Information thieves love the holidays. With so many workplaces shutting down and an increase in remote working, there are more opportunities than ever to steal confidential data from companies and individuals.
Here’s what everyone needs to do to protect themselves before the holidays.
- Get Up-to-Speed on all the Holiday Scams. Information thieves send fake Season’s Greetings cards that contain viruses and spyware. They pose as legitimate-looking companies (banks, credit card companies, charitable organizations and delivery service companies) with urgent calls-to-action that lead to fraudulent websites or malicious downloads. Install IT safeguards, and be on the look-out for these incoming scams (there are often grammar and spelling mistakes). Also, always check the legitimacy of senders before opening any file attachments and URLs. Never send credit card or account numbers by email or give personal data to ‘friends’ and ‘colleagues’ that you don’t really know.
- Protect Confidential Information on Social Media Websites. Do not post holiday travel plans or any identifying information on social media websites. Criminals research these sites for information they can use in phishing, theft, and other criminal activities.
- Safeguard Mobile Devices. Strengthen passwords and activate data encryption on all the mobile devices and removable drives you will use over the holidays. Passwords (on all devices and accounts) should be a long string of characters that incorporate numerals, letters, and symbols. Update operating and other software, and install any patches immediately. Minimize the amount of information stored on a mobile device to only what is needed for work. If there’s a new laptop under the tree, enable the built-in security measures or download security apps before going online.
- Change Unsafe Work Habits. No matter where you end up working (in an airport lounge, in a coffee shop, or at a family member’s house), you have to protect confidential data. Be aware of who might be watching or listening, and put work away or change seats if need be. Protect mobile devices by never leaving them unattended and keeping them locked when they’re not in use. Be aware of fake Internet hotspots when using free Wi-Fi at a coffee shop, train station, or other public place. For transmitting confidential data, use a virtual private network (VPN) or password-protected Wi-Fi network. Turn off the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity when not being used.
- Leave a Clean Desk. Follow a Clean Desk Policy and leave the workplace tidy and free of easy-to-access confidential data. Lock away mobile devices, turn off all computers, and lock drawers and offices if possible.Securely destroy confidential data on paper and hard drives (do not put it into the garbage or recycling container).
If a skeleton staff is left in the workplace, there is an increased risk of insider fraud and possibly theft by outsiders. Help prevent a data breach with clear security policies, on-going training, an anonymous fraud hotline, and scheduled secure destruction services.
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To learn more about how Shred-it can protect your documents and hard drives, please contact us to get a free quote and security risk assessment.