Posts Tagged ‘identity theft’

What Your Business Should Know About Choosing a VPN

Monday, August 5th, 2013

proxyMore than 600 data breaches occurred in the U.S. last year, as well as nearly 50,000 reported security incidents, according to an annual Verizon report. A large portion of those breaches were accomplished on mobile devices, and with public Wi-Fi everywhere you turn, a VPN could make or break your data security.

Virtual Private Network overview

Photo by Ludovic.ferre via Wikimedia Commons

How Hackers Get In

While free public Wi-Fi services are popular, there are risks associated with the convenience. Mobile employees open the door for unscrupulous data thieves when they fail to use common sense before signing onto email and financial websites on the road with company equipment.

Employees who assume the strongest Internet connection from McDonald’s network in the parking lot make it easier for scammers who could be lurking nearby with a similar network name. Bolt Insurance executives found many employees fail to log into encrypted, secure https websites because they simply forgot to confirm the address before signing in. Bolt suggests using Virtual Private Network software for all employees who work on the road.

Securing Data with Virtual Private Networks

A VPN is simply a network of computers joined together across multiple locations to add security and privacy via authentication hardware and software. Access to the network is allowed with unique passwords or PIN identifiers. Internet Service Providers, http://www.internetserviceproviders.com, touts the ease and flexibility of VPNs for business owners. Security and privacy are the most practical benefits for business owners.

Free Services

Both privacy and security protocol should be carefully examined before signing up for a free service. Some no-charge VPN providers log all activity, and most users are subjected to contextual ads based on past activity online.

Businesses that want to take a trial run with a free service should remember all data is available to the host provider. Choose websites to visit with caution during the trial period. Some experts suggest only using free services offered by well-established providers to avoid a fly-by-night scam artist.

Paid Services

Paid services vary widely among providers. Prices vary based on features, storage space and the number of exit points. Depending on the nature of the business, monthly rates are as low as $5 per month and can go up to several hundred dollars per year. Even with paid services, it is important to look for secure connections, i.e. SSL or IPsec, when selecting a provider.

Exit Locations

Free services usually have fewer exit points. An exit proxy, or location, is a connection setting that allows you to “appear” in another network or country, thus adding a layer of anonymity and security. As a general rule, the higher the number of exit options available from your VPN, the more discreet your activities are online.

Beyond the number of available locations, it is important to find a VPN provider that offers exit proxies that fit business needs. If a service provider offers 18 exit points, but doesn’t offer an exit in Panama, and the business wants to connect with other computers in Panama to capture live television broadcasts or connect with remote employees securely, the service won’t provide the most beneficial features — regardless of the price. Choosing a provider that offers a variety of exit points that fit company networking goals is essential to finding a best fit.

What recommendations do you have regarding VPN? Share them in the comments.

Business and Government Get Hit by Identity Theft, Too

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

While consumers are fighting their own personal wars with identity theft, companies are also inventing new ways to deal with the increasing threat. Banks lose millions of dollars every year by having to compensate identity theft victims, and so they’re developing new ways for consumers to protect themselves.

Who's you online?

Who’s you online?

Money Matters

Companies that have a single reported security breach may find themselves with billions of dollars in damages, as well as a troubled reputation that will linger for years to come. USA Today reports that businesses lose between $150-$250 for each card number stolen from their files. This amount represents the required legal fees, consultants and administrative costs. This may not seem like a lot, but tens of thousands of credit card numbers can be stolen in a single breach.

Government Dealings

Companies aren’t the only ones dealing with the challenge of identity theft. The government has also been affected. The state of South Carolina had its security system breached in 2012, resulting in 3.6 million Social Security numbers being exposed, thestate.com reports. And in a 2006 security breach at the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department, the personal data of 26.5 million veterans was downloaded to a laptop that was later stolen (and later, recovered).

Once information is accessed by a hacker, it can be uploaded online. At this point, nothing can stop the information from being traded on the Internet, and those who have been affected may have no choice but to petition for a change of their Social Security number. This is not an easy process and can sometimes take months. Government agencies are especially vulnerable to security attack, because so many of them run legacy computer systems.

Retail Threats

Retail establishments are at increased risk for identity theft, because they rely on third-party vendors and merchant payment processes for many of their services. Consumers are more likely to experience identity theft during the holidays, in part due to new and seasonal workers employed at retail locations. This means retail stores need to be cautious about running background checks on their new workers.

Consumer Precautions

While banks, governments and corporations are working hard to lessen the impact of identity theft, the bulk of the responsibility still falls upon the consumer.

  • Avoid using paper statements, and thoroughly review your statements every time you get one
  • Consider signing up with an identity theft protection service such as LifeLock. These companies will monitor your account activity and alert you if they see anything suspicious
  • Never release your credit card information online until you have verified the recipient
  • Teach your children about Internet safety
  • Don’t leave your mail in your mailbox overnight, and always shred documents before discarding them

Have you ever been a victim of identity theft? How did it affect you? Share your thoughts in the comments.

What is malware?

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

A malware is a program that tells your computer to do something you dont want it to do. A virus or any other malware can be very hard to detect or not very hard to detect. No matter what the circumstances all malware make your computer run less efficient in one way or another. A virus is malware that gets copied when ever you do something on your computer.

A virus is not a bug, because a bug is what happens when someone makes an error in writing a program, a virus is a program purposely made to wreck your computer. Computers can be protected from viruses by using some form of anti-virus such as AVG, Avast, or another antivirus program.

Another form of protection from malware is keeping your computer up to date.

1. Trojan (Horse) – A trojan is a program that looks normal until you run it, then you may start to notice changes in how your computer operates.

2. Worms – A worm is a type of malware that spreads from your computer to others on the same network.

3. Virus – A virus is a type of malware that spreads whenever you tell your computer to do something.

4. Fake AV – Fake antivirus disguises itself as an antivirus program until you download it on to your computer.

5. Rogue Proxies – A rogue proxy is what occurs when someone hacks your dns server and they may be able to access all of your credit card numbers and other banking information.

If you have experienced any of these problems, contact us at Cold Snap Technology, and we will see what we can do to get your computer healthy again.