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The Weekly Roundup 11.27 Edition

by Cassie November 25, 2015


Facebook Will Use Safety Check for More Human Disasters

Facebook activated its Safety Check feature for a human disaster for the first time following the Paris attacks. Previously, Safety Check had only been used for natural disasters around the world. Safety Check allows a user who is in the affected area to send a notification to their Facebook friends that they are safe. Over 4 million people used safety check to notify their friends they were safe during the recent Paris attacks. Some scrutinized the fact that Facebook did not allow Safety Check for the Beirut bombings that took place. Facebook responded that they saw a lot of Facebook activity around the Paris attacks and felt that it was important to activate the Safety Check. Still, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook plans to use Safety Check for “more human disasters going forward.”

For the full story on Mashable.com, click here.

Gmail Will Soon Alert Users About Unencrypted Emails

With leaked emails and email security breaches constantly making headlines, the security of your internet mail account has never been more important. Google understands the need to protect users and has introduced a new alert to Gmail to help reduce security threats. The alert pops up when you receive messages from unencrypted sources. A study that Google conducted with the help of the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois showed that inbound encryption is on the rise and more and more receiving domains are also supporting encryption. This is important, because it makes messages users send and receive much more difficult to decipher. Unfortunately there are still those on the internet that are working to undermine encryption. Google is continuing to work with researchers to safeguard against these cyber attackers.

For the full story on theverge.com, click here.

Security Concerns About Wi-Fi Enabled Barbie

Hello Barbie, a Wi-Fi enabled doll, is raising concerns in the security community. The doll records and saves conversations it has with children. The voice data that the doll saves can potentially be used for research and data purposes, and it can be shared with third parties. Not only does the doll record conversations it has with the child, however, it can also record conversations that are happening in the background. Additionally, conversations your child has with Hello Barbie may not stay confidential and could potentially be monetized in the future.

For the full story on techrepublic.com, click here. 

Robots May Be Taking Your Job

The threat of new technology taking jobs from workers is no new fear, but this time could be different. The chief economist for the Bank of England describes 80 million jobs in the U.S. as potentially automatable. Again, this is no new revelation. However, when we consider advances in current automated technologies, it is easy to see how automation is slowly defining more and more of the services we use. While autonomous vehicles are not currently the norm, we can expect a significant amount of the vehicles on the road to be autonomous in the next 20 years. As always with technology taking jobs, those who are in unskilled positions are going to be the most affected. Ultimately, with the adoption of more and more new technologies, we must remain cognizant of the impact it will have on our economy.

For the full story on recode.net, click here.

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Don’t Automate Cooking That Turkey, Here All the Things In Your Home That You Can

by Cassie November 24, 2015

Safe Cooking TurkeyWhen you bought that monster poultry, you were excited, all wrapped up in cozy thoughts of family and belly-warming holiday meals. Now, that gargantuan turkey’s looming in the fridge, taunting you. Reminding you that you’ll have to wake before dawn, if you want to put Thanksgiving dinner on the table before Black Friday.

Don’t you wish you could automate your turkey dinner? At least the 5 a.m.-wakeup-on-a-holiday part?

My friends, the bad news is that we can’t cook your turkey dinner for you. (Not yet, at least. Check back next year!) But we can automate the rest of your home, with MyHome®, so you can have a happy, safe holiday. Check it out:

Remote Arm/Disarm

Did you know that you can arm and disarm your security system with the swipe of a touchscreen? Even better, you can double-check that your home alarm is armed and at the ready, even if you’re hours away, eating turkey at the relatives’. (No more panicked meals or worse, rushing home to check that all is well.) And hey, if you find you did forget to switch the alarm on, just a touch of your smartphone and you’re good to go. Now that’s peace of mind.

Lighting Control

There’s nothing quite like lighting to set the holiday mood, is there? Now, automation lets you create the perfect setting with lighting schedules (dinner mode, anyone?), timers, and set routines that mirror your moods and behavior. All you have to do is light the candles.

Climate Control

There’s a difference between waking up on Thanksgiving morning to frigid toes and freezing floors, and waking up on Thanksgiving morning to toasty toes and cozy floors. The difference is called automated climate control: settings to keep your home at the perfect temperature, morning, noon and night – even if that means responding to sudden dips in outdoor temperatures.

