Why Is Cybersecurity Awareness Training Important?

 

Why is cybersecurity awareness training important? Just as ships rely on lighthouses to steer clear of dangerous rocks, organizations need cybersecurity awareness training to protect their digital assets. By illuminating threats lurking in the dark, awareness training equips employees with the knowledge they need.

As a lighthouse provides illumination for navigation, trainings light the way for employees, executives and boards alike to make informed decisions about cyber defense and identify potential risks. Let’s take a closer look at why cybersecurity awareness training makes all the difference.

7 Sources of Light That Cybersecurity Awareness Training Provides

Cyber Threats Equips employees with the tools to identify, avoid, and stop cyber threats, from malware to ransomware, hackers to fraudsters.
Social Engineering Enables employees to recognize the suspicious, manipulative and malicious behavior of bad actors and respond appropriately.
Sensitive Data Educates employees about the importance of protecting sensitive data and adopting data security best practices as well as the stakes of failing to do so.
Insider Threats Sends a strong message to any potential malicious insiders that the organization is watching, thereby reducing the likelihood and impact of insider threats.
Compliance Ensures employees and executives are aware of their obligations and responsibilities under cybersecurity regulations and standards.
Incident Response Enables employees to respond promptly and appropriately to security incidents to minimize and contain damage.
Human Error Drastically reduces the 60%+ chance that a breach is due to unwitting human error rather than intentionally malicious behavior.

Protection against cyber threats: Cybersecurity awareness training is important because it helps employees understand the various types of cyber threats, such as phishing attacks, malware infections, ransomware, zero-day exploits and social engineering. By educating employees about what may be lurking at sea, they are better equipped to identify and avoid risks, reducing the chances of falling victim to cyber-attacks and identity theft of customer information.

Defense against social engineering attacks: Social engineering attacks involve manipulating individuals to gain unauthorized access to systems or sensitive information. Cybersecurity training raises awareness about standard social engineering techniques, such as pretexting, baiting, or impersonation. This knowledge enables employees to recognize suspicious behavior and respond appropriately, minimizing the chances of falling prey to such attacks.

Protection of sensitive information: Organizations handle a significant amount of sensitive data, including personal, financial, and proprietary information. Cybersecurity awareness training emphasizes the importance of protecting this information and educates employees on best practices such as strong password management, data encryption, secure file sharing, and data classification. Implementing these best practices reduces the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access.

Mitigation of insider threats: Insider threats can be unintentional or malicious, where employees inadvertently or intentionally compromise security. Cybersecurity training helps create a security culture within organizations, promoting responsible behavior and ensuring employees understand their roles and responsibilities in safeguarding sensitive information. It also sends a strong signal that the organization is mindful of insider threats, and is watching closely. By increasing awareness, organizations can reduce the likelihood of insider incidents and their potential impact.

Compliance with regulations and standards: Many industries are subject to specific cybersecurity regulations and standards, such as the General Data Protection Regulation, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. Cybersecurity awareness training ensures that employees know their obligations and responsibilities under these regulations, reducing the risk of non-compliance and associated penalties.

Incident response and reporting: In a cybersecurity incident, employees who have received cybersecurity training are more likely to respond promptly and appropriately. They will know how to report incidents, whom to contact, and how to limit the damage. This quick response can significantly reduce the impact of a cyber-attack and help in the recovery process.

Minimizing human error: Human error is a primary driver behind a massive number of successful cyber attacks. There is no malicious intent in these cases, just a lack of knowledge and proper training. This is one of the easiest, least expensive types of light an organization can shine on their data security.

Practical skills such as recognizing phishing attempts, creating strong passwords, and identifying malicious websites act as a lighthouse, allowing employees to steer clear of danger and make informed choices. Training programs enable them to protect sensitive information and contribute to a safer online environment.

Best Cybersecurity Awareness Training 

The best cybersecurity awareness training can vary depending on an organization’s needs and goals. However, an effective cybersecurity awareness training program includes the following elements:

  • Comprehensive coverage: Training should cover a wide range of cybersecurity topics, including password security, phishing attacks, social engineering, malware prevention, safe browsing practices, and data protection. That’s why lighthouses are more effective than, say, a flashlight haphazardly duck taped to a pole. Range matters.
  • Engaging content: The training should be exciting and interactive to keep participants interested and motivated. This can include videos, quizzes, real-life scenarios, and gamification elements.
  • Regular updates: Cybersecurity threats and best practices evolve rapidly, so the training program should be up-to-date to reflect the latest trends and vulnerabilities. Training programs must regularly update their content to ensure participants have the latest knowledge and techniques to recognize and counter emerging threats.
  • Customization: The training should be tailored to the specific needs and roles of the participants. Different departments may have varying cybersecurity risks and responsibilities, so the training should address these differences.
  • Ongoing reinforcement: Like the beacon on a lighthouse, cybersecurity awareness is not a one-time event but an ongoing, constantly evolving process. The training program should incorporate regular, bite-sized reminders, newsletters, and follow-up sessions to reinforce key concepts and ensure participants retain the knowledge over time.

