AS HEARD ON: WGAN – The Dark History of Equifax – Robocalls Becoming Human Like: AS HEARD ON – The WGAN Morning News [09-27-17]
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AS HEARD ON: WGAN – The Dark History of Equifax – Robocalls Becoming Human Like: AS HEARD ON – The WGAN Morning News [09-27-17]
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Airing date: 09/27/2017
The Dark History of Equifax – Robocalls Becoming Human Like
Craig Peterson: Craig Peterson here use. We’re going to use some of my more than 30 years’ worth of computer forensic experience to talk with Ken and Matt this morning. And also, did you know that Equifax used to be called Consumer Credit? And that Equifax, back in the day, was keeping track of everything including morality, working it into your credit. Well, you’re not going to believe what they’re doing now. Maybe their back at their old tricks? Here we go.
Matt Gagnon: And it’s 7:38 on the WGAN Morning News with Ken and Matt. And it is that time of week again. On Wednesday at 7:38 we talk to Craig Peterson, our tech guru, and he is with us now. Craig how are you this morning?
Craig: Good morning. I am with you. Hey, it’s going to be fall again.
Matt: Good morning, good morning.
Ken Altshuler: Some forecast says the heatwave about to end. And by the way, you know, we’re coming up with the election here and thank goodness we don’t have any hacking of any elections in the United States of America. Isn’t that great Craig?
Craig: It is. It’s really good. Yeah, of course, we are referring to the report that just came out that was looking at hacking in the United States. And we have the Feds come out now and the Feds have said hey, you know, bottom line here, there were some states that the Russians were hacking. But we got to define what hacking is and the states. First of all, the only state in New England, that according to the Feds was hacked, was, drumroll please, Connecticut. S So the rest of us apparently were okay. Now, you know, if there’s truly a hacker involved and if they’re truly a good hacker you’re not going to see evidence of it right? So that’s kind of the first bottom line. But when we’re talking about hacking, when we’re talking about elections being hacked, what we’re really talking about, at least today, is that someone tried to get in. Now in this case we’re talking about the Russians and that means that someone apparently from Russia, and again you can’t tell you know. Come on, it’s so, so easy nowadays to cover your tracks. You can’t tell it’s Russian. But they tried to get in. But there’s no evidence according to the Feds and the state’s Attorneys General and, you know, the people who investigated, that the Russians actually did anything other than attempt to get at systems that were related to elections. So that’s kind of the bottom line here. You know, the hackers were trying to get in. Was it the Russians are not? There’s some people that are convinced it is. There’s a lot of other people who are security experts that I’ve spoken to that say no, it isn’t. And I’ve done a lot of forensic work, computer forensic work over the decades from the very first I’ve investigated back in ’91. And I can say absolutely that it’s almost impossible to tell. The only way that you will know it was the Russians for sure is if they admit to it. That’s it.
Matt: We are talking to Craig Peterson our tech guru, and we talk with him at this time every Wednesday. Craig turning your attention to something that’s irritating me a lot lately. Ransomware and clickbaits and things like that. This is something that is plaguing just the entire, not only in our country, but the entire world. This is a scourge that must be snuffed out. What is the problem that we’re seeing right now as it relates to this?
Craig: Well this is an interesting problem because we have seen just kind of really two different types of this guys’ email. Now you mentioned clickbait. This is something where a person is enticed to click on a link. So you get an email. It looks like it’s from your bank or most of the time looks like it’s from some other bank and I don’t have an account there. Why would they send this to me? So those emails, you know, are not valid, right? Those emails, you know, are hacked, right? But when it comes from your bank and you’re looking at it and saying now wait a minute here, should I open it? Should I not open it? Right? Some people are going to click on it. Well, right now, if you are a Barracuda user. If you bought the Barracuda Spam Firewall and you’re trying to keep it out of your company, I’ve got some really bad news for you. They are under attack. And it’s incredible what they’re doing here. Excuse me, first of all, we’re talking about 2 million users per hour, mostly Barracuda customers. And they’re being enticed with some emails that are talking about some reasonable things, you know. The subjects are about Herbalife or your copiers delivering your file, I gotten that one before, Matt. Have you seen that?