Video Monitoring

Want to check that your kids got home safely the day before the holiday? Or that nothing’s amiss while you’re visiting family? That’s what live video streaming is for. (Oh, and also for warding off burglars and letting police know if there’s a problem.)

Real Time Alerts

The final piece of the puzzle is real-time alerts – customized app alerts that respond to events in your home. You set ‘em, we honor ‘em.

Your Home in Your Pocket

The best part of your system is having it in your pocket, always. Your smartphone gives you full access to controls and monitoring, so you’re always in control, always aware of what’s going on. It’s the best thing to happen to home automation. Until we figure out a way to automate turkey roasting, that is.

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The Weekly Roundup 11.20 Edition

by Cassie November 20, 2015


Top Sites Are Leaking Your Data to Third Parties

Without your knowledge, 90% of top websites are sending your data to third-party sources. Recently, privacy researchers have shed light on the fact that sites that leak data share your information with an average of nine external domains. This means that multiple websites may be tracking you simultaneously. What is most concerning is that the data being shared is your private browsing data. Additionally, even if you have set your browser not to track you, your information will still be given out. Google, the most popular search engine in the world, tracks people on nearly 80% of sites using its Analytics. Sites like Facebook and other social networks are also guilty of tracking users. There are very few options for users who wish not to be tracked, as even incognito programs such as Tor cease to be affective the second you log onto any social account. For now, being tracked on the internet is fairly unavoidable.

For the full story on Motherboard.vice.com, click here.

Cost Effective Tips to Improve Your Company’s Security

It’s important to make sure your company’s information is secure. Here are some simple things you can do to improve your company’s security:

  • Update all software to ensure that you receive the latest security enhancements
  • Keep informed about security trends and threats relating to your industry
  • Make sure all passwords are strong, and are changed every 30-60 days
  • Don’t offer public Wi-Fi without password protection
  • Properly vet new hires for any security risks
  • Rid yourself of paper documents

With these tips you can help keep your company protected from cyber threats.

For more tips on TechRepublic.com, click here.

Teen Hackers Breach Law Enforcement and Employee Records

The teen hackers who accessed CIA director John Brennan’s personal e-mails last month are in the news again. This time, the group has released the names and contact information for over 2000 law enforcement officers, government employees and military officers. This second leak has led experts to believe that the group has breached multiple classified law enforcement databases. With the information the group has obtained, it is more than likely that more classified data is going to be leaked in the future. One of the databases the hackers may have access to is the Joint Automated Booking System. This system includes arrest records from around the country and could also identify active police informants. Hopefully the group can be identified and stopped before any more information is leaked.

For the full story on TheVerge.com, click here.

Third Party Instagram App Removed from App Store for Stealing Passwords

The popular third party Instagram app, InstaAgent, has been removed from the App Store and Google Play for collecting users’ private data. The app which tracks who has viewed your Instagram profile, also sends unencrypted usernames and passwords of its users to an unknown server. Additionally, the app had reported to post pictures on users’ profiles without permission. With a reported 500,000 users using the app, a significant amount of passwords were stolen. If you have ever had the app installed on one of your devices you should change your Instagram password immediately as there is a good chance that it was compromised.

For the full story on Mashable.com, click here.



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My Alarm Center Executives to Sleep Out to Support Homeless Youth

by Cassie November 18, 2015

Amy Kothari

President and CEO

As the President and Chief Executive Officer of My Alarm Center, Ms. Kothari plays a pivotal role in shaping the overall direction of the organization. As a result, she received the Women’s Security Council 2012 Women of the Year Award for the Dealer category and was awarded the 2014 SmartCEO Brava! Award recognizing the top female CEO’s in the Philadelphia region.

