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Protecting Yourself from a Data Breach requires Two Step Authentication

Have you ever thought about how a data breach could affect you personally? What about your business? Either way, it can be devastating. Fortunately, there are ways that you can protect your personal or business data, and it’s easier than you think. Don’t assume that protecting yourself is impossible just because big corporations get hit with data breaches all of the time. There are things you can do to get protected.

  • All of your important accounts should use two-factor authentication. This helps to eliminate the exposure of passwords. Once one of the bad guys gets access to your password, and that’s all they need to access your account, they are already in.
  • When using two-factor authentication, you must first enter your password. However, you also have to do a second step. The website sends the owner of the account a unique code to their phone also known as a “one time password”. The only way to access the account, even if you put the password in, is to enter that code. The code changes each time. So, unless a hacker has your password AND your mobile phone, they can’t get into your account.

All of the major websites that we most commonly use have some type of two-factor authentication. They are spelled out, below:

Facebook

The two-factor authentication that Facebook has is called “Login Approvals.” You can find this in the blue menu bar at the top right side of your screen. Click the arrow that you see, which opens a menu. Choose the Settings option, and look for a gold colored badge. You then see “Security,” which you should click. To the right of that, you should see Login Approvals and near that, a box that says “Require a security code.” Put a check mark there and then follow the instructions. The Facebook Code Generator might require a person to use the mobile application on their phone to get their code. Alternatively, Facebook sends a text.

Google

Google also has two-factor authentication. To do this, go to Google.com/2step, and then look for the blue “get started’ button. You can find it on the upper right of the screen. Click this, and then follow the directions. You can also opt for a text or a phone call to get a code. This also sets you up for other Google services, including YouTube.

Twitter

Twitter also has a form of two-factor authentication. It is called “Login Verification.” To use it, log in to Twitter and click on the gear icon at the top right of the screen. You should see “Security and Privacy.” Click that, and then look for “Login Verification” under the Security heading. You can then choose how to get your code and then follow the prompts.

PayPal

PayPal has a feature known as “Security Key.” To use this, look for the Security and Protection section on the upper right corner of the screen. You should see PayPal Security Key on the bottom left. Click the option to “Go to register your mobile phone.” On the following page, you can add your phone number. Then, you get a text from PayPal with your code.

Yahoo

Yahoo uses “Two-step Verification.” To use it, hover over your Yahoo avatar, which brings up a menu. Click on Account Settings and then on Account Info. Then, scroll until you see Sign-In and Security. There, you will see a link labeled “Set up your second sign-in verification.” Click that and enter your phone number. You should get a code via text.

Microsoft

The system that Microsoft has is called “Two-step Verification.” To use it, go to the website login.live.com. Look for the link on the left. It goes to Security Info. Click that link. On the right side, click Set Up Two-Step Verification, and then follow the prompts.

Apple

Apple also has something called “Two-Step Verification.” To use it, go to applied.apple.com. On the right is a blue box labeled Manage Your Apple ID. Hit that, and then use you Apple ID to log in. You should then see a link for Passwords and Security. You have to answer two questions to access the Security Settings area of the site. There, you should see another link labeled “Get Started.” Click that, and then enter your phone number. Wait for your code on your mobile phone, and then enter it.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn also has “Two-Step Verification.” On the LinkedIn site, hover your mouse over your avatar and a drop-down menu should appear. Click on Privacy and Settings, and then click on Account. You should then see Security Settings, which you should also click. Finally, you should see the option to turn on Two-Step Verification for Sign-In. Turn that on to get your code.

These are only a few of the major sites that have two-step verification. Many others do, too, so always check to see if your accounts have this option. If they don’t, see if there is another option that you can use in addition to your password to log in. This could be an email or a telephone call, for instance. This will help to keep you safe.

Amazon

Amazon’s Two-Step Verification adds an additional layer of security to your account. Instead of simply entering your password, Two-Step Verification requires you to enter a unique security code in addition to your password during sign in.

Without setting up Two Step authentication for your most critical accounts, all a criminal needs is access to your username, which is often your email address and then access data breach files containing billions of passwords that are posted all over the web. Once they search your username/email for the associated password, they are in.

Two factor locks them out.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker 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.

ISPs invading Subscriber’s Privacy

It’s hard to keep track of the news of politics these days, and even if you can, how do you know it’s even real? The political landscape has greatly changed since January, and there have been a lot of laws passed that will affect us all, including the repeal of a law that protected your privacy on the internet. Basically, with this repeal, your internet service provider, or ISP, can sell your browsing history to anyone.

