“ We regret to inform you that our database has been compromised.” From UCLA no less.
In other words, some invisible hackers out there have my social security number, address, birthday, mother’s maiden name and all the other identifiers that are used to confirm that I am who I say I am. From Target to Neiman Marcus to the IRS, a major data hack is in the news every day. And the one at most risk is me; my identity, credit, and bank account.
What can I do: not use a credit card, not use the Internet? A letter came offering me one year of some kind of identity protection, but only after the fact. The horses have fled, closing the barn door is a little late. And those are just the big deal hacks into huge databases; there are the smaller hacks, such as putting a virus on an attachment so someone can do something bad with whatever information they steal, or just mess up your computer.
At this stage, I feel a bit paranoid; I have a hard time getting into my own accounts with all the supposed security, but now my personal data is being sold on the open market. Everyday and everywhere some of the most solid companies and institutions are under attack from all sorts of threats. It is no way to live.It seems as if you can’t trust anybody, even your friends who might unwittingly forward a computer problem without even knowing it.
A visit to IRS.gov offers some computer hygiene ( I actually kinda like that term) protocols for both you as a person and for your organization. As I have said before, just because you are a nonprofit does not make your data immune from the subhumans that are stealing information.
The Anti-Nike Approach: Just Don’t Do It.
Don’t open any email from someone you don’t know or click on any attachment or picture even if it is from someone you do know that looks in the least bit off. Be skeptical if it sounds too good or too easy.
Did your bank send an email to an address that is not connected to your account? It’s a fake.
The rule of thumb I use is if an email directs me to the a link to a company or organization, I open up new window and go to directly to that site. A pain, but the aggravation of being attacked will be so much less than if I am sloppy or lazy about my computer hygiene.
I hope we all know that the $5 million is escrow as a bequest from someone you have never heard of is utterly and always untrue.
Selling on craigslist can get you ‘buyers’ who want to overpay you, and ask for some funds to be forwarded. And the funds will be forwarded, right out of your bank account to theirs.
What to do?
Some common sense coupled with an acute awareness of the menaces around you will be a good start.
- Don’t make your password your birthday or other obvious choice.Perhaps consider a password phrase, instead of a jumble that is hard to remember; hackers don’t always expect a space in a password.
- Don’t shop online unless you see the little padlock and encryption notice. Be wary of forwarding sites, go directly to the site where you want to shop.
- Do take the time to be sure you have spyware, malware and anti virus protection for your computer.
- Do be thoughtful about who can look at or use your computer, at home or at work.
- Make sure rules about internet surfing is clear with everyone and they agree to not only be protective, but to be on the look out for something that just looks off, because it probably is.
- Do back up EVERYTHING.
- Wireless at home? Secure your network with a password, don’t leave it open for someone to hop on and help themselves to your money and information, not to mention your internet.
Even at $300 a year, buying some identity protection can stretch a budget too far. I resent having to spend money like this for things like this, but there doesn’t seem any way around it. In researching these firms, I came across an interesting situation. Simply reading the statistics and FAQ’s were enough to scare me into taking action.
This firm has an interesting premise in that they not only have an identity theft protection and recovery plan, they decided to offer the program as a fundraising option for non-profits. When I first learned about it, I was a bit skeptical, someone is always telling me how much money I can raise by selling their candles or wrapping paper or candy. After taking a look, though, it looks pretty good.
Check out this quick video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lV8baDqvnPI
Here is the direct link, take a look and see how it looks to you. You have nothing to lose, or maybe you do.
This may not be the sexiest new way to engage constituents or raise money, but it may help you protect what you have, and offer the option to others. If you have any questions, need any direction or suggestions, we’d love to help.
310 828 6979
PS: Ironically, two days after I did sign up for identity theft protection and recovery, my personal email was hacked. It looks pretty benign, asking my contacts to join a networking site, but you just never know.
PPS:Is this you? Consumers Don’t Trust Businesses with Their Data, but Do Little to Protect Themselves. http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/study-consumers-dont-trust-businesses-with-their-data/624904
The steps to protect yourself are simple, go ahead and click now, or choose some other type of protection before your information is on the sale table on the dark side of the internet.