How To Outwit “Porch Pirates” And Hackers During The Holiday Shopping Season


Delivering a Package

Americans’ love affair with online shopping continues to grow, and retailers predict a 7 to 10 percent increase in online sales this holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation.

While that news might make retailers giddy, security experts are reiterating their annual warnings that the convenience of online shopping comes with hazards. You could become the target of hackers out to steal your credit card or bank information, or “porch pirates” who prey on those packages left on your doorstep.

“Consumers need to take proper precautions if they don’t want their holiday merriment turning into holiday gloom,” says Gary Miliefsky, CEO of SnoopWall (www.snoopwall.com), a company that specializes in cyber security.

Changing all your passwords frequently is one way to protect what’s yours. Deleting smartphone or tablet apps you don’t use is another smart move, Miliefsky says, because many of those apps may be malware that spies on you.

Even porch pirates – generally seen as low-tech thieves who simply cruise neighborhoods looking for packages – can go high tech by infiltrating your smartphone where they can eavesdrop on your orders and deliveries.

“Both porch pirates and hackers count on people being lax with their defenses,” Miliefsky says. “But with a little preparation you can thwart their plans.”

He offers a few tips for doing just that:

Shop online only from websites you trust. If you don’t know where the merchant is located, don’t shop online there. If they don’t have a corporate address or are located in another country, it could be iffy whether you ever see the goods you think you purchased. Also, if their shopping-cart experience is not an HTTPS browser session, then everything you type in – your name, address and credit-card information – is going over the Internet unencrypted, in plain view.

Pay with credit cards rather than debit cards. If you experience identity theft, credit card laws allow you to keep all of your credit immediately, with no responsibility during an identity theft or fraud investigation. With a debit card, your bank’s policy can be to tie up your money in the amount of the fraudulent transactions for up to 30 days. Some have been known to take up to 60 days to resolve the issue.

Get permission to ship all your packages to work. That way they aren’t left unguarded at your doorstep for hours where anyone walking by could snatch them. If this arrangement works out, be sure to tell all your friends and family also to ship packages to your work address.

Ask a friend or neighbor to receive your packages for you. You might not be home on work days, but plenty of people are. Trusted friends who are retired or who work at home might be happy to let you have packages delivered to them for safe keeping.

“It’s wonderful that you can go online and track down those hard-to-find gifts that aren’t available in local shops,” Miliefsky says. “Just make sure you’re taking measures to help keep you and your personal information safe. The holidays will be a whole lot brighter if you do.”


About the author:

Gary S. Miliefsky is founder of SnoopWall Inc. (www.snoopwall.com), a cutting edge counter-intelligence technology company offering free consumer-based software to secure personal data on cell-phones and tablets, while generating revenues helping banks and government agencies secure their networks. He has been active in the INFOSEC arena, as the Executive Producer of Cyber Defense Magazine and a regular contributor to Hakin9 Magazine.

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Be prepared for emergencies with the new Motorola Talkabout T480



September is National Preparedness Month. It’s a month dedicated to educating people on the importance of have back up plans and emergency supplies on hand in the event of a natural or man-made catastrophe.

Sometimes things hit without warning – tornadoes, fires, earthquakes… It’s important that you be prepared 24/7.

Here in New York when people hear that a blizzard is coming they stock up on bread, milk and cereal. That always made me laugh. The most you’ll be stuck at home is for a day or two but some people treat upcoming blizzards as the apocalypse.

The things you really need to stock up on are non-perishable foods, water, batteries, pet supplies, diapers, medications and other things that will help sustain your family for a few days (if not longer).

If you are held up in your home for a few days without power, how would you know what was going on in the “outside world?” One way is having a emergency radio. The new Motorola TALKABOUT T480 would be a great choice. It’s more than just an emergency radio.


The latest Motorola TALKABOUT T480 helps families stay connected when the unexpected hits. It comes with a wall/desk stand accessory, so can be used as a traditional weather alert radio or as a two-way radio. The wall, desk stand allows it to remain fully charged at all times, so users don’t have to worry about battery drain.  And, still receive NOAA weather alerts automatically.  There is a flashlight that also automatically turns on when there is a power outage.  And the T480, features an emergency alert button, safety whistle belt clip, NOAA weather channels for continuous updates and alerts, an FM Radio and up to 35-mile range.  The color is white/red just like the American Red Cross colors.  Families can take them on the road, to the park, camping, etc.  and still stay connected to changing weather conditions.  Plus in the event of a power outage when cell phones are down, two-way radios are an important and much needed communication tool.

We were sent a set of these radios to review. THANKFULLY we did not need to put them to the test (meaning there were no emergencies). I did play around with them a bit to familiarize myself with how they work.

One of the best things about this emergency radio is that it’s always on and charging. It’s too late to charge something when the power goes out unless you have a portable charger (in our home the portable chargers almost always need charging themselves).

