Tips for backing up and protecting your data while traveling

The season of giving is now upon us — but don’t forget, it’s also the season of stealing — and no, I don’t mean your wallet or the gift package at your doorstep, but your Social Security number, credit card information, medical records and any other highly confidential information that you have stored on your computers.

1DThieves want your data — the information stored in your smartphone, laptop and other devices. People are especially vulnerable to this crime when they travel. Don’t let the hustle and bustle of holiday travel detract you from protecting your data!

  • Make sure your devices have updated security software.
  • Remove all the sensitive data (e.g., medical records) from your device prior to travel — but not before you back it up.
  • One way to protect your data is cloud backup. Protecting your data begins with keeping your computer in a safe, secure, locked location, but when you are traveling, this is simply not an option. Therefore, automatically back up data to the cloud. The third layer is to use local backups; ideally sync software that offers routine backups to an external drive.
  • Before the trip, an IT expert should install disk encryption for your laptop– especially if you’ll be bringing along lots of sensitive data. If the laptop ends up in the wrong hands, the crook will see only scrambled data.
  • Even with the aforementioned security measures in place, you should also use a virtual private network when conducting online transactions at public Wi-Fi spots, so that snooping hackers “see” only encrypted transmissions.
  • All of the above tactics still aren’t enough. “Shoulder surfers” could visually snatch your login credentials while you’re typing away at the airport lobby or coffee shop. “Visual hackers” may also use binoculars and cameras. A privacy filter for your screen will conceal what’s on your screen. If they’re right behind youthis technology will alert you. You should use a privacy filter even when your back is to a wall.

Never let your device out of your sight, and if you must, like at a relative’s dinner gathering, lock it up.

Robert Siciliano is an expert in personal privacy, security and identity theft. Learn more about Carbonite Personal plans. See him discussing identity theft prevention. Disclosures.

Best practices for BYOD data storage

The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement has in some ways saved companies money, but in other ways put customer data at risk. Employees are onsite, telecommuting or traveling on business. This means their devices, and company data could be anywhere at any given moment.

7WA company manager or owner realizes that company use of employee mobile devices brings benefits. But employees also use the devices for personal activities, increasing the risk of hackers getting into company data.

The solution is to train these employees in BYOD, information security and awareness. They must be aware of how risky a data breach is, how to secure data, especially if the device is loaded with company data. An overlooked part of that training is knowing how to deal with old data, back up that data and in some cases, delete it.

Data lives in 3 forms: stored on a local device, backed up in the cloud and deleted. Over time, old data begins to accumulate on devices and that can cause problems.

Here are some key considerations and best practices for dealing with the BYOD phenomenon at your business:

  • Ask yourself when old data no longer needed? Data should have expiration dates set up to indicate this.
  • Businesses should realize that “useless” or “old” data may surprisingly be needed sooner or later. This data can be stored offsite, in the cloud, so that if the device is hacked, at least the old data (which may contain valuable information to the hacker) won’t be accessible.
  • Setting up cloud storage that automatically backs up data will ensure that if a device is lost or stolen, the data is still available. Every bit of data, even if it’s seemingly useless, should be backed up.
  • How do you truly delete data? Don’t think for a second you’ll achieve this by hitting the delete button. In many cases, a hacker could still find it and obtain it from the hard drive. What you can’t see is not invisible to a skilled hacker.
  • Want to just get rid of old data altogether? You must destroy the hard drive. This means put it on the ground and hit with a sledgehammer. Then recycle the guts. Or you can professionally shred it.
  • Deploy Mobile Device Management (MDM) software that gives companies the ability to remotely manage devices. Tasks might include locating, locking or wiping a lost or stolen device. MDM can also be used to update software and delete or back up data.

The planning and prevention tactics above apply to businesses and really, everyone. Employees should be rigorously trained on proactive security and the tricks that cyber thieves use.

