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The Internet of Things

Identity Theft News

The Internet of Things

Be aware of the potential privacy implications with internet-connected devices

The “Internet of Things” or “IoT”—have you heard the buzz around it? Do you know what it is?

It is a phrase used to refer to those things that can connect to the internet to send and receive data. The “things” are too many to list but a few examples are:

  • Sensors in a lawn watering system that consider the recent weather conditions to decide when to water or how much.
  • A home lighting system that analyzes your lighting use patterns and mimics them when you are away from home so it’s not obvious to outsiders that you are away.
  • A health/fitness tracking device that records your exercise activity and sleep rhythms.
  • A home monitoring system that allows you to lock/unlock doors and program your thermostat remotely.

One of the thoughts behind the IoT is that life will be enhanced by the ability of the things to share data between devices and with the consumer. But, are there factors related to the IoT that could impact your privacy?

In a recent blog post titled Cool New Tech Devices: What Privacy Risks Are Wrapped Up Under Your Tree?, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) points out that “with people’s lives so connected to the internet, there are numerous potential privacy implications.” The PRC shares these privacy habits to practice with your internet-connected devices:

  • Keep the firmware on your wireless router up to date. Firmware is usually already on a device when you receive it but you should look for instructions on updating the firmware when required.
  • Change the default password assigned by the manufacturer of the internet-connected device. Create a unique password.
  • Use WPA2 encryption and a strong passphrase with your wireless network. WEP encryption is vulnerable to intrusion.
  • Read through privacy policies on devices and opt-out of data collection when you can. Be sure that you are comfortable with what data will be collected and how it will be used.
  • If you have an internet-connect device with a camera but you don’t need to use the camera to use the device, cover the camera lens with a piece of solid tape.

Beyond these basic tips, it is also important to understand the terms and conditions of use of the device and the privacy policy. Opt-out of data sharing when you can. Is there a default privacy setting that is set to “public”? Change it to private.

Consumers will need to keep security in mind and get answers to certain questions about an internet-connect device before they decide to use it. Some of those questions are:

  • What data is collected?
  • Can the data be encrypted?
  • How is the data used?
  • Will the data collected be sold?
  • Can a password be set up on the device?

Like most things, informed decision-making and responsible utilization are vital to beneficial use of an internet-connected device. If consumers take such steps, they will protect their privacy and avoid security lapses that could put their privacy and even their physical safety and identity at risk.

The Internet of Things appears here to stay. The challenge for consumers may be to keep up with the technology.

 

A service of the Investigators of Kroll. These materials are derived from the research and discovery activities of Kroll Fraud Specialists and Licensed Investigators, and have been gathered from personal, historical, and aggregated experience performing specialized restoration services on behalf of Identity Theft victims. While believed to be accurate, these materials do not constitute legal advice, and are not guaranteed to be correct, complete or up-to-date. These materials are provided for informational purposes only.

Be aware of the potential privacy implications with internet-connected devices

The “Internet of Things” or “IoT”—have you heard the buzz around it? Do you know what it is?

It is a phrase used to refer to those things that can connect to the internet to send and receive data. The “things” are too many to list but a few examples are:

  • Sensors in a lawn watering system that consider the recent weather conditions to decide when to water or how much.
  • A home lighting system that analyzes your lighting use patterns and mimics them when you are away from home so it’s not obvious to outsiders that you are away.
  • A health/fitness tracking device that records your exercise activity and sleep rhythms.
  • A home monitoring system that allows you to lock/unlock doors and program your thermostat remotely.

One of the thoughts behind the IoT is that life will be enhanced by the ability of the things to share data between devices and with the consumer. But, are there factors related to the IoT that could impact your privacy?

In a recent blog post titled Cool New Tech Devices: What Privacy Risks Are Wrapped Up Under Your Tree?, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) points out that “with people’s lives so connected to the internet, there are numerous potential privacy implications.” The PRC shares these privacy habits to practice with your internet-connected devices:

Simple Steps to Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft

March 17, 2017

Despite the fact that the U.S. Director of National Intelligence ranked cybercrime as the No. 1 national security threat, very few Americans take real steps to protect themselves, their family and their businesses against identity theft.

