Robert Siciliano, CSP, is CEO of Safr.Me is known for his fun engaging tone and approachable personality—but he is serious about teaching fraud prevention and personal security. He is a security expert and private investigator fiercely committed to informing, educating and empowering people so they can protect themselves and their loved ones from violence and crime in their everyday lives, both in their physical and virtual interactions.
Robert, a Certified Speaking Professional with a “tell it like it is” style that I can attest to from requesting this interview with him. Robert earned his certification in Private Investigations from Boston University, as well as his certificate as a Certified Speaking Professional from the NSA (National Speakers Association). Robert is a best-selling author on Amazon and his latest work is entitled “Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud.”
Mike: Safr.Me is cleaver domain hack. What drove your decision to use this domain name? Is it the limited availability and high cost of a dot com domain?
Robert: I’ve had lots of domains. Safr.Me is the shortest domain I’ve owned and it speaks to exactly what we do. Dot coms are great, but they don’t always tell the whole story.
Mike: Tell me a bit more about your business, Safr.me. You offer public speaking, corporate training, and more. What value are you bringing to the groups you engage with?
Robert: We provide security awareness training live as certifications courses, via webinars and eLearning. Our courses provide proactive strategies to enhance safety and security for consumers, SMB clients and business employees large and small. Our instruction and training offer the latest best practices and client-centered approaches to prevent growing cybercrime, identity theft and social media intrusions to daily transactions.
Mike: Interestingly, I noticed that stungun.com directs to your website. Tell me how you acquired the name or are you the first owner? Can you share what you paid for the name?
Robert: We’ve owned that domain and many others since inception.
Mike: Stungun.com seems like it would be a great name to build a stungun online store. Have you done that in the past or considered that for the future?
Robert: The non lethal protection device space is interesting. We are always open to creating value in the marketplace.
Mike: You have an extensive background in security. What brought you into this field originally?
Robert: Growing up personal security became somewhat of a necessity due to being bullied and I was a victim of a multiple attack situation. Over the years I had met a number of young women who had been raped and that colored my view of the world. In the mid 90’s my small business was hacked and my focus evolved. When the internet was still coming of age, my startup security company’s financial holdings were under attack by cybercriminals, and I lost thousands of dollars due to credit card fraud. In becoming one of the earliest victims of internet crime, I gained the knowledge and experience to teach others how they can position and protect not only their companies but also themselves from falling prey to internet thieves.
Mike: What will we learn from reading your latest book Identity Theft Privacy?
Robert: Identity Theft Privacy walks you through simple steps to take to help secure your sensitive information. Learn crucial information needed before doing anything in the online or physical worlds. This book houses lessons on avoiding vulnerable situations, evading hackers, and blocking criminals. Identity Theft Privacy delivers ample amounts of guidance aimed to secure your identity.
Mike: I have friends who have been victims of identity theft and it can be horrifying with catastrophic results. What are some simple tips you can provide or caution us on to protect ourselves?
- You would think that these days, everyone would know how to create and use a strong password, but people don’t. Every online account you have should have a strong, long password made of a combination of symbols, letters, and numbers. You should also use a different password for each account.
- A good, strong password is at least 8-12 characters in length. It is also made up of both upper case and lower-case letters, symbols and numbers. Make sure it doesn’t spell anything, either. Example: “yi&H3bL*f#2S” However a phrase will do to. Such as iLike1ceCream!
- Activate two-factor authentication on every account you can. This way, even if your password gets into the wrong hands, the hacker can’t get in unless they also have access to your smartphone.
Understand the Cloud
- Yes, the cloud is pretty cool, but it is still vulnerable. The cloud, essentially is just internet connected servers that sit in climate controlled secure facilities. These are generally secure. However, if your device doesn’t have the best security, the data in the cloud becomes vulnerable through your device. Example: your bank which is cloud based, is unlikely to get hacked, but your PC is. If you don’t use security software, or if you don’t update your software, cloud security doesn’t matter much.
- Since the cloud is a huge source of data, a lot can go wrong. So, should you rely on the cloud to protect you or should you protect yourself? Feel good that in general whatever cloud serve you are using is secure. But if you are downloading pirated content and shady software, then cloud security will not protect you.
New Devices Don’t Mean Safe Devices
- Many believe that if they have a new device that it is perfectly safe. This isn’t true. Androids and Macs need antivirus just like PCs need antivirus. And right out of the box, all devices operating systems, browsers and software should be updated.
Antivirus Software is Great, But Not Perfect
- Yes, it’s awesome to have good antivirus software, but it’s not the only thing you have to do to keep your device safe. Think of your antivirus software as an exterminator. Like a pest control expert in your home, they get out the vast majority of insects when you call them. However, they can’t 100% eradicate every single egg, larvae, and bug. Free antivirus software is the same. It does a great job for the most part, but it won’t get everything. Free antivirus doesn’t come with a firewall, antispyware, antiphishing or other fundamental security tools. A paid service will generally accomplish this.
- Ask yourself this: would you want your bank using free antivirus software? Then why do you?
Updating Your System
- It can get annoying when your system alerts you with a pop-up to update your software, but don’t hit “remind me later.” In most cases, this update contains important security patches that you need to install to be safe. It’s best to allow automatic updates on every device.
Mike: I noticed you have a page on IMDB. Have you appeared in or consulted for television and / or movies?
Robert: Both. I do a ton of TV, over 700 TV spots at this point. When the media is seeking an expert to break down what might be considered complicated security issues into bite size chunks, they call me.
Mike: As a domainer, I often see everything from the perspective of how it would work online as a business. As a security expert, do you find yourself dissecting every situation for safety and flaws?
Robert: Yes, it actually takes away from the positive and just being normal. For example, I was at my kids schools BBQ and it was adjacent to a parking lot and a road and I’m thinking “This is a soft target, it would take nothing for a box truck to wipe these people out”, so in my mind I’m looking at how that could be prevented. Instead, I should just eat a damn burger.
Mike: Do you have tips that apply specifically to people’s time and activity spent online?
Robert: I have hundreds, but what comes to mind is stop with all the social media madness. Stop posting every aspect of your life. And stop bullying others. It’s getting awful.
Mike: As a security expert and business owner, are there any books other than your own that you would say have contributed to your success?
Robert: There are so many. But I’m more of a “listener” than a reader. I’ve listened to everyone one of Anthony Robbins and Jim Rohns tapes.