It’s Really Me … Or Maybe Not
It’s October 31, and you doze off while watching Halloween, waiting for trick-or-treaters to arrive.
The bell rings and you open up the door to see the masked faces of your visitors. There’s one with an Evil Clown mask. There’s a Jurassic dinosaur and Chewbacca and … what’s that other one? It looks familiar. Now that it’s in the light, you yell in terror as you recognize the face: it’s YOU!
Fortunately, your own scream wakes you up. Then you realize that you’ve just experienced an identity theft nightmare.
The nightmare of identity theft affects tens of millions of people every year. It disrupts lives, damages reputations, creates financial loss and provides a cloak of anonymity to criminals.
The global 2017 Unisys Security Index™ reports that 65 percent of those surveyed say they are seriously concerned about identity theft. They have good reason for concern.
Protecting yourself from identity theft is a challenge that pits you against an unknown collection of criminals. Some work alone, but many are part of organized gangs whose attacks span the range from straightforward to sophisticated.
You may not even know that you are the victim of identity theft until you see withdrawals from your bank account that you can’t explain, receive a bill for repayment of a loan to finance a degree at a college you never attended, discover that your medical records show a condition you don’t have or encounter other mysterious events.
You can’t completely prevent identity theft. However, you can take steps to reduce your risk.
Here’s a starting point:
- Be wary of social engineering attacks. If you get a call from the FBI threatening to arrest you and demanding information, remember that the FBI does not call private citizens threatening arrest or requesting money. If you get an email from “Wells Farg0” asking you to verify your account information, be very, very suspicious. In general, don’t respond to unsolicited requests for personal information (your name, birthdate, Social Security number or bank account number) by phone, mail, or online.
- Be cautious about what you reveal on Facebook and other online communities.
- Only give out your Social Security Number when absolutely necessary. Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write your number on your checks.
- Enable two-factor authentication and other security features on your mobile devices.
- Place a hold on your mail when you are away from home for more than a few days, and collect your mail promptly when home.
- Avoid unencrypted connections when connecting to the Internet from a hotel, coffee shop, airport or other public place.
Let’s put this into the perspective of your ClearPath Forward® systems. On one hand, publicly available NIST data in the National Vulnerability Database, which has compiled vulnerabilities since 1997, shows ClearPath® servers with fewer vulnerabilities than other system types, with no user data compromised.
On the other hand, a criminal who has stolen your identity doesn’t need to exploit system vulnerabilities to get to your data. The system and the applications that run on it think it’s you.
Even when the safest servers in the world protect your data, you still need to guard your identity.
Here are some additional resources to help you:
Curiously, none of the identity theft advice goes so far as to recommend, “Don’t open your door to small strangers wearing masks,” but that’s one for you to consider based on context.