As a business owner, how do you ensure that your company is safe from internal data breaches? The Identity Theft Resource Center, which has tracked over 10,000 breaches since 2005, forecasts an increase in cyberattacks on firm infrastructure as more people work from home. In 2019, “hacking” was responsible for 39% of all data breaches.
Many of us have heard about the Equifax data hack by now. It was shocking to learn that the organization in charge of credit monitoring and identity theft prevention were the victims of a data breach. At least 143 million people have had their personally identifiable information taken, but experts believe the actual figure is unknown.
It’s understandably unsettling to consider that our social security numbers, names, addresses, dates of birth, and driver’s license information have been compromised. Identity theft may have a long-term financial impact as well as a negative impact on your credit.
Unfortunately, we can’t stop this kind of incident from happening, making us feel powerless. Employers should do their utmost to be sympathetic to the emotional loss and the time it takes to deal with the fallout from realizing your information has been taken.
WHAT IS IDENTITY THEFT?
Identity theft is any fraud, scam, or crime that results in the loss of personal data, such as usernames, passwords, banking information, credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, and health IDs. Which are then used to commit fraud and other crimes without your consent.
According to the FTC1, up to 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. At least 534 million personal records have been compromised since 2005 due to assaults on the databases of corporations, government bodies, institutions, and organizations2. If such breaches were distributed evenly over the 310 million people in the United States, everyone’s identity would be taken between one and two-thirds of the time.
ARE EMPLOYERS RESPONSIBLE FOR EMPLOYEE IDENTITY THEFT?
Yes, which is why it is critical to conduct proper cyber risk management.
Employee employment records are a favourite target for cyber hackers. They may cause a lot of harm and “earn” a lot of money with the information they take from Social Security numbers, birth dates, job history, bank account information, and health information.
It is your job as an employer to keep this information secure. Local and federal regulations compel companies to keep sensitive information safe. If you don’t, you might face legal consequences if the information is taken away.
Employers require this information to do background and credit checks. As a result, it is frequently the responsibility of human resource (HR) departments to assess risks and develop the best lines of defence.
CYBERCRIMINALS ARE WORKING SMARTER, NOT HARDER
Cybercriminals appear to be less interested in stealing large amounts of personal information from consumers and more interested in attacking businesses with ransomware, a type of malicious software designed to prevent access to a computer system until a ransom is paid, and phishing attacks, which involve sending a spoofed email impersonating a trusted source to obtain sensitive information or data.
The Identity Theft Resource Center, a non-profit organization, formed to give aid and consumer education, recently observed a change away from large cyber assaults aimed at obtaining consumer information and toward cyber-attacks aimed at companies.
Similarly, IBM Security X-Force, IBM Security’s specialist threat intelligence team, discovered that ransomware was the most common threat category in 2020, accounting for 23% of security incidents to which it reacted, followed by data theft and server access. This incident is not to argue that data theft or the theft of sensitive victim data is no longer a problem. From 2019 to 2020, X-Force experienced an upsurge in similar attacks.
THE COSTS OF IDENTITY THEFT TO EMPLOYEES AND BUSINESSES
According to a survey on the effects of identity theft, 32% of respondents stated that identity theft created problems at work. Some poll respondents who were victims of identity theft indicated that they had lost their present position, lost future career possibilities, and even had their salary or insurance benefits withdrawn.
Identity theft victims have claimed negative effects on their interpersonal ties, such as:
- Increases in arguments and fights with family and friends.
- Feelings of loss of trust.
- Feelings of isolation.
- Lack of support from family and other relationships.
Those who had their identities stolen also had to deal with financial consequences. In the poll, 29.8 per cent of respondents reported requesting family and friends for financial assistance, while 37.3 per cent of those who could not acquire financial aid went without meeting the demand. A worrisome 42.8 per cent said that identity theft has resulted in debt, and 40.5 per cent reported being unable to pay their payments.
Furthermore, companies maintain a considerable quantity of sensitive information about their workers to hold accountable, making them an appealing target for hackers. A data breach in a corporation may result in the theft of sensitive information from an employee and its use to get access to bank accounts or establish fraudulent new ones. Employers who fail to secure employee data may face penalties under federal, state, and privacy regulations.
METHODS CYBERCRIMINALS USE TO GAIN ACCESS TO SENSITIVE INFORMATION
Cybercriminals can access sensitive data and steal identities using a variety of ways and approaches. This might include:
1. MALICIOUS SOFTWARE:
Malicious software, also known as malware, is software that is unintentionally loaded and allows a hacker to exploit or obtain access to linked systems . The malicious coding of malware can:
- Install programmes that record keystrokes and passwords.
- Restriction of access to data or sections of the system, which can be used as a ransom payment.
- Break crucial system or code components, which may render a device or software unworkable.
Hacking has many forms, it includes:
- Exploiting an insecure software or network system to obtain access to sensitive data is one example of hacking.
- SQL injections interfere with the queries that an application makes to a database. This gives a hacker the ability to read, alter, or destroy data.
- Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks, also known as eavesdropping attacks, occur when a hacker intercepts data while it is being sent.
