Feature Article
Mark Pribish
IT Security Threats are a Growing Concern for Consumers
By Mark Pribish
Vice President and ID Theft Practice Leader

Whenever I speak on the subject of ID Theft and Data breach risk management, I usually begin my presentation with a number of questions to the audience including:

  1. How many of you have banked at the same financial institution your entire life?
  2. How many of you have used the same auto insurance agent your entire life?
  3. How many of you have had the same health insurance your entire life?

The response from the audience is usually never and to that point - your (and my) Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is in the data-bases of multiple financial institutions and insurance companies.

So the question is, how safe and secure is our PII at our current and former financial institution and insurance company relationships? I suggest you read below as the answer might keep you awake at night.

According to Deloitte's 2012 Global Financial Services Industry Security Study (see the study here), 25 percent of financial institutions suffered a data breach in 2011 - and that percentage was even higher for major insurance organizations, making security a top priority for the financial services industry.

The Deloitte study also reported the following:

  • Risks: 40 percent of the 46 major insurance organizations experienced breaches in the past 12 months
  • Threats from mobile devices: 45 percent have experienced breaches in the past 12 months
  • Security initiatives: Data Protection and Information Governance are the top two security initiatives for the financial services industry.

Additionally, the September 2012 Perimeter Financial Institution Threat Report (see the report here ) - summarized security incidents that occurred in the first half of 2012.

The Perimeter Report is based on information technology related security incidents from 861 financial institution customers and provided the following statistics and trends (again, for the first six months of this year):

  • 43% targeted small financial institutions
  • 38% targeted mid-sized financial institutions
  • 19% targeted large financial institutions
  • 1,619 likely and confirmed compromises were detected
  • In total, 483 financial institutions were negatively affected by the 861 incidents
  • Large institutions had the highest average number of incidents per institution

Based on the above, it is critical for consumers to take the necessary measures to protect themselves (and their family members) from sophisticated cyber-attacks, where hackers are focused on stealing account information such as names, addresses, and account numbers.

First, every consumer should create a consumer risk management plan, with an emphasis on software security for ALL home/laptop computers and consumer education for ALL family members.

A consumer risk management plan should include updating the security software on home and personal laptop computers on a regular basis which can provide security updates - and responses, to protect against computer viruses and malware.

Consumer education should focus on ALL members of the family including children/students with an emphasis on phishing - to help educate about suspicious emails and raise the awareness of phishing scams and tactics.

Based on the above mentioned financial institution and insurance company data breaches - and the constant and evolving hacking attacks - every consumer and family member can help protect themselves by staying current by updating its security software and staying up to date on the latest ID Theft trends and statistics.

To learn more about these threats and how to protect yourself and your family from Identity Theft, you can read my past newsletters at the Merchants Identity Theft Educational Website at www.idtheftedu.com.


Scam Central

Fake Attorney Sites Make For Real Problems

If you have been in an accident or have some legal issues to resolve, hiring an attorney can be a stressful situation. There are certainly numerous attorneys to choose from. A quick Internet search will surely reveal several hundred, if not thousands of law firms in your local and surrounding areas. However, a new scam unfolding in Texas reminds us that we have to use extreme caution when trying to hire an attorney or we may not only end up losing our case, but we may also lose our identity and money in the process.

How It Works:

The Better Business Bureau is reporting a new scam in Texas that has the potential to spread across the nation. The scam is so serious that the FBI is currently investigating it. Clever criminals are setting up realistic websites that appear to represent a legitimate attorney. The site even uses real attorney's professional resumes and pictures, but are far from legitimate. In fact, they have nothing to do with that attorney at all. By the time you realize the site is fake, you may have already given out your personal information and perhaps paid to have the said attorney represent you. At that point, you have been scammed and have lost whatever money you may have already paid.

Your Defense:

Always do as much research as possible on any online business you choose to work with before you send any information or make that first call. The Better Business Bureau is an excellent resource to see if the law firm in question has any complaints against it, or to see if the business is even accredited. Be sure to use the phone book to verify the phone number and address of the website in question as well. Do the phone numbers match up? If not, call the one in the phone book and ask them if they have a website. Make sure the website address matches that of the site you were investigating.

The Internet is a great tool, but it is becoming increasingly harder to sift through the sheer amount of fake websites. Do not be afraid to visit the office of a law firm if you have doubts. It is better to be safe, than sorry. The extra effort may very well make the difference in determining your financial security, as well as that of your identity.

If you believe your identity has been stolen, call 866.SMART68 today.