  1. What attracted you to participate in the Covenant House Executive Sleep Out?
    We learned about this event from our friends at Toll Bros and after doing some research, we were impressed with the real impact that Covenant House has had on our homeless youth. The impact is both deep and broad – Covenant House has made such a difference in so many of the individual lives that it touches and has touched so many lives across our region. My Alarm Center’s home security business is focused on protecting homes and the families that live in them, but there are so many young people who don’t even have a home or a family and have very little chance of a future. We are incredibly honored to be able to contribute in this meaningful way.
  2. What are you hoping to gain from this experience?
    My goal is to help heighten the awareness of the reality of this situation and be able to make a difference in some of their lives. I have 3 teenagers of my own who are very aware of how fortunate they are to have a home and loving family. I am looking forward to learning more about how I can support our homeless youth and help them to realize some of their dreams and the potential that is in all of them.
  3. What other causes do you support?
    As an organization, we have been involved in a number of local and national causes such as Susan G. Komen, the MS Society, National Association of Women Business Owners, and the Special Olympics.

 Personally, I am a very active member of the Philadelphia chapter of Impact 100, which is an organization that unites women in a common philanthropic effort to make a difference in our community through many charitable initiatives focused on family, education, health & wellness, environment and local arts & culture.


Anastasia Bottos

COO and Chief Strategy Officer
In her role at My Alarm Center, Ms. Bottos oversees Field Operations, the Customer Solutions Center, and Acquisitions. She was awarded the 2014 SmartCEO Executive Management Award for demonstrating outstanding leadership and crafting and executing innovative strategies. She was also recognized by Security Systems News as a member of the “20 under 40″ Class of 2012.

  1. What attracted you to participate in the Covenant House Executive Sleep Out?
    This event not only raises substantial funds for Covenant House, but it helps build awareness of the difficult situations far too many children in our communities face. I feel so fortunate to be a part of it. I’ve always been a supporter of non-profits/funds that focus on the wellbeing and education of our youth. I believe youth in our communities deserve to have access to opportunities and, at a minimum, basic care and shelter, so these programs like Covenant House are important to me.
  2. What are you hoping to gain from this experience?
    I am very much looking forward to meeting and talking to some of the youth this fundraising will benefit. I am sure hearing about their hopes and aspirations for the future will truly be inspiring.
  3. What other causes do you support?
    There are about a half dozen nonprofit groups I regularly support, but most recently I started a scholarship fund at Drexel University, a portion of which will be rewarded to students each year who have demonstrated a commitment to their education, community service and have a financial need.


Kelly Bond

SVP Business Development
In her role as Senior Vice President of Business Development for My Alarm Center, Ms. Bond is responsible for increasing sales through acquisitions and driving the overall business-to-business development strategy for the company. In 2014, the Women’s Security Council recognized her career accomplishments by naming her an Honoree of their Women of the Year awards.

  1. What attracted you to participate in the Covenant House Executive Sleep Out?
    I’ve supported this organization in the past but, after researching the organization online, I felt there was more that I could do. Covenant House supports kids who have no family to call on or little to no support at all, which is something that I personally cannot imagine. These kids truly found a savior in Covenant House, not just as a place to sleep, but as a true support system that is equipping them for life. Bringing continued awareness and giving these young people a face and a voice has become very important to me.
  2. What are you hoping to gain from this experience?
    I want to really understand all of the elements of how organizations like Covenant House are able to provide resources for the people staying there and how I may be able to share some of this in my own community.
  3. What other causes do you support?
    I have two other causes that I consistently support: Mission 500 and Stella’s Voice.

    1. Mission 500 is a strictly non-profit organization dedicated to serving the needs of children and communities in crisis.
    2. Stella’s House is a home for orphan girls who have been aged out of state-run facilities, and who are prime targets for sex traffickers and those who want to trap them in modern slavery.
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The Weekly Roundup 11.13 Edition

by Cassie November 13, 2015


Many Homeowners Unclear on Carbon Monoxide Safety

Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of unintentional poisoning deaths in the United States. A new study shows that 66.5 percent of homeowners would not be able to recognize the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. Over half of those surveyed don’t know the best place in the home to install a carbon monoxide detector. The most concerning statistic from the study is that 34 percent of homeowners don’t have or are not sure if they have a carbon monoxide detector in their home. Every home should have a carbon monoxide detector as part of their home monitoring system. The best place for carbon monoxide detectors to be installed is outside of each separate sleeping area and not within 15 feet of heating or cooking appliances.

