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More Smartphone Security Tips

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Part 2 of a 2-Part Series

This week, we continue our coverage about Smartphone security by focusing on the final five steps you should take to safeguard your cellphone. For the first five tips, check out our previous post. Most people guard their computers more carefully than their mobile phones. So a good rule of thumb is to treat your Smartphone as a very powerful mini-computer that makes phone calls.

Most Smartphone owners store lots of sensitive data. And chaos ensues if a thief gets his or her hands on the data. If you take steps to protect your phone, losing it will be a minor annoyance instead of a major catastrophe.

Here are the final 5 steps you should take to safeguard your Smartphone (the first five tips appear in last week’s post):

6. Close Bluetooth connections.

When a hacker exploits an open Bluetooth connection, it’s called Bluejacking, Bluesnarfing or Bluebugging. This type of hack requires intruders to be in close proximity to the phone they are hacking (within 30 feet of the device). But be aware that your Smartphone could be hacked via the active Bluetooth connection whenever you’re in a busy airport, hotel lobby, restaurant, or hotel…to name a few hacker hotspots.

7. Make sure the free apps you download are actually free.

Some Apps that are labeled “free,” but are actually thinly-disguised data theft devices. Downloading one of these applications gives the app complete access to your phone. Thieves can use the app to steal data such as credit card and bank account info. What’s more, these apps can turn your phone into a launch pad which scammers use to attack other peoples’ data relative to SMS text messages and Smishing scams. Be smart and discreet about what you download. Read reviews first. And make sure the apps you download come from reliable sources.

8. Don’t store sensitive data.

Do you store passwords, pins, Social Security numbers, credit card or bank account information on your Smartphone? If so, delete it all today. Whether you have created a document expressly for this purpose, or sent yourself an email from your home computer, you should never store important information on your phone. Criminals are adept at detecting hidden information such as credit card numbers hidden inside Contact notes or entered as phone numbers.  Believe it or not, even if you try to disguise sensitive data, adept thieves will be able to crack the code. So make sure you delete all documents and emails containing sensitive information.

9. Clear browser histories.

Not clearing the browser history on your phone can be just as dangerous as staying logged into the website of your bank or your favorite online store. Phone thieves could use your browsing history to hijack accounts, steal your money and wreak havoc on your financial future. Here are links that walk you through deleting your history on an iPhone or an Android.

10. When in doubt, purge it out.

You might be surprised by how many people fail to remove sensitive personal data from their Smartphones before exchanging, donating or selling it. The only way to entirely eliminate the data on your phone would be to physically shred the device. If this sounds a little severe to you, you may prefer securely deleting the data, which is relatively easy to do.

Your identity is your most important asset. So take precautionary steps to vigorously defend and protect it. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services helps commercial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning training system motivates and rewards tenants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!

Are You Smart About Your Smartphone?

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Part 1 of a 2-Part Series

If you’re among the 46 percent of people in the world who own a Smartphone, you’ve likely experienced the panic that sets in when you think you’ve lost it. Whether the phone ultimately proved to be temporarily misplaced or if it permanently vanished, you had legitimate cause for alarm. After all, the amount of sensitive data most users store on their phones is astounding—direct access to savings and checking accounts storage of personal passwords for social media and email accounts, contact information for friends and colleagues. What’s more, even if you guard your phone with your life, the information contained on it could potentially be hacked or compromised by a virus when you are using a public wi-fi connection.

According to data released by Find My Smartphone by Lookout, which allows Smartphone users to track missing phones, the top 10 cities most at risk for lost or stolen phones include:

  1. Philadelphia, PA
  2. Seattle, WA
  3. Oakland, CA
  4. Long Beach, CA
  5. Newark, NJ
  6. Detroit, MI
  7. Cleveland, OH
  8. Baltimore, MD
  9. New York, NY
  10. Boston, MA

Regardless of where you live, your phone could be in danger, as 113 Smartphones are stolen or lost every minute in the U.S. So, if you fail to protect your phone with a password, back up your data and install a program that can wipe the phone’s memory remotely, losing your phone could start you on the path to an identity-theft nightmare.