To help you navigate the turbulent digital seas, award-winning main-stage speaker John Sileo offers comprehensive cybersecurity awareness training that is engaging, cutting-edge, and customized for your needs and goals. With a humorous live-hacking demonstration and powerful lessons learned from losing his business to cybercrime, he connects with your employees and drives home cybersecurity awareness training that sticks.

John Sileo is an award-winning cybersecurity keynote speaker who has entertained and informed audiences for two decades. He is proud to have spoken at the Pentagon and Amazon, written four books on cybersecurity, and been inducted into the National Speakers Hall of Fame. He has appeared on 60 Minutes, NBC, ABC, Fox, CNN, Rachael Ray, and Anderson Cooper. John’s work has been quoted and published in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, USA Today, and Kiplinger’s.

Looking for a customized speech to make your next event unforgettable? Call 303.777.3221 or fill out our CONTACT FORM to connect with Sue, our business manager extraordinaire. She’ll work with you to brainstorm ideas and explore how John can tailor his speech to fit your needs perfectly.

Travel Phishing: If It Seems Fishy, It Might Actually Be Phishy

travel-phishing

It is summertime which means that the beach is calling. Unfortunately, so are travel phishing scammers. 

The change in season brings an influx of travel-based scams and unfortunately, our eagerness to book the next vacation is making us more vulnerable to fraud. 

If there is one thing we know about humans, it is that we love bargains. Especially when it is masked as an all-inclusive buffet + wine tasting + ocean-view deal. 

But booking with caution now will save you a lot of stress later. That way, you won’t be mid-margarita when your bank calls to inform you that your identity was stolen and your child’s college fund just bought a lifetime supply of steak and an alarming amount of inflatable pool flamingos. (Or in my ID theft case, an expensive house in Boca Raton.)

In this article we dive into the hottest scams and how to keep cool this season… 

 How Travel Phishing Scams Trick Us

Email Spoofing Scammers are experts at making emails look genuine by mimicking the logos and formatting of real companies. So double check those emails from travel agencies, airlines, and hotel booking websites.
Social Media Lures This includes fake promotions and contests, influencer impersonation, and malicious downloads disguised as links to exclusive deals or apps.
Vendor Compromise Attacks Scammers may attack travel agencies, booking platforms, or tour operators to gain unauthorized access to sensitive customer information.
HR Department Impersonations and Credential-Harvesting Scams Hackers gather personal info through these conversations to later sell this data to the dark web.
Chat GPT AI is making phishing attempts more convincing and therefore harder to detect.
Urgency and Fear Tactics By putting pressure on victims to take immediate action (“limited time only!”) scammers hope to bypass your critical thinking.
Social Engineering By impersonating customer service representatives or travel agents, hackers may be using emotional and psychological manipulation tactics to request money and/or information.

What You Can Do About Travel Cyberattacks

  1. Be skeptical of unsolicited promotions, contests, or giveaways. Trust your instinct. If it seems fishy, it’s likely phishing.
  2. Stay informed about common travel phishing scams.
  3. Double check website URLS. Make sure it is spelled properly, HTTPS encryption, and trust indicators like padlock symbols.
  4. Enable two factor authentication to travel related accounts. This adds an extra layer of security by sending a code to your mobile device.
  5. Verify account authenticity. Check for verification badges and signs of legitimacy on social media accounts. Cross-check by doing independent research.
  6. Be careful where you click. Web-based threats are getting harder to detect. Take a few extra minutes to research the company before clicking on any links.
  7. Be selective about who you share your personal information with. AI chatbots will steal valuable credentials if you are too quick to trust them.
  8. Don’t use free public wifi or charging stations. Why? Because if something is convenient to you, it likely is convenient to hackers as well. So go ahead and pack that extra battery pack and buy the larger data plan.

