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Abandoned Online Accounts

Identity Theft News

Abandoned Online Accounts

How many social networking websites do you participate in? How many sites are there where you have an account that you no longer use to socialize with others? Now consider two more questions, “What personal information of yours is stored within that account, even if it’s just the account profile?” and “What could happen if those abandoned accounts were breached by a hacker who then stole the data?”

Old online accounts have at least two vulnerabilities: They could be viewable by others and the database of the website could suffer a data breach.

When social networking first began, users were less aware than they are today of the need to restrict who could see their posted information. Someone viewing an old account of yours could potentially pick up data that would help them find information they could use elsewhere such as with answering security questions such as “Where were you born?,” “Where did you attend school?,” etc.

Data breaches suffered by social networking sites are becoming commonplace. Within just a six-month span of time in 2016, nearly one billion records from only four social networking or online dating sites were potentially accessed by hackers. A thief could take the user ID and password collected in a breach and then try it on other websites to see if the person who created the account used those same credentials on other accounts. Then they can collect personal information from that account as well or takeover the account and make use of it.

What can be done about old accounts?If you are no longer using an account, delete it if possible. If not possible, replace your personal information with random data so that the account is not useful to a potential identity thief. The websitewww.accountkiller.com is a valuable resource of directions for closing online accounts of all kinds. Also, by reviewing it’s extensive list of websites, you may be reminded of an old account you forgot that you created.

What to do going forward:

  • If you’ve been in the habit of using the same login credentials on all of your websites, change the passwords (or user ID and password, if possible) so that you use different credentials for each account.
  • Keep a list of the accounts you create online so you know where you information is online.
  • Be particular about what personal information you add to your accounts. Every question doesn’t need to be answered in your account profile.
  • Set privacy and security settings to have some control over who can see your data.
  • Use backup email addresses on every account so that if you lose access to the primary email because of a job change or switch in email service provider, you can still access the account.

 

The New Teen Hangout

August 16, 2017

Social Media: The New Teen Hangout

 

From an early age, parents advise their children to not talk to strangers. That advice may stick with a child who is approached by someone at the park, but a teenager who feels “protected” by a screen may carry on an online conversation with a person they don’t know, especially if the “stranger” is posing as a classmate, a friend of a friend, or someone who shares the teen’s taste in music. If that conversation leads to an in-person meeting, your teen may be in serious danger.

 

IDShield Investigator Tips: Phishing Attempt Not Very Rewarding

July 27, 2017

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Marriott Rewards. Was I getting bonus points? A special offer for a last-minute weekend trip? Or was it something much less rewarding? 

As an expert in cyber security, I’m understandably suspicious of all emails. Phishers have gotten so good at making fake emails look real that it is easy to, at a glance, believe the message is from an individual or organization you have done business with, but there are some things you can look for so you do not take the bait and become a victim. What better way to demonstrate than by my actual example?

The Anatomy of a Phishing Email

This is what I first saw in my inbox:

 

Could Smart Toys Put Your Child’s Privacy at Risk?

July 19, 2017

FBI releases warning regarding privacy concerns for internet-connected toys

The Federal Bureau of Investigation released a public service announcement alerting consumers to the potential dangers of “smart toys,” basically any toy that can connect to the internet. This applies to a range of toys currently on the market that have everything from microphones to cameras to cloud storage of audio, video, and other data collected from users.

The FBI raises concerns about toys negatively impacting your children’s privacy and security.

 

The features and functions of different toys vary widely. In some cases, toys with microphones could record and collect conversations within earshot of the device. Information such as the child’s name, school, likes and dislikes, and activities may be disclosed through normal conversation with the toy or in the surrounding environment. The collection of a child’s personal information combined with a toy’s ability to connect to the Internet or other devices raises concerns for privacy and physical safety. 

 

A Trip to the Pediatrician’s Office May Cure the Sickness, But Could It Put Your Child’s Identity at Risk?

July 11, 2017

By the time children are six years old, they have probably been to the pediatrician more than 10 times for wellness checkups alone. With many children continuing to see their pediatricians through their teen years, these office visits – and the information collected at them – all add up. As a parent, you trust the pediatrician and the office staff to take care of your child’s health, but can you trust that your child’s personal information will be securely protected and kept out of harm’s way? Assuming this has not previously crossed your mind, increasing your level of awareness – just as is done with an annual health check – can help to protect your child’s identity from being compromised and exploited.

Health Care Data Breaches on the Rise

WannaCry Ransomware

May 16, 2017

Over the past 72 hours, a massive ransomware attack occurred affecting businesses, government organizations, and individuals in well over 100 countries. The ransomware – called WannaCry (also called WannaCrypt) – encrypts the victim’s hard drive and demands a ransom, paid in the virtual currency bitcoin, equivalent to approximately US$300. Kroll strongly recommends organizations and individuals take action to reduce your risk and prepare for inevitable future similar attacks.

 

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware; once executed on a computer system, it seeks to encrypt a wide range of files, denying the user access, and effectively holding the files “hostage” in return for a monetary payment – a ransom. It prevents users from accessing their computers, files, or mobile devices by holding them for ransom. Users are typically expected to pay high ransom amounts to get access back to their data. Many times, the ransomware will falsely claim that the user has committed a crime with their computer, and that they are being fined by the police department or a government agency.

 

U.S. Government Data Shows Healthcare Breaches Up 320%

May 11, 2017

Check the pulse of your personal healthcare information

 

When you visit your physician or a healthcare facility, the last thing on your mind is the personal information you are required to share. Where is it going? Who sees your information? What could happen to it? Healthcare providers collect personal data ranging from your name and date of birth, to credit card numbers, medical insurance numbers (which may include your Social Security number), diagnosis information, prescriptions, and medical history.

 

Providers are required to store this information securely, but data thieves know how valuable your personal information is. Despite healthcare providers’ best efforts, they often fall victim to data breaches. That puts your protected health information (PHI) in the hands of hackers and thieves who may use it themselves or sell it for others to use to execute a variety of schemes and crimes.