Tag Archive for: Data Breach

Equifax Data Breach Protection Tips

How to Protect Yourself from the Equifax Data Breach

Equifax, one of the three major consumer credit reporting agencies disclosed that hackers compromised Social Security and driver’s license numbers as well as names, birthdates, addresses and some credit cards on more than 143 million Americans. If you have a credit profile, you were probably affected.

Credit reporting companies collect and sell vast troves of consumer data from your buying habits to your credit worthiness, making this quite possibly the most destructive data security breach in history. By hacking Equifax, the criminals were able to get all of your personally identifying information in a one-stop shop. This is the third major cybersecurity breach at Equifax since 2015, demonstrating that they continue to place profits over consumer protection. Ultimately, their negligence will erode their margins, their credibility and their position as one of the big three.

But that isn’t your concern – your concern is protecting yourself and your family from the abuse of that stolen information that will happen over the next 3 years.

Minimize Your Risk from the Equifax Data Breach

  1. Assume that your identity has been compromised. Don’t take a chance that you are one of the very few adult American’s that aren’t affected. It’s not time to panic, it’s time to act.
  2. If you want to see the spin that Equifax is putting on the story, visit their website. Here’s how the story usually develops: 1. They announce the breach and say that fraud hasn’t been detected 2. A few days later when you aren’t paying attention, they retract that statement because fraud is happening, 3. Sometime after that they admit that more people, more identity and more fraud took place than originally thought. They encourage you to sign up for their free monitoring (which you should do), but it does nothing to actually prevent identity theft, it just might help you catch it when it happens.
  3. I recommend placing a verbal password on all of your bank accounts and credit cards so that criminals can’t use the information they have from the breach to socially engineer their way into your accounts. Call your banks and credit card companies and request a “call-in” password be placed on your account.
  4. Begin monitoring your bank, credit card and credit accounts on a regular basis. Consider watching this video and then setting up account alerts to make this process easier.
  5. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to get your credit report from the three credit reporting bureaus to see if there are any newly established, fraudulent accounts set up. DON’T JUST CHECK EQUIFAX, AS THE CRIMINALS HAVE ENOUGH OF YOUR DATA TO ABUSE YOUR CREDIT THROUGH ALL THREE BUREAUS.
  6. MOST IMPORTANTLY, FREEZE YOUR CREDIT. The video above walks you through why this is such an important step. Some websites and cybersecurity experts will tell you to simply place a fraud alert on your three credit profiles. I am telling you that this isn’t strong enough to protect your credit. Freezing your credit puts a password on your credit profile, so that criminals can’t apply for credit in your name (unless they steal your password too). Here are the credit freeze websites and phone numbers for each bureau. Equifax is being overwhelmed by requests, so be patient and keep trying. Even if it doesn’t happen today, you need to Freeze Your Credit!

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

John Sileo is an an award-winning author and keynote speaker on cybersecurity. John specializes in making security entertaining, so that it works. John is CEO of The Sileo Group, whose clients include the Pentagon, Visa, Homeland Security & Pfizer. John’s body of work includes appearances on 60 Minutes, Rachael Ray, Anderson Cooper & Fox Business. Contact him directly on 800.258.8076.

Sileo Identity Theft Prevention & Online Privacy Checklist

CheckmarkIdentity theft prevention is not a one-time solution. You must accumulate layers of privacy and security over time. The following identity theft prevention tips are among those I cover in one of my keynote speeches.