So next time you might see a bargain and think “this is too good to be true”, it likely is. Sorry. However, there is hope! Cautious booking means carefree vacationing. By remaining vigilant, staying informed, verifying authenticity, and adopting secure practices, you can navigate the travel landscape confidently, ensuring that your vacations remain moments of joy rather than becoming tales of travel phishing woe. 

Safe travels!

John Sileo is an award-winning cybersecurity keynote speaker who has entertained and informed audiences for two decades. He is proud to have spoken at the Pentagon and Amazon, written four books on cybersecurity, and been inducted into the National Speakers Hall of Fame. He has appeared on 60 Minutes, NBC, ABC, Fox, CNN, Rachael Ray, and Anderson Cooper. John’s work has been quoted and published in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, USA Today, and Kiplinger’s. John’s greatest joy is spending time in the mountains with his amazing wife and adventurous daughters. 

Looking for a customized speech to make your next event unforgettable? Call 303.777.3221 or fill out our CONTACT FORM to connect with Sue, our business manager extraordinaire. She’ll work with you to brainstorm ideas and explore how John can tailor his speech to fit your needs perfectly.

John Sileo Cybersecurity Expert Top Tips

I get asked at almost every keynote speech how the audience members can protect themselves, their families and their wealth personally. So I put together a series of videos to take you through some of the first steps. I hope this gets you started, and that I am lucky enough to meet you in person at a future speech!

Freeze Your Credit

A freeze is simply an agreement you make with the three main credit reporting bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – listed below) that they won’t allow new accounts (credit card, banking, brokerage, loans, rental agreements, etc.) to be attached to your name/social security number unless you contact the credit bureau, give them a password and allow them to unfreeze or thaw your account for a short period of time.

Equifax Credit Freeze
P.O. Box 105788 Atlanta, Georgia 30348
Toll-Free: 1.800.685.1111

TransUnion Credit Freeze
Fraud Victim Assistance Department P.O. Box 6790 Fullerton, CA 92834
Toll-Free: 1.888.909.8872

Experian Credit Freeze
P.O. Box 9554 Allen, TX 75013
Toll-Free: 1.888.397.3742

Two-Step Logins

There are three basic ways to find out whether or not your provider makes two-step logins available:

  • Call them directly and ask them how to set it up. I especially like this method when working with financial institutions, as you want to make sure that you set it up correctly and they should be more than happy to help (as it protects them, too).
  • Visit the provider’s website (e.g. Amazon.com) and type in the words “two-factor authentication” or “multi-factor authentication” or “security tokens”.
  • Google the name of the website (e.g., Schwab.com) along with the words “two-factor authentication” or “multi-factor authentication” or “security tokens”.
  • Visit this helpful listing (https://twofactorauth.org/) to see if your desired website appears on the list of two-factor providers.

Online Backups (for Ransomware)

You need to have an offsite backup like in the cloud or elsewhere that is well-protected that happens daily on your data. That way, if ransomware is installed on your system, you have a copy from which to restore your good data. You have the ransomware cleaned off before it enacts and you’re back up and running. Make sure it:

  1. Is updated whenever a change is made or a new file is added.
  2. Is stored somewhere different than your computer.
  3. Actually works when you try to restore a file.

My personal recommendation and the one I use is iDrive online backup (iDrive.com).  I recommend buying twice the hard disk space of the data you need to back up.

Personal VPNs

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) extends access to a private network across a public network, so a user can send and receive data across a public network as if their personal device was directly connected to the private network. In layman’s terms, it’s like having a private tunnel between your device and your destination. If you haven’t already, research the term “VPN Reviews” to get the latest research and then install a VPN on every device to cyber secure your virtual office and smartphone.

Free Credit Reports

Go to annualcreditreport.com to see your three credit reports from the three credit reporting bureaus.  Periodically request a report from one of the bureaus and cycle through each of them every three months or so.

Identity Monitoring

Ask four questions as you research your options:

  1. Does the service have a simple dashboard and a mobile app that graphically alert you to the highest risk items?
  2. Does it include robust recovery services? (How long does it take to reach a live human being in the restoration department?)
  3. Does the service monitor your credit profile with all three credit reporting bureaus?
  4. Do you have faith this company be in business three years from now?

Password Managers

A password manager is a software application that helps a user store and organize passwords. Password managers store passwords encrypted, requiring the user to create a master password; a single, ideally very strong password that grants the user access to their entire password database.

Research Password Management services such as Dashlane, LastPass, or the one I personally use, 1Password. Google the term “Password Manager Reviews” and look for articles in a magazine you trust to find the one right for you.

