Snapchat map update raises child safety worries

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An update to Snapchat that shows publicly posted images on a searchable map has raised safety concerns among parents.

Snap Map lets people search for places such as schools and see videos and pictures posted by children inside.

It also lets people locate their “friends” on a map that is accurate enough to determine where people live.

Snap, the company behind Snapchat, stressed to the BBC that location sharing was an opt-in feature.

Exact location
Snap Map was launched on Wednesday and was promoted as a “new way to explore the world”.

Video clips and photos that members have posted publicly can be discovered on the map, while members who have chosen to share their location can also be seen on the map by those they have added as “friends”.

However, members can add people they have never met to their friends list too.

A message to parents posted by St Peter’s Academy in Staffordshire warned that the location-sharing feature lets people “locate exactly where you are, which building you are in and exact whereabouts within the building”.

One parent described the update as “dangerous” while another said she could not find the setting to disable it.

People have expressed concern online that the app could be used for stalking or working out exactly where somebody lives.

“If you zoom right in on this new Snapchat map thing it literally tells you where everyone lives? Like exact addresses – bit creepy no?” wrote one user called Leanne.

“This new Snapchat update is awful. An invitation for stalkers, kidnappers, burglars and relationship trust issues,” suggested Jade.

Snap told the BBC that accurate location information was necessary to allow friends to use the service to meet, for example at a restaurant or crowded festival, and said points of interest on the map, such as schools, were provided by third-party mapping service Mapbox.

Concerned parents could find out more information on its Privacy Center website, a spokesman told the BBC.

“With Snap Map, location sharing is off by default for all users and is completely optional. Snapchatters can choose exactly who they want to share their location with, if at all, and can change that setting at any time,” a Snap spokesman said.

“It’s also not possible to share your location with someone who isn’t already your friend on Snapchat, and the majority of interactions on Snapchat take place between close friends.”

How to switch off Snap Map location sharing

When in photo-taking mode, pinch the screen to open Snap Map
Touch the settings cog in the top right corner of the screen
Tap “Ghost Mode” to switch off location sharing
Photos and videos posted to Snapchat’s public ‘Our Story’ will still be discoverable on the map

Sears says some Kmart customer credit card numbers compromised

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Sears Holdings said on Wednesday it found a security breach involving “unauthorized” credit card activity following some customer purchases at its Kmart stores.

Certain credit card numbers were “compromised” in the event, the company said in an emailed statement, without providing exact figures.

No personal information such as contact details and social security numbers of customers were obtained by those responsible for the breach, Sears said.

“There is also no evidence that kmart.com or Sears customers were impacted,” it said.

Facebook alert: Video Sent in Message

Cyber Crime Response Agency would like to advise and warn all Facebook users that a current hacking attempt is ongoing. The hacking attempt will appear in the form of a video, sent to you on messenger. The video will appear with your profile picture and your name. Do not click on this, as it will cause your account to be disabled. According to Facebook Help Page, there is no suggested fix for this at the moment.

Employment Scam Targets College Students

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In a public service message from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, released the 18th of January, the FBI spoke of an employment scam, targeting college students for the ending result of identity theft. Their public service announcement said as follows:

College students across the United States continue to be targeted in a common employment scam. Scammers advertise phony job opportunities on college employment websites, and/or students receive e-mails on their school accounts recruiting them for fictitious positions. This “employment” results in a financial loss for participating students.

How the scam works:

-Scammers post online job advertisements soliciting college students for administrative positions.
-The student employee receives counterfeit checks in the mail or via e-mail and is instructed to deposit the checks into their personal checking account.
-The scammer then directs the student to withdraw the funds from their checking account and send a portion, via wire transfer, to another individual. Often, the transfer of funds is to a “vendor”, purportedly for equipment, materials, or software necessary for the job.
-Subsequently, the checks are confirmed to be fraudulent by the bank.
The following are some examples of the employment scam e-mails:

“You will need some materials/software and also a time tracker to commence your training and orientation and also you need the software to get started with work. The funds for the software will be provided for you by the company via check. Make sure you use them as instructed for the software and I will refer you to the vendor you are to purchase them from, okay.”

“I have forwarded your start-up progress report to the HR Dept. and they will be facilitating your start-up funds with which you will be getting your working equipment from vendors and getting started with training.”

“Enclosed is your first check. Please cash the check, take $300 out as your pay, and send the rest to the vendor for supplies.”

Consequences of participating in this scam:

-The student’s bank account may be closed due to fraudulent activity and a report could be filed by the bank with a credit bureau or law enforcement agency.
-The student is responsible for reimbursing the bank the amount of the counterfeit checks.
-The scamming incident could adversely affect the student’s credit record.
-The scammers often obtain personal information from the student while posing as their employer, leaving them vulnerable to identity theft.
-Scammers seeking to acquire funds through fraudulent methods could potentially utilize the money to fund illicit criminal or terrorist activity.