Robert Siciliano is an expert in personal privacy, security and identity theft. Learn more about Carbonite Personal plans. See him discussing identity theft prevention. Disclosures.

When a Company Gets Sold, So Does Your Data

When you subscribe to an online service, be careful of how much information you give out about yourself.

1PMost businesses in their terms and conditions, say they “respect your privacy.” But what if these companies go under or are sold? An article from the online New York Times explores this concept. Today’s market-data-hungry-businesses can gather lots of data about subscribers. This data can be transferred to third parties in the event the company is sold or goes belly up.

The New York Times recently analyzed the top 100 U.S. websites, and the revelation is that it’s par for the course for companies to state that subscribers’ data could be transferred as part of a sales or bankruptcy transaction. Companies like this include Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Amazon and Apple.

On one hand, such companies assure consumers that privacy is important. Next second they’re telling you your data will get into third-party hands if they sell out or fizzle out.

A real-life example is the True.com Texas dating site that attempted to sell its customer database to another dating site. However, True.com’s privacy policy assured members that their personal details would never be sold without their permission. Texas law stopped the attempt.

The Times article points out that at least 17 of the top 100 said they’d notify customers of a data transfer, while only a handful promised an opt-out choice.

This isn’t as benign as some might think. For example, WhatsApp was sold to Facebook. A user of both services ultimately complained that Facebook, without his consent, accessed his WhatsApp contact list, even though his Facebook account was set to prevent people outside his network from obtaining his phone number.

Another example is Toysmart.com. When it went bankrupt, it tried to sell customer data, which included birthdates and names of children. The company’s privacy policy, however, promised users that this information would never be shared.

To avoid fracases, companies are now jumping on the bandwagon of stating they have the right to share customer/subscriber data with third parties per business transactions.

Don’t be surprised if you read something like: “We value your privacy,” and in another section of the privacy policy, “Upon sale of our company, your personal information may be sold.”

 

Your Stolen Data around the World in 2 Weeks

Ever wonder just what happens to the data in a data breach incident? Does it go into some kind of wormhole in cyberspace, out through the other end? Well, the answer is pretty much so, when you consider that hacked data makes its rounds on a global scale, taking only 14 days to land in 22 countries spanning five continents—according to an experiment by Bitglass.

4HBitglass, a cloud access security broker, did some research, generating over 1,500 fake names, credit card numbers, SSNs and other data that were saved in an Excel spreadsheet.

Then the spreadsheet, which was tagged, was sent out into cyberspace, including to several Darknet sites. The watermark tag sent a signal (which included information like IP addresses) to the researchers every time the document was opened.

This experiment simulated a data breach and provided an idea into just where real stolen data actually goes. This research points fingers at Russia and Nigeria as far as being the location of closely related major hacking rings.

Not only did this spreadsheet make international rounds, but it was opened over 1,200 times within the two weeks. Need it be mentioned that the countries most notorious for hacking rings (e.g., Russia, Nigeria and China) did most of the opening. Other access points included the U.S., Germany, Finland, New Zealand and Italy.

This is sobering information for company leaders who fear a data breach. Bitglass points out that the average data breach takes 205 days to be detected. Wow, just how many access points would there had been in 205 days? Would it be a linear increase or an exponential increase?

Consumers are at a serious disadvantage due to the fact most of the data breaches occur with data out of their immediate control. Fret not however. The best thing a consumer can do is pay close attention to their statements and look for unauthorized activity or invest in identity theft protection which will often make your Social Security number less attractive to a thief.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention

What is private Information and what is not?

Data Privacy Day was Wednesday, January 28, and these days the concept of “privacy” can be ambiguous, generic or confusing. What you might think of as private actually isn’t. The definition of personal identifying information, by the U.S. privacy law and information security, is that of data that can be used to contact, identify or locate an individual, or identify him in context.

1PThis means that your name and address aren’t private, which is why they can be found on the Internet (though a small fee may be required for the address, but not always). Even your phone and e-mail aren’t private. What you post on Facebook isn’t private, either.