Junk Mail

To opt out of pre-approved credit offers with the three main credit reporting bureaus, call 888-5-OPT-OUT (888-567-8688) or visit www.OptOutPreScreen.com.

Phone Scams

If you receive a call that triggers your scam alert reflex, HANG UP!  If you receive a call from someone supposedly from a financial institution, utility company or a government agency and they ask for personal information like your Social Security number, HANG UP! Or if someone calls from “Apple” or “Microsoft” promising to help with a computer issue, HANG UP!  You get the idea.  If you think it is a legitimate call, tell them you will call them back from a published number.  If they start making excuses, HANG UP!!!

Google Maps

  1. Go to www.google.com/maps
  2. Locate your house by typing its address into the search box and pressing Enter.
  3. Click on the small picture of your house that says Street View.
  4. Adjust Google Maps Street View by clicking the left and right arrows on the Street View image until you see your house.
  5. Click the Report a Problem link at the bottom-right corner of the Street View image or, depending on the device you are using, click on the three dots in the upper right-hand corner.
  6.  It will take you to a page to Report Inappropriate Street View.  Here you can ask to have any number of things blurred, including the picture of your house.
  7.  You will need to provide your email address and submit a CAPTCHA.

Smart Speakers

Ask yourself how comfortable you are having a corporation like Amazon or Google eventually hearing, analyzing and sharing your private conversations. Many people will say they don’t care, and this really is their choice. We are all allowed to make our own choices when it comes to privacy. But the vitally important distinction here is that you make a choice, an educated, informed choice, and intentionally invite Alexa or Google into your private conversations.

Account Alerts

To monitor accounts quickly and conveniently, sign up for automatic account alerts when any transaction occurs on your account. If you spend even a dollar at a store, you receive an email or text notifying you of the purchase.

  1. Go to the bank or credit card company website.
  2. Search for “Account Alerts” in their search window.
  3. Set up your alerts for a dollar threshold that makes sense for you.

Internet of Things

  1. Understand your exposure.  What do you currently connect to the internet?
  2. Make a list of the devices you have that connect to apps on your smart device.
  3. At a minimum, make sure you have CHANGED THE DEFAULT PASSWORD!!!
  4. Also consider disabling location services, muting any microphones and blocking any webcams.
  5. Finally, update the firmware regularly.

Tax Return Scams

If you suspect tax fraud, call 877-438-4338 or go to consumer.ftc.gov to alert them.  (They will not EVER call you or reach out via text or email!)

If you had a fraudulent deposit made directly to a bank account, contact your bank’s automated clearing house department to have it returned.  And close that bank account and open a new one while you are at it!

Safe Online Shopping Habits – Episodes 1, 2 & 3

  1. Stick to websites you know and trust. Beware of imposter websites that have a URL nearly identical to the one you mean to use.
  2. Always look for the lock icon in the browser and and “https” in the URL.
  3. Use long strong passwords.
  4. Never shop with a debit card online. It’s even better to use a dedicated credit card just for online purchases.
  5. Set up automatic account alerts on your bank account.
  6. Request a new credit card number once a year (after the busy shopping season).
  7. Set up two-factor authentication on your bank, credit card and retail accounts.
  8. Use a Personal Virtual Private Network (VPN).
  9. Download the apps for your favorite retail sites onto your smart devices and shop directly from them using your cellular connection.  This will assure you are not on a fraudulent site, you are protected by at least two passwords and your internet connection is encrypted.

Phishing Scams

  1. Mistrust every link in an email unless you know who it is coming from and you were expecting that link.
  2. If you’re suspicious about a link in an email, type the URL directly into the address bar of your browser to make sure it takes you to the legitimate website.
  3. Use the hover technique to see if you’re going to the real site or the site of the cyber criminals.

John Sileo, cybersecurity expert and keynote speaker, has appeared for the Pentagon, Amazon and on shows like 60 Minutes and Anderson Cooper. Contact us for more details on 303.777.3221 or using our contact form.

Facebook Breach: Zuckerberg Karma & Your Stolen Cell #

Facebook Breach

The Facebook Breach Might Not Be What You’re Thinking

How many Facebook user records were just breached? The answer might surprise you.

Zero.

That’s right, the 533 million records that were “scraped” off in the recent-headline-grabbing Facebook breach actually disappeared from their website in 2018 and 2019. Not 2021.

It’s just that Facebook never told us. Never notified us per standard procedure. We found out when the data was posted to a free hacking forum on the dark web.