For the full story on Businesswire.com, click here.

Checked Bag Fees Bring Greater Security Risks

With checked bag fees putting more strain on travelers to consolidate their items into carry on bags, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners to spot security threats. The TSA has drawn scrutiny recently when it was revealed that inspector general’s investigators were able to sneak banned items through security in 96 percent of their attempts. Since these tests, Administrator Peter Neffenger has said that the TSA has improved its practices and continued to place an emphasis on vigilance in each layer of security. While it is the job of the TSA to ensure safety for travelers, the rising bag check fees imposed by airlines have certainly put more strain on TSA screeners.

For the full story on WashingtonTimes.com, click here.

Signal, the Crypto App, Comes to Android

Already a household name among the privacy community, Signal is making its way to the Google Play store for Android. The encrypted calling and messaging app, which has been available in the Apple Store since last year, aims to give users a straight-forward and effective means for everyone to have secure conversations. Open Whisper Systems, the creators of Signal, are no strangers to Android as their encryption code was integrated into Whatsapp last year and is now on over half a billion Android devices. With personal privacy such a prevalent issue, one can certainly expect a lot of people to get the Signal app. We can also expect Open Whisper Systems’ encryption code to be integrated with other communication apps in the future.

For the full story on Wired.com, click here.

Snapchat Privacy Policy Called into Question

Snapchat became famous as the app with the disappearing photos, but do the photos really disappear? Questions have recently been asked about if photos still live on after they’re gone and whether Snapchat now owns them. Snapchat has cleared up the rumors going around about their new privacy policy change, saying, “The Snaps and Chats you send your friends remain as private today as they were before the update.” This means that the pictures and messages uploaded to the app are deleted from Snapchat’s servers after viewing. However, Snapchat has no control over screenshots taken by recipients. Snapchat will not share your messages with advertisers or business partners, but it does have rights over content sent on the app. If Snaps are submitted to Live Stories, your content can be shown around the world and possibly be replayed and syndicated.

For the full story on TechCrunch.com, click here.  


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From Instant Cameras to Cameras in an Instant: How Polaroid Paved the Path to Home Security

by Cassie November 9, 2015

Polaroid Security Camera

Did you know that the first Polaroid Instant Camera was sold on November 26, 1948? We’ve come a long way in 67 years – from white-framed fuzzy photos to razor-sharp digital video, to be precise.

It was Black Friday 1948, although it wasn’t called Black Friday at the time, and the Model 95 Land Camera, a hefty beast at four pounds, was offered for a pricey $89.75 – more than $1,100 in today’s dollars. But despite its price tag, the camera caused quite the commotion, selling out (including the demonstrator model) and forcing the salesman to retreat to the countertop, in order to escape the crush of buyers. (Black Friday, indeed!)

The point of this story is simple: even in 1948, even with a four-pound camera, and even at an adjusted-for-inflation price of $1,100+, instant photography was an instant hit. One that has also proved enduring, through the evolution and popularity of digital cameras, smartphone photography, and lightweight video equipment.

And today, in the finest Polaroid-would-approve tradition, you can now have your cameras and instant gratification, too: enter easy-to-install home surveillance systems, which secure your family in an instant.

Home Security Cameras in an Instant

Okay, we admit, “in an instant” is a bit of an exaggeration. They’ll take at least 15 minutes to install.

That’s right, thanks to wireless home security technology and ever-improving camera range, you can now equip your home with up to eight video cameras, complete with sharp picture, digital recording, and live streaming. What’s more, your system components work in perfect tandem, simultaneously recording eight live video feeds. Which, thanks to the fluid symbiosis of motion detection, set events, time of day sensing, real time alerts and system automation, you can check via browser or app.

Isn’t it amazing how far instant cameras have come?