If you use the internet, you will be affected by this law. Not only will this change allow your ISP sell your browsing history to the highest bidder, it could also make it easier than ever before to access information about your family, your finances, and your health. Your ISP can now sell this information to companies, and they don’t need your permission to do so.

So, what does this mean for you? After all, you might not think it really matters that much. In simple terms, it means that your ISP can collect data about your browsing habits, create a record of this, and then sell it to advertisers. Think about your browsing history yesterday. If you want, open it up right now from your browser. One minute, you might have been buying dog food on Amazon, and then next, reading the latest news from the Kardashians. Regardless of if you want advertisers to know that you are a Kardashian fan, or not, to them, your data is a gold mine.

Now, think about your browsing history over the past few weeks or months, and then consider that your ISP knows each and everything you have searched for. It knows about that weird smell coming from your laundry room that you checked out online, and it knows that you have listened to that catchy new pop song a few times. It also knows your deepest worries, your sexual preferences, your political leanings, and what you are feeding your family. This information is invaluable to advertisers, but do you really want it getting out?

Luckily, you have options, one of which is called a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, which will encrypt data. Some of these, such as Hotspot Shield VPN, a client, is a good option. Also, start paying attention to those cookies and delete them.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker 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.

Top 12 Tips to Destroy Your Sensitive Data

Believe it or not, you just can’t shred too much. If you aren’t destroying your sensitive data, my best advice is for you to start now. There are people out there who make a living diving into dumpsters in search of credit card info, bank account number, mortgage statements, and medical bills; all things they can use to steal your identity.  

Here are 12 tips that you can use to help you destroy your sensitive data:

  1. Buy a shredder. That said, I don’t own a shredder. I’ll explain shortly. There are a number of different brands and models out there. Some even shred CDs. This is important if you keep your documents saved on a computer, which you then saved to a CD. Don’t, however, try to shred a CD in a shredder that isn’t equipped to do this job. You will definitely break it.
  2. Skip a “strip-cut” shredder. These shredders produce strips that can be re-constructed. You would be surprised by how many people don’t mind putting these pieces together after finding them in trash. Yes, again, people will go through dumpsters to find this information. Watch the movie “Argo” and you’ll see what I mean.
  3. Shred as small as you can using a cross cut shredder. The smaller the pieces, the more difficult it is to put documents together again. If the pieces are large enough, there are even computer programs that you can use to recreate the documents.
  4. Fill a large cardboard box with your shreddables. You can do this all in one day, or allow the box to fill up over time.
  5. When the box is full, burn it. This way, you are sure the information is gone. Of course, make sure that your municipality allows burning.
  6. You should also shred and destroy items that could get you robbed. For instance, if you buy a huge flat screen television, don’t put the box on your curb. Instead, destroy, shred, or burn that box. If it’s on the curb, it’s like an invitation for thieves to come right in.
  7. Shred all of your documents, including any paper with account numbers or financial information.
  8. Shred credit card receipts, property tax statements, voided checks, anything with a Social Security number, and envelopes with your name and address.
  9. Talk to your accountant to see if they have any other suggestions on what you should shred and what you should store.
  10. Shred anything that can be used to scam you or anyone. Meaning if the data found in the trash or dumpster could be used in a lie, over the phone, in a call to you or a client to get MORE sensitive information, (like a prescription bottle) then shred it.
  11. Try to buy a shredder in person, not online. Why? Because you want to see it and how it shreds, if possible. If do buy a shredder online, make sure to read the reviews. You want to make sure that you are buying one that is high quality.
  12. Don’t bother with a shredder. I have so much to shred (and you should too) that I use a professional document shredding service.

I talked to Harold Paicopolos at Highland Shredding, a Boston Area, (North shore, Woburn Ma) on demand, on-site and drop off shredding service. Harold said “Most businesses have shredding that needs to be done regularly. We provide free shredding bins placed in your office. You simply place all documents to be shredded in the secure bin. Your private information gets properly destroyed, avoiding unnecessary exposure.”

Does your local service offer that? Shredding myself takes too much time. And I know at least with Highlands equipment (check your local service to compare) their equipment randomly rips and tears the documents with a special system of 42 rotating knives. It then compacts the shredded material into very small pieces. Unlike strip shredding, this process is the most secure because no reconstruction can occur.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker 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.

Security training: the Human Being is impossible to fix

As long as humans sit at computer screens, there will always be infected computers. There’s just no end to people being duped into clicking links that download viruses.

