The holiday season is fast approaching, and individuals and businesses alike are winding down and preparing for a relaxing end to the year. However, one group of people are beginning to pick up the pace, eager to work throughout the holidays and exploit what they have to offer.

Do you know how valuable you are? Identity thieves do!

Every year thousands of Canadians have their identities stolen. Criminals use stolen personal information to commit identity crimes. This can leave their victims with a bad credit rating and impact their ability to gain finance, run a business, or access government services.

Once your identity is stolen it can take a long time to recover. We have created a list of top identity security tips to help keep you and your information safe.

1. Ensure your passwords are strong and secure

Use multi-factor authentication where possible. Regularly change passwords, and do not share them.

Multi-factor authentication requires users to provide multiple pieces of information to authenticate themselves – for example, a text message sent to your phone when logging in to a website.

An additional layer of security on your accounts can make it harder for others to access your account.

Strong passwords with a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols also make your accounts harder to hack.

2. Ensure all devices have the latest available security updates

Run weekly anti-virus and malware scans and have up-to-date security software.

Instances of malicious software (malware) are increasing. It can be easy to accidentally click on an email or website link which can infect your computer.

In some instances, your device may be impacted by ransomware. Ransomware can:

  • Lock your computer until you pay a fee to criminals
  • Install software which provides access to your bank accounts, allowing criminals to steal your money.

3. Use a spam filter on your email account

Always use a spam filter on your email account and do not open unsolicited messages.

Be wary of downloading attachments or opening email links you receive, even if they are from someone you know.

Spam emails can be:

  • Embedded with malware
  • Used to trick you into providing information or buying non-legitimate goods.

Do not respond to or click on these emails. This can help you reduce the risk of your personal information being used fraudulently, or your computer being infected with malware.

4. Secure your wireless network

Be vigilant when using public wireless networks. Avoid making online transactions while using public or complimentary wi-fi.

Not all wi-fi access points are secure. By making online transactions (such as online banking) on an unsecure network, you can put your information and money at risk.

5. Be vigilant about what you share on social media

Keep personal information private and be aware of who you are interacting with.

People are accustomed to sharing personal information on social media. However, before sharing ask yourself if it is information you want strangers to have access to.

It is very easy for information on social media sites to be shared outside of your network, even when your security settings are set to private.

Be sure you know who you are speaking to on social media, and only share information with people you know and trust.

Criminals can use certain combinations of your personal information to impersonate you to access money, apply for credit cards and bank loans, or commit crimes.

6. Treat your personal information like cash

Do not leave your personal information lying around. If your personal information is stolen, it is very difficult to get back.

Keep your personal information private. Only share it when you are required to, and only share it through authorized processes and to authorized people.

7. Monitor your accounts for unusual activity or transactions

Check your accounts (including bank accounts, digital portals and social media) for transactions or interactions you did not make, or content you did not post.

If an organization you deal with sends you an email alerting you to unexpected changes on your account, do not:

  • Click on included hyperlinks
  • Open any attachments

You should immediately:

  • Check your account
  • contact the organization by phone

8. Ensure your mail is secure

Ensure your mail is secure and consider using a secure PO Box.

Mail theft is a leading cause of personal information security breaches.

9. Do not download programs or open attachments

Some programs contain malware that can infect your computer, or be used to harvest your personal information.

Be sure you are downloading authorized and legitimate programs. Unless you know the program is legitimate, do not open attachments or download it.

10. Do not leave your information unattended

Secure your electronic devices wherever you are. Your personal information can be taken in an instant. In some situations, you won’t even know it was stolen.

Make sure you:

  • Do not leave electronic devices unattended
  • Secure your electronic devices with passcodes
  • Securely store portable storage devices (such as thumb and hard drives) when not in use.

There’s a clear spike in cybercriminal activity in the holiday season aimed at individuals and businesses. While security becomes particularly real and important for many during this period, the truth is that cybersecurity is a year-round responsibility. It requires a constant analysis of a businesses risk profile and the new methods being used to target customers.

About Rhyno Cybersecurity

Here at Rhyno, we work seamlessly with company leaders and their staff, helping to bridge internal divides that can weaken an organization’s security framework.

Our Rhyno Cloud(TM) is an enterprise solution that allows you get fully-managed cloud hosting, backup & disaster recovery, cyber-attack protection, monitoring and cleanup, CMS updates and top-notch technical support for a fixed monthly cost.

Rhyno8 is a fully-managed cybersecurity awareness training with real-time social engineering attack simulations.

Check us out at https://rhyno.io for more information.

Dan Duran – CTO