Monthly Archives: April 2018

The Technology Blog

Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

By | Cyber Security, Identity Theft | No Comments

Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Common sense used to be the best way to protect yourself from identity theft. Collect mail in a timely manner, store your social security card in a safe place and shred sensitive documents.
Today we live in a digital world. An identity thief can drain our bank account in seconds if our data is not secure. If you don’t catch it quickly, it may be too late to recover the stolen funds.  According to LifeLock, 1 in 4 people has been affected by identity theft online. This year alone, 15 million people lost an estimated $16 billion in identity theft scams.

Five Types of Identity Theft

There are multiple ways our identity can be stolen.  The four common types of identity theft include:

  • Child Identity Theft
  • Tax Identity Theft
  • Medical Identity Theft
  • Senior Identity Theft
  • Social Identity Theft
Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft - Pros 4 Technology Blog

An identify thief can drain your bank account in seconds.

Four Ways to Protect Your Identity Online

Identity thieves are always coming up with new ways to access your personal information. There are four important things you must do to protect your identity. If your account is more secure, a hacker usually moves on to an easier target. Here are the best things you can do to protect your identity:

1. Prioritize Passwords

  • Use a password manager like LastPass to store unique, randomized passwords for all your logins. Learn more about effective passwords in our recent post, How to Create Secure Passwords.
  • Use two factor authentication whenever it’s available. Examples would include a code texted to your smartphone, or the security questions a bank uses for your account, after you input your password. For security questions, use answers only you would know, ones that a hacker could not find online.
  • Use passphrases instead of passwords. Longer passphrases are harder to crack, and hackers will typically move on to an easier target.

2. Go paperless where you can – Anything in your mailbox can be stolen more easily than online. Shred every paper document with your personal information before you discard it.

3. Monitor your credit reports and bank statements. If credit fraud isn’t caught right away, often the account owner is liable for payment. The latest tax scam involved hackers stealing tax information and placing small amounts of money into the bank account, mimicking a refund.  If anything is off, notify the bank or credit monitoring system and they can reverse charges. If you have been compromised, there is assistance. Report fraud immediately. The federal government provides the website Identitytheft.gov to help victims of identity theft.

4. Don’t trust – verify.

  • Before you respond to an email, expand the details of your recipient. If the “from” email address does not have the same domain as the organization, it is likely a scam.
  • Before entering any personal information onto any website, verify that the website is legitimate. Google search the company name. Illegitimate websites may be flagged by users or even mentioned in articles on internet security.
  • Check the website security status to the left of the URL. A secured site has a padlock icon left of the URL, like the one our website.

Identity theft can happen to anyone, online or from your mailbox. It seems counter-intuitive, but properly protected online data is safer than what’s in your mailbox. Awareness and vigilance are the best identity theft protection.

How to Create Secure Passwords

By | Business Network Security, Cyber Security | No Comments

How to Create Secure Passwords

Strong Passwords are Essential to Prevent Identity Theft

We need passwords to protect our personal information online, from email, to Facebook, to our bank and credit accounts and much more. Unfortunately, many people overlook the importance of a strong password, in favor of something easy to remember, using their name, birthday or even the word ‘password.’ All too often, the same weak password is used for every account.

Having your password stolen isn’t just an inconvenience any more. These common password mistakes can cost you your identity.

Stealing Passwords is Automated Now

Hackers can effortlessly perform brute force attacks on your internet connected devices and online accounts to steal passwords. Using automated software, their computer guesses every possible password combination in a matter of seconds or minutes. When your password combination hits, they gain entry.

The initial attack will often attempt passwords generated from names, birthdates and other personal information, which are commonly used because they’re easy to remember. If that’s unsuccessful, many programs can simply attempt every possible key combination. It can take as little as 8 seconds to crack a weak 6-character password.

However, if your password is at least 8 characters with a mix of lower and upper-case letters, it can take up to 10 days to crack. Add numbers and special characters to the mix and your password becomes very difficult to hack. Most hackers will move on to an easier target.

Use secure passwords to help prevent identify theft - Pros 4 Technology Blog

Use and manage secure passwords to protect yourself against hacking and identity theft.

How to Create and Manage Strong Passwords

Password Do’s

  • Use a different password for every online account.
  • Change passwords on a regular basis.
  • Change passwords if you suspect someone has access to your account or you’ve been hacked.
  • Use at least one of each of the following in all passwords:
    • Uppercase Letters
    • Lowercase Letters
    • Numbers
    • Special Characters

Password Don’ts

  • Don’t enter less than 8 characters unless you are limited by the account login.
  • Don’t use any personal information (birthdates are popular targets).
  • Don’t use words found in the dictionary – the more random the character combination, the better.

Use 2-Factor Authentication to Strengthen Login Security

Enable 2-factor authentication wherever it’s available for your sensitive logins. This step requires you to enter a unique code that is texted to your phone when you enter your password, and can prevent most hackers from gaining access, even if they do discover your password.

Use a Password Manager

You no longer need to remember or keep long lists of passwords. Password managers can store all of your passwords, and automatically generate new, much stronger ones than you would create yourselves. You only need to keep track of one strong password, and you can enable two-factor authentication to boost your login security even more. One of our favorite password managers is LastPass.