Not Your Granddad’s Polaroid: 5 Benefits of Today’s Security Cameras

In addition to being easy to install and providing instant, live picture, a video surveillance system offers incredible benefits to your existing security system:

  1. Deter Burglars: If security system signs deter bad guys, functioning video cameras positively repel them. One look at outdoor security cameras, and potential burglars will likely head for the hills.
  2. Finger-Pointing with Precision: If the worst were to happen and a thief did break in, a high-quality, well-placed video system can record them red-handed. Hand over the video to police, and a conviction is almost assured.
  3. Save Money: Sure, your system can save you money in the sense of not getting robbed, but did you also know that it can earn you a 15-20% discount on your homeowners insurance? Get your agent on the phone, stat!
  4. Watch Over Your Family: Pets, kids, senior family members – you’ve probably worried about them at one point or another. With video security, you can check in via any web-enabled device, assuring yourself that they’re safe and sound. Or learning that you’ll need a new sofa cushion, thanks to Fluffy.

Thinking about adding video surveillance to your security system? Contact us today.


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The Weekly Roundup 11.6 Edition

by Cassie November 6, 2015


My Alarm Center Weekly Round Up Logo

How to Make Your Facebook Profile Secure

Facebook is a great platform to share what’s going on in your life with your friends and family members. But it’s important to make sure that information does not fall into the wrong hands. There are certain measures you should take to ensure that your Facebook account is safe and secure and can not be viewed by strangers. Next time you’re on Facebook click on “Who can see my stuff?” and then “What do other people see on my Timeline?” With this feature you can see how your profile looks to friends, friends of friends, and the public. Additionally, you can limit what people see, restrict who can befriend you, and limit who can search for you. With the ever increasing number of privacy breeches online, it is in your best interest to make sure that your social media profiles are protected.

For more information on TechRadar.com , click here. 

This is How Passwords get Hacked

If your password is the same for every site you log into, now is the time to make a change. Hackers crack passwords by creating codes that try multiple different username and password combinations until they get a match. These codes are typically aimed at sites, like online forums, that have lower security and are therefore easier to crack. If you use the same password on one of these lower security sites that you use on your online banking account, your financial information could be at risk. An easy way to differentiate your passwords with minimal effort is by adding symbols to replace letters, placing numbers after letters or by changing the capitalization. Another way to switch up passwords while still keeping track of them is to use a password manager. Password variation is crucial to security.

For more information on Examiner.com, click here.

Safety Tips for Using Uber

Uber has grown rapidly in popularity in cities across the world. By downloading the app, users can connect with a driver and request a ride any time of day. While Uber has come to rival the taxi industry, the safety of getting a ride from a stranger has been called into question. To remain safe while using the popular app, there are certain precautions that every Uber user should take. First, verify the identity of the driver and the car before you get in. The app provides the driver’s info, a picture of the car, and their rating. Make sure you have the correct driver and vehicle before getting inside. Another safety tip is to wait inside for your ride to come. This will give you time to verify that you have the correct driver and that you are not in any danger entering the vehicle.

For more information on USAToday.com, click here. 

The Banking Industry and Online Fraud Protection

A 2015 IT Security Risks Survey found that a third of banks did not provide secure channels for their online payments. This is troublesome because the same survey found that over 50% of banks believe that fraudulent activity online is on the rise. With online and mobile banking becoming the preferred method of banking for millennials, it is important that banks take online threats seriously. Unfortunately, many banks feel that prevention is more expensive than reacting to individual incidents. This approach may have worked in the past, but with the future of banking heading towards being exclusively online, it is important for financial services to take steps to combat online fraud as opposed to merely mitigating risk.

For more information on TechRadar.com, click here.

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The My Alarm Center Resource Guide – All Our Guides & FAQs

by Cassie November 3, 2015


For years, My Alarm Center has been in the business of keeping you, your family and your home safe. And over the years, we’ve learned a thing or two (or two-hundred) about home security.

We’ve been there done that. We’ve experienced just about every situation. We’ve responded to every type of emergency. Our years of helping local families have armed us with a depth of knowledge and foresight into every scenario. And we’ve leveraged this experience to build you the best, most responsive monitoring system from the best, most responsive technology. And we’ve created plenty of resources along the way.