To help keep you safe while surfing the web using your Smartphone, we would like to share the top 10 steps you can take to make sure your Smartphone is safe. This week, we’ll cover 5:

  1. Create a Password. Admittedly, it’s a hassle to unlock your phone every time you want to use it. But consider this: if you could put a lock on your wallet, wouldn’t you do it, despite the inconvenience? A phone password is by no means foolproof. However, it might just provide a deterrent for potential thieves who will move on to an easier target.
  2. Log out of Security-enabled Apps. Would you keep a major credit card on your desk at work? Setting up your Smartphone to automatically log into sensitive accounts is like carrying credit card passwords in your wallet right alongside the cards. Of course no one thinks they will be victims of theft. As we so often caution at Allied Universal, the best thing to do to be safe during an emergency is to be prepared. So treat your Smartphone as though you plan on losing it. Don’t value convenience over security.
  3. Adjust settings so your Smartphone won’t automatically connect to available WiFi networks. To BE SAFE, disable the feature on your phone which allows it to immediately connect to available networks. You can usually find this feature under your phone’s settings. When you opt to use a public wi-fi, consider the fact you could be sharing your screen with a hacker. Then, proceed with caution.
  4. If you shop online, download shopping apps instead of browsers. You usually have a choice when using your Smartphone to order items on sites like Amazon, eBay, Overstock or major retailers like Target and Best Buy. Dedicated shopping appsare preferable to browsers which return full-site results, because applications are specifically designed to ward off phishing and other scams. But be careful before downloading that the app is legitimate. Oftentimes, while you are browsing using your Smartphone, sites will ask if you want to download the application. Opt in, as this is for your safety.
  5. Download remote wiping software. Dozens of apps and services enable you to locate your phone and wipe data clean. Even though certain tech-savvy hackers may be able to disengage these applications, adding the feature will provide you with extra protection in your phone protection plan. Here’s a sampling of where to go to procure the appropriate app if you have an iPhone, Android, Blackberry or Windows-based phone.

Check our blog post next week, when we’ll share the final five steps to take to protect your Smartphone. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services helps commercial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning training system motivates and rewards tenants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!

How to Avoid Spear Phishing Cyber Attacks

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Is your computer information secure?

According to Fox News, White House sources “partly confirmed” an alarming report that U.S. government computers—reportedly including systems used by the military for nuclear commands—were breached by Chinese hackers earlier this month.

“This was a spear phishing attack against an unclassified network,” a White House official assured FoxNews.com. “These types of attacks are not infrequent and we have mitigation measures in place.”

Although a law enforcement official who works with members of the White House Military Office confirmed the Chinese attack to FoxNews.com, as of the writing of this blog post, it remains unclear what information, if any, was taken or left behind in the attack, which occurred through an opened email.

TechTarget.com defines a “spear phishing attack” as “an e-mail spoofing fraud attempt that targets a specific organization, seeking unauthorized access to confidential data. Spear phishing attempts are not typically initiated by “random hackers” but are more likely to be conducted by perpetrators out for financial gain, trade secrets or military information.”

While we have devoted previous Allied Universal blog space to discuss cyber security as it relates to password encryption and security software, we have yet to share information to help our clients and friends take precautions with technological protection as it pertains to email. So, today, in an effort to continue providing helpful information for disaster preparation, let us take a few minutes to offer a few helpful hints which, if observed, should keep your computer running smoothly and safeguard proprietary information.

First, it is worthwhile to note that routine email phishing schemes differ from spear-phishing attacks in that spear phishing messages appear to come from a trusted source such as a large and well-respected company or website with a broad membership base, such as eBay or PayPal. On the other hand, with spear phishing, the source of the email is constructed to look as though it came from within the recipient’s own company…usually a person of authority within the organization.

The Computer Crime Research Center reports that a West Point teacher and National Security Agency expert named Aaron Ferguson emailed a message to 500 cadets asking them to click a link to verify their grades. Ferguson’s message appeared to come from a West Point colonel. More than 80% of recipients who received the message clicked through, receiving a notification that they had been duped and their failure to exercise caution before clicking could have resulted in downloads to the West Point computer system of spyware, Trojan horse and/or other malware.

