The recent cyber attack on Equifax, one of the largest credit reporting agencies in the U.S., will have a ripple effect for years to come. What can you do about it? Here are two actions you should take immediately:
The Equifax attack may have compromised 143 million people. The breach itself occurred between mid-May and July 2017 when cyber criminals gained access to sensitive data by exploiting a weak point in website software. As a result of the attack, sensitive information like Social Security numbers, birthdays, addresses and driver's license numbers were compromised. In addition, Equifax said 209,000 credit card numbers were stolen, including information from international customers in Canada and the United Kingdom.
If you are concerned that you may have been impacted by the breach, Equifax has set up a website to help individuals determine if any of their personal information may have been stolen. Here is how to check to find out if you have been compromised:
If you have been impacted by the breach, experts recommend engaging in a credit freeze. This effectively locks down your Social Security number on your credit report and prevents criminals from opening up new lines of credit under your name. For more information on credit freezes, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website.
Additionally, you should review your online bank and credit card statements on a weekly basis. This will help you monitor any suspicious activity. Contact law enforcement officials if you believe criminals have used your stolen information in some way.
Finally, beware of scams that exploit the Equifax breach. For example, one scam involves a caller claiming to be from Equifax asking to verify your account information. Be on the lookout for such calls and don’t share your information with them. If you’ve already received a call that you think is fake, report it to the FTC.
Enroll in a reliable credit monitoring services which notifies you of any changes to your credit profile. Be sure to pay attention to any alerts you receive.
Place a 90-day fraud alert with one of the three credit bureaus. They automatically notify each other, so placing with one bureau places it with all three.
Keep your software up-to-date. Use a firewall as well as cyber security software, such as antivirus and antispyware, that will scan for computer security threats and uninstall them. Ensure all of your protection measures, as well as your operating system and software, are up to date. Also, change your passwords every 90 days for better information security.
Buyer beware. Before submitting credit card information online, look at the URL to ensure you're on a HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) site. Be wary if a site requires information that isn't necessary for a transaction.
Secure your laptop. With the proper software installed, stolen laptops can be tracked to a physical location if they are connected to the Internet. Other software gives you remote access to your computer with the ability to erase your files or send them to a secure data center for recovery via the web.
Don’t fall for scams and spam. Always question the legitimacy of emails and social networking messages that ask for money or personal information. Spear phishing attacks mimic communications from a business to persuade you to divulge personal information. Legitimate business won't contact you to verify your account.
Be careful on social networks. Public profiles on social networking sites put you at risk by exposing information, such as your birth date, hometown, employment history, etc., that a criminal could use to pose as you. Use privacy settings to ensure your personal information isn't public knowledge.
For more information on protecting personal information from cyber attacks and other threats download our infographic. This is a great resource to share with employees, co-workers, family, and friends.
You can also learn more about protecting your personal and financial information by visiting the Associated Bank Security Center.
If you are looking for more information on how to protect your organization from cyber security threats, see our recent article on social engineering fraud, which reports the staggering statistic from the FBI that between January 2015 and December 2016 where there was a 2,370 percent increase in identified exposed losses by social engineering.
For more information about identity theft and related issues, please contact us.
The world is different than it once was. It used to be that you needed a 30-foot phone cord to take the phone into another room just so you could have a little privacy, and that when you left work, you really left work, since there wasn’t any way to login remotely.
Nowadays, technological advances have made us truly mobile by enabling us to stay connected 24/7/365. While the workplace impact of 24/7 connectivity has meant that employee productivity has been on the rise, along with it comes challenges that couldn’t have been imagined even 15 years ago.
With massive data breaches at organizations such as Target, Dairy Queen, and JPMorgan, businesses are becoming more aware of the threat of hackers and external threats to their data. And while it’s important to protect yourself from such exposures, history has shown that the real enemy lies within our own companies. Don’t believe it?
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