  1. Review your Free Credit Report 3X per year at www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
  2. Opt-Out of financial junk mail.
  3. Stop Marketing Phone Calls at www.DoNotCall.gov.
  4. Freeze Your Credit. State-by-state instructions at www.Sileo.com/2.
  5. If you don’t want to use a credit freeze, place Fraud Alerts on your 3 credit files.
  6. Use sophisticated Identity Monitoring software to detect theft before it’s disastrous.
  7. Stop Sharing Identity (SSN, address, phone, credit card #s) unless necessary.
  8. Protect Your Wallet or Purse. Watch this video.
  9. Protect Your Computer and Online Identity. Privacy Means Profit
  10. Protect your Laptop. Visit www.Sileo.com/laptop-anti-theft for details.
  11. Bank Online: online bank statements, account alerts and bill-pay.
  12. Buy a Shredder (or 2) & shred everything with identity you don’t need.
  13. Minimize Social Networking Exposure. Privacy Means Profit
  14. Lock down your Social Networking Profiles www.Sileo.com/facebook-safety.
  15. Realize that approximately 50% of the worst ID theft crimes are committed by Acquaintances & Friends.
  16. Set up two-factor authentication with your bank.
  17. Stop Clicking on Links in emails and social networking posts that you don’t recognize as legitimate.
  18. Avoid emails/faxes/letters/calls/people promising Something for Nothing.
  19. Know that protecting Other People’s Privacy is part of your responsibility.
  20. For more tools, purchase a copy of John’s Latest Book on Information Survival, Privacy Means Profit.
  21. Subscribe to The Sileo Report eNewsletter and follow John’s Blog.
  22. Consider bringing John Sileo to speak to your organization on identity theft, cyber crime, social engineering, social media exposure and other topics of information exposure.

Whose Device – Yours, Mine or Ours?

Carrying multiple personal devices is a pain and, yet, the fear of giving away critical company data is a nightmare.

For most of us, being connected equals being productive. However, this simple equation becomes complex when one has to juggle personal devices with those issued by our employers. Paramount in an employer’s mind is the protection of the company’s critical and confidential business data but they don’t want to alienate employees by being too restrictive on using their personal smartphones and tablets.

Recent research has found that nearly three out of four adults don’t protect their smartphones with security software and these same people often use their devices to access social media and websites that attract cybercrooks. Poorly-secured  devices can be easily accessed by hackers who are becoming evermore sophisticated and ferocious.

This device conundrum ties directly to corporate IT culture and the question of allowing employees to use personal devices to conduct business. The solution ranges anywhere from an outright ban (which employees often ignore) to fully embracing an employee’s choice, while building corporate safeguards to block spam and corrupt application downloading. Some companies permit it with tight controls such as having the ability to wipe the gadgets clean of all information in the case of loss. Of course that means all personal data will be wiped along with business data but studies show employee satisfaction (ergo productivity) is tied to exercising personal preference of devices.

Security and legal teams wrestle with this dilemma constantly in the mobil world of today and there’s no clear cut answer. Protecting a company and its clients’ data is essential; but also, productivity, efficiency, organization and responsiveness are but a few benefits of giving employees their choice of gadget.

Arming those same employees with the safety measures to secure their devices from fraudulent activities is where IT departments can manage risk. Building a parallel strategy that serves both corporate IT and the end-user is not only necessary, it is beneficial to the bottom-line.

John Sileo is an award-winning author and international speaker on the dark art of deception (identity theft, data privacy, social media manipulation) and its polar opposite, the powerful use of trust, to achieve success. He is CEO of The Sileo Group, which advises teams on how to multiply performance by building a culture of deep trust. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer, the FDIC, and Homeland Security. Sample his Keynote Presentation or watch him on Anderson Cooper60 Minutes or Fox Business1.800.258.8076.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dropbox a Crystal Ball of Cloud Computing Pros & Cons

Dropbox is a brilliant cloud based service (i.e., your data stored on someone else’s server) that automatically backs up your files and simultaneously keep the most current version on all of your computing devices (Mac and Windows, laptops, workstations, servers, tablets and smartphones). It is highly efficient for giving you access to everything from everywhere while maintaining an off-site backup copy of every version of every document.

And like anything with that much power, there are risks. Using this type of syncing and backup service without understanding the risks and rewards is like driving a Ducati motorcycle without peering into the crystal ball of accidents that take the lives of bikers every year. If you are going to ride the machine, know your limits.

