It may be hard to envision that a child's toy could be used to access your personal information, yet this happens frequently. What about that trash can outside? It could be an invaluable stash for identity thieves who prowl around at night.
Identity theft can happen to a variety of everyday items, often overlooked due to people's focus on computers and cloud accounts. To protect your device, use strong passwords and antivirus software; additionally, be aware of possible ways hackers and thieves could access your personal information.
These are six common ways criminals can obtain your personal information.
Old Smart Phones
Every two and half years, people upgrade their smartphones. This leaves a large number of old phones with personal data stored on them.
Consider all the information our mobile phones store. Not only have they synced with cloud services, but you can also store banking apps, business apps and personal health applications on them - all on one device!
Smartphones have become more capable of holding more data due to chip technology. This means spreadsheets and documents can now be stored on smartphones as well as countless photos and videos.
An old smartphone could be the target of data thieves. Many end up in recycling bins or charity shops, so make sure all data is erased from any devices before disposing them correctly. Electronics should never be thrown away with regular garbage.
These printers can be wirelessly connected, making them part of your home or workplace network. Printing from another room is convenient, and wireless printing offers several advantages.
Printers store sensitive documents such as contracts and tax paperwork. Unfortunately, printers often go overlooked when it comes to data security measures - making them vulnerable targets for hackers who could potentially gain access to sensitive data from the printer itself or even other devices on the same network.
You can protect your printers by making sure their firmware is up-to-date. Install updates as soon as possible and turn off when not in use; this makes them inaccessible to hackers.
Sticks for USB
Have you ever come across a USB stick lying around? You might have mistakenly assumed it to be free. As the good Samaritan, however, you might wish to return the device to its rightful owner. But in order to locate them, first inspect the item.
Unknown USB devices should never be plugged into your computer. Hackers know this trick well and often place malware on the sticks as bait, ready to infect your device as soon as it's plugged in.
Old Hard Drives
Before removing your computer, make sure it is clean. Simply deleting files may not be enough - other personal data could still be stored on its hard drives in program and system files.
You could be vulnerable if you're still logged in to a browser. Browsers store passwords and credit card info, as well as visit history.
To effectively erase your computer's hard drive, it is best to consult an IT specialist. Doing so will enable it to be disposed of, donated, or reused again.
Identity thieves aren't just online; they could also be out on trash day in your neighborhood. Be mindful of what goes into your trash to protect yourself from becoming a target.
It is not unheard-of for garbage to be used as an instrument of identity theft. You might find preapproved credit card offers in your trash, which contain valuable information thieves can use to steal your identity or commit fraudulence.
Shredders can be invaluable in these circumstances. Before discarding personal documents, ensure they've been destroyed for security purposes. Taking extra steps now could save money in case of an unfortunate accident down the line.
IoT Devices for Children
Hackers love electronic bears, smart kids watches and Wi-Fi connected Barbies... Mattel's Hello Barbie was recently discovered to enable theft of personal data. Furthermore, hackers could spy on families using the microphone feature of these products.
These toys are often the best for kids. Parents may think these gadgets are cool, but they don't consider how vulnerable their data may be if these toys are intended solely for use by children. Unfortunately, IoT (Internet of Things) toys can easily be compromised, leaving cybercriminals with plenty of targets to choose from.
Be wary of any internet-connected devices you bring into your home, including toys! Make sure all firmware updates are installed and research whether there has been a data breach.
Get a Home Security Audit and Enjoy Better Sleep at Night
Don't let identity theft keep you up at night. Reach out to us today to arrange an audit of your home's IT security measures; you'll be glad that you did.