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John F. O'Hara

John F. O'Hara
731 W Skippack Pike  Blue Bell  PA 19422
Phone:  610-277-4060
Office:  215-643-3200
Cell:  267-481-1786
Fax:  267-354-6973

My Blog

Own an ASUS Router? FTC Says 12,000 Users Were Hacked!

March 23, 2016 1:48 am

To borrow from a popular commercial tag line: what's in your router? We recently learned, along with 12,000 consumers, what wasn't included with their ASUS brand Internet router: appropriate security infrastructure.

Recently, the Taiwan-based computer hardware maker ASUSTeK Computer, Inc. agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges that critical security flaws in its routers put the home networks of hundreds of thousands of consumers at risk.

The administrative complaint also charges that the routers’ insecure cloud services led to the compromise of thousands of consumers’ connected storage devices, exposing their sensitive personal information on the Internet.

The proposed consent order will require ASUS to establish and maintain a comprehensive security program subject to independent audits for the next 20 years.

With millions of consumers connecting smart devices to their home networks, Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, says routers play a key role in securing home networks.

ASUS marketed its routers as including numerous security features that the company claimed could “protect computers from any unauthorized access, hacking, and virus attacks” and “protect [the] local network against attacks from hackers.” Despite these claims, the FTC’s complaint alleges that ASUS didn’t take reasonable steps to secure the software on its routers.

An FTC release states that in 2014, hackers used readily available tools to locate vulnerable ASUS routers and exploited these security flaws to gain unauthorized access to over 12,900 consumers’ connected storage devices. According to the complaint, hackers could exploit pervasive security bugs in the router’s Web-based control panel to change any of the router’s security settings without the consumer’s knowledge.

In addition, ASUS’ routers also featured services called AiCloud and AiDisk that allowed consumers to plug a USB hard drive into the router to create their own cloud storage accessible from any of their devices. While ASUS advertised these services as a “private personal cloud for selective file sharing” and a way to “safely secure and access your treasured data through your router,” the FTC’s complaint alleges that the services had serious security flaws.

Keep up to date on loads of important consumer topics right here and at consumer.ftc.gov.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Ins and Outs of Credit Reports and Scores

March 23, 2016 1:48 am

From buying a car to buying a home, the information contained in your credit report will determine your financial capability—or culpability. Thoroughly understanding your credit report is essential, says Steve Trumble, president and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC), a non-profit organization.

“Consumers are often unaware of the direct impact their credit report and score can have on their financial well-being,” says Trumble. “It can have a significant impact on a whole host of major life events, such as getting a job, buying a car, purchasing a home, or even renting an apartment.”

Your credit report outlines a detailed account of your financial history, which informs your credit score. Lenders, landlords and more use these scores to understand a person’s level of risk when it comes to meeting their financial obligations, such as paying back loans. Both credit reports and credit scores can affect a person’s ability to get credit, as well as the terms and rates of that credit.

The most common scoring system is the FICO score. The credit score ranges anywhere from 300 to 850. Based on this scoring system, the higher the score, the lower the risk, and vice versa. If you have a lower FICO score, then you may have a higher interest rate, which would lead to higher monthly payments.

You’re entitled to one free credit report each year from each reporting agency: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The credit report will contain identifying information, such as your Social Security number and date of birth, trade lines, credit inquiries and public records and collections.

When buying a home, the mortgage lender will review all of your credit reports and credit scores. Ordinarily, your credit score should be anywhere above 700 in order to receive a standard mortgage interest rate.

When renting an apartment, the landlords or rental agency will review your credit report for negative information, such as missed payments. Those with bad credit may be required to get a co-signer on the lease. 

When seeking insurance, the insurer may request to go through your credit report and credit score in order to determine terms and rates. With this information, the insurer can calculate your insurance risk. The higher the insurance risk score, the better the insurance rates.

When purchasing a car, most auto dealers will rely on your credit score to offer loan terms that match your credit profile. Those with high credit scores will receive the best auto loan rates available; those with low credit scores may receive an excessively high interest rate.

When applying for a credit card, the company will review your credit report and score to decide if you qualify. Keep in mind credit card companies can also review the scores of existing customers and adjust rates accordingly.

Whichever form of credit you apply for, it pays to know your score, as well as the information contained in your report. Having that information can help pave the path toward a successful financial future.

Source: ACCC

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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