The June 2016 Cyber Security Report 

     

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 Fear of identity theft drives American households offline

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration recently released the results of an interesting survey. They found that the majority of American households fear identity theft, and in response, many are limiting their online activities.

According to a survey done by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), forty-five percent of households have stopped participating in certain online services such as online banking, shopping, or posting on social media because of identity theft and online security fears.

NTIA surveyed more than 40,000 American households, finding that one-fifth had suffered an online security breach, identity theft, or other online security issue during the past year. They also found that 63% of households cite identity theft as their top concern, while 45% worry about credit card and banking fraud.

While being cautious on the Internet can be good for your security, we should not completely abandon using the Internet out of fear. The aim of the Savvy Cybersecurity program is to help improve online security, so we can feel protected when using the Internet.

Instead of completely logging off and disconnecting, let's take back control.

Lock down social media

It's a good to think twice before posting on social media, but you shouldn't fear communicating with friends and family on your accounts.

If you're worried about posting on social media, you should review your privacy settings and make sure you have them on the toughest settings. Only allow your friends to see what you share and make sure all of your profiles are private. It's also a good idea to review your social media "friends" and make sure you are comfortable with them seeing your posts.

 Remember, improving your social media privacy settings is Savvy Cybersecurity Principle #2.

Shop in peace

With the number of data breaches in the news, it's understandable that you may be concerned about using your credit or debit card for any sort of purchase—whether online or in a store. In today's world, however, it's nearly impossible to avoid using plastic. A good way to protect yourself from fraudulent purchases is to sign up for instant text or email alerts for your payment cards (Savvy Cybersecurity Principle #8).

By doing so, you will receive an email or text anytime a charge or withdrawal is made on your account. You'll know right away if a fraudulent purchase is made and can contact your bank or credit card company immediately to limit your losses.

You can sign up for these alerts online. If you have trouble, contact your bank or credit card company for assistance.

Protect your online bank account

We're quick to share our email address when we buy something online or want to subscribe to a new online newsletter. And we tend to use that same email address for our online banking.

But doing so puts us at risk. Weekly, online databases are hacked and our email addresses are exposed. When we use that same email address for online banking, we make it easier for hackers to get at our sensitive financial accounts.

To enjoy the convenience of online banking but still protect your identity, consider creating a financial-only secret email address. This new email address should only be used for your most important financial accounts and should not include any identifying information. This way, the email address associated with your bank account won’t be found anywhere else on the Internet. Your online banking security won't be at risk if LinkedIn is breached. Creating a secret email address is a quick and easy way to reduce your digital footprint and boost your online banking security.

The best thing you can do for your security

The Internet provides us with many benefits. We can communicate with loved ones far away, research topics that interest us, and buy almost anything with a click. But unfortunately, with the good comes the not so good. Hackers and cybercriminals launch attacks at us every day to compromise our identities.

But we don't need to turn off our Internet forever. We can enjoy being online while staying cautious. And to best protect your identity, you need to freeze your credit.

A credit freeze locks your credit file with a PIN. In order to access your credit file or apply for new credit, the freeze must be lifted by providing the PIN. Price varies per state, but it usually costs $10/per action. This fee is waived for any proven identity theft victim.

To freeze your credit, you will need to contact each of the three credit bureaus individually. 

Equifax
Equifax, Inc
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
866-349-5191
Freeze
Experian
Experian, Inc
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
888-397-3742
Freeze
TransUnion
TransUnion LLC
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000
888-909-8872
Freeze

It's always a good idea to think twice before posting, buying, or clicking a link. But by implementing these actions and others in the Savvy Cybersecurity program, you can use the Internet safely and without constant fear.

Emerging threat: 117 million LinkedIn logins posted online

Have you changed your LinkedIn password since 2012? If you haven't (or aren't sure) you probably want to stop what you're doing and change it right now.

In 2012, LinkedIn suffered a hack that exposed usernames and passwords of millions of users. That database is now reportedly being sold online for about $2,200. The encryption used to store the passwords is weak and most passwords could be un-encrypted in less than three days.

To err on the side of caution, go change your LinkedIn password now. And make sure it’s a good one. 

Cybersecurity shorts

SEC calls cybersecurity the biggest threat to the global financial system. The Securities and Exchange Commission released a statement last week calling cybersecurity the biggest threat to Wall Street. Their announcement follows the $81 million Bangladesh Bank hack. The SEC plans to continue examinations of broker-dealers and investment advisors.

Half of U.S. adults believe they will suffer a financial loss in the next year from identity theft, according to the American Institute of CPAs. The study also found that one in five people were victims of identity theft or attempted identity theft. While 75% of affected people contacted their card companies as a result, only 29% placed a security freeze on their credit files. Again, a security freeze is the best thing you can do to protect your identity from future attacks.

Payroll company ADP hit by tax fraudsters. ADP provides payroll and benefits administration to over 600,000 companies. Last month, the company began investigating possible unauthorized access to its clients' W-2 information. Employees at about a dozen firms were affected. ADP says that to access the accounts, the thieves needed the name, birth dates, and Social Security numbers of the victims, which did not come from their systems. They believe the hackers must have gotten that information elsewhere.