million
Code Red was a worm that exploited an OS vulnerability, actively looking for other machines to attack. It took down and defaced websites, most notably whitehouse.gov. It was nicknamed Code Red because the pair who discovered the virus were drinking Mountain Dew Code Red at the time of discovery.
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What do cars and technology have in common? Both lose value the moment you purchase them.
For cars, this isn’t much of an issue since they will usually continue to run just fine for several years. Unlike smartphones, computers, and other tech, they don’t need upgrades. The average age of a passenger car/light vehicle in the U.S. is over 11 years, according to IHS.com. They even get special “historic” license plates in most states after 20 years! Personal technology, though, rarely offers a fully functional lifespan for more than a couple of years.
OS upgrades leave many existing devices behind
Technology you use in your home and at work isn’t as durable as cars. There are three main reasons why personal tech doesn’t do so well in the longevity game.
1. It breaks easily, particularly mobile technology like tablets and smartphones.
2. Major operating system (OS) upgrades are often too advanced for existing
3. Consumers are used to wireless technology, which makes infrequent, but
Are consumers fighting constant upgrades?
Some consumers who have managed to keep their mobile devices longer than manufacturers expect (meaning they haven’t broken them) are voluntarily holding on to them for longer periods than before, Gallup reports. More than half of surveyed consumers told a Gallup poll in April and May 2015 that they hold on to their phones only until they stop working or become obsolete. So, when is a device obsolete?
Most consumers don’t seem to be bothered by an OS upgrade for at least several months. This might explain why 44% told Gallup they stay with contracts to get a phone upgrade every two years. By then, they are ready for something new. Mobile devices are further burdened by network upgrades. Have you tried to operate a 3G device in an area with the “lightening speed” of 4G? Networks don’t serve older devices well, and few have space for upgrades.
Computers operate past their OS support lives
Like cars, desktops and laptops operate even when they’re technically obsolete. There’s a bit of relief in that apps and developers are far more focused on the mobile world. In addition, many computers come with the capacity for upgrades, something few mobile devices offer. Still, while most OS systems may function for years, they lose official support long before they stop working. Microsoft ended support for Windows XP after a 10-year run; support for Vista will end in 2017, also after 10 years. Apple phases out support for its older OS releases even more quickly.
Not surprisingly, Microsoft and Apple both offered limited free upgrades to their latest OS for customers who had more recent versions. There’s nothing like an upgrade to make you aware of all the new software out there you hadn’t considered because…you had an older OS that couldn’t run them.
Consumers are intrigued by new tech approaches
While new apps and other toys are fun, the fact is that many consumers don’t want to learn how to use a replacement device every year, according to Accenture. In the spirit of the Internet of Things, consumers are more interested in buying new approaches to technology.
• In January 2015, 12% of consumers told Accenture they plan to buy a wearable fitness monitor in the next year
• 40% said they plan to make this purchase in the next five years
• Over the next five years, consumers plan to buy smart surveillance systems (41%), smart thermostats (39%), and 3D printers
Sure, it’s a lot of fun to have the latest car or the latest technology, but if you decide to wait a little longer before your next purchase, don’t worry; there is always something new and exciting to look forward to no matter when you decide to replace that “old” technology!