You wouldn’t think that a kid’s toy might result in the theft of your personal information, would you? But this is actually a common occurrence. What about the garbage can you have sitting outside? Find out which of these common objects may lead to identity theft.
Identity theft can be caused by a number of everyday items. People often overlook these objects to focus on their computers and cloud accounts. Don’t get us wrong, it’s important to have strong passwords and install antivirus on your computers. But you also need to be cautious of the additional ways criminals and hackers can access your personal information.
Here’s a list of 6 everyday items to look out for.
Old Smart Phones
Every two and a half years or so, people tend to change out their phones. Meaning there are a ton of old phones lying around full of sensitive information.
Consider all the data we put into our smartphones. We also sync everything with cloud services. There are apps for business, banking, and even personal wellness available at the touch of a button. All this personal information is neatly stored in this one small device.
Due to advancements in chip technology, our phones can store more than ever. So now, we can even store documents and spreadsheets along with countless pictures and videos.
If cybercriminals come across an old smartphone, they very well strike data theft gold. These phones often wind up in the trash or at donation centers. Make sure to completely erase any data from an old phone before properly disposing of it. Electronics are not meant to be thrown away in the same manner as regular trash.
Today, most printers are wireless. Which means they are a part of either your home or work network. Printing from another room is now convenient. However, because your printer connects to the internet, it leaves your data at risk.
Printers can store private documents like contracts or tax records. The majority of people tend to neglect printers when considering what data security measures to implement. This leaves them vulnerable to hacking. When this occurs, a hacker can access to printer’s data. They could use this information to hack into other systems on the same network.
Protect your printers by making sure the firmware is up to date. Install updates as soon as they become available. Additionally, you should turn it off when not in use. A hacker cannot access it when it’s off.
Have you ever just come across a ransom USB stick? You might think you’ve just scored a free storage device. Or you are a good person and might try to give the USB back to its owner. But before you can find them, you need to see what’s on the device first.
Remember to never connect a USB device from an unknown origin to your computer. This is a tried-and-true hacker technique. These sticks are usually infected with malware and dispersed as bait. It will infect your device as soon as you connect it.
Old Hard Drives
When you plan to dispose of an old computer or removable device, make sure it’s clean. It’s simply not enough to delete everything. Computer hard drives may contain other personal information in system and program files.
Plus, if you’re still logged into a browser, a lot of your personal data is still at risk. Browsers store a large amount of personal data like passwords, credit card information, visit history, and more.
It’s best to seek out professional help from an IT expert to properly erase your computer drive. It will then be safe for reuse, donation, or trash.
Not all cyber crime happens online. On garbage day, they might be prowling the area. Be careful with what you want to throw out.
It may surprise you, but it’s not unusual for your garbage to lead to identity theft. What are they looking for? Often things like those pre-approved credit cards that you previously thought were “junk mail.” Your trash also holds things like voided checks, old bank statements, and insurance paperwork. Any of these things might include the data that thieves need to commit fraud or pose as you.
In this scenario, a shredder can be your best friend. Destroy any documents containing personal information. Do this before you throw them out. This extra step might prevent an expensive incident from occurring.
Children’s Devices that Connect to the Internet
A large number of children’s toys tend to connect to the internet these days. Whether it’s Barbies, electronic bears, or smart kid watches… hackers know them all. Mattel’s Hello Barbie has been linked to enabling the theft of personal information. In these cases, a hacker can easily connect to the microphone feature to spy on families.
Kids always want the new and exciting toys. Parents might think they’re cool but aren’t worried about their data security. After all, these toys are for kids. But this often means they are easier for hackers to hack. Cybercriminals tend to target IoT (Internet of Things) toys, knowing they aren’t difficult to breach.
You should show some sort of caution when bringing in any internet-connected devices into your home. That includes toys! Install all firmware updates. Do your own research on each item to see if there has ever been a data breach.
Schedule a Home IT Security Audit
Don’t let the worry of identity theft keep you up at night. Call now and schedule a home or office IT security audit. You’ll be happy you did.
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