I also like that it serves as a flashlight. When the power goes out it’s hard to find our way to the kitchen cabinet where we keep the flashlights. We can however easily make our way to the desk from every room. It’s not a strong flashlight, but it gets the job done. It is bright enough to help us manuevor to the kitchen cabinet to pull out the other flashlights.

This emergency radio is compact in size so it doesn’t take up much space on your desk or table top. It’s about the size of a regular walkie-talkie. The base that it sits in is small too.


We received two of these emergency devices. We have one at home and my husband has the other at work. My husband works about 24 miles from home. The two-way can work up to 35 miles, depending on a few conditions. Sadly, the two-way doesn’t work between home and his job. In all fairness the signal has to go through the mountainous Bear Mountain State Park. I think that has a lot to do with it. You cannot even get a cellphone signal in parks of the park (on the Palisades Parkway). I honestly didn’t expect it to work because of this reason and I was right.

My husband still keeps the other one at work so that he can hear weather reports from NOA. That way he can leave for home before it’s too late. He also likes having the flashlight option.

The walkie-talkies can pick up other signals. In the event you are lost in the woods you could use them to try and pick up signals from others using walkie-talkies.

Speaking of being lost in the woods, something like this is a must have for people who like to camp and hike in the woods. You should always have an emergency radio to listen to weather conditions, as well as have a way to reach others in case of an emergency.

With this being National Emergency Preparedness Month I would encourage readers to make a game plan on what you and your family should do in the event of a disaster or natural catastrophe, as well as put together and emergency kit (food, water, first aid…). Consider the Motorola TALKABOUT T480 too.

For more information about the Motorola TALKABOUT T480 visit the Motorola website. The product retails for $69.00 per radio.

You can also check them out on Facebook.

Do you have an emergency plan AND kit for yourself and/or your family?

What do you think about the Motorola TALKABOUT T480?



*I received a free product sample to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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How prepared are YOU in case of an emergency?



Did you know that September is National Preparedness Month? How prepared are you if a disaster hit?

I think many people – myself include – have a false sense of security. “It could never happen to me.” Let’s ask how many people devastated by Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Katrina and the recent floods in Louisiana and West Virginia if they thought “it could never happen to them.”

There are a variety of natural disasters that could strike without warning – hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, fires and earthquakes to name a few.

What would happen to YOU and YOUR family if you found yourself trapped in your home for days – or weeks – or if you had to flee your home in a moments notice. Would you have everything you needed to survive for a few days or more?

What you need is a plan – and a “kit” stocked with the essentials you’ll need for at least a few days for all family members. Don’t forget your pets! You need to have food, water and other supplies on hand for them as well.

Proper planning and preparation is essential for day-to-day survival, but in the case of an emergency, it can make all the difference in a family’s world. Seventy-five percent of parents agree that emergency readiness became a higher priority when they had children, yet 50% of parents don’t even know where to start.

Live Prepared Kit. PHOTO SOURCE: Live Prepared

Live Prepared Kit. PHOTO SOURCE: Live Prepared

The trick is finding the time to download the list of recommended products, running around town to purchase everything, properly storing your kit items and tidying them away in an organized fashion. To make the entire process easier and more attainable, Live Prepared is here to help people prepare for life’s unexpected adventures by introducing a collection of simple, high-quality emergency readiness food kits.

Live Prepared emergency readiness kits make it easy for parents to check preparedness off their to-do list by including everything they need to be secure, nourished and have peace of mind in an emergency. Having a kit on hand means parents can provide a prepared and peaceful home for their family, which in turn helps moms worry less and enjoy their families more!

In addition, Thomas Kostigen, an expert climate survivalist and New York Times best-selling author, was just named Global Ambassador for Live Prepared. In this role, Thomas will provide educational content, training and best practices to equip families and communities with the knowledge to weather any type of emergency situation with proper planning and tools.

Live Prepared has several kits in various price points to suit your families needs. They have kits that contain everything you’ll need for the home including food, first aid kit, hygiene products, radio, flashlight, candles, complete cooking and 6-in-1 Utensil Set, Advanced Water Filtration Bottle and more. Some kits even include things like duct tape, premium first aid kits, dust masks, utility cords and a 10-in-1 multi-tool.

PHOTO SOURCE: Live Prepared

PHOTO SOURCE: Live Prepared

Their kits are sold for individual people but you can easily add on more adults or children without paying for duplicate gear and safety items. The add-ons provide you with food for each additional family member for 72-hours (three days). I like that they give you this add on option so you don’t end up with multiple emergency kit, radios and other equipment you don’t really need extras of.

