The Digital Marketing Mess – And Insight into Who’s Looking to Profit from Your Information

June 2, 2012

A new infographic showing the social media marketing landscape was unveiled by Buddy Media this month and though the intent was to show how complicated the marketing world has become, it is also an excellent representation of some of the companies fighting to make money off of your information. It’s staggering.

While not every company listed here is collecting or sharing your information – like the URL shorteners – most of these companies would not exist if it were not for the personal information shared online.

Make no mistake, it’s all about the money. You and your information are commodities driving a multi-billion dollar ecosystem. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this business model – you gain tremendous benefits from the internet and all the tools and services it provides – it’s critical that every user to understands just how far their information may be spread and why managing the information they share, and with whom they share it is critical.




Nearly 1-in-5 of Computers in U.S. Have No Security Protection

May 31, 2012

The good news is that just over 80% of the U.S. population has at least some security protection in place on their computers; the bad news is that 19.32% of computers in the U.S. still have no protection at all according to a new study by McAfee[i].

Among the countries tested, the US placed among the bottom 5  – with worse security protection rates than countries like China and India.

That’s grim news, but even worse was the study’s finding that 96% of tablets and smartphones lack security software in spite of these devices being fully capable computers storing sensitive personal and financial information. The lack of smartphone device security is exacerbated by the number of Android users who have installed “antivirus protection” yet the services they downloaded actually fail to provide any protection – learn more in my blog Most Users with Free Android Antivirus Scanners aren’t Protected.

With cybercrime rates skyrocketing what’s driving the security gap?

The lack of security protection on PC’s is not a cost issue. For less than a penny a day, consumers can be protected by strong security software

If consumers in countries with low average incomes like India and China can afford security software, so can Americans.

A few quick searches show steep discounts on 1-year subscriptions to for-pay security products with excellent reputations and broad security coverage:

  • A 50% discount offer on McAfee’s Internet Security Center 2012, making the cost just $39.99
  • A 55% discount offer on Norton’s Internet Security 2012, dropping the cost to $35.99
  • A 50% discount on TrendMicro’s Titanium security 2012, dropping the cost to $39.95
  • A 40% discount on AVG’s Internet Security 2012, dropping the cost to $32.99
  • A 50% discount on Kapersky’s Internet Security 2012, dropping the cost to $39.97
  • And so on.


If a penny a day is still too steep a price, there are good free alternatives. To find these products, search on the term “best free security software” or read PCMagazine’s February 2012 article The Best Free Antivirus for 2012.


If the lack of security protect isn’t due to cost, then it’s due to the lack of effective education

For those in the internet industry or internet safety education worlds, it feels like the message that every single computer and computing device must be protected has been talked and promoted to death. Apparently, it hasn’t been.

The data shows that we haven’t explained the personal and broader security risks to the 1-in-5 unprotected computer owners in a way they find compelling and motivates them to take action.

What are we missing? How is it that countries where far less has been spent educating consumers have more users leveraging protection software?

Have we not shown well enough the cause-and- effect between unsecured computers and identity theft, malware, spam, unusable computers, and so on?

Have we not helped consumers understand how easy it is to download and install security software?

Have we not explained how low cost (or free) the insurance premiums are for protecting computers?

As an industry, these are questions that must be answered if we are to succeed in creating a safer and more secure online environment – not just for the ~20% who aren’t leveraging these tools today, but for the entire internet ecosystem.

Ranking of Countries by Percentage of Consumers Unprotected


Country Ranking by Percentage of

Consumers Unprotected





























































          New Zealand
























(No Anti-Virus istalled or the software was installed, but disabled) Source: McAfee


[i] The McAfee study was conducted in 24 countries, and analyzed data from 27-28 million PCs each month, to determine a global estimate of the number of consumers who have basic security software.

Bill of Rights for Social Networkers [Infographic]

May 23, 2012

A new infographic by BackgroundCheck does an excellent job of highlighting the issues surrounding requests for access to personal social networking sites by employers, would-be employers, government agencies, law enforcement, colleges and other groups.   Check it out:

Social Networking Bill of Rights


Frustrated by CAPCHA’s with wavy, pale, weird or unintelligible characters? Now, there’s hope!

