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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.

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.

 

IDShield Investigator Insights: Social Media

April 20, 2017

Sharing on Social Media Today Can Impact Your Future

Many of us can’t remember life before social media. How did we make it through the day without our friends telling us how they were feeling or posting pictures of what they had for lunch?

 

While it seems like social media sites have been around forever, the first, Six Degrees, launched only 20 years ago, making social media a relatively new means of staying in touch. As social animals, our desire to connect with others is great, and social media, along with the proliferation of mobile devices, makes it easy to do. Since we like to think we can trust our friends, it’s easy to let our guard down when we’re commenting on a Facebook post or sharing vacation photos on Instagram.

 

IDShield Investigator Tips: Social Media

April 20, 2017

When It Comes to Staying Safe on Social Media, Listen to Your Mother

Twenty-one percent of adult internet users have had an email or social media account compromised.1 Applying some old-fashioned words of wisdom to our modern online lives can help prevent it from happening to you. Here are some tips from the Investigators at Kroll:

 

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Danger Lurks Where Technology Intersects Public Safety

April 13, 2017

It’s 3 a.m., and you are awakened by the sounds of sirens blaring outside. All of the cell phones in your house start to chirp, and when you look down, you see an emergency notification with a warning to evacuate immediately. The alert says to head north and that all major roads will be used as one-way streets to enable a rapid evacuation. Twenty miles north of your town the same thing is happening, except in this case, the warning is telling everyone that they should head south.

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?