12DA report at theregister.co.uk explains how subjects, unaware they were guinea pigs, fell for a phishing experiment.

  • Subjects were sent an FB message or e-mail from an unfamiliar sender, though 16 percent of the subjects who ultimately clicked reported they knew the sender.
  • The sender announced they had images from a New Year’s Eve party but not to share them.
  • 43.5% clicked the FB message link and one-quarter clicked the e-mail link.
  • Many of the subjects denied making these clicks, but most who admitted it named curiosity as the reason.
  • 5% claimed they thought their browser would protect them from an attack.

Obviously, there will always be that percentage of the human population who will allow curiosity to preside over common sense and logic. The idea of simply never, never, ever clicking a link inside an e-mail is an impossible feat for them—perhaps more difficult than quitting smoking or losing 50 pounds.

This is the battle that businesses have with their employees, which is how businesses get hacked into and massive data breaches result.

However, says the report, rigid training of employees may backfire because valid e-mails may be ignored—though it seems that there has to be a way for companies to get around this—perhaps a phone call to the sender for verification if the company is small. For large businesses, maybe executives could just resort to the old-fashioned method of reaching out to employees; how was this done before the World Wide Web was invented?

Digital signing of e-mails has been suggested, but this, too, has a loophole: some employees misinterpreting the signatures.

Nevertheless, security training is not all for nothing; ongoing training with staged phishing e-mails has been proven, through research, to make a big difference. Unfortunately, there will always exist those people who just can’t say “No” to something as mundane as images from a New Year’s Eve party from a sender they’ve never even heard of.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker 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.

Three ways to beef up security when backing up to the cloud

Disasters happen every day. Crashing hard drives, failing storage devices and even burglaries could have a significant negative impact on your business, especially if that data is lost forever. You can avoid these problems by backing up your data.

Backing up means keeping copies of your important business data in several places and on multiple devices. For example, if you saved data on your home PC and it crashes, you’ll still be able to access the information because you made backups.

A great way to protect your files is by backing up to the cloud. Cloud backup services like Carbonite allow you to store data at a location off-site. You accomplish this by uploading the data online via proprietary software.

Cloud backup providers have a reputation for being safe and secure. But you can’t be too careful. Here are a few ways to beef up security even more when you use a cloud backup system:

  • Before backing up to the cloud, take stock of what data is currently in your local backup storage. Make sure that all of this data is searchable, categorized and filed correctly.
  • Consider taking the data you have and encrypting it locally, on your own hard drive before backing up to the cloud. Most cloud backup solutions – including Carbonite – provide high-quality data encryption when you back up your files. But encrypting the data locally can add an additional layer of security. Just remember to store your decryption key someplace other than on the computer you used to encrypt the files. This way, if something happens to the computer, you’ll still be able to access your files after you recover them from the cloud.
  • Create a password for the cloud account that will be difficult for any hacker to guess. However, make sure that it’s also easy for you to remember. The best passwords are a combination of numbers, letters and symbols.

Cloud backups are convenient and have a good record when it comes to keeping your data safe. It doesn’t require the purchase of additional equipment or the use of more energy. You can also restore data from anywhere, to any computer, as long as there is an Internet connection available.

Consultant Robert Siciliano is an expert in personal privacy, security and identity theft prevention. Learn more about Carbonite’s cloud and hybrid backup solutions for small and midsize businesses. Disclosures.

How to protect your network from malicious insiders

You may be putting your company at risk simply by hiring a new employee. Why? Because that person could have a hidden, malicious agenda.

11DThis is known as an inside threat, and it means that someone within your organization is planning or conducting activities meant to harm the company.

There is a pattern that most insider threats use: The first step is to gain access to the company’s system. Once they have access to the network, they will investigate it and seek out any vulnerable areas. The malicious insider then sets up a workstation to control the scheme and spread the destruction.

What type of destruction can you expect? The hacker could introduce malware or they could steal or delete critical information, all of which can be damaging to your business. Fortunately, there are ways to protect business from these types of hacks.

Most companies protect their IT systems with firewalls, anti-virus programs, data backup software and even spyware-scanning technology. The problem is that these technologies only work when hackers are trying to get information from the outside.

One way to protect against insider threats is to ensure that employees can only access the data necessary to do their jobs. You should look at the flow of data throughout the organization to determine how information is shared and where it becomes vulnerable to theft or other security breaches. Then work with each department to implement the proper security controls.

