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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:

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.

The “Dirty Dozen” of Tax Scams Investigator Insights The “Dirty Dozen” of Tax Scams

January 18, 2017

Accountants and tax return preparers aren’t the only busy ones during tax return filing season. Scammers and abusers of the system are active as well. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) strives to educate taxpayers and combat scammers through various resources, one of which is their annual list of top scams - “The Dirty Dozen Tax Scams.” - shared here.

Phone Scams

Phone calls from criminals impersonating IRS agents remain an ongoing threat to taxpayers. The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams in recent years as scam artists threaten taxpayers with police arrest, deportation and license revocation, among other things.

Phishing

Taxpayers need to be on guard against fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. The IRS will never send taxpayers an email about a bill or refund out of the blue. Don’t click on one claiming to be from the IRS. Be wary of strange emails and websites that may be nothing more than scams to steal personal information.

Return Preparer Fraud

Yahoo Announces that 1 Billion Accounts Compromised in Data Breach

As you may have heard, Yahoo just announced that over 1 Billion accounts were hacked in a recent data breach. This information includes account holder names, email addresses, encrypted passwords, dates of birth, telephone numbers and, in some cases, security questions and answers.

Here are a few proactive steps you can take to protect your account:

Protecting your identity during the holiday season

December 7, 2016

Keeping your sensitive information safe

It's once again the time of year when consumers are making plans to visit relatives, host festive get-togethers. and. of course. hit the stores (or computer) for some shopping. Unfortunately,the flurry of activity that goes hand-in-hand with the holidays presents a prime opportunity for a data thief to practice his trade. With that in mind, put the protection of sensitive personal information at the top of your holiday to-do list.

 

Kroll's Investigators offer the following tips that can help consumers keep their sensitive information safe:

 

Tip #1: Practice safe shopping in stores

»  Before you hit the stores. take stock of what you bring along in your purse/wallet. Remove unnecessary key identity components. Make a list of what remains so you'll know what is missing if your purse/wallet is lost or stolen.

Shopping Online Safely

December 6, 2016

The number of online shoppers in the United States is projected to surpass 200 million in 2015. The ease and convenience of shopping from just about anywhere, avoiding crowds and not having to find a place to park are just a few things that make shopping on a retailer’s website an attractive option.

However, with convenience comes caution. Concerns about payment data security and other personal information makes some consumers shy about conducting their shopping via the internet. The following tips, if practiced, can bring about a sense of security while conducting online transactions:

Take steps to shop safely

1. Be Choosy. Don’t click indiscriminately on a link that you find in an unsolicited email or pop-up advertisement. Choose only well-known websites that have an address that starts with “https” when you get to the point of providing your payment information during the purchase process.