So what’s private, then? An argument with your best friend. A bad joke that you texted. Your personal journal. These kinds of things are not meant for public use. What about vacation photos that you stored in a cloud service? Well…they’re supposed to be private, but really, they’re at significant risk and shouldn’t be considered totally private.

And it’s not just people on an individual scale that should worry about privacy. It’s businesses also. Companies are always worrying about privacy, which includes how to protect customers’ sensitive information and company trade secrets.

But even if the company’s IT team came up with the most foolproof security in the world against hacking…it still wouldn’t protect 100 percent. Somewhere, somehow, there will be a leak—some careless employee, for instance, who gets lured by a phishing e-mail on their mobile phone…clicks the link, gives out sensitive company information and just like that a hacker has found his way in.

Even when employees are trained in security awareness, this kind of risk will always exist. An insider could be the bad guy who visually hacks sensitive data on the computer screen of an employee who was called away for a brief moment by another employee.

Tips for Training Employees on Security Savvy

  • Make it fun. Give giant chocolate bars, gifts and prizes out to employees for good security behaviors.
  • Post fun photos with funny captions on signage touting content from the company’s security policy document. It’s more likely to be read in this context than simply handed to them straight.
  • Show management is invested. Behavior changes start from the top down,
  • Get other departments involved. Even if they’re small, such as HR, legal and marketing, they will benefit from security training.
  • Stop visual hackers. Equip employees with a 3M Privacy Filter and an ePrivacy Filter which helps bar snooping eyes from being able to see what’s on the user’s screen from virtually every angle.
  • Don’t forbid everything that’s potential trouble. Rather than say, “Don’t go on social media,” say, “Here’s what not do to when you’re on social media.”
  • Make it personal. Inform workers how data breaches could damage them, not just the company. A little shock to their system will motivate them to be more careful.

Robert Siciliano is a Privacy Consultant to 3M discussing Identity Theft and Privacy on YouTube. Disclosures.

Online Data less safe than ever

It’ll get worse before it gets better: online data safety. It’s amazing how many people think they’re “safe” online, while one huge business or entity after another keeps getting hacked to the bone.

1DAnd “safety” doesn’t necessarily mean the prevention of your computer getting infected with a virus, or falling for an online scam that results in someone getting your credit card information. It’s also a matter of privacy. While targeted advertising (based on websites you’ve visited) may seem harmless, it’s the benign end of the continuum—that someone out there is tracking you.

So, do you still think you’re hack-proof?

That you can’t be fooled or lured? That your devices’ security is impenetrable? That you know how to use your device so that nobody can get ahold of your sensitive information?

Consider the following entities that got hacked. They have cyber security teams, yet still fell victim:

  • LinkedIn
  • Yahoo! Mail
  • Adobe
  • Dropbox
  • Sony
  • Target

You may think the hacking is their problem, but what makes you believe that the service you use is immune? Are you even familiar with its security measures? That aside, consider this: You can bet that some of your personal information is obtainable by the wrong hands—if it already isn’t in the wrong hands.

Are you absolutely sure this can’t possibly be? After all, you’re just a third-year med student or recent college grad looking for work, or housewife with a few kids…just an average Joe or Jane…and you use the Internet strictly for keeping up with the news, keeping up with friends and family on social media, using e-mail…innocent stuff, right?

You’ve never even posted so much as a picture online and say you don’t use a credit card online either.

