By Don Brennan, GNPCC Staff Writer
Cyber security and personal safety were the main topics May 3 at the GNPCC “Ask the Experts” panel discussion and breakfast sponsored by CORA Services, Inc., 8540 Verree Rd.
GNPCC President Pam Henshall moderated a panel of experts, including: Matt Cherepanya, vice president and director of sales for Inverse Paradox; Jim Smith, vice president of Total Technology Resources; Joe Allen, president of Sonitrol Security of Delaware Valley; and Lt. Darien Blackmon of the 7th Police District.
The topic of the breakfast was: “Security: Is your information and location protected and secure?”
That we live in a world of advanced technology is no secret to anyone. We shop online, we pay our bills online, we live with multiple cellphones ringing and dinging, we pay with multiple forms of plastic, we text, email, Snapchat, check-in, Tweet and register “likes” as regularly as we blink or breathe. And, yes, even the least tech savvy among us stop and ask the question, “Where does all of this information go?”
Are those credit card numbers I just punched into my mobile device to buy a pair of shoes or lawn chairs or book a trip to Mexico . . . can they be used to rack up purchases for someone else without my consent?
These kinds of issues were dealt with in detail at the panel discussion mainly by Mr. Cherepanya and Mr. Smith, while Mr. Allen spoke more about home and business security, and Lt. Blackmon touched on a variety of topics concerning public and residential safety.
“You could have a hacker on the other side of the world potentially contacting you on the Internet. Your presence on the Internet, your computer, your website, your email accounts, they’re all accessible literally by everyone on the Internet,” said Mr. Smith of TTR, 10063 Sandmeyer Ln. in the Far Northeast. “You have to protect yourself. You have to make sure you have protection for your email accounts, credit card accounts, and all of the things you use the Internet for.”
Mr. Cherepanya said in today’s society, revealing personal information without ever considering the potential downside to it, is wildly—and alarmingly—popular. People regularly post hundreds of photographs of themselves, their families, homes and businesses. On Facebook, they “check-in” at restaurants, hotels, concerts, bars, and vacation spots, letting the cyber world know they are not at home . . . the very same home they’ve shown photographs of and perhaps vividly described.
“There’s something strange about walking down the street, and maybe passing a complete stranger who knows who you are and where you live, and where you ate last night,” Matt said.
Lt. Blackmon said it is quite common to hear stories of homes left vulnerable to burglary because someone was monitoring a Facebook site and knew the residents were not at home because they had “checked-in” somewhere else.
“If people want to ‘check-in’ on Facebook, do it after you get back into your home,” he said.
Joe Allen said it is imperative that residential and commercial security system owners take the time to change the default passwords of the equipment. Jim Smith agreed.
“When we do penetration tests on a system, the main failure comes when the default passwords have not been changed. It’s so easy for a hacker to get that information through Google,” he said.
One of the main reasons why the GNPCC schedules “Ask the Experts” events, is so that members can . . . ask the experts! You can email Jim Smith at email@example.com or call 215-464-8121. Joe Allen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-877-652-3060. Matt Cherepanya is available at email@example.com or by calling 215-478-6586. The 7th Police District is located at 1701 Bowler St. Their number is 215-686-3070.
NOTES – Helene Baczkowski, director of development at host CORA Services, Inc., spoke about the mission of the resource center for children, youth and families. Established in 1971 by Sister Charity Kohl, of the Good Shepherd Sisters, CORA means Counseling Or Referral Assistance. They serve more than 16,000 families and children each year by providing academic support, school counseling, occupational therapy, speech and language services, psychological services, truancy services and student assessment programs. No one is ever turned away. AnnMarie Schultz is chief executive officer. Mary K. Doherty, a GNPCC regular, is director of Government and Strategic Partnerships (and a pretty darned good photographer). To learn more about CORA Services, visit www.coraservices.org or to learn how your business can partner with them, call Helene at 215-701-2776.