Today’s Growing Cyber Threats

cybersecurity

Earlier this week, in what some are calling the “biggest internet heist in history”, Russian hackers amassed over one billion username and password combinations and more than 500 million email addresses.

This comes not even a year after 40 million credit card numbers were stolen from Target and cyber criminals attacked Adobe’s databases – causing experts and consumers alike to wonder if keeping personal information out of the hands of thieves is a losing battle.

What do these thieves want with your usernames and passwords? For the Russians in particular, they were using the logins to spam weight loss ads on social media accounts for, what is believed to be, third party groups. Although some credentials have been sold to the black market, many remain in the hands of the Russian Gang. Should these professional criminals decide to sell the information, it would be very lucrative for the gang.

While a credit cards can be cancelled, things such as an email address or social security number are easy targets for identity theft. Consumers tend to use the same email and passwords for several different websites. Criminals take these credentials and test them on websites that hold valuable information, such as banks or brokerage firms.

“Companies that rely on usernames and passwords have to develop a sense of urgency about changing this,” said Avivah Litan, a security analyst at the research firm Gartner. “Until they do, criminals will just keep stockpiling people’s credentials.

This is where DSS’s AuthentiSite Solution comes in. By implementing AuthentiSite, consumers will know they are on a trusted website, and brand owners will be able to verify it is a customer, not a hacker, on their website.

For example; John Smith will be able to verify he is on his trusted banking website (not a fake, phishing site) and the bank will be able to verify that John Smith is accessing his own account.

It all starts with our patented Prism mark. This mark’s security technology is tied into our secure server making it virtually impossible for criminals to duplicate the mark on illegal or fraudulent websites.

If you are interested in learning more, please sign up for our free, informational webinar on September 8th at 2pm EST. During this webinar, industry experts will discuss AuthentiSite and how the program is being continuously developed to end cyber attacks.

To register, click here.

In the meantime, to learn how AuthentiGuard can help protect brand owners and consumers alike, please visit www.AuthentiGuard.com

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Illicit Cigarette Problems? AuthentiGuard Can Help.

Last week, DSS explained just how bad the illicit cigarette trade is for consumers – to read the full story click here.

This is a growing problems that costs consumer’s their health and the tobacco manufactures hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

But what if we told you there was a brand protection solution that would help solve this problem and save your company money?

AuthentiGuard is that solution.

Interested in learning more? If so, than our free informational webinar on August 11th at 3pm is for you.

Click here to register

During this half hour session, we will explain:

  1. The Real Dangers to Your Brand
  2. Current Technologies and Solutions
  3. Ways to Create Proactive Customer Involvement

Click here to register

Should you have any questions about registering, please contact Kaitlyn White at kwhite@DSSsecure.com

The Top Three Dangers of Illicit Cigarette Trade

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The illicit cigarette trade is defined as “the product, import, export, purchase, sale or possession of tobacco goods which fail to comply with legislation.”

This includes categories such as contraband (smuggled tobacco products without domestic duty paid), counterfeit (manufactured cigarettes without authorization from the rightful owners, with intent to deceive consumers) and illicit whites (brands manufactured legitimately in one country but smuggled and sold in another without duties being paid).

Below are the top three reasons why the illicit cigarette trade is dangerous to consumers:

The Price:
With its lower-than-market price and easy purchase channels, illicit cigarette trade creates affordability for youth. For example; in Canada, illegal cigarettes accounted for almost 20% of all cigarettes smoked by adolescents. In addition, the low price make illicit cigarettes more available. The availability not only encourages youth to begin and continue smoking long-term but also makes it less likely that they will quit.

The Supporters:
Cigarette smuggling often leads to the funding of much larger criminal operations, such as drug smuggling or human trafficking. These criminal organizations are attracted to the low production cost, high demand and huge profit margins that illegal cigarettes create. In one example, police estimate that the IRA (Irish Republican Army) was able to make $100 million in the past five years in illicit cigarette trafficking alone.