Although most people have learned enough about computer use to proceed with caution when opening emails from unknown sources and in responding to unexpected requests for confidential information. We’ve all heard horror stories about Nigerian emails asking for large cash deposits to “help rescue loved ones from African prisons.” We’ve also learned, by and large, to avoid divulging personal data inside email messages—which can be hacked or clicking on links in messages unless we are positive about their source.

However, the average person is ill-equipped to recognize forged emails that seemingly come from people we trust because spear phishing is sophisticated. That’s how employees of Sony managed to unwittingly give away private information regarding their PlayStation Network, Epsilon data was recently breached, and several credit card companies and financial institutions have had to mail apologetic notices to their customer base.

The success of any spear phishing scam generally depends on three things:

  1. The apparent source must appear to be known and trusted.
  2. The information within the message supports its validity.
  3. The request makes sense.

So what can you do to avoid being caught unaware?

  • The FBI recommends that you keep in mind that most companies, banks, agencies, etc., don’t request personal information via e-mail. If in doubt, give them a call instead of clicking through the email link. (But don’t use the phone number contained in the e-mail which is usually phony.)
  • Do not provide personal information, such as a password, a credit card number or any data that can be used to unlock an application or network, in reply to an email.
  • Use a phishing filter. Many of the latest web browsers have built-in security software or offer the utility as a plug-in.
  • Learn to recognize what your security software warning messages look like. If you get something that looks similar but appears to be a bit “off,” delete the email and block the sender.
  • Never follow a link to a secure site from an email. Instead, enter the URL manually into the address bar of your web browser.
  • Report suspicious emails to your tech department on a regular basis. Tell employees to call security about anything suspicious and train them not to forward bogus emails.
  • Do not open suspicious attachments. When it doubt, block it out.
  • If your firm is ever victim to a successful spear phishing attack, assess the damage and recover. Eradicating the malicious software won’t be easy. You will have to backtrack to a clean starting point of your system before it was corrupted.

When a disaster of any kind strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 3.0 system offers the best emergency training system.

Public Wi-Fi Use Best Practices

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Take steps to guard the security of information located on your computer.

You’re on the road to the next sales meeting and absolutely need a coffee. You pop in for 20 minutes and use your laptop to browse the Internet. Everything is copacetic until you later hear about a breach to your company’s back-office financial data. Are you to blame?

A source called an “ethical hacker” by CBS News says, “Information you’d send to and from your bank, information coming off of your credit card—any of those types of information you’d rather people not have, goes over WiFi.” Also according to CBS, security experts estimate hackers can easily take $1,000 worth of data from just one hacked computer.

Unfortunately, little exposes your work to greater security risks than latching onto a public Wi-Fi service. The problem is that most people don’t realize the risks. And even fewer have the ability to perform the necessary tasks that would fix it. So what’s a modern business person to do?

Here are some tips on browsing safely:

  • Just say no. While this might be unreasonable for road warriors who need to access the Internet at airports and hotel lounges, infrequent users are better off avoiding the temptation to hop on unsecured networks.
  • Use a firewall to ensure protection from incoming threats.
  • Conceal your files using encryption, so important documents are not accessible by others who are snooping or phishing on the open network.
  • Turn off your wireless connection when not in use. Perhaps you are at a coffee shop working on a document but you don’t need to check your email. By turning off the wireless connection, unscrupulous individuals will be cut off from gaining prolonged access to your computer files.
  • Don’t enter your Social Security Number or credit card information while using a public network. If you encounter an emergency and need to purchase something, use only the sites that show the padlock symbol and third-part security verification.
  • Find the “S”! On sites such as Facebook, you can change your security settings to only login on “https” enabled pages. While these might run a shade slower than regular connections, they prevent all but the most sophisticated hacking attempts. So check website settings to restriction enabling to this higher security setting.
  • Ask IT to show you how to disable your computer so it won’t actively search for hotspots. Windows is too user friendly at times, and will look for wireless networks wherever you take your laptop…whether you are trying to log online or not.
  • The Allied Universal Online Training System encrypts all password information, for the safety of all of our clients.

