Many everyday objects can lead to identity theft. You wouldn’t think a child’s toy could lead to a breach of your data. But this happens all the time. So what about that trash can you keep directly outside on the curb or driveway? Could that be a treasure trove for an identity thief trolling the neighborhood at night?
Unfortunately, these objects and related thefts often need to be explicitly noticed because our inherent focus goes to our computers/cloud accounts when we think of data breaches. Of course, we all know that having strong passwords and using antivirus on our PCs is essential. But it would be best if you also were wary of other ways hackers and thieves can access your data.
Here are six everyday things criminals can use to steal information that may not be at the forefront of our minds.
Old Smart Phones
People replace their smartphones about every two and a half years. So that’s a lot of old phones lying around containing personal data.
Just think of all the information our mobile phones hold. We have synced connections with cloud services. Phones also contain banking apps, business apps, and personal health apps. All of this personal information that can be useful to cybercriminals is nicely within a tiny device.
As chip technology has advanced, smartphones have been able to hold more “stuff.” This increased storage capacity allows for containing documents, spreadsheets, and reams of photos and videos.
A cybercriminal could quickly strike data theft gold by finding an old smartphone. Unfortunately, many old smartphones often wind up at pawn shops, second-hand resellers, or in the trash. Make sure that you properly clean any old phones by erasing all data. It would be best if you also disposed of them properly. You shouldn’t just throw electronics away like standard garbage.
Most printers are now wireless, meaning they are part of your home or work network. This move to wireless printing makes printing from another room incredibly convenient. But the fact that your printer connects to the internet can leave your data at risk.
Printers can store sensitive documents, such as tax paperwork or contracts. Unfortunately, most people don’t think about printers when putting data security protections in place. This security gap leaves them open to a hack. When this happens, a hacker can get data from the printer. They could also leverage it to breach other devices on the same network.
Protect printers by ensuring you keep their firmware updated. Always install updates as soon as possible. You should also turn it off when you don’t need it. When it’s off, it’s not accessible by a hacker.
Did you ever run across a USB stick lying around? Perhaps you didn’t initially think anything of it and thought you scored a free flash drive to use. Or you are a good Samaritan and want to try to return it to the rightful owner. But first, you need to see what’s on it to find them.
You should never plug a USB device of unknown origin into your computer. It may not be clear upfront, but this is an old trick in the hacker’s book. They plant malware on these loose jump drives and leave them around as bait. It can infect your device as soon as you plug it into it.
Old Hard Drives
When you are disposing of an old computer or old removable drive, make sure it’s clean. Just deleting your files isn’t enough. Computer hard drives can store other personal data in the system along with program files.
Your data could be at risk, especially if you are still logged into a browser. Browsers store passwords, credit cards, visit history, and more.
It’s best to get help from an IT professional to erase your computer drive properly. This additional step will make disposal, donation, or reuse safe and is undoubtedly worth the extra effort.
Identity theft criminals aren’t only online. They can also be trolling the neighborhood on trash day. So be careful what you throw out in your trash.
It’s far more common than you would think for garbage to enable identity theft. It can include pre-approved credit card offers you consider “junk mail.” Your trash can also hold voided checks, old bank statements, and insurance paperwork. These items could have the information thieves need to commit fraud or pose as you.
A shredder can be your best friend in this case. You should shred any documents that contain personal information. Please do this before you throw them out. This extra step could save you from a costly incident.
Children’s IoT Devices
Electronic bears, smart kid watches, and Wi-Fi-connected Barbies are just a few of the toys that hackers love. For example, Mattel’s Hello Barbie had multiple recorded instances of being used by hackers to steal personal information. A hacker could also use its microphone to spy on families.
These futuristic toys are at the top of most children’s wish lists. Parents might think they’re cool but don’t always consider their data security. After all, these are children’s toys. But that often means they can be easier to hack. Cybercriminals also zero in on these IoT toys, knowing they aren’t as hard to breach.
It would be best to be wary of any new internet-connected devices you bring into your home. That includes toys! Install all firmware updates. Additionally, do your homework to see if a data breach has involved the toy.
Schedule a Home IT Security Audit & Sleep Better at Night
Don’t let the thought of identity theft keep you up at night. Give PCS a call today, and we will be more than happy to answer any questions related to your at-home IT security. You’ll be glad you did!
The article was used with permission from The Technology Press.