6 Things That Will Protect Your Personal Information
Over the last year I have had the privilege to present concepts and methods that safeguard your information, prevent infection of malware & ransomware, and teach simple security concepts to executives, employees, teachers, parents and students. I honestly believe there should be a mandatory course in schools/companies that teach them basic cyber security, how to recognize threats, and what to do if they’re not sure about something that affects security of information.
So lets dive into a few common sense practices in everyday live you should be doing:
- Putting personal information into websites that request it – Always make sure when inputting personal information that you are;
– On a trusted website – make sure you spelled the domain name correctly and you are where you intended to be. Many hackers buy domains for misspelled domains to fool users into giving them personal information.
– The website is secure using HTTPS not HTTP in the address line and that it has a valid certificate. Most modern web browsers will warn you about invalid certificates before loading the page and ask your permission. Do not submit information on an unsecured website.
– Never give out your Drivers License Number or Social Security Number on-line. Do not email this information ever.
– Do not use the same username and/or password for every website
- Never use your Debit Card PIN in public unless you have no other choice – The most common kind of fraud happens right in your neighborhood, at the local ATM, Gas Station or Fast Food place. With smart phones everywhere, stealing someone’s credit card is as simple as taking a picture front and back of your card when you hand it to someone to pay a tab for lunch, dinner or a store. Always check for a camera on the ceiling that has a direct view of the ATM keypad. If it does, go somewhere else. Every Gas station has the ability to pull up transactions at the pump inside. If they are monitoring for PIN code entry, they have everything they need to steal from you. Always choose credit. You will get the added protections that Visa and MasterCard provide as well as the fraud monitoring of these companies which operate over and above the bank. If a thief obtains your Debit Card Number and PIN they will have access to your Accounts linked to that card. As a credit card purchase is executed, other information would be needed to validate the purchase, name as shown on card, billing address, phone number, etc. Fraud could still be committed using a Credit Card, but on a much smaller scale and a higher chance of being caught. You will also have the additional protection from Card Services for the Credit Card.
- Never click on links provided in email from Financial Institutions, Delivery Services or Service Providers – This is the most common trap people fall into that allows malware and ransomware to be installed on personal and company computers globally. If you have reason to believe there is a real issue, then go to that provider’s website directly, login there and see for yourself. Do not use the links provided no matter how real it looks. Play it safe. Real or not, you will never go wrong using this method. Otherwise you are taking a risk, and it only takes one time for it happen. Then it will affect your life in ways you can’t measure. When in doubt, notify your IT personnel so they can verify it and notify others if it is a phishing scam. Knowledge and Awareness are priceless.
- Never Answer Circulated Personal Questionnaires about your life and/or Interests – Everyone has seen a post or two circulating on various social media sites by our kids,” What your favorite color? What’s your Birthday? What’s your pet’s name? etc… These are created and monitored by hackers. Notice that these resemble most security questions meant to protect your passwords?
- How to Detect if a fake card reader is being used at a gas pump or ATM – I see this happening every week on our NextDoor app. Here is a simple way to tell if a fake card reader is installed; Try squeezing the reader or moving it. If it can be squeezed, or is loose and wiggles. Report it to the store manager so they can check it and go else where. I had this happen to me at a Shell gas station near my home. I could easily wiggle and squeeze it. It came off in my hand and was installed over the actual reader with a small transmitter. I put it back and reported it to the store manager who dismissed me and was unconcerned. I then called the Harris County Sheriff and gave them my info. I received a call in about 25 minutes thanking me for the tip. They found them on 4 pumps and believed the attendant I spoke to was in on it. It happens everywhere, Be careful and check before scanning your card. When in doubt, report it and go somewhere else.
These are more things you can do and most involve common sense when giving out information or using your credit cards. Most importantly, teach your children how to use the Internet safely and responsibly. Remember that the information they share irresponsibly is more than likely information you use to secure your access to important things.
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