By Bob Milliken
While many people buy their significant other a box of decadent chocolates, a dozen red roses or an oversize teddy bear for Valentine’s Day, there are a few people who are going to go home with a broken heart as their personal information is stolen right from under them.
Valentine’s Day creates a massive playground for spammers and cybercriminals because most of these valentine items are easily and cheaply available online. “One of the largest spam-points of the year is traditionally the time around Valentine’s Day, because cyber criminals do not miss the chance to promote traditional gifts like flowers, chocolates or jewelry at seemingly unbeatable prices,” says Christian Funk, virus analyst with Kaspersky Lab.
It’s a harsh reality, but both individuals and businesses are constantly targeted by fraudsters and hackers who want to steal any bit of data that will make them money. In 2014, social media accounts, such as Twitter, became more valuable to hackers than credit cards. These types of accounts are hot commodities on black markets.
The risks range from annoying to highly dangerous. As inboxes are filled with emails offering us champagne and chocolates, jewelry and romantic breaks for two, it can be difficult to distinguish the ones selling fake goods or fraudulent offers. Some emails with tempting offers are even more threatening, redirecting you to a website where your personal details can be stolen.
Another category of risk and often the most harmful is the inclusion of malicious attachments in electronic greeting cards. Valentine’s Day e-cards may lack the romance of a handcrafted original, but at least they will arrive on time, and who could resist opening such a card?
You may have taken all the precautions to protect yourself and your business – but what do you do if it does happen? Just as when a lover breaks your heart, you have to move on, get back on your feet and work your way through this unfortunate circumstance.
Once your data is stolen, it’s gone. Credit cards can be canceled, but other information, such as your name, address, social security number, passport and more, can be more difficult to control.
If you do fall victim to a data breach, you can still protect yourself!
Contact your credit card companies. Let them know you suspect your credit card info has been compromised. They will work with you to ensure you don’t face financial losses.
Fantastic offer? If an offer seems too good to be true – it probably is!
Keep a close eye on all your accounts. Watch for suspicious activity and report it when you see it.
Change your passwords. This is particularly critical if you use a single password for multiple services.
Use a credit-monitoring service. They aren’t designed to prevent data from being stolen, but in the event of a breach, you’ll be notified immediately so you can take action.
Does that mean you should be worried with all the information you have stored online? Absolutely not! Common sense rules apply here! Give us a call at 604-270-1730 and we’ll put together a plan to keep your company’s data secure.
Bob Milliken is the president of Cascadia Systems Group.
Connect with Bob at TheITguy@CascadiaSystemsGroup.com, or give us a call – 604.270.1730.
Your comments are appreciated – ComputerCents@CascadiaSystemsGroup.com