If you already have a “kit” available for your family, but you are in need of food with a long shelf life, Live Prepared has JUST food kits available too for both adults and children. They have 72-hour food kits and one week food kits. . In fact, the American Red Cross recommends having enough food and water on hand to cover a period of at least two weeks. At least these premade kits get you off to a good start. You can purchase what you need now and then purchase more to supplement the kits as time goes on.

Emergencies don’t always happen at home. They can also happen when you are on the go. That is why Live Prepared also offers consumers travel kits (everything in stored in the accompanying backpack) and auto kits.

I have one of the kits that was sent to me to review. It’s packed! In fact, I was afraid to take the products out of the storage box to take photos because I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get everything back in the box the right away in order to close the lid.


I love that it comes in a reusable container. You can re-purpose it or add to it whenever you need to.


Currently our kit is in the basement and is easily accessible if we need it. I’d keep it upstairs but our condo is tiny and we don’t have much storage space inside our unit.

Each kit comes with a guide about emergency preparedness. They even provide every kit with a deck of cards. After all, without power there is no much you can do to entertain yourself. At least playing cards games is possible.

I would also recommend that you have any necessarily medications ready to go in case you have to flee your home or are unable to get refills for a while. I would recommend a few toys (lightweight, easy to store) toys and games for your kids (crayons, coloring books, paper, pencils…). It’s hard enough dealing with an emergency. Adding scared or bored children into the mix only adds to the stress.

And please don’t forget your pets! Make sure you have extra food, water and bowls – even if you need to make them their own kits (use backpacks because they are easier to carry around). Including a few toys for your pet would also be a nice gesture.


With thunderstorm, hail, flooding, and tornado season in full bloom, and the possibility for heat-related blackouts in our future, it’s a good time for parents to think through their emergency preparedness kits to ensure everything they need is organized and at their fingertips if the time comes.  That is why kits like Live Prepared are a “must have” in every home.

For more information visit LivePrepared.com. Right now, if you sign up for their newsletter you can received a discount code for 15% off your purchase. They also offer FREE shipping.

Live Prepared can also be found on social media. All of their links are found at the top of their website.

Are YOU fully prepared in case of an emergency? Do you have food, water and supplies to last AT LEAST 72 hours?

What do you think about the Live Prepared kits? Do they sound like something you and your family need?



*I received a free kit to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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5 Ways to Check if Your House is Being Watched



Whether you are a high-profile businessman or a simple homeowner, protecting yourself against spying is essential. Aside from the risk to your finances, having people watching your every move in the comfort of your own home is scary and dangerous, too.

In case you suspect that your home is being watched, here are a few things you can do to verify:

Look into your computer

Since most computers and networks are connected to home security systems, they are the most commonly used device to hack a home. Aside from security data, computers can also store very important pieces of information, such as your personal data, financial details and account numbers.

One of the things you can do to check if your computer is being hacked is to look for any suspicious-looking physical devices connected to it. A key capture device, for example, can look like a USB key or a weird bulge in your computer cables. Aside from looking for these devices, you can also check your computer for any programs installed which you know nothing about.

Listen to your phone

If you’ve been hearing weird static noises or high-pitched humming while you’re using your phone, there’s a good chance someone’s listening to your conversation. In some cases, strange noises can also be heard even if no one’s actually using the phone.

You should keep in mind, however, that not all weird noises can be linked with phone tapping right away. The presence of electronic devices, for example, can also cause these sounds.

Checking Phone

Check your driveway

If service repairmen pop up in your front door even without you asking for them, then you should be wary. Burglars and criminals tend to spy their target homes before they attack. They can disguise themselves in uniform so that you’ll be less suspicious of them. In some cases, they can take along with them a utility truck which they can use to easily go around your neighborhood. They can go around in circles several times in a day.

If you’ve been seeing the same truck passing by your driveway, it’s a good idea to take note of its plate number, color and other distinguishing features. It can also help if you can take note of the hours that it’s passing by your property and where it can be parked. Notify the police as soon as possible and give out as much details as you can.

Examine your home for bugs

In case you have a very intense feeling that your home is being watched, one of the best times to look out for spy bugs at home is during the night. Since it’ll be quite and there’ll be no one to walk around as you search, you’ll have enough time and space to do a thorough search.

Once the house is quiet, you can start going through your household items. Run your fingers around switch plates and wall sockets. You can also do the same to your home accessories. Make sure to assess their out-of sight-edges to ensure that no spying device has been installed there.

You can also search your walls or ceilings for any discoloration or chipped paint that has not been there before. Any circular marking can indicate the placement of a listening or surveillance device. You should also include your carpets, pillows and curtains when checking for bugs.

Get infrared detectors

Spy cameras tend to be very small in size and discreet so that they aren’t easily noticed. One way to check if you have them at home is by using an infrared detector. Since most surveillance cameras used for spying come with infrared sensors to record your movements in the dark, the detector will let you easily see the source of IR.