Tips on how to protect yourself from this scam:

-Never accept a job that requires depositing checks into your account or wiring portions to other individuals or accounts.
-Many of the scammers who send these messages are not native English speakers. Look for poor use of the English language in e-mails such as incorrect grammar, capitalization, and tenses.
-Forward suspicious e-mails to the college’s IT personnel and report to the FBI. Tell your friends to be on the lookout for the scam.
-If you have been a victim of this scam or any other Internet-related scam, you may file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at http://www.IC3.gov and notify your campus police.

Microsoft Tech Support Scams

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Cyber Crime Response Agency received a Microsoft Tech Support scam report today, reporting that a man, who went by the name of John Bradshaw, contacted them, unsolicited, stating that her computer was actively being hacked and that access was needed to stop the ongoing threat. Luckily, the reportee was informed enough to deny access and report the caller to our agency, which resulted in us reporting it to the Federal Trade Commission.

Information about call:

  • Suspect Name: John Bradshaw
  • Telephone Number: 805-618-2413

We recommend reporting all related calls to the Federal Trade Commission, by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP. Do not allow access to any individuals who claim to be from Microsoft. At the present time, Microsoft does not have the capability of monitoring all Microsoft devices for computer intrusion.

How safe is Bigo Live for minors?

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Severity level: HIGH

A few months ago, CCRA reported on a cell phone video application named Live.me. When our online investigators started observing the program, we were floored at the amount of online enticement incidents we observed. Not only were the number of underage users high in numbers, but so were the predators.

Today, CCRA was made aware of the cell phone video application named Bigo Live, owned and operated by Bigo Technology, located out of Singapore. At first, it looks cute and innocent with the cartoon dinosaur logo, but when we first logged in, what we spotted made Live.me look like a joke along the lines of “dangerous applications”.

When making our first observations of the broadcasters, not only were we shocked at the large number of underage users from around the world, but in seconds, multiple messages to those users from grown adults, were making requests that should never be made to children. Not only were we appalled over the requests, but the fact of how Bigo Live makes available personal information on these minors as well. Anything can be found on their profiles from IP addresses, phone numbers and cities and states. We knew when spotting this that the danger level for minors was absolutely ridiculous.

Our staff made several attempts to contact Bigo Live support, however, their support team gives out no phone number, no email address and only allows you to contact them via their application’s instant message. We’ll be shocked if we even receive back a response.

Due to the danger level of this application, we strongly suggest that parents check their children’s phones and remove this application as soon as possible. The Bigo Technology group appears to show no interest in the safety of their users, particularly towards minors.

Is Live.Me a Safe Program for Children?

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Some might be familiar with the Live.Me app, which is a communication and entertainment application available for download on both Android and iPhone operating systems.

The program allows users from all around the world to create an account, watch live users or broadcast themselves in real time. The program is both video, audio and text communication. Not only can you view live broadcasts, but also follow users, send gifts and convert “diamonds” (what gifts are turned into) into cash.

When a user signs up, they are asked for their email address, gender and date of birth. Most would believe that if a date of birth is required, the program would restrict and separate different age groups from one another. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

When CCRA signed up for an account and performed an inspection of the program, we were not only shocked at the high number of underage users, but also with the observation of adults in those underage broadcasts. Sure, speaking with someone underage isn’t a crime, but it’s what we saw that sent chills down our spine.

On several underage broadcasts as young as 11 years old, our investigators observed primarily adult males not only communicating with those users, but also asking for inappropriate actions, such as asking these minors to “lift up their shirts”, “spread their legs” and asking to engage in online relationships on other third party applications.

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Screenshot taken by a CCRA Investigator

CCRA attempted several times to contact not only the support group of Live.Me, but also their main contact listed on their privacy policy and WHOIS registration information, with limited contact received back and our replies not answered to. It’s quite clear that this company has no intentions of protecting their underage users, especially since they don’t have age separation or properly deal with abuse reports, which typically consists of only banning the reported account.

Shockingly enough, CCRA performed searches on Live.Me, finding this written material from parents and concerned internet users on commonsensemedia.org:

Common Sense Media

this app sickens me!!
Parents beware!!! I download this app and have came across multiple videos of questionable aged people takeing off their clothes. The owners of this app seriously need to do something about their security!!!

My 10 year old daughter’s number one follower is a grown adult male stranger.

I installed on my device, like a dummy to see what was up and was shocked to see a 14yr old half dressed, moving around in a sexy manner.

At this time, until Live.Me can properly put an acceptable security measure in place, CCRA highly disapproves of the application and warns all parents to check their children’s devices, to ensure the program is not installed. The program is at risk of criminal prosecution for harboring illicit content, at risk for a civil liability lawsuit and at this time, appears to not have any insurance to protect them for this risk and situation.