Cybercrime is not something that only targets big companies. Data breaches, identity theft, and cyber attacks can impact any individual or organization whenever they are not vigilant and leave their guard down. Is your Cyber secure?
There is the “data” you as an individual or small business owner have control over, and there are the big companies that you intersect online with; banks, credit card companies, and even your suppliers.
We all do business with the big companies who we trust to keep our data secure and private, but how can we check on ourselves to see if what we are doing every day is secure?
Here are five key questions to ask which will show you if there is anything that would leave you at risk from a cyber attack.
Q 1: Are your passwords really secure?
Do you have one password for everything; social media and banking included, just because it’s easier to remember?
Do you sign in on public computers, in hotels, libraries or your favorite coffee shop? Do you share a workstation, or is there any place someone could watch you type in a password? ATM machines are the latest hotspots; beware of something unobtrusive attached to the card slot!
If you were a cyber-criminal, how easy would it be to access your passwords? Are they as easily accessible to someone else as they are to you? I know people who list all their passwords in a folder on their computer where it sits until they need it or update it! Of course, if they get hacked…..there’s that nice juicy file waiting….
When a stranger has access to your computer they can leave a trail of unsavory websites visited, which later could come back to haunt you; just think this one through. It actually happened to a business associate of mine!
Q2: Do you ever give out your social security number online?
Do you ever give out your social security number in an online form, or on the phone to a person who is not personally known to you?
With a social security number your identity can be stolen. I know a small business owner who had a former employee apply for credit cards in the employers name (using the SS number and an approximation of her signature). After the former employee ran up 60K on two credit cards cards and failed to make a payment, the card companies contacted the small business owner, who had no clue this had happened! It took five years to get this sorted out, even unsatisfactorily!
Q3: How many spam offer emails do you fall for?
As the cliché says: when it’s too good to be true, it usually is! You’ve all received those Nigerian bank offers which are obvious in their fakery, but what about an offer from Amazon or Walmart for a “thank you” gift card for $100 when you’ve just been on a shopping binge?
It’s easy to check the offer number in the Amazon account and when it’s not right, delete the spam email. If you can’t check it, delete and be safe. All these offers which sound too good to be true, can be bait to lure you into an “unsafe” website where you could contract a virus, or personal data stolen and misused!
Best case, you get tagged as “sucker” and receive zillions more junk/spam email!
Q4: Do you check out websites before you fill out online forms or surveys?
Do you ever wonder why a website form wants so much information from you, when all you are buying is a box of nails? Have you checked your browser ‘cookie’ settings to see who you are allowing to collect data on you?
How about surveys? Suddenly it seems the whole world has gone mad to collect your feedback on a survey…..are these companies you routinely do business with and know that they are a trusted source? Free gifts and prizes to lure you into the survey game may result in something you had not bargained for!
Q5: Who is collecting data on you?
This is a hard one to answer unless you accept the fact that just about everyone is.
When you shop at Costco are they creating a “shopping profile” on you? If you are buying “unhealthy food” …those giant bags of chips for example, could this data (about you) later be made available, sold or show up in a search when you are applying for health insurance, or worse yet even a job? I’m not saying Costco is doing this, but it’s a mindset prevalent today in the realm of BigData.
There is probably not much you can do other than be aware; everything you do which can become part of a data collection profile on you might at some point be revealed….so you ask “what about those privacy policies“ companies are so fast to send you? Well, what about them? Have you noticed how many have been hacked recently, including a health conglomerate only this past week?
A common assumption is that cyber-criminals prefer going after the big fish rather than small businesses. Lots of small easy targets mean easy money for cyber-criminals, and perhaps act as a warm-up before the big game.
If you ask each of the questions above and get an inkling that maybe you are not as secure as you thought you were, you can take the next step and research solutions or change your everyday modus operandi when it comes to navigating the online and social media world.Special thanks to Dawn Kristy who inspired this post.