For this edition of my Monthly Musings roundup post, I discuss some of my favorite subjects to write about – computer security and medical science research. I hope you find this information helpful and that you and your family embark on a safe, healthy and happy 2016 filled with blessings.
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A Former Job Comes Back to Haunt Me
I worked for a federal contractor almost a decade ago for less than a year. During that time, the government conducted a federal background check on me. Recently, I received a letter indicating that hackers had infiltrated the database containing personal information from federal background checks, including names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers, and that my information may have been compromised.
Shortly thereafter, my husband received a similar letter, most likely because his personal information would have been on my background check information all those years ago. I know of at least two former coworkers at my previous job who also received letters, and I know someone else who probably would have gotten one had he not moved and changed addresses a few times since his background check.
If you had a federal background check within the past 15 years, you may have been affected. If you didn’t receive a letter, you can visit the government website set up to provide information about the data breach. The government is offering three years of identity theft protection services to all affected people and their minor children.
Chipotle HR Puts Job Applicants at Risk of Personal Information Stealing
For an unknown period of time, Chipotle apparently used a return email address for applicant emails that it doesn’t own. The domain, chipotlehr.com, didn’t have an owner until an unemployed IT worker discovered what was happening and alerted a computer security writer. Anyone could have bought the domain and used it to collect personal information from people applying for jobs at Chipotle, who would naturally think they were communicating with the restaurant chain’s HR department.
Please note that it’s never a good idea to send personal information like your Social Security number via email. Also, use caution when clicking on links in any email, even if it looks legitimate and is from someone you’ve emailed with in the past.
The Ultimate Guide to Malware
I was so excited to come across this awesome guide to all of the different types of malware. Many folks simply refer to all malware as “viruses,” but there are significant differences in the various types of bad software that can infect your computer. It’s important for all computer users to know about malware so they can protect themselves.
Antivirus/anti-malware software is important, but far from perfect at protecting against unwanted software. The best protection against malware is between the chair and the keyboard. That would be you.
Should TV Drug Ads Be Banned?
The American Medical Association recently came out in favor of banning all direct to consumer drug advertising. The FDA starting letting prescription drug companies advertise directly to consumers in 1997.
Doctors complain that these ads encourage patients to ask for flashy new drugs that might not be right for them. As a result, they argue that these ads end up contributing to ever-rising drug prices.
As someone who’s interested in marketing, I’m impressed by how drug companies make people who take their pills look happy and fulfilled while an announcer quickly rattles off a list of possible side effects in the background. I’m all for people having access to knowledge. It’s great that people can know about new drugs when the come out.
However, I’ve seen drugs advertised in ways that encourage people to take them who may not benefit from them. I don’t envy doctors having to convince patients that no, you don’t have that disease and this expensive medicine won’t help you.
Back and Forth, Forth and Back
Speaking of doctors, I also don’t envy their having to explain why they keep having to reverse themselves. Or, at least, the latest research keeps contradicting the previous latest research.
Or, media coverage of research distorts the actual study findings. I’ve written about this type of thing in the past, including my post about red meat and cancer risk. As tempting as it is to believe everything you read or see on the news, it’s best to take it with a grain of salt.
How About You?
Are you concerned about any of these topics? What do you think of drug ads on TV? Does it embarrass you to see an add for an E.D. medication when your kids or parents are in the room? Did you find this roundup post helpful?
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