Category Archives: Communications Law

Online Dating and Relationship Scams

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, but if an online love interest asks you for money, it’s probably a scam.online-dating-scams-3_350

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) receives thousands of reports each year about romance scammers who create fake online relationships only to rob their victims.

Millions of Americans use dating sites, social networking sites and chat rooms to meet people, but scammers use them too, and eventually the scammers ask for money.

The FTC’s new infographic, developed with the American Bankers Association Foundation, lists common signs of online dating scams and how to handle them.

How to Recognize a Scam

The relationship may not be what you think, especially if your sweetheart:

  • wants to leave the dating site immediately and use personal email or IM
  • claims love in a heartbeat
  • claims to be from the U.S., but is traveling or working overseas
  • plans to visit, but is prevented by a traumatic event or a business deal gone sour

Scammers also like to say they’re out of the country for business or military service.

What You Can Do About It

You may lose your heart, but you don’t have to lose your shirt, too. Don’t wire money to cover:

  • travel
  • medical emergencies
  • hotel bills
  • hospital bills for a child or other relative
  • visas or other official documents
  • or losses from a temporary financial setback

Don’t send money to tide someone over after a mugging or robbery, and don’t do anyone a favor by making an online purchase or forwarding a package to another country. One request leads to another, and delays and disappointments will follow. In the end, your money will be gone along with the person you thought you knew.

Report relationship scams to:

If you or your business have legal questions or concerns regarding computer law, privacy, or cybersecurity law matters, contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices.

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BEC Attacks to Exceed $9B in 2018

Business email compromise is projected to skyrocket as attackers adopt sophisticated techniques to dupe their victims.

Business email compromise (BEC) attacks are projected to exceed $9 billion in 2018. The attacks continue to become more sophisticated and fleece more money from U.S. businesses.

How it works

There has been an increase of computer intrusions linked to BEC scams, involving fraudsters impersonating high level executives, sending phishing emails from seemingly legitimate sources, and requesting wire transfers to alternate, fraudulent accounts. In some cases these methods ultimately lead to successful intrusion and unfettered access to their victims’ credentials.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) puts BEC attacks in five categories: Bogus Invoice Schemes, CEO Fraud, Account Compromise, Attorney Impersonation, and Data

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Theft. More information is available from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) IC3.

Growth Industry

The combination of simplicity and effectiveness have ensured that BEC will continue to be one of the most popular attacks according to a January 18, 2018 Trend Micro report “Delving into the World of Business Email Compromise (BEC).” Researchers analyzed BEC as a cybercriminal operation from January through September 2017, dissecting tools and strategies commonly used in these attacks to predict activity for this year.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) puts BEC attacks in five categories: Bogus Invoice Schemes, CEO Fraud, Account Compromise, Attorney Impersonation, and Data Theft. In this case, researchers split them in two: Credential-grabbing and Email-only. Attackers must be proficient in at least one of these methods for the scheme to work, researchers report.

Defending against the scam

Businesses are advised to stay vigilant and educate employees on how to prevent being victimized by BEC scams and other similar attacks. It’s important to know that cybercriminals do not care about your company’s size—the more victims, the better. Additionally, cybercriminals need not to be highly technical as they can find tools and services that cater to all levels of technical expertise in the cybercriminal underground. Here are some tips on how to avoid these scams:

• Employee awareness and education is the first step. Organizations should train employees how to spot phishing attacks.

• Email is often used to perform BEC attacks, relying on deception and social engineering to trick employees into downloading files, visiting websites or providing information. End users should know what to look out for when it comes to email—as even the most convincing BEC attacks typically have telltale signs that can be used to distinguish a legitimate email from a malicious one.

• Verify the legitimacy of fund transfer requests, especially those that involve large amounts. Just because the request seemingly comes from an executive, it does not mean that it is legitimate. If possible, confirm the request directly with the person who sent the request if there is something unusual or suspicious about the request.

• For vendors and suppliers, organizations should verify payment requests and invoices before transferring funds. If the vendor or supplier suddenly provides a different payment location, consider it a red flag and verify the change via a secondary sign-off by company personnel.

• Any request should be verified and challenged. If the request comes in via email, making a phone call or face-to-face discussion with the person making the request to ensure its validity will help mitigate BEC attacks. Use known good telephone numbers, not those in the email.

• Building a culture of security within the organization from top to bottom.

What to do

If you suspect that you have been a victim of a BEC email, report the incident to your company and financial institution immediately.  Also, consider filing a complaint with the IC3 no matter how much the amount.

If you or your business have legal questions or concerns regarding computer law, privacy, or cybersecurity law matters, contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices.

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Section 508 Gets an Update: New Web Accessibility Guidelines for Government Sites Take Effect January 18

Today, January 18, 2018 new website accessibility requirements (such as screen reader compatibility for hearing and sight impaired) for federal websites became effective. 

The U.S. Access Board in a published final rule updating accessibility requirements for information and communication technology (ICT) covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act became effective today.

Updated Section 508 Standards for Federal ICT

Section 508 and 255 Refresh with reload iconThe Access Board’s final rule revises and refreshes its standards for information and communication technology in the federal sector covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The Board’s Section 508 Standards, which were first issued in 2000, apply to ICT developed, procured, maintained, or used by federal agencies. Examples include computers, telecommunications equipment, multifunction office machines such as copiers that also function as printers, software, websites, information kiosks and transaction machines, and electronic documents.

