Passwords are effectively the cornerstone of your business’ data security—if they aren’t up to muster, your protections could crumble. Unfortunately, many users shortchange their passwords to try to make them more convenient, also making them more convenient for cybercriminals. Let’s see how we could (and should) make passwords as effective as possible.
Buckeye IT blog
Every so often, we come across a bit of news that helps to teach not one, but two cybersecurity best practices at the same time. With the recent news of a cache of hacked Spotify accounts, we find just such an opportunity. Let’s review the two lessons to be learned.
Let’s take a look at a real-world scenario that I ran into a few weeks ago with a family friend. For the sake of this story, let’s call him Bob. Bob lost access to a pretty important online account.
Common opinion more or less states that passwords aren’t so much “necessary,” as they are a “necessary evil.” The best practices that are recommended to maintain the efficacy of passwords today can certainly feel excessive - which tempts many users into ignoring these practices, to the detriment of their security. Fortunately, many large companies - like Google - are trying to make passwords easier to manage.
Every business (and every individual, for that matter) needs to be wary of Internet scams and other online tricks. This is because those scammers are wily and have many means of finding a user in a compromising position… or so they claim in a recent scam.
After 143 million people had their personal information put at risk in the Equifax data breach, it comes as no surprise that data security is an even hotter topic than usual. As much as you’d like to think that a breach like that would never happen to your business, this is an unrealistic hope that won’t do you any good if the threat of a data breach does come around. It is much better to be prepared.
Your identity has quite a lot of value, especially in the wrong hands. Security firm ZoneAlarm put together some numbers in 2011 concerning identity fraud, and it even shocked us. Let's talk about a few of these statistics and what it means.
First of all, what shocked us the most is that according to the FTC, in the United States, 9 million individuals have their identities stolen each year. Identity theft is a little different than identity fraud, however. Theft is when personal information is exposed and taken without permission. This is happening all the time by malicious software like spyware, but it can also happen when legitimate websites and services get infiltrated by cybercriminals. If a reputable online store (or even a database for a brick and mortar store) gets hacked into, your personal information can be stolen. That's identity theft.
Identity fraud is when that data is misused for financial gain. This is when things start to get very dangerous. In 2009, $56 billion dollars were accumulated by cyber criminals through identity fraud. The good news is in 2010 that number went down to "only" $37 billion. What does that mean to the average person? On average, victims of identity fraud had $4,841 dollars stolen per victim. Trouble is, the world has had to improve drastically to protect consumers from identity fraud. This means higher costs of doing business which then get reflected on prices of products and services. In other words, because of identity fraud, we all lose.
How does your data get stolen? There are plenty of ways, but here are a few popular methods:
- Hackers can pick up credentials via public Wi-Fi and public PCs.
- Credit Card Skimming - a process that involves your credit card data being stolen when your credit card is swiped at a standard ATM or credit card terminal.
- Selling or discarding used computer equipment that isn't properly wiped can expose personal information.
- Hackers can infiltrate networks and databases.
- Dumpster diving and paper mail theft.
- Malware and viruses
In almost half of reported identity theft cases, the victim knew the criminal.
What do you do if your identity is stolen?
Almost half of all reports of identity frauds are discovered by the user first, although banks and credit card companies have methods in place to stay on top of it as well. If your financial credentials are stolen, you need to contact your bank and/or credit card companies immediately, both by phone and in writing. You'll want to file a police report with details about where your identity was stolen, what you believe was or could have been stolen, and documented proof of the crime.
You don't want to risk identity fraud. Monitor your credit reports closely, shred sensitive mail and documents before throwing them away, and ensure your computers and network are running latest security updates and antivirus, as well as other security measures. For a complete review of your security, contact us at PHONENUMBER and we will help pinpoint vulnerabilities and fill in the cracks before a costly event occurs.
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Last Updated: 2/1/2021
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