The breach compromised the personal data of more than half a billion Facebook users including phone numbers, Facebook IDs, full names, locations, birth dates, bios and in some cases email addresses. Yes, that’s right, all of those spam calls you get on your mobile phone might be due to the Facebook breach. Even Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s cellphone number was part of the hack!

Although the data has been floating around for two years, the way the data was sorted and posted on a free hacking forum this week makes it far more accessible for criminals to exploit. And, although some data for the affected people may have changed in two years, it could still be of value to hackers and cyber criminals like those who engage in identify theft.

What to do?

  1. Never put your real phone number, address or birthdate into Facebook in the first place. Use a Google Voice number if you must.
  2. Change your password in Facebook regularly, even though you no longer have to on most sites.
  3. If you turn on two-step logins, don’t give your cell phone number, as it will be breached. Give the Google Voice number.
  4. See if you were included in this hack by entering your email into HaveIBeenPwned.com. Do you see Facebook there? I hope not.
  5. When you’ve had enough, delete your Facebook account.

John Sileo is a cybersecurity expert, privacy advocate, award-winning author and media personality as seen on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox & Friends. He keynotes conferences virtually and in person around the world. John is the CEO of The Sileo Group, a business think tank based in Colorado.

Coronavirus Scammers User Fake Sites to Steal Your Stimulus

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJcT81kawc4′ format=’16-9′ width=’16’ height=’9′ custom_class=” av_uid=’av-mo9up3

Coronavirus Scammers Are After Your Stimulus Check

Scammers and cybercriminals love to exploit the headlines. COVID-19 isn’t the only pandemic affecting Americans – so are the scams that go along with it.

Case in point: stimulus checks that will help Americans weather the COVID-19 pandemic are already being targeted by scammers, who take advantage of the confusion and disinformation surrounding the rollout of the relief funds. They know how easy it is to profit from crisis.

The IRS set up an Economic Impact Payment website to enable Americans to claim and track their stimulus checks, and will mail or directly deposit the payments. Unfortunately, scammers have quickly designed more than 4,000 similar websites to try to skim payments from unsuspecting citizens.

IRS Stimulus Check Scams (Economic Impact Payments)

  • Some coronavirus scammers may be after the payments themselves, while others are using the opportunity to get valuable personal information, like bank account numbers
  • There has been a 6,000% increase in spam emails related to COVID-19 since early March, with many of these emails aimed at stealing the IRS checks.
  • 4,000 new websites related to the stimulus checks created since January. The websites are set up to either look like the IRS or banks, with hackers trying to trick individuals into disclosing their financial information.

How to Protect Your Economic Impact Payment Stimulus Check

  • Be extra wary of all stimulus-related emails, calls, and texts. The IRS will never contact you by phone, email, text message, or social media. Only use irs.gov/coronavirus to submit information to the IRS – and never in response to a call, text, or email.
  • Check the language. Stimulus payments aren’t actually called “stimulus checks,”— official term is “economic impact payment.” So if you get an email, call or text using the unofficial language of “stimulus check,” it’s a tip-off that the message isn’t legit
  • Watch for your receipt. Whether you receive your payment via direct deposit or as a paper check through snail mail, the IRS will also send you a letter in the mail 15 days later letting you know that the payment was sent. The agency won’t be hounding you or anyone else over the phone, email or text about it. That letter is useful because it serves as official verification that your stimulus payment was sent out. If you get one after receiving your payment, then you’ve got nothing to worry about. But if you get one before your payment arrives, it’s a sign that you might be the victim of fraud.

How to Protect Your College Student from Identity Theft on Campus

Five tips for better data and device  security habits at college

This fall, roughly 19.9 million college students will attend colleges and universities in the United States, and about 12.5 million of them will be under the age of 25. 

For many young adults, college isn’t just a transition to higher education, it’s a transition to living on their own and taking responsibility for their own finances, digital identity, credit score and banking information — all of which are critically important components of future success and security. 

As I wrote about back in 2010, College-Bound Students Are Vulnerable as Identity Theft Targets. So, parents, as you perform the ritual of shopping for dorm room supplies and stocking up on merch at the college bookstore, you should also be guiding your child through some key processes of establishing credit and safeguarding against identity theft on campus. I say guide because it’s tempting for parents to do the work themselves, but now is the time to step away from the snowplow and let your child learn to shovel their own road. In fact, it’s a good idea to start the process while your child is in high school.

Establish Credit

Educate your kids about starting to establish credit so they have it when they go to rent an apartment or buy a car. One of the simpler ways to do this is to have them apply for and use a student credit card with a small amount of credit. During this process (and any process like it), there are a series of security and privacy decisions that come into play. 

