WHAT’S YOUR IDENTITY WORTH?

Having our smartphone hacked — and heaven only knows what kind of information became available from that — made us wonder if we could have had our identity stolen. The next thought was: what would that information be worth to somebody. So we did the research rounds on the web and beyond and found that a stolen identity — the requisite numbers and passwords — sells for about $20 on the hacked-info black market. That’s it? Twenty bucks? What about our priceless collection of Pez dispensers?

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NOW CALLING FROM FLORIDA

The glass on our cell phone cracked. (Should have left the case on.) Even worse, we turned in the phone to a local repair shop and when we got it back two days later, we think it had been hacked.

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THE NUMBERS REPORT

Data breaches will cost companies $2.1 trillion globally by 2019, almost four times this year’s rate, according to Juniper Research. It’s because we’re putting almost everything that involves money online. The average cost of each data breach will exceed $150 million by 2020. (Remember: cyber-crime is a growth industry.)

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FREE ANTIVIRUS PROGRAM

PC Magazine recently did a review of leading free anti-virus programs. Their top picks were Panda Free Antivirus, BitDefender AntiVirus Free Edition, and Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit Free. Avast, which we’ve used for years, was number four out of ten. For tough problems needing paid support, we recommend HelpHelpNow.com (with which we have no connection).

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WATCHMAN, WHAT OF THE NIGHT?

After we alerted our readers to scammers pretending to be from Microsoft, we heard about scammers pretending to be from AOL. A reader told us she frequently gets emails saying “out of AOL storage space.” This is a common ploy directed at both AOL and Microsoft Outlook users.

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HACKING THE GARAGE

An ordinary kid’s toy, Mattel’s “I M Me,” can be used to open garage doors in under ten seconds. Hackers aim the toy at your garage and presto, it opens.

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WATCH OUT FOR THE UPDATE AD

Our screen kept nagging us with messages that we needed to update Adobe Flash Player, a program necessary for video playback on the web. But since we knew we already had the latest version , we ignored it.

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GOING DARK

What if Hilary Clinton had used encrypted email instead of a private email service? Could anyone have uncovered her conversations? We don’t know the answer but we have one word for privacy seekers: encryption.

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HACKERS WIN

Hewlett Packard recently sponsored a hacking contest in Vancouver, Canada, to see if anyone could break into “unhackable” programs, web sites and browsers. It may come as no surprise that there were people out there who were fully capable of hacking into the unhackable.

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THE ULTIMATE KEYBOARD

How’s this for perking up your paranoia: 45 percent of employers monitor every keystroke typed by their employees — email, web browsing, chat, sports results, you name it, according to a survey from the American Management Association. That’s nearly half! If only the workers could use an encrypted keyboard.

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