This week, Dropbox appears to have altered their user agreement (without any notice to its users), making it a FAR LESS SECURE SERVICE. Initially, their privacy policy stated:

… all files stored on Dropbox servers are encrypted (AES-256) and are inaccessible without your account password. Quote from PCWorld

Currently, the privacy policy says that Dropbox can access and view your encrypted data, and it might do so to share information with law enforcement. Why is that important? Because it means that the encryption keys that keep your files private are actually stored on Dropbox’s server, not on your own computer. This puts the keys to your data (and every other Dropbox user) in the hands not only of Dropbox employees and law enforcement, but vulnerable to hackers. When the encryption key is located on your computer, at least the risk is spread over Dropbox’s user’s network.

But there is an even bigger issue that this exposes about the world of cloud computing in general: anytime your data lives on a device that you don’t own, you lose a certain amount of control over what happens to it. Here is just a sampling of factors that can affect the privacy and confidentiality of your cloud-stored data:

  • The cloud service provider changes their Terms of Service (like Dropbox just did) to cover their legal bases, making your data less secure without your even being alerted. This happens almost every week with Facebook, which changes privacy terms constantly. When you log back into your account, you are automatically agreeing to the new Terms of Service (and probably not reading the tens of pages of legal jargon).
  • The provider is bought out by a new company (possibly one overseas) or has its assets liquidated (the most valuable assets are generally information), that has different standards for data security and sharing. You, by default, are now covered by those standards.
  • The security of your data is weak in the first place. Security costs money, and many smaller cloud providers haven’t invested enough in protecting that data, leaving the door wide open for savvy hackers. SalesForce.com might be well protected, but is the free backup service or contact manager that you use?
  • Your data exists in a more public domain than when it is stored on internal, private servers, meaning that it is subject to subpoena without your being notified! In other words, the government and law enforcement has access to it and you will never know they were snooping around. This isn’t a concern for most small businesses, but it is still a cautionary note.

So does this mean we should all shut down our Dropbox, Carbonite, iBackup accounts? No. Does this mean that corporations should not implement the highly scalable, dramatically efficient solutions provided by the cloud? No. It means that both individuals and businesses must educate themselves on the up and down sides of this shift in computing. They can  begin the process by realizing that:

  1. Not all data is created equal and that some types of sensitive data should never be placed in someone else’s control. This is exactly why there are data classification systems (I subscribe to those used by the military and spy agencies: Public, Internal, Confidential and Top Secret).
  2. Not all cloud providers are created equal and you must understand the privacy policy, terms of service and track record of each one individually (just like you would choose a car with a better crash-test rating for your family).
  3. Anything of immense power comes with costs, and those costs must be calculated into the relative ROI of the equation. In other words, the answer here, like most complex things in life, exists in the gray area, not in a black or white, one-size-fits all generalization.

John Sileo writes and speaks on Information Leadership, including identity theft prevention, data breach, social media risk and online reputation. His clients include the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, the Federal Reserve Bank, FDIC, FTC and hundreds of corporations of all sizes. Learn more about his motivational data security events.

Comprehensive Opt Out List for Marketing Databases

Major data breaches like the recent Epsilon Breach occur frequently, even if you don’t hear about all of them. With all the publicity surrounding this particular breach, people have been asking how to remove themselves from some of those marketing lists that are frequently compromised.

Opting our of marketing databases is one way to lower your risk of becoming a data breach victim.

So, how do I get out of marketing data bases?

Most databases allow you to opt out of having them share and sell your information, you just need to find out how.  Many sites make it tricky to get this done, but most sites that are selling or harvesting your information allow you to do so one way or another.

The Privacy Rights Clearing House lists 135 marketing data brokers who are selling your private information, and tells you whether or not they have opt-out policies. If they do, you have to go to the brokers’ websites and suppress your name yourself. Most of the sites have hard-to-find opt out pages, but you can generally track them down by visiting the Privacy Policy which frequently appears as a link in small print at the bottom of the home page.

Even if you opt out, unfortunately, most of these sites still retain your information in their databases, meaning that you are still at risk of a breach. But until we have stronger consumer rights governing our private and personal information, opting out is the best you can do.