Goals of the Refresh

The Board updated the 508 Standards and 255 Guidelines jointly to ensure consistency in accessibility across the spectrum of information and communication technologies (ICT) covered. Other goals of this refresh include:

  • enhancing accessibility to ICT for people with disabilities;
  • making the requirements easier to understand and follow;
  • updating the requirements so that they stay abreast of the ever-changing nature of the technologies covered; and
  • harmonizing the requirements with other standards in the U.S. and abroad.

Major Changes

The final rule revises both the structure and substance of the ICT requirements to further accessibility, facilitate compliance, and make the document easier to use. Major changes include:

  • restructuring provisions by functionality instead of product type due to the increasingly multi-functional capabilities of ICT;
  • incorporating the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 by reference and applying Level A and Level AA Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements to websites, as well as to non-web electronic documents and software;
  • specifying the types of non-public facing electronic content that must comply;
  • requiring that operating systems provide certain accessibility features;
  • clarifying that software and operating systems must interoperate with assistive technology (such as screen magnification software and refreshable braille displays);
  • addressing access for people with cognitive, language, and learning disabilities; and
  • harmonizing the requirements with international standards.

Incorporation of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

W3C WCAG 2.0 logoThe final rule incorporates by reference a number of voluntary consensus standards, including WCAG 2.0. Issued by the W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative, WCAG 2.0 is a globally recognized, technology-neutral standard for web content. The final rule applies WCAG 2.0 not only to web-based content, but to all electronic content. The benefits of incorporating the WCAG 2.0 into the Section 508 Standards and the 255 Guidelines and applying it in this manner are significant. WCAG 2.0 addresses new technologies and recognizes that the characteristics of products, such as native browser behavior and plug-ins and applets, have converged over time. A substantial amount of WCAG 2.0 support material is available, and WCAG 2.0-compliant accessibility features are already built into many products. Further, use of WCAG 2.0 promotes international harmonization as it is referenced by, or the basis for, standards issued by the European Commission, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Germany, and France.

If you or your business have legal questions or concerns regarding computer law, privacy, or cybersecurity law matters, contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices.

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Tech Support Fraudsters to Pay

A federal court ordered that the assets of the operators of an alleged tech support scam be used to reimburse consumers who lost money to the defendants’ scheme.

US District Court ED PAThe U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania agreed with the FTC, the State of Connecticut, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that the money held by a court-ordered receiver was acquired by the defendants “through fraud and other improper means” and should be used for the benefit of consumer victims.

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The FTC alleged that the defendants used Internet ads and popups that claimed to be from major tech companies like Microsoft and Apple to trick consumers into calling the defendants and buying tech support services.

In May, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Connecticut and Pennsylvania announced settlements with Bruce Bartolotta, Click4Support, LLC, Spanning Source LLC, George Saab, Chetan Patel and Niraj Patel as well as Innovazion Inc., Innovazion Research Private Limited, Abhishek Gagneja, and Rishi Gagneja. Under the settlements, the defendants are banned from marketing technical support services and agreed to pay a total of more than $554,000 and to forfeit $1.3 million held by the receiver. The settlements were announced as part of the Operation Tech Trap initiative, an international crackdown of tech support scams announced by the FTC in May.

Consumers who believe they were victims of the tech support services operated by the defendants can file a consumer complaint with the FTC by visiting www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or by calling (877) 382-4357.

If you or your business have legal questions or concerns regarding computer law, privacy, or cybersecurity law matters, contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices.

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Did the FCC Just Kill the Internet?

ftc_logo_430Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Acting Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen issued the following statement in response to today’s vote by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on the Restoring Internet Freedom Order regarding net neutrality:

“The FCC’s action today (December 14, 2017) restored the FTC’s ability to protect consumers and competition throughout the Internet ecosystem. The FTC is ready to resume its role as the cop on the broadband beat, where it has vigorously protected the privacy and security of consumer data and challenged broadband providers who failed to live up to their promises to consumers. In addition, the FCC’s new transparency rules provide additional tools to help ensure that consumers get what they expect from their broadband providers, who will be required to disclose their traffic management practices. The Memorandum of Understanding establishes a framework for FTC-FCC cooperation. Together we will move ahead to protect consumers and help ensure they enjoy the many benefits of online innovation.”

So did the FCC just kill the internet?  Probably not, but time will tell.

If you or your business have legal questions or concerns regarding communications law, computer law, privacy, or cybersecurity law matters, contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices.

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National Cyber Security Awareness Month

DHS logoOctober is National Cyber Security Awareness Month which is an annual campaign to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity. The Internet touches almost all aspects of everyone’s daily life. National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) is designed to engage and educate partners through events and initiatives to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity, provide them with tools and resources needed to stay safe online, and increase the resiliency of the Nation in the event of a cyber incident.

More information is available from www.dhs.gov/national-cyber-security-awareness-month.  A free toolkit is available here: https://www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect-toolkit.

If you or your business have legal questions or concerns regarding disaster preparedness, computer law, privacy, or cybersecurity law matters, contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices.

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FCC FILING DEADLINE FOR FORM 477 DATA IS NOW SEPTEMBER 1, 2017

FCCRulingThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) FCC’s Form 477 filing interface, available online at https://apps2.fcc.gov/form477/login.xhtml, is now accepting data as of June 30, 2017.  The filing deadline for Form 477 data as of June 30, 2017 is September 1, 2017.

Information on how to file Form 477 is available on the FCC’s Form 477 Resources for Filers webpage at www.fcc.gov/form477.

Need more information or help filing Form 477?  Contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices, P.C.

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