Security Guides

Experience has taught us that a big part of the safety equation is arming you with the knowledge and know-how to keep your family and home protected. With that in mind, here’s an overview of our safety guides:

  • Flood and water damage: Flooding happens, be it from a natural disaster or a burst pipe. Then mold happens. Then, there’s months of cleanup and financial stress and other concerns. Here’s how to prevent floods, and what to do if the worst occurs.
  • Home automation: Home automation is nifty, but it’s infinitely more enjoyable once you understand how to customize your system exactly as you’d like.
  • Fire & carbon monoxide safety: Undetected fires and CO leaks claim too many lives and homes every year.
  • Cellular monitoring: Cellular monitoring is your ultimate line of defense against burglars, power outages, telephone line problems, and other common issues that plague landline systems.
  • False alarm prevention: An incredible 99% of smoke and burglar alarms are false, and many false positives are preventable.
  • How to keep your pets safe: Pets are family members and we love them dearly. Unfortunately, they can’t rescue themselves: it’s up to you.
  • Testing your home security system: Do you know if your system is communicating with our central station? Or if your motion detectors are really detecting?


Our massive FAQ list will answer most of your questions, including:

  • Vacation safety tips: The last thing you want to do is worry about burglars while you’re on vacation. These simple vacation-preparation tips help ensure your getaway ends on a high note.
  • Prevent home invasion: Home invasions are terrifying, and unfortunately can happen anywhere, any time and in any neighborhood. This guide gives you the low-down on how to keep criminals out of your home.
  • Possession records: Important documents, like deeds, financial records, insurance information, and wills, must be kept safe and secure. Here’s how.
  • Smoke detectors: You know that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are absolute must-haves, but do you know exactly where and how to place them? Now you will.
  • Furnaces/space heaters: As temperatures plummet, the risk increases for home fires. Take appropriate precautions to reduce the threat.
  • Fireplaces: Even more than furnaces and space heaters, fireplaces represent a serious fire hazard during winter months. If you’re going to light the flame, keep these safety tips in mind.
  • Electrical hazards: Electrical fires are fast, furious and extremely dangerous. Here’s how to keep your family safe.
  • Create an exit plan: The best thing you can do for your family is prepare for any eventuality. Learn how to create an exit plan, then practice it regularly.



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The Weekly Roundup 10.30 Edition

by Cassie October 30, 2015

My Alarm Center Weekly Round Up Logo

Halloween Safety Tips

With Halloween just around the corner, it’s important to make sure your children are safe while trick-or-treating. Here are some tips to ensure a safe and fun Halloween:

  • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective
  • To keep your home safe for trick-or-treaters, remove anything from your front lawn that children could trip over
  • Make sure your outside lights are turned on
  • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children while trick-or-treating
  • Only go to homes with a porch light on
  • Never enter a home for a treat
  • Stay in a group and communicate where you are going

Utilize these tips to keep Halloween a fun and safe holiday for everyone.

For the full story on AAP.org, click here

X-Ray Scans Expose Chip-and-Pin Hack

While the chip-enabled credit card system is fairly new here in America, it has been used for years in Europe. Its purpose is to keep people’s information safe by requiring both the chip-enabled card and PIN number for use. However, French criminals have found a way around this system that puts users’ credit card information at risk. The criminals altered stolen credit cards by implanting a second chip inside of them and creating an alternate PIN number. The new PIN number takes the place of the old chip’s, rendering it useless. Fortunately, X-ray scans were able to reveal the hidden second chip inside the cards. After the discovery of this hacking technique, awareness has been raised and the chip system has been equipped with measures to counter potential breaches.

For the full story on Wired.com, click here

Apple Bans Over 250 Apps That Secretly Accessed Users’ Personal Info

Apple has removed over 250 apps from the App Store that were using software to secretly access and store users’ personal information. Chinese advertising company Youmi was responsible for the software that allowed app makers to collect information like the user’s email address and the serial number of their smartphone. Many of the app makers who used the software unknowingly violated Apple’s security and privacy guidelines. Apple is working to rectify the issue and assist app developers in ensuring that their software is in compliance with App Store guidelines.