  • But hey, if your passwords aren’t strong, this ALONE qualifies you as a potential hacking victim.
  • So, what is your password? Is it something like Bunny123? Does it contain your name or the name of a sport? Keyboard sequences? The name of a well-known place? The name of a rock band?
  • Do you use this password for more than one account? That gets tacked onto your risks of getting hacked.
  • You need not be someone famous to get hacked; just someone who gets lured into filling out a form that wants your bank account number, credit card number, birthdate or some other vital data.
  • If you just ordered something from Amazon, and the next day you receive a message from Amazon with a subject line relating to your order…did you know that this could be from a scammer who sent out 10,000 of these same e-mails (via automated software), and by chance, one of them reached someone at just the right time to trick you into thinking it’s authentic?
  • People who know you may want your information to get revenge, perhaps a spurned girlfriend. Don’t disqualify yourself; nobody is ever unimportant enough to be below the scammer’s radar.
  • Did you know that photos you post in social media have a GPS tag? Scammers could figure out where the photo was taken. Are you announcing to all your FB friends about when your next vacation is? Did you know a burglar might read your post, then plan his robbery? Between the GPS tags and your vacation dates…you’re screwed.

Well, you can’t live in a bubble and be antisocial, right? Well, it’s like driving a car. You know there are tons of accidents every day, but you still drive. Yet at the same time, if you’re halfway reasonable, you’ll take precautions such as wearing a seatbelt and not driving closely behind someone on the highway.

Most of your fate is in your hands. And this applies to your online safety. You won’t be 100 percent immune from the bad cyber guys, just like you’re not 100 percent immune from a car wreck. But taking precautions and having the right tools really make a tremendous difference.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing  identity theft prevention.

Expect all Free Mobile Apps to leak your Data

Mashable.com says that recently over 98,000 photos have been leaked from Snapsaved.com, which has shut down. The Snapchat app makers won’t take any credit, even though previously, 4.7 million phone numbers and usernames were leaked. The company seems indifferent, though this May, they reached a settlement with the FTC.

5WSnapchat blames third-party sites and apps for the leakage, and also users of Snapchat (mostly teens), rather than their servers being hacked, but can’t explain how this is. Nevertheless, there’s a problem with Snapchat’s product.

Third parties can come up with their own applications to interact with Snapchat. Anyone can construct an application to the Snapchat service. People like these apps even though they violate the TOS. And Snapchat, thanks to its flawed infrastructure, can’t tell legitimate traffic from third-party traffic.

Snapchat doesn’t consider that users could be communicating with people who are using third-party apps. To date, people using Snapchat to send an image can’t trust that privacy won’t be compromised. How would the user know that the receiver of the image isn’t using a third-party app that ultimately can unleash the images for all to see?

But Snapchat insists that the images can disappear rather than be shared. Snapchat is failing to inform users that their images can be leaked. Though the way that Snapchat’s terms of use is worded protects them legally, there’s a morality issue when the company expects its users (mostly ages 13-17) to have the wits to know about third-party users violating terms of use.

Snapchat says it has removed dozens of third-party apps from key app stores. But this doesn’t stop new websites and apps from appearing. And you can’t rid an app from every app store. What users can do in the meantime is realize that Snapchat is not secure, and to be careful whom you Snap with. Snapchat is about fun, not privacy.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to TheBestCompanys.com discussing  identity theft prevention. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247. Disclosures.

7 ways to prevent Data Theft when traveling

The threat of data theft follows travelers; there’s never a vacation from hackers. So what should the traveler do? Anticipate snooping by hackers. This way, you can prepare for the worst.3D

  1. If you must bring a laptop, use it as a shell to access data remotely. Leave private information behind. If this is not possible, bring it with you in the form of an encrypted memory stick or have it stored online to download later.
  2. Always use comprehensive security software whenever connecting online.
  3. If you anticipate bringing your laptop or other devices along, have an IT expert install on it disk encryption software. Better yet, have the whole hard drive encrypted: This would be worthless in the hands of a thief.
  4. Install a VPN: virtual private network. The VPN will allow you to get onto websites that are blocked in some foreign countries like China. A VPN will also protect data as it’s transmitted through the air, scrambling it so that hackers can’t understand it.
  5. Use multiple layers of protection. For example, if your device has the capability, use a fingerprint scanner to verify the user’s identity in addition to password protecting your device. Any combination of these features might be built into the hardware, software or available as a peripheral.
  6. To prevent visual hacking (people spying on what you’re doing on your computer), use a privacy screen. 3M makes a great one. And be careful where you choose to work on your computer. Don’t have your back facing the open where someone can easily peer over your shoulder or even record what’s on your screen from a distance.
  7. Never leave your devices in a hotel room or unattended while you head off to the restroom or take a break from a conference meeting. Just suck it up and take it with you.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing  identity theft prevention. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247. Disclosures.

