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Cyber Alert

04/02/2019


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​I​n today’s connected world we often have no other choice but to give out our personal information. Unfortunately, that doesn’t guarantee your safety online. With the news reporting breaches at major corporations almost every week, it’s not a question of ‘if’ those impacts will hit home for you, but ‘when’.

People often ask me who is stealing this information. In most cases, the perpetrators are cyber criminals after a quick payout. A typical cyber breach will have a hacker access and extract (steal) information from a business and then attempt to sell it to organized criminal groups on the dark web. The buyers will ​generally use that information to conduct fraudulent actives like extortion or to take over your accounts for financial rewards.

The Marriott (Starwood) Breach is a fitting example where you may have already had your personal information stolen (username, password, home address, phone number, credit card info, etc.), as 500 million people w​ere affected. The most disappointing revelation from this this story is the theft likely occurred between 2014 to 2016 and it was only recently reported.

The next most common question I hear is ‘how does one protect themselves?

There is no simple answer, but here are a few tips to consider:

  1. Have a different username and password for different online activities (e.g. shopping, social media, banking, etc.)
  2. Always use 2-step verification or multi-factor authentication if it is available.
  3. Use a credit monitoring service. Examples include:
    1. Credit Karma (free)
    2. Equifax ($20 / month)
    3. TransUnion ($20 / month)
    4. Mogo (free)
  4. Follow this link to check whether your email has been ‘pawned’ (i.e. stolen). If ‘yes’, change your password for any sites that you use that email address for.

Finally, being Cyber Aware isn’t just a great practice at work but also in your personal life – whatever you do online, always keep cyber safety top of mind.