November 14th, 2014
Jackie here. At work our computer networks are set up by skilled and trained IT professionals, but at home most of us DIY the process. If you don’t do it correctly this can lead to security issues that might make your information available to hackers and raise your risk of ID theft. In fact, some cyber thieves specifically target home networks as they are often easier to breach than a large company network. With cyber criminals waiting to steal your information, securing your home network properly is more important now than ever. For those of us that aren’t IT pros, here are some tips from Yahoo! tech (find more here).
Assign Someone the Job
Who is in charge of your home network security? It may be best to assign one person to the task. This person will be solely responsible for figuring out ways to make the network more secure, implementing ideas, installing software, and educating others about internet safety. When no one is specifically in charge of network security the task is often left undone as everyone assumes that someone else is handling it, even at home.
Check Your Wi-Fi Settings
Each time you install a new wireless router make sure you take the time to change the setting from default. Create your own log-in name and password (don’t use the generic one that the router creates). You should also turn on either WPA or WPA2 encryption. If you aren’t sure how to do this, check your user guide or contact the manufacturer.
Register Your Devices
Registering your network devices isn’t just important for warranties; it can help keep your network more secure. Patches, updates, and other fixes to security flaws on your devices are important to install and registering will give the company a way to get in touch when updates are available.
Installing antivirus software once isn’t enough to keep your network safe. You need to keep up on those updates, not just for your antivirus program, but also for your operating system and software programs (Java, Adobe Reader, etc.). Often, updates are actually security patches and leaving them uninstalled can leave you vulnerable to cyber threats.
Strengthen Your Passwords
Are you still using “password” as your password? We’ve talked endlessly about the importance of a strong password and we will continue to do so. Choose a strong password for all of your accounts and your home network. If you haven’t yet made the commitment to using strong, unique passwords, do it today. Hackers are counting on you choosing easy to crack passwords.
Get Everyone on Board
Even with good network security practices your home network can be compromised by one family member clicking on malicious links or sharing information in a phishing email. Talk with your family about security and make sure everyone understands the risk of ID theft online.
What steps do you take to secure your home network?
February 12th, 2014
Tamara here, AllClear ID Investigator. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing white collar crimes to date. It is very likely that you or someone you know has become a victim. There are many aspects of identity theft that are widely known, such as phishing emails, Nigerian scams, and card skimmers. Here I am going to touch on some of the lesser known areas of identity theft.
Military personnel and members are particularly vulnerable.
Every day, in a multitude of ways, members of the military use their Social Security number. The number is used for everything from labeling one’s laundry bag to checking out sports equipment. Being conditioned to provide one’s social security number can lead to inadvertently disclosing it to an unfavorable party. It also increases the risk of it getting into the hands of identity thieves.
Former Army intelligence officer, now West Point professor, Lt. Col. Gregory Conti called for a change in the policy regarding personal information use by service personnel in a report he coauthored, The Military’s Cultural Disregard for Personal Information. In December of 2010, the Department of Defense stated Social Security numbers would no longer appear on new military ID cards.
Medical identity theft is a reality.
Even if you haven’t had your personal information stolen and used to open fraudulent acounts, there’s another area where your information may be used: for medical treatment. A thief may make a fake ID and use it to obtain treatment, and you may not become aware of it until it hits your credit report or is reflected on an Explanation of Benefits. If you discover you have become a victim of medical identity theft, the FTC has a number of tips to help direct you on the path of clearing it.
Computer games and consoles are also susceptible to attack.
As the population becomes more aware of phishing attacks via email, the attackers are taking another route: video games and consoles. Be aware of notices claiming there are issues with your account information requesting you either click on a link, which may download malware, or provide your personal information. The best bet to avoid falling victim to a phishing attempt is to go to the legitimate compnay website if you need to interact with them and go from there.
Search engine poisoning is deceitful.
As you research what you suspect to be a scam or a phishing attack, be careful in your review of the results that are populated by your search engine. Identity thieves have been manipulating the search results so their fake site appears higher. There are a number of things to look out for to help determine whether or not the website is real, including spelling and/or grammatical errors, slight differences to the company’s logo, or an incorrect UR (hover your cursor over the URL to see where it routes you).
Fake Wi-Fi hotspots are a trap!
Generally, one should exercise caution when using public Wi-Fi hotspots, though they tend to be safe. But, there is a chance you could inadvertently be logging into a fake Wi-Fi hotspot that appears to be the airport’s, hotel’s, or coffee shop’s hotspot. Though it is not blaringly obvious as to whether or not it is fake, there are a few things to watch out for. One item to check for is the name of the hotspot. Make sure it matches the one the facility has advised you to use. Another would be to check the URL of the first page. If it matches the name of wherever it claims to be, it usually is safe.
These tips should help you avoid falling victim to ID theft from one of the less commone methods. As always, please contact us if you have a question or are in need of assistance.
July 11th, 2012
Jackie here, with AllClear ID. It sounds like something out of a horror flick – and if your home network isn’t properly secured it could quickly become your worst nightmare. War driving is a simple technique that thieves can use to steal your identity. Perpetrators troll neighborhoods looking for unsecured Wi-Fi networks. They then use a laptop and easily obtained software to capture the information you are sending and receiving.
War driving made headlines late last year and early this year when it was discovered that Google Street View vehicles were collecting unencrypted data; everything from passwords to usernames to instant messaging conversations and more, all from unsecured wireless networks. Fortunately in Google’s case they were only after information, not identities. While Google’s war driving incident might be one of the most publicized around, it certainly isn’t the only instance where this occurs. ID thieves commonly use war driving to get the information they need to steal your identity. If your network isn’t secured, you are at risk.
If you use a wireless network at home, protecting yourself from war driving just takes a few minutes. If you don’t have wireless access, you don’t have to do anything at all! This article on PCWorld will walk you through securing your home wireless network and protecting yourself when connecting wirelessly at hotspots.
Is your home network secured? If you aren’t sure find out today. If your network isn’t secured you might be sharing everything you do online with identity thieves and increasing your id theft risk.