If you’re anything like me you’ve been in a coffee shop having a tasty beverage when the realization hits that you need to pay your credit card bill or make a purchase. You pull out your phone and navigate to your banks app, or you go to Amazon to order something. But before you enter your account information, you might want to keep one thing in mind:
Public networks are much less secure than private networks like your home or office. As a result, it’s very easy for hackers and cybercriminals to monitor traffic on these networks for bank details, credit cards, passwords, and other personal information.
There are old school methods for stealing your information like overhearing passwords or credit card info, stealing wallets and purses, or digging through your mail for bank statements or tax info. Luckily most people are aware of these tactics and take the necessary steps to protect themselves.
Unfortunately, since data is frequently compromised digitally, and since digital theft is much less visible, it’s important we bring these methods out of the darkness and into the light. There are many ways your data can be breached online, but to keep this article brief I’ll go over the top 3:
- Human error is the main cause of data theft, and phishing is a common way criminal get your information. You may receive an email from a criminal, but it’s made to look like it’s from a client, supplier, prospect, or even your boss. The email may even contain links to websites that look legitimate but exist solely to steal sensitive data. That’s why it’s important to be vigilant. You should set policies for when and how confidential information can be shared. That way if your “boss” asks you to send a password by email you know it’s not legitimate. Finally, NEVER open an attachment from someone you don’t know or recognize. It could be infected with a virus, or worse – Ransomware.
- Malware, Spyware, and Viruses can infect your machine when you download music, music editing programs, or torrents. These files don’t carry viruses themselves, BUT viruses can easily be disguised to look like music or video files. To protect yourself, only download music and videos from reputable sites.
- Publishing personal information online. Nowadays everyone has a social media account, whether that’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, or all of the above. As a result, information like your birthday, the names of family members, your pet’s name, and your interests are accessible to anyone with a computer and internet access. With this info, hackers can often learn enough about you to correctly answer your security question and reset your passwords – giving them complete control over your accounts. Always use complex passwords that don’t contain personal info and remove as much of this data from social media as possible.
One last thought: if your data is compromised, you may not even know. One way to confirm your data is safe is our “Dark Web Monitoring” tool. It monitors the dark web constantly for signs of data theft and alert us when anything is found. We’ll reach out and help secure you quickly so no harm can come of it.