May 14, 2012

You’ve seen CAPCHA’S – Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart – on plenty of websites, the words are scrambled, twisted, wavy, or embellished with lines, wiggles , (even overlaid  with images of cats), and are designed to be decipherable by humans, yet block automated programs from getting into websites.

The problem is that all too often they’re NOT decipherable. You’ve probably cursed the darn things on numerous occasions as you fail – repeatedly – to figure out the characters and are presented with a new set of largely indecipherable options.

If you’re among the millions frustrated with wiggles and dots, take heart. I’ve recently seen very cool security checks that allow you to pass the ‘human’ test by applying basic logic. AMEN!

In the example shown below, users are asked to identify a number in a sequence based on instructions, and it was such a pleasant experience that I’m recommending companies switch methods. The key is to have infinite number of variables, some spelled, some shown numerically so a automated system can’t simply recognize a few options.

Is it possible an advanced scripted program could figure out the logic? Probably. But there are additional tests that can be performed to identify non-humans by their interactions on a site, and that don’t put humans through visual contortions.

Whoever thought of this alternative is brilliant.


STOP THE TEXTS. STOP THE WRECKS. An Important New Campaign

May 1, 2012

Today the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Ad Council have launched a new campaign to discourage teens – and all drivers – from texting while driving. This campaign, and those like it, are vital elements in reducing the number of tragic deaths and injuries caused by distracted drivers.

However, campaigns alone will not solve the problem. Stiffer fines, laws, and penalties will not alone solve the problem. What we need is a cultural shift making texting while driving an unacceptable behavior, and for that to happen every single person has a clear role to play. Please play your role.

Here are some of the resources made available to consumers through this STOP THE TEXTS. STOP THE WRECKS. campaign:

  • Facts sheet – with 30 sobering facts, here’s a sample
  • Survey results
  • Videos – 4 videos that help illustrate how quickly distraction leads to disaster
  • Infographic – see below

This campaign has partnered with the U.S Department of Transportation who created the excellent materials.


Also check out the following blogs:




9 Tips for Staying Secure Online – Infographic

May 1, 2012

This infographic by has some great data points – including the sobering stat that 16% of consumers who create passwords still use a person’s first name – but I especially like their 9 tips for staying secure online.

Check it out:

Online Security


The Real Woes for Apple Security Begin – 1 in 5 Mac Computers Now Carries Malware‏

April 25, 2012

At the start of the month, in what was the largest attack on the Apple OS to date, a beleaguered Apple released two security patches to address flaws in their Java code that had enabled malware to infect over 600,000 computers.  According to Symantec, in just 2 weeks consumers downloading the security patches dropped the number of infected computers from 600,000 to 140,000, where it seems to have stagnated. Symantec urges consumers that suspect their Mac has been infected with OSX.Flashback.K, to install the latest patches, and ensure that your antivirus is up to date.

But the problem doesn’t end there as a new variant has sprung up. Sound familiar? It should. Apple has grown in relevance to now face the same frustrations as the Windows platform – fix a hole and watch hackers find a new angle.

On April 23rd, the New York Times reported that “researchers at Intego, another computer security firm, discovered that a new variant of the malware, called Flashback.S, continued to spread through the same Java vulnerability. Security researchers said the variant was “actively being distributed in the wild” and noted that the malware deletes traces of itself on victims’ machines to avoid detection.

Today (April 24th) the Wall Street Journal reported that security firm Sophos released new research that analyzed “100,000 Mac computers running its free anti-virus software, and discovered that one in five machines was found to be carrying one or more instances of Windows malware.” And that “2.7 percent (one in thirty six) of Macs were found to be carrying Mac OS X malware.”

The Journal article included comments from Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, who said “Some Mac users may be relieved that they are seven times more likely to have Windows viruses, spyware and Trojans on their Macs than Mac OS X-specific malware, but Mac malware is surprisingly commonly encountered. Mac users need a wake-up call about the growing malware problem.”

“The simple fact is that you can scan your Mac for infection from your armchair. The test is painless and free; you just download an anti-virus product and allow it to check your computer and protect it against infections in the future,” explained Cluley.

At the end of the day the question is this, will Mac users be any better than Windows users at securing their devices with anti-malware tools?