  • A great deal of personal information is collected, analyzed and sold by companies that prey upon naive college students. Make sure that, when applying, your child opts out of all information sharing possible. The minute or two spent changing the default settings (reading and unchecking the marketing and privacy boxes) will save the proliferation of their data down the road. 
  • Teach them to create a long and strong password (preferably with a password manager) that is unique on every website. 
  • Register for automatic account alerts when a sizeable amount of money is transferred, deposited or due so they have a daily view of their balances and activity. 
  • Have them turn on two-factor authentication to eliminate a majority of account takeover by cyber criminals. 
  • Teach them to monitor and reconcile their accounts monthly. 

Freeze Credit

Once your student has opened a credit card account, they should freeze their credit with the three primary credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. This simple and free step is one of the greatest ways to protect their data and their future buying and credit power. 

Be Street Smart

Aside from protecting their cyber identity, students need to take precautions to protect their physical identity and important documents. 

  • Have sensitive physical documents (bank, legal, personal, FAFSA, applications, etc.) sent to a permanent address (e.g., parents’ home).
  • Leave your Social Security card, passport and other documents in a permanent, off-campus location (e.g., parents’ home in a fireproof and waterproof box or a bank safe deposit box).
  • Shred any important financial documents that come in the mail and never leave sensitive mail lying out.
  • Always lock your dorm room door and don’t leave devices unlocked or unattended in a gym locker, the library or a classroom.
  • Check for unusual devices added to ATMs that might be skimming card info.
  • Always cover the keypad with your hand when entering your PIN, whether at an ATM or a retail store.

Secure Devices

Make sure your student has long and strong passwords on their phones, tablets and laptops and that they don’t share them unless absolutely necessary. There are more than 100 privacy and security settings on the average phone; students need to take the time to customize them and lock down their data. 

Watch this video on How to Bulletproof Against a Stolen Smartphone

Here’s a detailed list of how to secure devices at college.

  • Don’t leave your laptop in an unattended car or in a public place (library, dining room, classroom).
  • Register your laptop with campus security if possible.
  • Install laptop tracking software (e.g., Find My iPhone, Lojak) and enable Find My iPhone on the device.
  • Spend time locking down the privacy and security settings on your smartphone — you won’t believe what you’re giving away for free and how damaging it can be.
  • Don’t store personal information (SSN, passwords, etc.) in unencrypted files or insecurely in the cloud.
  • Securely back up your files on a remote hard drive or a trusted cloud provider (iDrive, iCloud, Carbonite) in case your data is lost or frozen by ransomware.
  • Lock your phone screen with at least a 6-digit passcode — the longer, the safer.
  • Be mindful of malware and ransomware “updates” from untrusted sources.
  • Be suspicious of communal workstations in dorms, libraries, etc. Never log in to websites with usernames and passwords unless you’re certain the computer is secure and won’t save your information.
  • Turn on automatic computer operating systems, software and mobile app updates.
  • Encrypt your laptop (Apple: FileVault, Windows: BitLocker) and smartphone (by using a strong password).
  • Don’t take or store sensitive or embarrassing photos on your devices, as they are commonly exposed by hackers, friends or former girlfriends and boyfriends.
  • Invest in strong security software with anti-virus, spyware and ransomware protection, even if you own an Apple.
  • Don’t discard or sell old devices without professionally wiping them of all data and removing or erasing all SIM cards.
  • Don’t insert strange storage devices (i.e., USB drives) and only insert such devices from friends or administration after scanning them for viruses.

Be Social Media Smart

According to Pew Research, in 2018, 90% of adults between 18 and 24 used the YouTube app, 76% used Facebook and 75% used Instagram. Our kids are spending a lot of time on social media, and all those platforms are collecting data — and selling it to advertisers. Unfortunately, cyber criminals are also accessing that data and using it to commit crimes or simply selling it on the dark web.

The default setting on social media platforms is to share everything, so students should start by un-defaulting their privacy settings. This one action will put them in the top 1% of savvy social media users. This blog post from last year explains the 6 Ways Your Facebook Privacy Is Compromised. Beyond that, teach your child to be careful about who they friend and what they share on social media. 

You can find more tips on how you and your student can lock down social media accounts, as well as how to protect student data and devices on campus, in The Data Privacy & Security Checklist for College Students  (PDF).

