Category: Save your good name

You’re NOT too small to be hacked

You’re NOT too small to be hacked

We’ve come to expect cyber crimminels to target giant companies like Facebook, Experian and Marriott International. But many individuals assume their assets are too small for hackers to bother with. This kind of thinking leads to sloppy security practices and opens you to even more risk.

What the average person forgets is what is actually stolen in the big corporate breaches — individual customer information. Names, passwords, security questions, saved credit card numbers, addresses, and more. This information may let a hacker into your hacked account.

The amount of damage that could be done varies greatly depending on the account, what information is available to the hacker from the account, and how quickly you learn baout the breach and take corrective action.

For example, a user with access to your Adobe account could run up bills at Adobe, change your password and or account email to lock you out, or use your saved address and phone number along with any other saved information to attempt to break into other accounts or open other accounts in your name.

If you caught this breach right away, had not saved your credit card number in your accoun,t and did not reuse your password or security question and answer, you may be able to limit damage by quickly changing your password.

Freezing your credit will help block thieves from opening new accounts at major department stores, banks or credit card companies. It won’t stop thieves from opening accounts in smaller businesses that may not check against the credit bureaus. Nor will it stop people from opening cell phone accounts in your name because, surprisingly, cell phones use a different credit bureau than other accounts.

If hackers access a different acount – the damage they can do can be far greater. A hacked Facebook account provides much of the same information AND access to spread to all of your contacts. The hacker can send infected messages to all of your contacts, who will be more likely to click on a link to malware or open an infected document that appears to come from you.

The potential for thieves to drain your finances if they hack a bank, credit card, or mortgage account are more obvious. But people forget this same kind of damage can occur if they reuse passwords or security questions on multiple accounts. Hackers can write a script to try stolen credentials at hundreds of businesses in seconds. If you use the same information on multiple sites, the hacker can use that to log in and access those sites as well as the original site.

Many individuals object, “But I don’t have much money – why would someone target me?” If I ask if they would pick up a ten dollar bill off the ground – everyone says “sure” – even though ten dollars isn’t a large amount of money. To a hacker, if they can clean out your account for even a few hundred dollars with little effort, why not? And many people have much more credit than they realize. So while you may have a small amount of cash in the bank, you may have a significantly larger amount of credit. Reused passwords? You have multiplied the number of your accounts a thieve can get into,

Now multiply this by the number of other people whose accounts have been breached. Up to 500 million customers had their data stolen in the recent Marriott Interanational/ Starwood breach. At even a few dollars per user, the money for the hackers quickly soars into hundreds of millions of dollars. So no matter how little you have – you have a lot to lose.

Are you taking basic steps to secure your information?

Are you taking basic steps to secure your information?

computer security
Protect Yourself from Computer Crime

It seems like every day there is another scary story about hackers, massive data breaches, and identity theft.  Attacks get more sophisticated each day so how can anyone be safe online? Unfortunately, many of us are suffering from burnout with the seeming hopelessness of securing their PC. The result – we get lazy and start to skip the basic security steps.

No method is fool proof, but many basic steps will provide tremendous protection for your computer.  Strong passwords DO make a difference and its important to use different passwords for each site. A password manager will make it simple to do.  It will also make it feasible to update your passwords periodically for best security.

Another simple safety measure is to use unique security questions and answers.  Remember, if someone does break into one account and you reuse the security question and answers, you’ve made it much easier for the hacker to break into more of your accounts. Don’t use personally identifiable information in your security questions. For example, some websites still ask for things like maiden name. This information can be found online easily so it offers no security at all and can help expose you further to ID theft. You can make your security answer anything – it doesn’t have to match the question.  When you use the security question and answer to recover your password, all that matters to the computer program is that your answer match what you’ve told it originally.  You an list your city of birth as Mars or even hotdog. An unrelated answer is much harder to crack.

Keep your software up to date. Set Windows, your antivirus software, and other programs to update automatically. At a minimum, set them to notify you when updates are available.  Many software updates are security patches to plug recently discovered vulnerabilities.

Don’t click on suspicious links, offers that are too good to be true, or open email attachments that you weren’t expecting.

Doing these simple things will provide a reasonable amount of security without requiring much effort on your part. Considering the potential cost and damage of identity theft, ransomware, or other potential computer security problems, these small actions are definitely worth the effort.