Beyond public Wi-Fi risks, there are myriad other ways your personal or business information can be comprised through carelessness or bad practices. Additional tips for keeping data safe:

  • Be careful using USB “thumb” drives, which can be easily misplaced. They also are the perfect carrier for viruses and malware. USB drives were the culprit for the spread of the damaging Stuxnet virus which infiltrated industrial computers, including some at nuclear facilities.
  • Use passwords. Protecting access to both the laptop and individual files and folders can slow down or discourage hacking attempts. Every week you hear stories about possible data breaches from stolen or lost or laptops that were unprotected.
  • Mobile devices can be protected with security apps that can remotely lock and “wipe” your device.
  • Train employees how to spot phishing and scam emails that might distribute viruses. Some scammers will even spoof their emails to look like they are coming from a company’s HR department.

Using public Wi-Fi properly requires some technical know-how and common sense. When feasible, only look at public non-identifying sites on the public network, and purchase items or do banking when you are at work or at home. While 24/7 access is nice, you can ask yourself “Do I have to do this now?”  If you follow the tips on using public networks and best practices for portable drives and laptops, you will greatly increase your protection from malicious hackers.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Hacking Away at Business Security

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011
Masked bandit hacking a laptop

All passwords for the Allied Universal Training System are fully-encrypted.

With the recent hack of various Gmail accounts by cyber criminals, companies are again casting an eye at ways to ensure data security and circumvent the risks associated with cyber crime. Cyber attacks are particularly difficult for law enforcement because they occur anonymously over great distances and are often conducted by highly intelligent individuals who are skilled at covering their digital tracks.

The disruption caused by cyber attack presents businesses with more than just a minor annoyance. High profile breaches, such as the recent attack on Sony’s PlayStation Network, caused significant losses, as thousands of insecure customers bugged out. As a result, Sony claimed to have lost more than $170 million as a result of the breach.

For some entities, such as utilities or defense contractors, cyber attacks cause disruptions which go far beyond the scope of financial loss. A recent survey of senior level IT professionals indicated that they hold cybercrime to be the most dangerous threat for their business, ranking above the fear of natural disasters.

Details of the Recent Gmail Account Hack:

  • Some of the hacked accounts included senior U.S. Government officials, Chinese political activists, and journalists, prompting many to suspect that the Chinese government had something to do with the attack.
  • The accounts were compromised through a phishing attack, which involves gaining access to an account by presenting the user with a legitimate-looking, fraudulent emails or texts. (Many bank customers have been caught by phishing schemes where the crook will say he represents the client’s bank and needs user account information)
  • The Gmail criminals used information from hacked email accounts to contact and infiltrate other user accounts, since people tend to trust messages sent from someone they know.

What Can Businesses Do to Better Safeguard Electronic Information?

  • Establish robust firewalls to prevent intrusions.
  • Conduct an internal employee survey to find out how many of your employees are using “1234” for their password. Prepare to be shocked by the results. Require employees to follow set procedures for password creation and changing of passwords at regular intervals.
  • A popular method for creating hack-resistant passwords is to think of a phrase such as “Cybercrime is a risk I want to manage.” Then, use the first letter of each word from the phrase to create a password: “CIARIWTM.” Then, to mix it up further, add two or three memorable numbers and a symbol to the mix: CI$AR&IW@TM. Also, use different cases instead of all caps or lowercase letters: Ci$aR&iW@Tm. Breaking a password this complicated will keep hackers at bay, since easily-cracked “1234” passwords are easier targets of opportunity. (This is for the same reason thieves prefer to break into cars that have open windows and keys in the ignition than vehicles that are locked and armed with alarms.)
  • Password reset software can be used following a breach to bring passwords back.
  • Review outside vendors who have access to your data. Even if your company has state of the art protection, it is worthless if one of your vendors operates in an open environment which can easily be hacked.
  • Carefully guard client email lists and account numbers. The recent loss of email data by Epsilon cost the company millions of dollars, as customers canceled their credit cards after they discovered their data had been compromised.
  • Run routine security updates on your computer system. But be careful not to click on screen messages from anyone other than the system you subscribe to. Make sure that your employees know they should do a hard reset (manual shut-down) if anything out of the ordinary appears on their computer screens.