As the head of a company that helps consumers protect themselves from this issue, I've become increasingly aware of its perils, and how it impacts millions of people each year. I see identity theft as a growing epidemic that warrants immediate action. There are a number of simple steps to take, and some may seem obvious, but many people choose not to address the issue with preventive measures. How often do you back up personal and corporate computers, check your credit report and statements, or update your virus protection software?

When Consumers Get Smart, Scammers Get Smarter

March 16, 2017

So you think you’re pretty smart when it comes to scams. You know there is no wealthy Nigerian prince who needs money to escape – and there’s certainly no reward for sending him your hard-earned cash. You’re careful to not click on links or open attachments from email addresses you do not recognize. But as consumers become more aware, scammers become more savvy. They know we live online and on our phones, and they use both to get even the most wary individuals to fall for their scams. However, there are some steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim.

 

When it comes to phone scams, be smart with these tips:

Stay Calm and Trust No One: Protecting Yourself Against Scammers

March 16, 2017

Tax scams grab a lot of identity theft headlines, and for good reason: the Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises that 25 percent of reported scams in 2016 were related to tax issues. But there’s more than one way to scam a consumer, and scammers are constantly thinking up new and more sophisticated ways to lure in victims. According to the BBB, last year’s fastest growing scams included:

 

Online Purchase Scams

These may involve sites selling fake merchandise, as well as sites that aren’t selling anything at all. By the time your “designer” duds have arrived, or you realize you’ll never get what you paid for, the scammers have your money as well as your name, address and credit card information, which is what they are really after.

 

Employment Scams

Tax season ramps up W-2 phishing scams

February 10, 2017

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued an urgent alert regarding a dangerous W-2 phishing scam that is targeting employers across a wide variety of sectors, including everything from businesses to schools to tribal organizations. Not only is this type of fraud becoming widespread, there is a unique twist to this scheme, designed to further compound the potential injury. After fraudulently obtaining the W-2 information, scammers send an immediate follow-up requesting a wire transfer of funds. When a company falls victim to this scam, not only do their employees face the possibility of tax fraud from the stolen W-2 forms, but the company also loses funds from the fraudulent wire transfer. It is a double whammy, and according to the IRS, it has already affected hundreds of organizations.

The Underground Economy and Your Identity

January 18, 2017

The past several years have been a bonanza for the underground economy as it relates to the purchase and sale of stolen private information and, specifically, to the sheer number of individual consumer records impacted. Numerous large merchants, hospital systems, and insurance companies have been hacked, exposing email addresses and passwords, credit card numbers, and personal profiles. These breaches have resulted in a considerable surge in private personal information being made available for sale in the underground economy. Throughout this same timeframe, security companies, researchers, and hackers have commented on the vast amounts of data that have been stolen and are now available for purchase online. Indeed, we have heard all too often from the popular media that billions of personal records have been compromised.

How to Respond to Suspicious IRS-related Communication this Tax Season

January 18, 2017

It’s that time of year once again. The holidays have come and gone and we’re all settling into a new year. With all of our resolutions aside, one thing is still left to do - our taxes. This season is also the time where IRS-related scams are plentiful.  

It’s important to know that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by any type of electronic communication, including email, text messages, and social media channels. Here, we share some IRS direction for handling a suspicious IRS-related communication.

If you receive an email claiming to be from the IRS that contains a request for personal information:

  • Do not reply.
  • Do not open any attachments. Attachments may contain malicious code that will infect your computer.
  • Do not click on any links.
  • Forward the email as-is, to phishing@irs.gov. After you forward the email, delete the original email message you received.

Note: Please forward the full original email to   phishing@irs.gov. Do not forward scanned images of printed emails as that strips the email of valuable information only available in the electronic copy.