The recent National ID Fraud Awareness Week in Australia and New Zealand acted as a reminder to ensure we aren’t making ourselves easy targets for identity theft both at home and work.
We’ve all seen those e-mails and tweets tempting us to click on links, hand over personal details or cash, play a game or run .exe files that promise to clean our computer but actually load malicious software designed to collect data. And we’ll see more of them as we move closer to the holiday season.
This threat is even more prevalent with the increased use of mobile devices such as smartphones and netbooks, and social networking sites including Twitter and Facebook in both our personal and professional lives. Many organizations have not yet come to terms with the security requirements these consumer technologies bring to the workplace, but it is time they did. Consider the facts:
Recent consumerization of IT research found that 97 percent of Australian employees use at least one self-purchased technology device in the course of their work, with iPhones and PDAs topping the list. This might explain why so many organizations are not aware of what consumer technology is being used in the office.
For example, 80 percent of Aussie employees say they use VoIP at work, while organizations estimate only 55 percent of their employees use it. Also, 63 percent of employees say they are allowed to attach personal devices to their employer’s network, but only 51 percent of employers say it is permissible.
The research also found that Australian employers clearly expect a growth in their employees’ use of social networking sites at work, and 41 percent say they expect to use Twitter to conduct business activities in 12 months time (compared to 29 percent today). Yet 34 percent of Australian employers report that they have not defined guidelines for social media use in the workplace — a percentage lower than the global rate of 40 percent.
The risk is that employers who are not aware of how their IT infrastructures are being used are likely to have inadequate security technology and policies in place, putting their corporate data and their employees’ privacy at risk.
It’s not as though we aren’t aware of the risks. When asked about the security issues that concern them, Australians and New Zealanders consistently respond that identity theft and credit card fraud concern them more than any other security issue — including their own personal safety! See Unisys Security Index for Australia and New Zealand.
The good news is that the best protection comes from some very simple steps people can take offline and online for added security. These include:
1. Changing PIN or password regularly for Internet and phone banking.
2. Choosing and using hard to guess PINs or password to secure smartphones and netbooks.
3. Thinking twice before putting personal information on social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter.
4. Before downloading a new app, running an Internet search using the app’s name and “vulnerabilities” or “threats” to see if security issues have been reported.
5. Locking mail boxes to ensure that statements and other personal information aren’t stolen.
6. Getting bank and credit statements delivered electronically.
7. Reviewing all bank and credit/debit card statements for unusual transactions.
8. Not keeping bank account details and passwords in bags, purses, or wallets.
9. Shredding all private or sensitive documents.
10. Only using secure transaction methods for online shopping.
So when it comes to preventing ID fraud, be aware, proactive, and protect your identity. It’s not as hard as you think.