The Quality:
Illegal cigarettes are not subject to any regulation, nor do they comply with industry standards. Because of this, they pose increased health risks to smokers. The ICC (International Chamber of Commerce) warns that counterfeit cigarettes were found to contain five times more cadmium, six times more lead, 160% more tar and 133% more carbon dioxide. In addition, these knock-off cigarettes are typically kept in unsanitary conditions; some were found to contain dead flies, mold and even human feces.

Governments and brand owners alike warn consumers of the common indicators of illicit cigarettes such as cheap price, unusual taste and the absence of warnings. However, leaving this responsibility up to the consumer can likely put the consumer’s health and life at risk.

DSS and AuthentiGuard are working around the clock to stop dangerous situations such as this. To learn how AuthentiGuard can protect consumers and brands alike, please visit www.AuthentiGuard.com

Counterfeits Where You Least Expect Them.

Pretty Woman Holding Pill BottleCounterfeiting has become a $500 billion a year industry, and designer purses are no longer the number one victim. The number of ordinary household products being counterfeited has recently grown exponentially, quickly gaining the attention of officials. 

Below are just a few examples of counterfeit products reported in the last year: 

1. Vapor Rub
Applied to the skin, typically this rub is used to assist in opening up airways when someone is battling a cold. Counterfeit versions have been popping up in stores in New York, Pennsylvania and Florida leading to the arrest of two brothers on Long Island. Other products these brothers were counterfeiting include ChapStick and baby oil. (Source

2. Batteries

Knock-off batteries have been appearing in stores for quite sometime. Their higher price tag appeals to counterfeiters but, since these criminals are not concerned with quality, knock-off batteries do not work as effectively as their authentic version. The real danger however, lies in the packaging. If the counterfeit batteries are not sealed correctly, the corrosive acid and heat combination could lead to explosion. (Source)

3. Razors
Knock-off Gillette razors have been found in stores across America. These razors are created using materials of inferior quality in substandard facilities. They could quickly become dangerous to anyone using them by causing cuts and/or infections. (Source)

4. Laundry Detergent:
An article from CBS Los Angeles lists counterfeit laundry detergent as a target for officials in California. Counterfeit products are not subject to any FDA regulations which makes its almost impossible to know exactly what you are buying. These products could be diluted, damaged, expired or filled with harmful chemicals that could harm you or your family. (Source

5. Wine:
A UK article released earlier this week claims that there is a 1 in 5 chance that the wine at your local store is fake. These potentially harmful, low quality wines come with convincing high-end labels, making it difficult to spot the fake. Again, as there is no regulation behind counterfeits, illegal alcohol can contain chemicals used in cleaning products, screen wash and antifreeze. (Source)

 

Brand owners advise consumers to be cognizant of where they purchase their products and to always consider how much they are paying for them. However, this “buyer beware” mentality isn’t always effective and can put consumers at risk. This is why DSS strives to provide brand owners with a comprehensive solution to their counterfeiting solutions. 

To learn how AuthentiGuard can protect consumers and brands alike from counterfeit products, please visit www.authentiguard.com 

Top 5 Things You Should Know About Pangea VII and Online Pharmacies

SpilledPillBottle 1.) What is Operation Pangea VII:
Operation Pangea VII is a collaboration of law enforcement, customs and regulatory authority forces of 111 countries to identify the makers and distributors of illegal drug products and medical devices that used the internet to sell their products and then remove these counterfeiters from the supply chain. (Source)

2.) What Did Operation Pangea VII Accomplished:
In just one week of investigations in May 2014, Operation Pangea VII’s efforts at mail facilities around the world resulted in the detention of 19,618 packages containing unapproved or suspected counterfeit prescription drugs. (Source)

3.) The Numbers Behind Illegal Online Pharmacies:
The proof is in the research. A survey conducted by NABP in September 2013 found that 96.7% of online pharmacies selling to U.S. citizens were “rogue.” This means that they did not comply with U.S. laws and regulations and therefore, their medicinal quality could not be guaranteed. In other words, out of over 10,000 online pharmacies included in this survey, only 90 could be verified as legitimate. (Source)