Matt: Oh yeah. Absolutely.
Craig: You know, this copier and here’s your file. Payment is attached is another big one that they’re using right now. Don’t click the link, right? That’s kind of the most important thing. But at the rate of 2 million an hour, that’s almost unheard of. It’s ransomware which means it takes over your computer. It encrypts it. And on average it takes about a week to get your computer back. Okay? If you can get it back, even if you pay the ransom, the odds are 50% that you’ll never see your data again. And most businesses that are hit with ransomware attacks don’t survive. These small businesses just do not survive. So if you’re a Barracuda user, pay particular attention. I’ve written an article about it. It’s up on my website. It gives you a lot of detail. But the biggest thing about this is it’s modifying itself. Now you know how a virus, right? You get a certain strain of a virus. Your body fights it and now you’ve got a somewhat of an immunity against that virus. And then viruses mutate in the wild. And now your body is exposed to it it’s just slightly different enough that your body doesn’t recognize it as a virus and you get sick again and your body has to figure out how to fight against it. This thing is mutating itself. And it’s mutated itself over 8000 times. So we know this malware the putting ransomware in my computer is mutating at least 8000 times because are the different versions that we’ve seen it. So be careful here. Someone apparently found a way through the Barracuda spam firewalls and Barracuda obviously is working on it. They should have it fixed. And, you know, fingers crossed here. But Matt, you’re right. We’re getting way too much of this clickbait and there’s ransomware behind it. And these are criminal organizations we’re seeing now. And we can thank our CIA and our NSA, National Security Agency, for this because once again they’re using techniques and software that were taken from our government, who figured out how to our computers and break-in, and they got hacked.
Ken: We’re talking to Craig Peterson. He is our tech guru. As he mentions you could go to his website, http://CraigPeterson.com, and get a lot of information and all of his papers and everything. Equifax, or Equifax. How are we saying it? Equifax, Equifax? You said potato, he said potato. We’ve had some resignations. So what’s the current status of that and the long-term impact, Craig?
Craig: Oh, you noticed eh? Something about a CEO being retired by the board of directors.
Ken: He retired. Well, it was a voluntary retirement.
Matt: Well, I was thinking about doing this anyway.
Ken: He didn’t quit or anything.
Craig: It’s been 12 years. Yeah, this whole Equifax thing just keeps getting worse and worse. Last year we talked about the Experian hack. And now this year, of course, we got the Equifax hack. And I had thousands of people apply for the dark web search. And I found some people with as many as 20 vulnerabilities, all the way on down through some people they were not exposed at all. So that’s good news for them. But Equifax here, I just don’t get it. I just plain don’t get it. What’s happening with these guys? They’re stock’s down, as of yesterday when I checked, it was down about 25%. I think it should be down about 100%. And it’s come up something else, gentlemen. Do either of you have Facebook accounts or Twitter accounts?
Matt: What’s Facebook?
Ken: You mean our FaceSpace? I have our FaceSpace, yeah.
Craig: You have it on FaceSpace?
Ken: No, I don’t. But Matt’s a Facebook, Twitter person.
Craig: Well, it turns out, we know the government’s monitoring those, right? Obviously.
Matt: What? That’s shocking. They would never invade our privacy like that.
Craig: They have a firehose feed that you can buy, Matt, from Twitter for instance, which gives you every twee. It turns out, our friends at the NSA have been subscribing, like that’s a shocker. But so has Equifax, Ken. Equifax has apparently been getting its hands on all of the tweets people have been putting out there and also all of the Facebook posts they can get their hands on. And they’re pulling them all in. And the fear here is now, that Equifax is going to go back to the bad old days. Now, here’s what were worried about. Equifax, the whole reason we have, and Ken might even know a fair amount about this, the whole Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Craig: Was because of Equifax.