A breach not only costs time and money in the short term, but it can be detrimental to customer perception and trust. This is especially true of companies that hold customer data such as social security numbers or financial information. Virtual disasters should demand the same foresight and planning as natural large-scale events such as floods, fires and earthquakes.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

11 Safety Tips for 2011

Monday, December 27th, 2010
Safe Combination at 2011

BE SAFE in 2011

  1. Be prepared…for everything and anything! At home and at work, the most important step you can take to ensure your own safety as well as the safety of coworkers, employees, family and friends, is to prepare. For ideas, look to FEMA’s recently announced “Resolve to be Ready in 2011” campaign, which features several suggestions for disaster preparedness. What’s more, our own blog posts provide food for fodder.
  2. Drill. A timely example of how preparation is critical for saving lives occurred at a San Antonio CPS office building which caught fire on December 20.  According to news’ reports, all 400 of the building’s occupants were forced to evacuate the building before 9 a.m., at which point the company’s emergency evacuation plans were put into effect. No doubt benefiting from the safety plan and associated regular fire drills, preparation paid off as every employee escaped without injury.
  3. Protect yourself from cyber-terrorism. As we rely more and more on all things electronic, we must be diligent to guard ourselves against identity theft. Four out of five victims of Identity Theft encounter serious issues as a result of the crime, such as lowered credit scores, bankruptcy, foreclosure, or even prison time. So protect your Internet passwords by creating them randomly and changing them frequently.
  4. Guard against health risks. Although the flood of sensational news’ stories about Cholera, the Swine Flu and SARS have ebbed, you still run the risk of contracting viruses and bacteria if you fail to take precautions to remain healthy. One of the easiest ways to do this is to regularly and thoroughly wash your hands. Also, take advantage of vaccinations designed to protect you against illnesses such as Influenza or Respiratory Syncytial Virus.
  5. Consider your location. Since different types of disasters occur depending on your location, pay attention to geography and history when you prepare for natural or man-made disasters. If you live on the coast, for example, plan for tsunamis. If you get snow, make winterizing a priority. If you live near a fault line, make sure you are ready for earthquakes.
  6. Heed storm warnings. While some natural disasters, such as earthquakes, come without warning, many others are relatively easy to predict. So, if you live in an area where hurricanes or tornadoes are common, follow forecasts. And when an event is anticipated, take necessary steps to ensure your own safety as well as that of emergency workers, who might be put in harm’s way if they have to brave the elements in order to rescue you. 
  7. Do the right thing. Don’t cut corners. Take a cue from the recent Shanghai Fire, which some believe resulted from contractors who cut corners. Applicable to all areas of life, doing what’s right will help keep everyone safe in 2011 and beyond.
  8. Go green. You don’t have to be a hippie to understand the importance of protecting our planet. Today, millions of electronics are shipped to developing countries where they are dissembled, often in a crude manner, which exposes workers and the environment to contaminants such as mercury, sulfur, and lead. This practice puts us all at risk. So do your part this year to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
  9. Travel safely. Try to be patient if you fly. While it might be inconvenient to take off your belt, shoes and jewelry at the security gate, and possibly undergoing a TSA pat-down, these safety measures are in place to keep us safe.
  10. Fight fire with fire prevention. The surest way to fight fire is to prevent it. The National Fire Protection Association has sponsored Fire Prevention Week each year since the Great Chicago Fire roared through Chicago in 1871. This year’s push is to install smoke alarms. So if you haven’t installed them in your commercial property building or at home, do so today!
  11. Keep learning. Our corporate mission is to save lives through training with the motto “Be Safe!” The Allied Universal Training System 2.0 is a fully integrated system which allows property management companies to manage one site or an entire portfolio, with all users in the same system.

If you own or manage commercial property, by enrolling in the system, please consider our system, which trains occupants, floor wardens, and fire safety directors. What’s more; all user training and testing is recorded. Get quick access to building-specific Emergency Responder information and other resources. We hope you’ll include us in your plans to keep tenants, residents and family and friends safe in 2011 and beyond.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

When “You” Isn’t Really You: How to Prevent Identity Theft

Monday, November 15th, 2010
"Identity Theft" typed on documents coming out of a shredder.

Be careful to guard your identity.

Today’s blog post isn’t about the threat of a natural disaster. We will be discussing a manmade crisis that can potentially affect anyone and can take months or even years to repair. Today’s topic is Identity Theft. Claiming nearly 10 million victims a year, Identity Theft is the number one complaint lodged with the FTC.

