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Webenergy Blog

Security in an online world. Do you trust your friends?

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You hear about it every day. Someone, somewhere has been hacked or had their account password comprimised. In today's digital world it can bring the average person to their knees and bring their business to a grinding halt. You ask yourself why anyone wants to take what you have? You don't have lots of money in the bank, you're barely getting by and you're just using your tap and pay at the local fast food chain!

The answer is simple, people want your information! Your information is more valuable than your money. By hacking your account, thieves have access to your personal interests, history, phone number, name, email address, physical address and the most damaging......... personal information on your family, friends and colleagues in your contact list.

Tell me how you would react if your friend got their phone hacked and your address, telephone number and email address was in their phone? Then the spam texts, emails and phone calls start. The hackers look up your information and find out you are a bigwig at a bank and have a nice house. What's the next step? It isn't pleasant to think like this, but it happens every day. So, here's your personal information on Jack's or Jill's 4 year old phone that isn't even protected with a password. You of course have the latest phone with 8k encryption and a strong password to protect your information because you do your best to keep you and your family safe. Meanwhile Jack or Jill took your information at a trade show on their unsecure device and then took it to the office and sync'd it to the cloud and then shared it with 100 other people in their organization. A criminal got hold of your information and starts to research you on social media. It's not how you want to think, but again this is reality and happens every day.

So, you have many things to be concerned about. Your online accounts with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Ebay (Which I'm sure you use a different email address and password for each right?), online banking, credit cards, Netflix, Hulu....... the list can be almost endless to the amount of online accounts for services today. You saved your login information so you can login fast to these services because remembering passwords is such a pain. You have the login information saved on your browser on your phone, tablet, laptop that syncs with the cloud. You will trust your personal information to Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon but you won't give your credit card information to shop online at the discount shoe warehouse because you never heard of them before.

It's time to start thinking 3 to 5 steps ahead. Chess players are already used to this! Ask questions about where your personal information will be stored? On what device? Is there security on that device? Will the information be shared? Say you meet Jill at a trade show. She wants to take your personal info to contact you later. You ask the following questions:

  1. Where is my information going to be stored?
  2. How many people will have access to my information?
  3. Do you store personal information on the cloud? If so, which one?
  4. What kind of security are on the devices that will store my information?
  5. Will my information go on email or mailing lists?
  6. How long do you retain personal information?

At a tradeshow it's common for the organizer to give you a device to scan visitor information. Once the tradeshow is over, the organizer emails the exhibitor a list of people with their contact info the device scanned. What does the tradeshow organizer do with the information they collect?

So now let's review the ways to porotect yourself. Yes, there are several ways you can still have control over the information you provide. Here are some good common practices:

  • Create an email account at gmail.com, outlook.com or yahoo.com. Give this email out at tradeshows etc. You can always give out your real email address later on if you want to establish a relationship with the person or company.
  • Don't give out your home address! I mean who needs your home address nowdays? Yes, you will need to give out your address when you buy online etc of course. But, the average person and even your friends don't need to store your home address on their phones.
  • Don't use tap & pay on your debit or credit cards! Yes, there are apps out there can steal your information because the communication between your card and the terminal isn't encrypted. Use ApplePay instead if you have an iPhone.
  • NEVER save passwords for any financial institution on your phone or tablet. Remember your password and log in each time.
  • Don't use Bluetooth for anything but audio. Hands-free, speakers, headsets. Bluetooth communication is not encrypted and should not be used to transmit data.
  • Use a password app like Password Keeper to store login information for all the sites you have accounts for. You only need to remember 1 password to access Password Keeper.
  • When shopping at a store make sure you cover your PIN number when paying by credit or debit card. Also, try to stand between you and the store camera. You don't want your PIN on camera do you?
  • Set a reminder to change your passwords once a season at minimum. This is a very good habit to get into.

If you want to see if any of your email addresses, passwords or online accounts have been compromised, check out haveibeenpwned.com. this site keeps up to date with the latest data breaches from North America.

As always, Webenergy is on top of security and practices what we preach. If you need a security consultation for your business, feel free to contact us!

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