Craig: 1970s when it really started to heat up. Because Equifax, it turned out in the 1960s, was giving ratings to people based, and of course they weren’t called Equifax back then. They changed their name. Because they’re a much friendlier company now. But Equifax back then was looking at things. For instance, were you married? Were you married? If you weren’t married they would blacklist you. If you’re living with someone particularly had a child. And people were getting fired because of this. People getting fired because the rumors were they went so far before 1970 as if they would go out and knock on doors to ask your neighbors what kind of a person you are. And they would use all of this with the assumption that if you were someone who was living in sin, you’re bad credit risk. What do you think Equifax is doing with our tweets and our Facebook posts? I don’t know. They haven’t admitted to anything yet. But right now it looks like they are pulling all of that in and based on their history they have a bigger database with more information in than the Library of Congress has.
Matt: We are talking to Craig Peterson, our tech guru. Final question for me, Craig, before we let you go and this one’s maybe what you weren’t prepared for. But it irritated me enough yesterday that I had asked about it. I think I’ve asked you about this before too. As I was sitting in my office and my phone rang in the morning and I actually ignored it. I assumed that it was a call to my general line and not my personal office itself. And then so it did rang like twice and then went away. And then it called again like 45 minutes later. And then it called again an hour later. And then it called again two hours later. And finally I got irritated enough that I actually picked it up. It said it was from Belfast and when I picked it up, you had the requisite five second pause before the computer kicked in. And then you had the voice of a person that sounded genuine like they were, you know, a real person telling me that they were talking to me about my insurance. So that made it sound like it’s something I already own. Yeah, like that insurance policy I already had. And I can already tell that it was not a real person. But I listened for a second and then I got irritated enough to interrupt the thing. And say you’re a robot aren’t you? And then the little algorithm went for, you know, two seconds or whatever, and then it comes back and is it said, why? Do I sound that bad? Is it that bad? So it has this like an entire program and it’s set up to make it respond as though it’s a human. But you can tell, of course, because the pauses and everything else that it’s not. It is so repugnantly annoying to me. And it happens with increasing frequency. I’m getting these on my cell phone. I’m getting these, now in my office, which I don’t give out my personal. The office number is given out but not my number in the office. It’s not given out. And yet somehow they got that number. What is causing this increase in this? And is there anything that can be done to combat against it?
Craig: Well it’s being caused by machine learning morphing into artificial intelligence because it’s getting so cheap. You know, if you take your iPhone 11, their OS 11, that’s on your iPhone, which of course you don’t have, but Ken does.
Craig: Siri, have you noticed how good she is now all of a sudden?
Ken: Yes, yes, yes.
Craig: And her voice sounds almost natural. Now, they’re using similar techniques, Matt, which is they’re using a very early version of artificial intelligence in order to put all of this together. In five years from now you will have a very hard time knowing that it’s not a human who’s calling you. And AI is what we’re scared of because, frankly, it’s going to be used. One of the very first things it’s going to be used for is hacking computers, clickbait, and these phone scams. And it’s already being used. It’s so primitive today. I wouldn’t even call it AI. But it is being used today to make those calls. I mention Hiya on the show here before, H-I-Y-A. That’s an app that I use on my iPhone. There are actually a few different apps out now. But I’ve been pretty happy with Hiya, H-I-Y-A. Free app, free service. And when a call comes in, it looks it up against known phone numbers of scammers. It warns you if it thinks a call coming in might be a scam. Very easy to use, easy to install. And it has changed my life. Now, you’re using an android device. I think Hiya has a version for that, but there are other ones out there. Have a look for them. And their called, typically, spam call blockers. And they’re quite effective. But, you know, it is a game of one-upsmanship, Matt. We get better at blocking them, they get better at calling us.
Matt: Alright, Craig Peterson, our tech guru. Thank you very much sir for joining us this fine Wednesday. We will talk to you again in a week.
Craig: Hey gentlemen, take care. Bye-bye.
Craig: I can’t wait for the moment when there’s a robot talking to me and I don’t know it’s a robot. That’s going to be great.
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