According to research from Nationwide Insurance, four out of five victims of Identity Theft encountered serious issues as a result of the crime, such as lowered credit scores, bankruptcy, foreclosure, or even prison time.

A significant threat now that so many of us handle financial matters online, Identity Theft is a crime that is cloaked in mystery, with most of us imagining identity thieves working in dark, secret computer-filled lairs. The truth is that the crime is far less glamorous than they make it out to be in the movies, with far more serious implications for its victims. The good news is that while Internet anonymity is practically impossible these days, you can take steps to make yourself a less inviting target.

  • When it comes to selecting a password for your online bank account or email accounts, don’t choose “password” or “1234.” Also avoid easily detectable data such as your child’s first name, your birthday, your anniversary, your dog’s name or your street address. This type of data is easily accessible for even casual hackers.
  • No matter how much you hate the hassle of changing and forgetting your passwords, you need to change them periodically. Experts recommend changing passwords on every online account at least every three to six months. People who work with extremely sensitive data change passwords hourly.
  • Check “privacy settings” on social media websites. Recent problems regarding privacy settings on Facebook highlighted the need to carefully consider how public you should be with details about your life. Review your settings and carefully read the “terms of service” on every site you use. Also, look at the amount of data on your social network profiles and determine if certain identifying information should be deleted or altered.
  • Do you like to use WiFi and other public area internet access networks? Take steps to ensure security of your laptop or mobile device when sending information over shared networks. Don’t let the leather chair and tasty beverage lull you into thinking you are at home when you are using your computer at Starbucks.
  • Create truly random passwords. Some popular “systems” for randomizing passwords involve thinking of a phrase such as: “My favorite movie is Gone with the Wind” and using the first letter from each word: MFMIGWTW. Better yet, change the case in some of the letters and swap out the second and fourth letters with characters, so the password would be m@M*GWtw. Randomization and picking phrases only you would know are the keys to real password security.
  • Even if your passwords are difficult to decipher, you might be surprised by how easily experienced hackers can access even complicated encryptions. Fortunately, several applications and software offer secure password management tools. If you do not have access to these tools, consider using a completely random number. And don’t store it near your computer or in your purse.

Also, don’t forget about offline methods that thieves can use to steal your identity. Not every identity thief is a hacker holed up in a basement with five computers and three monitors. Some still take a more old-fashioned but no less harmful approach to assuming someone else’s identity.

  • Don’t leave mail hanging out of your mailbox or dispose of it in the trash can at the post office! The amount of information contained on some of your bills is staggering. Thieves who commit the felony of stealing your mail would have access to your full name, address, phone number, account numbers, bank routing numbers and more. For security, deposit important mail into a USPS drop box.
  • Don’t forget about the trash. Shred any and all documents that contain personal information before you toss away any paperwork…including junk mail.
  • Take a good look at your wallet or purse. Is it a good idea to carry your social security card, checks, paystubs, insurance information and a letter with your mother’s maiden name on it, conveniently located all in one place for the taking?
A lock on top of a credit card

Do what it takes to protect your identity.

What steps should business owners and manager take to guard customer and/or employee personal information?

  • Computer data is hard to erase! If your sell or donate old computer equipment, clicking “delete” on files and folders won’t be sufficient. Purchase an application that can completely wipe the hard drive. Or, better yet, take computers to a trusted source so the hard drive can be erased. All data on CD, DVD or backup tapes should be removed and then destroyed so files are completely unreadable.
  • Mind your laptop. Guard it at all times, as if you are protecting private information. You are! Store sensitive data on secure servers or in the computing “cloud,” behind firewalls, instead of stored on a portable machine.
  • Have old-fashioned paper files? Outsource your document retention services to an established company that will shred or store, as needed. Also, don’t throw boxes of data with sensitive client information into your building’s unsecure storage basement! Invest in a heavy-duty shredder and use it often.
  • Don’t adopt “It Won’t Happen to Me Syndrome.” According to the FTC, in the past five years alone, 27.3 million people were victims of identity theft.

We often discuss the benefits of proactive prevention. And dealing with Identity Theft is no exception. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.