 

Information Offense – How Google Plays

Google recently offered $20,000 to the first person who could hack their web browser, Chrome. Without question, a hacker will crack it and prove that their browser isn’t as mighty as they might think.

So why waste the money?

In that question, ‘why waste the money?’ lies one of the root causes of all data theft inside of organizations. Google’s $20,000 investment is far from a waste of money. Consider:

  1. The average breach inside of an organization costs $6.75 million in recover costs (Ponemon Study). $20,000 up front to define weak points is a minuscule investment.
  2. Chrome is at the center of Google’s strategic initiatives in search, cloud computing, Google Docs, Gmail, displacing Microsoft IE and mobile OS platforms – in other words, it is a very valuable asset, so Google is putting their money where their money is (protecting their profits).
  3. By offering up $20,000 to have it hacked IN ADVANCE of successful malicious attacks (which are certain to come), Google is spending very little to have the entire hacker community beta test the security of their product.

I would bet that there will be tens or hundreds of successful hacks into their browser, all of which will be fixed by the next time they commission a hack.

Anticipating the inevitable attacks and investing in advance to minimize the chances and resulting costs of a breach is a perfect example of Information Offense. Instead of waiting for your data to be compromised (defense), you take far less costly steps up front to deflate the risk. Only the most enlightened leaders I work with inside of corporations understand the value of spending a little bit on security now to reap huge benefits (in the form of avoided losses) down the road.

Too many leaders are so focused on the revenue side of the model (most of them are from a sales background) that they lack the depth of seeing the entire picture – the long-term health and profitability of the company. You know the saying… an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure. Just think of the ounce being loose change and the pound being solid gold.

Marshall Goldsmith, the executive coach, nails the behavior behind this phenomenon in his book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There,

Avoiding mistakes is one of those unseen, unheralded achievements that are not allowed to take up our time and thought. And yet… many times, avoiding a bad deal can affect the bottom line more significantly than scoring a big sale… That’s the funny thing about stopping some behavior. It gets no attention, but it can be as crucial as everything else we do combined.”

Listen to Google and Mr. Goldsmith, and avoid the mistakes before you make them by asking yourself this simple question: How can I refocus my efforts and resources on playing offense rather than defense?

John Sileo’s motivational keynote speeches train organizations to play aggressive information offense before the attack, whether that is identity theft, data breach, cyber crime, social networking exposure or human fraud. Learn more at www.ThinkLikeASpy.com or call him directly on 800.258.8076.

Identity Theft for Businesses: Mobile Data Breach

Mobile Data Theft

Technology is the focal point of data breach and workplace identity theft because corporations create, transmit, and store so many pieces of information digitally that it becomes a highly attractive target. This book is not intended to address the complex maze that larger organizations face in protecting their technological and digital assets. Rather, the purpose of this book is to begin to familiarize business employees, executives, and vendors with the various security issues facing them.
The task, then, is to develop a capable team (internal and external) to address these issues. In my experience, the following technology-related issues pose the greatest data-loss threats inside organizations:

  • Laptop Theft: According to the Ponemon Institute, 36 percent of reported breaches are due to a lost or stolen laptop.
  • Mobile Data Theft: Thumb drives, CDs, DVDs, tape backups, smart phones
  • Malware: Software that infects corporate systems, allowing criminals inside these networks
  • Hacking: Breaking into your computer system from the outside, using networks, wireless connections, remote access, and your Internet pipeline
  • Wireless Theft: Wireless connections to the Internet in airports, hotels, cafes, and conferences
  • Insider Theft: When someone in the IT department (or elsewhere) decides to make extra money by selling your data

According to the Ponemon Institute, ‘‘Thirty-six percent of all cases in this year’s study involved lost or stolen laptop computers or other mobile data-bearing devices. Data breaches concerning lost, missing, or stolen laptop computers are more expensive than other incidents. Specifically, in this year’s study, the per-victim cost for a data breach involving a lost or stolen laptop was just under $225, over $30 more than if a laptop or mobile device was not involved.’’ Continue Reading….

The post above is an excerpt from John’s latest book Privacy Means Profit. To learn more and to purchase the book, visit our website www.ThinkLikeASpy.com.