The process of preventing data loss begins with discovering the data, classifying it, and then deciding how much risk your company may face if the data gets out. Some of the tools and procedures you may want to consider for protection include:

  • System-wide encryption
  • Password management
  • Device recognition
  • Access controls
  • Data disposal

It’s important to create security policies and procedures that are easy for employees to understand. The more transparent these policies are, the more effective your departments will be when communicating what they want and need.

How can you mitigate insider threats? Tune into the Carbonite webinar that I’ll be hosting live on Wednesday, March 15th at 11 am ET, to learn how. Register here: http://go.carbonite.com/security-threat/blog

Consultant Robert Siciliano is an expert in personal privacy, security and identity theft prevention. Learn more about Carbonite’s cloud and hybrid backup solutions for small and midsize businesses. Disclosures.

Can the cloud be trusted?

Most people have heard of storing information in “the cloud,” but do you know what this means, and if it is even safe?

4HA cloud is basically a network of servers that offer different functions. Some of these servers allow you to store data while others provide various services. The cloud is made of millions of servers across the globe and most are owned by private or public corporations. Many of those corporations are diligent about security, and you are likely using the cloud whether you know it or not.

Most customers using cloud services have faith that their information will remain safe. But there are some precautions you need to take. Here are some questions to ask any cloud service provider before relying on them to store your business data:

  • How often do you clean out dormant accounts?
  • What type of authentication is used?
  • Who can access and see my data?
  • Where is the data physically kept?
  • What level of encryption is in place?
  • How is the data backed up?
  • What’s in place for physical security?
  • Are private keys shared between others if data encryption is being used?

Keeping your company data safe

Over time, a company surely will accumulate data that seems irrelevant, but you shouldn’t be so quick to dispose of this data, especially if it is sensitive. This might include data such as customer or client information, employee information, product information or even old employee records.

The truth is, you just never know when you may or may not need this information, so it is best that you keep it. Digital data should be backed up in the cloud. If it’s paper, convert it to digital and store it offsite. Here are some things to remember when doing this:

  • All data, even if old or irrelevant, should be backed up.
  • Data retention policies should always include an “expiration date” for when this data is no longer useful to you.
  • Companies that want to delete old data should understand that deleting files and emptying the recycle bin, or reformatting a drive may not enough to get files off of your computer. Hackers may still be able to access this data.

If you actually want to remove all of the data on a disk, literally break or smash it. To truly delete a file, you must physically destroy the hard drive.

Consultant Robert Siciliano is an expert in personal privacy, security and identity theft prevention. Learn more about Carbonite’s cloud and hybrid backup solutions for small and midsize businesses. Disclosures.

How much is your Data worth online?

Cyber crime sure does pay, according to a report at Intel Security blogs.mcafee.com. There’s a boom in cyber stores that specialize in selling stolen data. In fact, this is getting so big that different kinds of hot data are being packaged—kind of like going to the supermarket and seeing how different meats or cheeses are in their own separate packages.

10DHere are some packages available on the Dark Net:

  • Credit/debit card data
  • Stealth bank transfer services
  • Bank account login credentials
  • Enterprise network login credentials
  • Online payment service login credentials

This list is not complete, either. McAfee Labs researchers did some digging and came up with some pricing.

The most in-demand type of data is probably credit/debit card, continues the blogs.mcafee.com report. The price goes up when more bits of sub-data come with the stolen data, such as the victim’s birthdate, SSN and bank account ID number. So for instance, let’s take U.S. prices:

  • Basic: $5-$8
  • With bank ID#: $15
  • With “fullzinfo” (lots more info like account password and username): $30
  • Prices in the U.K., Canada and Australia are higher across the board.

So if all you purchase is the “basic,” you have enough information to make online purchases—and can keep doing this until the card maxes out or the victim reports the unauthorized charges.

However, the “fullzinfo” will allow the thief to get into the account and change information, thwarting the victim’s attempts to get things resolved.

How much do bank login credentials cost?

  • It depends on the balance.
  • $2,200 balance: $190 for just the login information
  • For the ability to transfer funds to U.S. banks: $500 to $1,200, depending on the balance.

Online premium content services offer a variety of services, and the login credentials to these are also for sale:

  • Video streaming: $0.55 to $1
  • Cable channel streaming: $7.50
  • Professional sports streaming: $15

There are so many different kinds of accounts out there, such as hotel loyalty programs and auction. These, too, are up for sale on the underground Internet. Accounts such as these have the thief posing as the victim while carrying out online purchases.

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

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.