Outwit ‘porch pirates’ this holiday season


These tips are provided Gary Miliefsky, founder of SnoopWall Inc.

During the gift-giving season, land-locked Blackbeards who snatch packages from doorsteps may also hack into online tracking systems. Online shopping has made life easier for consumers and is especially handy during the holidays. But it’s also created more opportunities for “porch pirates,” the thieves who prey on those parcels left on doorsteps.

Many porch pirates are low tech, simply cruising neighborhoods where they know deliveries are taking place and grabbing the unattended packages. But porch pirates who also happen to be cyber criminals can use your own technology against you.

A more sophisticated porch pirate might send you an SMS message or email with malware. That would let them gain access to your computer or smartphone, and they could install a RAT (Remote Access Trojan). Then they can eavesdrop on your orders and deliveries.

They also might be able to locate you through the geolocation feature on your phone. That would tell them when you are away from home, the final link in their well-laid plan..

Here are tips for outwitting porch pirates and keeping those packages safe:

  • Get permission to ship all your packages to work. That way they aren’t left unguarded at your doorstep for hours where anyone walking by could snatch them. If this arrangement works out, be sure to tell all your friends and family also to ship packages to your work address.
  • Ask a friend or neighbor to receive your packages for you. You might not be home on work days, but plenty of people are. Trusted friends who are retired or who work at home might be happy to let you have packages delivered to them for safe keeping.
  • If a neighbor can’t receive your packages and you can’t get them at work, another option is available. Try Doorman, a service that lets you arrange for a package to be held at a warehouse until you arrive home. Then you can arrange delivery for evening hours that better suit you. More on Doorman is available at www.doorman.co.
  • Disable geolocation on your smartphone so that porch pirates – or other hackers for that matter – can’t track your location. No need to make it easier on them.
  • Set up a live recording video camera aimed at your porch. That could allow you to spot a theft as it happens and alert law enforcement, or at least provide you with video later that might help identify the porch pirates.

About Gary S. Miliefsky – Gary Miliefsky recently blew the lid on the how Russian, Chinese and Indian hackers are behind the top 10 flashlight apps specifically designed to collect and expose your personal information to cybercriminals abroad. He is Founder of SnoopWall Inc. (www.snoopwall.com), a cutting edge counter-intelligence technology company offering free consumer based software to secure personal data on cell-phones and tablets, while generating revenues helping banks and government agencies secure their networks. He has been active in the INFOSEC arena, as the Executive Producer of Cyber Defense Magazine and a regular contributor to Hakin9 Magazine. He has patents and patents pending on his inventions for Computer and Network Security.