3. DATA HARVESTING:
Data harvesting is the collection and extraction of data from internet sources. This may contain metadata from social media, email attachments, or previously published papers. This information is typically put into use in a bigger scheme, such as phishing or social engineering fraud, to look legitimate.
4. SOCIAL ENGINEERING:
Data harvesting and psychological manipulation is used in social engineering to fool a person or user into disclosing sensitive information to what they think to be a legitimate source.
5. PHISHING SCAMS:
Phishing scams are deceptive communications that appear to be from a genuine or respectable source. The purpose of a phishing scam is to get sensitive information from a person or to gain access to install malware.
HOW TO MAINTAIN SECURITY WHEN EMPLOYEES WORK REMOTELY
The COVID epidemic sparked identity theft practices that targeted and centred on Americans who worked from home. The pandemic-induced shift to remote work will continue in the future, with an estimated 70 per cent of the workforce working remotely by 2025.
While remote work affects the economy and workflows in significant ways (fewer office spaces, higher participation, and performance monitoring), it also necessitates a greater dependence on information and data security due to remote work practices, operations, and gadgets. Consider the following data security guidelines for remote work:
1. PASSWORD AND CREDENTIALS:
When generating passwords and credentials for devices used for remote work, follow best practices. Uppercase and lowercase characters, digits, and symbols should be used in passwords.
2. DEVICE UPDATE:
As manufacturers issue software upgrades, keep your gadgets up to date. Many upgrades feature improved steps to address security flaws discovered in their software. In addition to manufacturer updates, remote employees should keep their security software up to date.
3. IDENTIFICATION OF THEFT:
Learn how to spot phishing and work-from-home schemes that prey on remote employees.
4. PERSONAL INFORMATION:
Avoid storing unnecessary personal information on work-related devices or accessing personal accounts.
5. WORKPLACE POLICIES:
Maintain current awareness of workplace policies for:
- How your organization disseminates information both internally and internationally.
- Preparedness and recovery preparations for your workplace in the event of a disaster.
- The information technology infrastructure and how to use it for support, security, and help.
- How your company keeps, safeguards, and disposes of sensitive data.
6. CAUTIONS WHEN VIDEO CONFERENCING AND SCREEN SHARING:
When using video conferencing and screen sharing, take care. This includes only using business-secured video conferencing services and ensuring that no vital papers or information are open or accessible during a screen-sharing presentation.
When working with sensitive data, utilize a private VPN, and never use public Wi-Fi when working with or exchanging confidential data and information.
Never leave remote work equipment unattended in public places where it is easy to get steal.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO REDUCE YOUR RISK OF IDENTITY THEFT OR FRAUD?
Employers frequently retain sensitive financial and human resource information about their employees, leading to identity theft if accessible through cybercriminal activities. This might include a person’s name, date of birth, tax records, Social Security numbers, and any personal information gathered from workers via email and other employee monitoring activities.
To protect employee information, devices, and processes, as well as to support remote employees and their capacity to handle corporate and employee information and data, the following best practices for identity theft and cybersecurity are required:
1. DATA PRIVACY PROGRAM:
This entails assessing the whole organization, personnel, and data to develop internal and external privacy regulations and disaster preparedness strategies.
A privacy program should also contain a disaster recovery response strategy in a successful or unsuccessful breach or assault. A data privacy program should also include regulations, privacy features, and constraints on information sharing.
This may involve restricting file-sharing applications or preventing link sharing, which might give users undesired access.
2. EMPLOYEE EDUCATION:
- Using operating systems correctly.
- Installing and maintaining anti-virus software, software, and firewall upgrades.
- Recognizing and reporting suspected phishing or social engineering frauds.
- Understanding liability and the significance of safe and secure practices when sharing and safeguarding information and documents.
3. IT INFRASTRUCTURE:
It is keeping IT infrastructure updated. This may involve modernizing work-from-home infrastructures, such as leveraging managed service providers that can actively manage IT, software inventories, technical assistance to workers, and account access, for remote teams.
4. REMOTE ACCESS:
By integrating remote access software into your work from home rules, you may increase security by remotely monitoring and managing collaboration access, communication channels, and file transfer servers. Remote access and device support may also give real-time monitoring and warnings for system resources and maintain systems secured with the most recent updates, patches, and security tools.
5. NETWORK MANAGEMENT:
Careful network management is also essential for company models that use to bring your device (BYOD) business model. This allows remote workers to use personal or mobile devices for work-related tasks. To guarantee that personal devices with access to sensitive information remain safe, BYOD business models should be backed with remote worker training and support.
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The simplest method to decrease fraud risk when working from home is to inform workers and keep them accountable. A robust fraud policy that includes definitions of “good” and “wrong” conduct, as well as repercussions for policy violations, will prevent potential fraudsters.
Once you’ve established a strategy, teach both your supervisors and your staff the new practices. Employees should also be aware of the numerous methods criminals might obtain their or the company’s information. A cybercriminal who gains control of a victim’s social media account, for example, might libel and slander an employer. Meanwhile, they also defraud an organization’s consumers, partners, vendors, and clients.
Adequate cybersecurity, like insurance, is preferable to having now than needing later. Companies must act today to safeguard and preserve their information and that of their consumers and clients. In addition, several states are establishing consumer privacy laws that compel businesses to take particular precautions to secure customer data.