If you have ever googled yourself, a potential teammate or customer, or performed an online search, you will know that it is easy to find personal information. We live in a world that relies heavily on technology for daily activities – e.g., communication, shopping, entertainment, and banking – and, the information to carry out those activities lives online. The world-wide (spider) web is a scary place – once data lands on the web, they are stuck there forever. For IT Concepts, a GCC-High Environment firm, protecting our data and yours is our first priority.
Why should we care?
Not so long ago, common security features like multi-factor authentication systems and log-ins via facial recognition did not exist for devices, and alarm systems did not exist for homes Think of an electronic device as a house and a hacker as a burglar. “At one point, “hacking” meant literally breaking into a computer you don’t own”, says Jonathan Hammond (Chief Innovation Officer), much like a burglar breaking into a house. Today, hackers can break into phones, computers, and electronic devices even while they are physically located halfway across the world, and there are more access points for hackers to utilize. Hacking is common and constant. As technology continues to expand and advance, security measures increase, and along with them the number of hackers.
Hackers are not the only ones at fault for the public release of personal data. With the rise of social media, we unintentionally reveal personal information when posting pictures. A classic example, provided by Ariel Silbert Mandell (Senior Data Solutions Manager), is to post a picture of your high school graduation party, hosted on the front lawn of your childhood home. This example post, while providing an exciting life update, announces to the whole world your address and high school, which are answers to common security questions. Even if, after reading this, you go through your social media profiles and delete posts that reveal personal information, your posts can be retrieved at any time. Therefore, anything that is posted online will be online forever.
How do others access our information, and what do they do with it?
Have you ever received an email from your “bank” or “industry colleague” asking you to click a link? It was most likely a phishing email. Phishing is one of the most common ways people fall prey to personal data breaches. “After clicking the link, you are directed to sites with “malicious code baked into them, and they are stealing everything about your system,” warns Wyatt Smith (Solutions Architect). “Scammers often use phishing emails and links to access bank accounts, so you should automatically question” anything that looks suspicious, as advised by Timothy Larson (Director, Enterprise Processes).
In addition to hackers, online businesses value your information. Have you ever wondered how Google, YouTube, Facebook, and other large technology companies are so wealthy, while their platforms remain free to use? If you have ever searched for a product online then suddenly saw an uptick in advertisements for that product, then you have your answer. “Technology companies harvest your preferences, aggregate that information, and sell that data to advertisers”, explains Mehul Patel (Director, IT Operations).
What should you do to protect yourself?
The harsh reality is that your information is not private. However, you can be smart about data security and take steps to prevent data from falling into the wrong hands. Here are ITC-recommended steps to protecting your data:
1. Use strong passwords
- Do not use the same passwords for all of your accounts
- Use complicated passwords
- Do not use your birthday
- Do not store all of your passwords in one place
- Change your passwords frequently
- Do not use abc123
2. Be vigilant
- Regularly and meticulously check your bank accounts
- Use multi-factor authentication
- Do not respond to a suspicious message
3. If you have any doubts, do not click
- Scammers are good at making phishing emails look real, so question any message that looks suspicious
- If it sounds too good to be true, it is.
- Ignore calls from unknown numbers
- Verify the source of a suspicious message (ask your friend if they really messaged you, call your bank to double check that they sent the message, et cetera)
- Do not use the same email for all your accounts in case your email gets compromised
- Make copies of your important information
ITC | From your project’s inception to its culmination, we ensure that robust security measures are deeply embedded in our workflow. Our proactive stance in identifying and mitigating potential risks underscores our steadfast commitment to establishing a secure environment for our federal partners, fostering a sense of trust and assurance. By consistently upholding the highest standards of security, we safeguard our customers’ interests and contribute to the broader mission of fortifying the nation’s cybersecurity infrastructure.
Don’t let hackers trick you this Halloween! For more information about how to keep your data secure, please feel free to contact us. Happy Halloween from IT Concepts!