Monday, December 17, 2012

For the Ladies - Stay Safe on the Road

Taking simple safety steps could help keep you safe when shopping or running errands on your own.

It is not uncommon for women to travel alone in the car to drive to work, run errands or go shopping. Unfortunately, women who are unaccompanied are targets for robbery and assault. You may think you're prepared should anything happen, but everything you learn may escape you if you actually find yourself in a situation. If you travel by yourself regularly, we encourage you to implement protective measures and should have a plan in the event they find themselves in a dangerous situation.

Selective parking: Whether it’s an outdoor parking lot or a covered garage, make sure the lot and space you are parking in is well lit. Avoid parking away from other cars, and be aware of parking beside commercial vans without glass side panels where potential attackers could be hiding. When you return to your car, quickly survey your surroundings including under your vehicle and the back seat.

Have your keys in hand: Before you leave the store, take the time to find your keys and have them in hand as you walk to your car. Women who rummage in their purses once they get to their cars, are leaving themselves open to a potential attack. If you are faced with a dangerous situation, the keys in your hand can also be used as a weapon against your assailant.

Avoid Playing Good Samaritan: While your heart might be in the right place, it’s not a good idea to stop to help someone when you are by yourself, especially if you are in a remote area. It is best to call 9-1-1 and let the dispatcher know the location of the person who is stranded.

Use your car’s safety and security features: Take the time to familiarize yourself with the safety and security features of your car. Does your car have a GPS? Is there a feature that will alert emergency personnel if you are involved in a car accident?  Automatic car starters are a good feature because they could save you critical time if you are in a bad situation. 

Keep your vehicle serviced: A poorly maintained vehicle could cause you problems at the worst possible times. Check your tires for wear and rotate them on a regular basis. A good rule to follow is to rotate your tires every other oil change.  Have your battery checked. Check the battery for corrosion and make sure there is the appropriate amount of water in it, and that it holds a charge. Check your fluids and get your oil changed. Using synthetic oil like Royal Purple is a great way to extend the life of your car and save money. Synthetic motor oils can usually run longer than traditional motor oils depending on the wear and tear you put on your vehicle.

Have a plan if trouble arises:  Do you know what you would do if you were confronted by a potential abductor or carjacker? Panicking is not the answer. If you are approached by a person in or around your car, drop your bags, run and make a lot of noise that will draw attention to you. Stay in control of the situation. Whatever you do, do not go with the person to another location regardless of promises that you won’t be hurt.  If you feel you’re being followed by another car, call 911, and drive to a police station or hospital.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Five Tips for Safe Cyber Shopping

The holiday season is all about convenience especially if you don't like to deal with the people and crowds at the mall. That's where Cyber Shopping comes in. According the National Cyber Security Alliance this year's online retail shopping sales figures are projected to be over $68 billion. Royal Purple even got on board this year and ran a Cyber Monday special!

Throughout the remainder of the holiday season retailers will continue to run online and social media promotions to entice the shopper to spend at their store. But with the convenience comes the risk of exposing yourself to cyber criminals via your home computer, laptop or mobile device. Here are a few tips to keep your personal information safe and your holiday season Merry.

  • Safe and secure shopping - Install security software or apps on your device. In the last six months over 60% smart phone owners who shopped online have not safeguarded their device from viruses or malware. For computers and laptops this can programs from companies such as Norton, Symantec and Kapersky. Some internet providers will offer free security software as part of their service. Most computer security software is also available for mobile. Lookout and BullGuard are also good for tablets, etc.
  • How accessible are you? - You have everything you need at your fingertips or at the push of a button, but how much are you risking? Cyber criminals are out there seeking personal and business records to access. According to a study conducted by the NCSA, 57% using mobile devices keep a list of personal contacts on their unsecured device unwittingly allowing access to not only you, but your circle of friends and business acquaintances.
  •  The best deal ever! - We all love a good deal, but if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be particularly wary of deals sent via social media and mobile that doesn't allow you to hover over the link to see where it directs before you click on it.
  • Use Wi-Fi wisely - If you can avoid it, do not use public Wi-Fi when shopping online.  This includes unsecured wireless networks and hotspots. Cyber criminals know that nearly 60 percent of Wi Fi users access unsecured hotspots via their mobile devices. If you must use an open network, be sure you are using "Private Browsing" on your device. Using a 3G/4G connection to access the web directly on your phone is safer than an unsecured wireless network when on your mobile device. 
  • You're SOL if it's not SSL - Before you buy make sure the site you are shopping on has an URL address that begins with http or https. This indicates that the purchase is encrypted and secure. The lack of SSL is a sure sign that the store is not a reputable one. 
Have you had any Cyber shopping negative or positive you want to share with us? Anything from hassle free returns, favorite sites to shop or if your information was compromised by a cybercriminal? How did you handle it and what advice would you give to others?