4.) Not Even the Trusted Online Canadian Pharmacies Can be Authenticated:
A second study by the National Bureau of Economic Research in 2012 researched samples of five common brand name prescription drugs in their most popular dose from a variety of online pharmacies. The study found that 9% of certified Canadian pharmacies delivered drug samples that were not what they ordered. The same study also verified that many uncertified pharmacies claiming to be Canadian actually shipped from other countries. (Source)

5.) The Dangers Illegal Online Pharmacies Pose to Consumers:
Douglas Stearn, Director of the FDA’s Office of Enforcement and Import Operations, says it best: “When consumers buy prescription drugs from outside the legitimate supply chain, they cannot know if the medicines they receive are counterfeit or even if they contain the right active ingredient in the proper dosages. Consumers have little or no legal recourse if they experience a reaction to the unregulated medication or if they receive no therapeutic benefit at all. In addition to health risks, these pharmacies pose other risks to consumers, including credit card fraud, identity theft or computer viruses.” (Source)

AuthentiSite is working tirelessly to stop dangerous situations like online pharmacies from harming consumers. To learn more on how AuthentiSite can help protect your brand and consumers alike, please visit www.AuthentiGuard.com

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Identifying Counterfeit Beauty Products

As the problem of counterfeit beauty products rises, the AuthentiGuard team has compiled a few quick, easy tips to help you shop safely.

  1. For liquid beauty products such as lotion or hair products, make sure you smell the product before you purchase it. If the smell varies even slightly from the usual clean scent, you may have a counterfeit product at hand.
  2. Check the bottle. Is it damaged, dirty or faded? If yes, this product could have been diverted from the supply chain. The danger that lies here is that this product is most likely expired or tampered with – putting you at risk.
  3. Look closely at the label. If the brand name is misspelled or a logo or image is blurry, there is a good chance that the product you are holding is not authentic.
  4. Be wary of where you purchase your product. Oftentimes stores such as Walmart or Target can get higher end brands that are counterfeit or diverted. Be aware of authorized resellers for your favorite beauty brand. If you are going to purchase a high-end product, purchase it at a salon or beauty store such as Sephora or Ulta.
  5. Don’t buy it online. As the old saying goes, if it is too good to be true, it probably is.

It’s very important to realize how dangerous a counterfeit beauty product is. The groups driving these counterfeit products have no government regulations to abide by. Diverted products can be expired, or improperly stored, leaving you open to a world of harmful bacteria. Additionally, counterfeit products may have been created in an unsanitary environment and may contain dangerous contaminants. For example, there has been reports of toxic chemicals, and even urine, in some counterfeit perfumes.

To learn how AuthentiGuard can help keep your brand and consumers safe, please visit www.AuthentiGuard.com 

One Consumer’s Story of Online Counterfeiting

Our webinar last week discussed in depth the findings of our market research study conducted by Harris Poll. Since then, a consumer has stepped up and asked us to share his experience with online counterfeiting with the brand protection community. Below is the interview:

Thanks for speaking with us today. Tell us a little about your experience with counterfeit products.
No problem. I bought tickets to a popular concert through an online ticket reseller website and they were mailed to me shortly after I purchased them. Unfortunately, when I got to the gate come show time, my tickets wouldn’t scan. This is when I learned that my tickets were fake and I wouldn’t be permitted inside the venue.

Did the tickets look counterfeit?
Not at all. They were seemingly identical to the ones the rest of my group had. The only difference was that they wouldn’t scan at the gate.

Who do you feel is responsible for this?
A part of me wants to blame the venue while the other part of me thinks its the website’s fault. Either way, both facilities allowed counterfeit tickets for this show to get into the hands of unknowing consumers.

Were you offered a refund?
No unfortunately not. I was out the money for the tickets.

Have you had any other problems with counterfeit goods since?
Yes, a few months later I tried to purchase a popular pair of shoes online. What happened instead was the money was taken out of my account and the shoes never arrived. When I tried to get into contact with the company, my calls and emails were ignored. I never received a refund.

What would you tell someone in your position? 
I would tell them to always think twice when purchasing something online – especially something that is in high demand. If the items are marked down significantly from retail prices, I wouldn’t go through with it. This can truly happen to anyone.

To learn how brands can protect their products and consumers alike, please visit http://www.AuthentiGuard.com