Author’s bio:

Rose Cabrera specializes in writing reviews. She has covered a lot of big names in the market of home security, including Frontpoint, Livewatch and more.

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7 Signs Your Teen May Be Hiding Drug or Alcohol Abuse



Being a parent is not always easy. It’s not all “sunshine and rainbows” all the time. The older a child becomes, the more challenges you face as a parent.

I think being a teenager in today’s world is a lot harder than it was when I was a teen. When I was a teen I felt pressure to have designer jeans and albums from the top of the charts. Sure, there were keg parties in the woods, but sampling your first taste of beer as a teenager seems a lot more harmless than what teens today are doing.

Social media is the biggest danger to teens, in my opinion. They are also faced with much more “bad stuff” than just a keg party. These days teens are pressured to try out and/or use a variety of drugs and alcohols. It’s not just pot and beer – it’s cocaine, meth, Vicodin, Adderal as well as glue, pens and household cleaners, not to mention Jello shots and hard liquor.

How do you know if your teen is using and/or abusing drugs?

Here are seven signs to look out for, compliments of TeenSafe (TeenSafe.com).





*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this information for the benefit of site readers. 

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April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month – How focused are YOU when you drive?


Teen Driver

I’m a mom to two teenagers. Our daughter has her driver’s license, but we are not confident about her driving abilities. We feel that she’s easily distracted and the littlest thing causes her to panic.

We also have a 16 year old son who also drives. Oddly enough he does better than his older sister. I guess all of those driving games he plays on the computer really helped him.

We try to educate our children that when you drive you are bombarded with things that can take away from your focus – other drivers, animals, debris blowing on to the road, passengers in your own car… the list goes on.

For the time being we tell our kids they need to keep the music off and conversation to a minimum until they develop better driving skills and more experience.

Cellphones are a huge “no-no” when it comes to driving. We tell our kids to not only put their phones in the backseat, but also to turn off the volume or turn them off completely, that way they are not distracted by an incoming phone call or text message.

I’m not sure about other states, but here in New York it’s against the law to drive while talking on the phone. I cannot tell yo how many drivers I have seen who totally ignore the LAW and continue to drive while talking on the phone. You can spot those driver’s easily enough because you can tell by their driving that they are distracted by something.

Some people think they are getting around that law by making “hands free” phone calls via a earpiece, their car’s built in phone system or using the hands free option and speaker on their cellphone.


Personally I think any kind of a phone call can be distracting whether it’s on your phone or done “hands free.” You should be 100% focused on your driving and the world around you and not chatting with your spouse about dinner or what to watch on T.V. that night.

If what you need to talk about is THAT IMPORTANT you should find a parking lot or a safe place to pull over and chat. Don’t chat when you are speeding down the thruway or in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

I never use my phone when driving. My phone is either in my purse in the backseat or side pocket on my car door (I have a small purse) or in my pocket. The only time you will visually see my phone when I am driving is if I need to charge it. Even then I place the phone in the cup holder in my car and forget it’s even there.

When you are not distracted you are better able to focus on what is going on around you so that you can deal with driving hazards. Take for example a recent incident with my husband. He went into the left lane to make a left hand turn. Someone coming from the opposite direction went into his lane thinking it was the turning lane to go into the diner. Had my husband not been 100% focuses on his driving he could have been involved in a head-on collision. Thankfully he was fully aware of his surroundings and was able to quickly get out of the turning lane before the other car hit him.

Another recent incident happened to me the other day. I was driving home from the store with my son when and elderly man with a cane stepped out into the road before me. I slammed on my breaks immediately. Turns out he suffers from dementia. Thankfully his daughter was with him to get him back on the sidewalk where they were walking.


If was even slightly distracted I could have hit him!

Driving is not a right – it’s a privileged. As such you should give it your un-divided attention all the time.

Don’t talk and drive. It’s that simple. If you feel you might be too tempted, put your phone in the backseat or trunk. Or simply turn off your phone so you are not tempted to check to see if you have text messages.

The National Safety Council has a wealth of information and resources to help you not to be a distracted driver. You can find all the materials here.

The NSC is also asking drivers to take the pledge to drive cell free. I hope you will take a moment to take the pledge. You can take the pledge here.

The NSC is also hosting a FREE 1 hour webinar on Wednesday April 6 at 12:00 PM (EST) / 9:00 AM (PST). The webinar is about how car manufacturers are in an arms race to make vehicles as connected as possible – but at what cost? Research is showing that voice-activated technologies may be distracting, which means they are not a good alternative to using a cell phone while driving. Please click here to register for the webinar.

To see what others are saying please check out the hashtag #TakeBackMyDrive and check out @NSCsafety on Twitter.

Do you use your phone (hands-free or in your hand) when driving? Why or why not? Feel free to share your thoughts on this matter.

National Safety Council Logo


*I have partnered with NSC to bring you this information. Although compensated the opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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