Privacy Means Profit

Prevent Identity Theft and Secure You and Your Bottom Line

This book builds a bridge between good personal privacy habits (protect your wallet, online banking, trash, etc.) with the skills and motivation to protect workplace data (bulletproof your laptop, server, hiring policies, etc.).

In Privacy Means Profit, John Sileo demonstrates how to keep data theft from destroying your bottom line, both personally and professionally. In addition to sharing his gripping tale of losing $300,000 and his business to data breach, John writes about the risks posed by social media, travel theft, workplace identity theft, and how to keep it from happening to you and your business.

5 Business Survival Lessons from Google's Spying

A few months ago, Google got caught sniffing unencrypted wireless transmissions as its Street View photography vehicles drove around neighborhoods and businesses. It had been “accidentally” listening in on transmissions for more than 3 years – potentially viewing what websites you visit, reading your emails, and browsing the documents you edit and save in the cloud.

Public opinion blames Google, because Google is big and rich and and scarily omnipotent in the world of information domination. It’s fashionable to blame Google. What Google did was, to me, unethical, and they should eliminate both the collection practice and their archive of sniffed data.

But the greater responsibility lies with the businesses and homes that plugged in a wireless network and did nothing to protect it. Don’t tell me that you don’t know better. When you beam unencrypted data outside of your building, it’s no different than putting unshredded trash on your curb – YOU NO LONGER OWN IT. In fact, when you take no steps to protect the data that flies out of your airwaves and into the public domain, you really have no claim against someone taking it. It’s like finding a $100 bill on an abandoned sidewalk – you can claim it or the next lucky person will. Tom Bradley of PC World agrees:

The lesson for businesses and IT administrators is that you have to put forth some effort to at least give the appearance that you intend for the information to be private in order for there to be any inherent expectation of privacy. The burden should not be on Google, or the general public to have to determine whether the data you let freely fly about unencrypted is meant to be shared or is intended for a specific audience.

The Google story illuminates 5 Business Survival Lessons:

  1. This, like so many other business issues, is not a technology problem. The technology to keep out unwanted eyes exists (unless a government wants to tap you) and is accessible and affordable. The problem is human — someone has decided to ignore what they know should be done (especially having read this article)
  2. Private information that you fail to protect is no longer your private information (pragmatically and probably even legally).
  3. In the marketplace of data, just like in business, it is your responsibility to control what you can. Not everything is in your power, but safe wireless transmissions are. Whether it’s trash in a dumpster, posts on Facebook or wireless signals, the responsibility is yours and your business’s, not just Google’s, Facebook’s and corporate America’s. You must do your part.
  4. If you don’t employ at least WPA2 encryption currently on your wireless networks, I can nearly guarantee your data is being watched. And the expense of upgrading is minor compared to the prospect of breach, so lose that excuse.
  5. Prevention isn’t sexy, but it’s profitable. Whether your are preventing data leakage, budget shortfalls, or a heart attack, the key is to do the hard work before it happens.

John Sileo is the award-winning author of Stolen Lives and Privacy Means Profit (Wiley, August 2010), a professional Financial Speaker and America’s leading identity theft expert. His clients include the Department of Defense, FTC, FDIC and Pfizer; his recent media appearances include 60 Minutes. Contact him on 800.258.8076.

Employee Background Checks

CSIdentity Safe

CSIdentity SAFE

Great employees are hard to find, but without the right employee background screening process, deceitful candidates are even harder to spot. Hiring dishonest employees puts your sensitive and confidential business information at risk and could cost you millions if stolen or damaged.

According to The Ponemon Institute, an independent research foundation, the average cost of data breach to a victim corporation is $6.75 million. In 2008, the lowest reported cost of data breach was $613,000, while the highest was just under $32 million. Given that the average cost per stolen record is $202, one missing laptop with 2,500 customer or employee records on it would come with a data breach recovery bill for a half a million dollars. And that doesn’t factor in loss of stock value, brand damage or customer defection that results from having your breach in the news. Read more