For the full story on TheVerge.com, click here

Facebook Will Warn You If the Government Is Hacking Your Profile

Facebook has announced that it will begin warning users if it detects that your account is being targeted by a nation-state or state-sponsored actor. Facebook’s Chief Security Officer, Alex Stamos, explained that these attacks can be more dangerous than other attacks and require users to take actions to secure their accounts. In the event of an attack, Facebook will send users a message with information on how to secure their account. If you receive the message, you should enable two-factor authentication, which can be found under the Facebook “Login Approvals” tab. It is likely, however, that Facebook will not be able to provide an explanation as to why your account is being hacked.

For the full story on Mashable.com, click here


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The Scariest Halloween Events in Philly

by Cassie October 26, 2015

Eastern State Penitentiary

Philly born and raised, not to mention a fan of all things frightening, a Philadelphia Halloween is something I hold very near and dear. There are few things I love more than walking centuries-old streets, goosebump-ridden and cowering from local ghost stories. Or wending my way through a creepified corn maze, or doing battle with the zombie undead, or screaming my face off at an old prison.

Yep, Halloween in Philly is special and I can’t wait. Actually, I’m already celebrating. Most of these events begin in early October, so you can get your fear on as early as tonight. What are you waiting for, scaredy cat?

Terror Behind the Walls (Eastern State Penitentiary)

If you’ve ever visited the Eastern State Penitentiary during daylight hours, you know it’s a fairly eerie place. Luckily, that’s nothing compared to Terror Behind the Walls, the old prison’s annual Halloween event that features 6 terrifying attractions, 200 professional performers, animatronics, custom soundtracks, and professional sets. There’s a reason this massive haunted house is consistently ranked as one of the top Halloween attractions in the entire United States.

Fright Fest (Six Flags Great Adventure)

If you’re willing to drive a bit out of town for some serious scares, you can’t miss Six Flag Great Adventure’s Fright Fest in Jackson, NJ (about a 90-minute drive). Fright Fest is open all day, but the adventure gets truly frightening after dark, when the ghosts come out to haunt terror trails, haunted shows, and ride-in-the-dark roller coasters.

The Valley of Fear

The Valley of Fear: where only the bravest enter and only the luckiest survive. Dun dun duuuuuun! Located in nearby Feasterville (Bucks County), this super-scary attraction is actually four fears rolled into one: a haunted hayride, Underworld (haunted forest walk), zombie escape maze, and Operation Z: a live zombie paintball hunt.

HorrorFest (Shadybrook Farm)

Do you dare enter America’s “most haunted farm,” where the annual HorrorFest promises myriad repulsions? Among them, the Hayride of Horror, Barn of Horror, Alien 3-D Encounter, and Carnage, a maze of horror tainted with blood, guts and gore.

Camp Spookynaw

The kid in us cowers (with delight) at the thought of Camp Spookynaw, America’s most haunted camp. It may not be summer anymore, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spend a night (though not overnight) at camp – in this case, a camp full of dragons, supernatural what-nots, and frights. Don’t miss Cabin 13, a maze of nightmares, and the Shriek of Scarecrows, a terrorific hayride.

Fright Factory

Only fear fans need apply. Fright Factory is Philly’s scariest haunted house, and it’s really no joke: housed in a 100+ year-old factory, the setting is rife with dark and solitary passages, creepy corners, and plenty of old shafts where you could lose your life. Billed as a “high-startle” haunted house, this one’s not for the faint of heart.

Pennhurst Asylum

Is there anything creepier than an old asylum? Don your bravado and head out to the Pennhurst Asylum, where some say the dilapidated halls and crumbling rooms are legitimately haunted. Weave your way through the labyrinth known as the Dungeon of Lost Souls, then test your mettle in the Tunnel of Terror and Ghost Hunt (you’re searching for honest-to-goodness real ghosts – seriously).

Bates Motel

There are some things you can’t ever un-see, and That Scene from Psycho is definitely one of them. Get your killer on at Philly’s very own Bates Motel – one of Travel Channel’s scariest haunts in the U.S. – and live the fear in the haunted hotel, through the haunted corn maze, and on the haunted hay ride. There’s a lot of haunting going on here.

The above list isn’t everything, of course! There are ghost walking tours, flashlight-guided walks through creepy museums and old libraries, haunted cruise ships, and so much more. What’s your favorite Philly Halloween attraction?

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