As you send your child off to college this fall, arm them with the knowledge and power to keep their identity safe — in both the real world and online. Most importantly, let them know that it’s okay to ask for help from you, the university or a trusted advisor.


About Cybersecurity Keynote Speaker John Sileo

John Sileo is an award-winning author and keynote speaker on cybersecurity, identity theft and tech/life balance. He energizes conferences, corporate trainings and main-stage events by making security fun and engaging. His clients include the Pentagon, Schwab and organizations of all sizes. John got started in cybersecurity when he lost everything, including his $2 million business, to cybercrime. Since then, he has shared his experiences on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper, and even while cooking meatballs with Rachel Ray. Contact John directly to see how he can customize his presentations to your audience.

Is Document Shredding Still a Thing in This Digital Age?

Document shredding seems to have fallen out of favor. I recently received some questions from a client wondering if, in the age of remote massive database breaches by pajama-clad hackers, we should still shred our sensitive documents.  If it is so easy to access it digitally, then why would anyone go through the arduous, dirty work of old-fashioned dumpster diving?

In case you have the same questions, here are my thoughts:

Is Identity theft via paper still an issue in this digital age?

Without even a moment’s hesitation – YES IT IS! It no longer gets the press it used to and dumpster diving, physical file theft and the like never account for the sheer volume of identities stolen (it’s more profitable and efficient to hack a million IDs at a time from Facebook or Equifax), but they are still part of the criminal toolkit, especially for local criminals (who don’t have hacking experience) and especially for organized criminals that need small bits of information from a target before they socially engineer them to hand over the keys to the kingdom (e.g., gaining their trust to manipulate them out of their user login credentials at work based on information from physical documents, embarrassing trash, etc.).

Do people still need to shred all of their paper documents? 

The initial answer is no, because that information is already out there in volumes. The wiser answer, from a habituation perspective, is yes. In 30 seconds a day (if your shredder is convenient), you can shred everything with personal information on it? That way, when it does have something more valuable (account number, last four of your SSN or any of those small bread crumbs that lead to greater levels of trust and access), you have already established a good habit. When users are advised to just shred X or Y, instead of everything personal, they eventually forget or give up because the volume is too low.

Are cross-cut document shredders enough or should we use higher-security micro-cut shredders?

For the average person who doesn’t work in a defense-related, finance-related or health-related job (you get the idea), I think that a simple confetti shredder is plenty sufficient. There is technology out there to recreate documents, but that isn’t really the concern of your average reader. If they have security clearance or deal with highly sensitive information from work in their home, then yes, the higher end are better.

The Achilles heel of shredding is that people don’t take care of them (empty them, oil them, etc.) and they break like a car with no oil, so that is part of the deal – you have to maintain them. I still have a shredder in my home office and several at work. We put all of the documents in a bin next to the shredder and shred them a couple of times per week before the trash goes out. That makes it a bit more efficient.

In other words, how paranoid should we still be about shredding documents?

Paranoid is a touch too strong. Just be smart. Think about unshredded documents as the reconnaissance tools that cyber criminals use to commit larger crimes. If I find your bank statement unshredded in the trash, I can now call you, pretend to be the bank using a caller ID spoofing app, recite the last four digits of your account and get the information I need acting as the bank to close out your account on the very next call. And from a corporate perspective, it’s even more valuable data.

So what are the basic reasons behind document shredding?

  • Prevent identity theft
  • Protect your customers and your employees
  • It’s the law (under the Data Protection Act)
  • It saves space
  • It’s “green”! Shredded paper makes recycling much easier

What documents should you shred?

  • Medical records and bills (keep for at least a year after payment in case of disputes)
  • Old tax returns: after three years of returns you are allowed to throw them away, as long as you aren’t committing fraud – otherwise you can be held liable indefinitely
  • Old photo IDs
  • Bank, investment, medical or insurance statements (or anything else that contains vital identity or account numbers)
  • Credit card offers and expired credit and debit cards
  • Canceled or voided checks
  • Pay stubs
  • Copies of sales receipts
  • Convenience checks (Blank checks your credit card company sends to borrow against your credit line)
  • Junk mail that contains personally identifying information (watch for barcodes)
  • Mail related to your children or their school

Remember, shredding isn’t only for large companies.  As someone who personally was a victim of dumpster diving, trust me and take the extra four seconds to shred that piece of trash; it may save you years of time spent trying to recover from financial devastation.

