Posts Tagged ‘protected’

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, 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.

Why You Don’t Need To Panic Over The Flame Virus

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Why You Don't Need To Panic Over The Flame VirusIt seems like once a year, a computer virus, hacker group, or glitch starts making headlines. Ever since we came out of the digital revolution in one piece, there’s been a percentage of the population that exaggerates every electronic menace to unrealistic proportions.

First it was Y2K, then it was identity theft, and this year it’s the Flame Virus.

Now, obviously, it’s a good idea to take precautions, install and update your antivirus software, and protect your network connection, but the Flame Virus is really not worthy of the panic that it’s instilled in some people. Here’s why:

We’re on Top of it

Antivirus developers are already on top of this malware property. Though the virus has the potential to do a lot of harm very quickly, it can’t seem to act any faster than antivirus coders can. This is why the virus hasn’t really spread in the west after ravaging hundreds of networks in Iran, Pakistan, and India. Firewall security is pretty tight in North America and the UK.

See Also: Cold Snap Technology Services

The Suicide Command

Not only will the Flame Virus be put to rest by any decent antivirus program, the developers of the virus have actually put out a suicide command for the virus, killing it in its tracks the second it activates. Virus developers often code these things for experimental purposes, and while the intentions and end goal of the programmers may be a matter of opinion in some ways, the fact is that the developers have decided to put it to rest.

The Web is Self Correcting to an Extent

The modern framework for the internet is resilient. Viruses spread by the very same channels and principles that the cure for these viruses will spread.

It’s impossible to fully censor and control the web and what people can do. And it’s definitely impossible to try and take the web offline. This is how people are able to so freely distribute viruses, it’s why people can get away with file sharing, and it’s how people learn about viruses and other problems and deal with them so quickly.

You Were Probably Protected to Begin With

As long as you have a good firewall in place and you’re careful about what you download, chances are that you were already safe from the Flame virus to begin with. What a lot of people don’t realize when something like Flame starts to make headlines is that the private companies and users who work at them tend to do pretty well at keeping those types of viruses at bay.

For whatever organized efforts the government might have put into effect, we already had a security framework that more than protected us from the virus. With WPA security settings and the right antivirus software, chances of being infected with the virus were pretty slim from the start.

Caution should always be practiced on the web, but the fact is that most of these online-panics are just that – panics.