Data Breach Notification Bill goes to the House

H.B. 224, a newly introduced data breach notification bill for New Mexico, would mandate that organizations notify breached individuals within 10 days of breach discovery (unencrypted credit card data); and within 10 business days notifying the state attorney general if more than 50 NM residents are affected.

4DThe bill allows for a shorter notification deadline and for card carriers to sue for recovery costs linked to the breach; and customers can sue for statutory damages.

Companies operating in NM will also have additional data security and data disposal requirements, due to the bill. Enacting H.B. 224 would make New Mexico join 46 states who have data breach alert laws.

Payment Card Breach

  • Within two business days: Time allowed for card issuers facing a breach to notify all the merchants “to which the credit card number or debit card number was transmitted,” according to H.B. 224.
  • H.B. 224 would also set a risk of harm threshold regarding when an alert is required for card breaches.
  • If the magnetic strip data or other information is revealed, yielding harm or risk of harm to the cardholder and compromise of access device data, the bill would require notification. The card issuer would not need to give approval or direction.
  • Card issuers can sue for recovery of administrative costs if a card reader is breached or if there’s a problem with strip data.

Data Security and Disposal

  • The bill would make companies “implement and maintain reasonable” security measures to ensure protection of personal identifying information from illegitimate access or other fraudulent action.
  • Businesses would also have to include these data security standards in contracts involving “non-affiliated third parties” that they share personal information with.
  • Personal data, however which way it’s contained, be disposed of such that personal identifying information would be impossible to read or decipher.

Enforcement

  • The bill would authorize the state attorney general to seek injunctive relief and recovery of damages via court.
  • Failure of a company to notify of the breach could result in harsh fines, if the bill is enacted.
  • Customers could sue for damages of $100 to $300, depending on circumstances.

Being accountable:

It may be just a matter of time before the Federal government steps in and decides PCI Standards might not fix client data protection problems. Businesses who see the writing on the wall are being proactive and making smarter investments in their customers security.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to AllClearID. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures.

What is a Data Breach and how do I protect Myself?

When protected, sensitive or confidential data is accessed or used by someone without authority, this is a data breach. This can involve any kind of data such as personal health, financial, or business related.

3DNot all data breaches result from hacking into a computer. One can breach data simply by peering over someone’s shoulder at the computer screen when they shouldn’t be. It can also be elaborately planned: A company’s new employee may actually be working for an extensive crime ring to steal data from the inside. Needless to say, a data breach can lead to identity theft (among many other problems).

In the workplace, especially retail, where credit cards are processed, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard is designed to provide retailers with guidelines to eliminate data breaches. In a healthcare workplace, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) helps control who has access to personal health information.

How can you protect yourself?

  • As a consumer you must keep your operating system updated to the latest secure version.
  • Run antivirus, antispyware, antiphishing and a firewall.
  • Protect your wireless communications with encryption and use a VPN for portable devices.
  • Use secure passwords with upper/lower case and numbers.
  • In the event someone else is responsible for a breach read very carefully any notification of a data security breach and don’t assume that the breach was accidental or that identify theft is not likely.
  • Use an identity theft protection product. It will scavenge cyberspace for any unauthorized use of personal information such as from your credit cards and Social Security number; will keep track of personal credit information; and will send an alert if suspicious activity is detected—maybe even prior to you receiving a consumer notification.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing  identity theft prevention. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247. Disclosures.