About Cyber Security Keynote Speaker John Sileo

John Sileo loves his role as an “energizer” for cyber security at conferences, corporate trainings, and industry events. He specializes in making security fun so that it sticks. His clients include the Pentagon, Schwab and many organizations so small (and security conscious) that you won’t have even heard of them. John has been featured on 60 Minutes, recently cooked meatballs with Rachel Ray and got started in cyber security when he lost everything, including his $2 million software business, to cybercrime. Call if you would like to bring John to speak to your members – 303.777.3221.

12 Days to a Safe Christmas: Day 12 – Holiday Security Tips All Wrapped up Together

Would you like to give the people you care about some peace on earth during this holiday season? Take a few minutes to pass on our 12 privacy tips that will help them protect their identities, social media, shopping and celebrating over the coming weeks. The more people that take the steps we’ve outlined in the 12 Days of Christmas, the safer we all become, collectively.

Have a wonderful holiday season, regardless of which tradition you celebrate. Now sing (and click) along with us one more time.  

On the 12th Day of Christmas, the experts gave to me: 

12 Happy Holidays,

11 Private Emails,

10 Trusted Charities

9 Protected Packages

8 Scam Detectors

7 Fraud Alerts

6 Safe Celebrations

Fiiiiiiiiiiive Facebook Fixes

4 Pay Solutions

3 Stymied Hackers

2 Shopping Tips

And the Keys to Protect My Privacy

 


About Cybersecurity Keynote Speaker John Sileo

John Sileo is the founder and CEO of The Sileo Group, a cybersecurity think tank, in Lakewood, Colorado, and an award-winning author, keynote speaker and expert on technology, cybersecurity, and tech/life balance. He energizes conferences, corporate trainings and main-stage events by making security fun and engaging. His clients include the Pentagon, Schwab, and organizations of all sizes. John got started in cybersecurity when he lost everything, including his $2 million business, to cybercrime. Since then, he has shared his experiences on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper, and even while cooking meatballs with Rachel Ray. Contact John directly to see how he can customize his presentations to your audience.

12 Days to a Safe Christmas: Day 11 – Is that Holiday Email Really a Lump of Coal?

Holiday Security Tips: On the eleventh day of Christmas, the experts gave to me, 11 private emails

During the holidays, we tend to spend more time online, searching for the perfect gift, swapping emails with friends, viewing festive holiday pictures, jokes and so on.  Cybercriminals know this and guess what?  They’re online more, too—looking for ways to lure you into scams to ruin your holidays and steal valuable information.   Here are just a few email scams to watch for:

Holiday e-card scams: Each year, more and more people are going the environmentally friendly and cost-effective route by sending holiday e-cards.  Cybercriminals, looking to install malicious software on your computer, may join in the fun and send you an e-card with an attachment to open.

Solution:  Resist your curiosity to see that adorable elf dance; only open attachments from trusted friends and family. If you don’t recognize the sender, don’t open the e-card. 

Holiday-related search term scams: We all like to be a bit more festive at the holidays, so we look for winter wonderland screensavers or our favorite carol for a ringtone.  However, these items may be disguised malware or spyware and you won’t feel so festive after it compromises and exposes the data on your computer.

Solution:  Make sure that you have protected your computer with automatically updated anti-virus software and operating system updates. As a rule of thumb, if you aren’t paying cash for a download, you might be paying by giving away your free information.

Fake invoice scams: Cybercriminals know that we tend to do a lot of holiday shopping online or through catalogs.  To try to trick you into giving credit card details or other valuable information, the criminals will send fake notices, either about delivery status or phony invoices that appear to be from legitimate companies (UPS, FedEx, USPS).  They might say they need to credit your account or you need to fill out a form in order to receive the package.  When you comply, your information and/or your computer may be compromised.

Solution:  Log onto the website of the company supposedly contacting you to track your packages or get a phone number to call and check on the action requested.

If you must peek inside a package, choose the shiny one underneath your Christmas tree.  Just don’t open those scary email links! On the twelfth day of Christmas…

To review our tips from previous days, click here.

 


About Cybersecurity Keynote Speaker John Sileo

John Sileo is the founder and CEO of The Sileo Group, a cybersecurity think tank, in Lakewood, Colorado, and an award-winning author, keynote speaker and expert on technology, cybersecurity, and tech/life balance. He energizes conferences, corporate trainings and main-stage events by making security fun and engaging. His clients include the Pentagon, Schwab, and organizations of all sizes. John got started in cybersecurity when he lost everything, including his $2 million business, to cybercrime. Since then, he has shared his experiences on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper, and even while cooking meatballs with Rachel Ray. Contact John directly to see how he can customize his presentations to your audience.