You wouldn’t think a child’s toy could lead to a breach of your data. But this happens all the time. What about your rubbish bin sitting outside? Is it a treasure trove for an identity thief trolling the neighbourhood at night?
Many everyday objects can lead to identity theft. They often need to be noticed because people focus on their computers and cloud accounts. It’s essential to have strong passwords and use antivirus on your PC. 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 that criminals can use to steal your information.
People replace their smartphones about every two and a half years. 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 keep banking apps, business apps, and personal health apps. These are all nicely stored on a tiny device.
As chip technology has advanced, smartphones have been able to hold more “stuff.” This means documents and spreadsheets can now be easily stored on them, along with reams of photos and videos.
A cybercriminal could quickly strike data theft gold by finding an old smartphone. They often end up at charity shops 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 regular household waste.
Most printers are wireless these days. This means they are part of your home or work network. Printing from another room is 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. Most people don’t think about printers when using data security protections. This 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 thought you scored a free removable storage device. 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. This is an old trick in the hacker’s book. They plant malware on these sticks and then leave them around as bait. It can infect your device as soon as you plug it into it.
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 and program files.
Plus, if you’re still logged into a browser, much of your data could be at risk. 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 will make it safe for disposal, donation, or reuse.
Identity theft criminals aren’t only online. They can also be trolling the neighbourhood on trash day. Be careful what you throw out in your trash.
It’s not unusual for rubbish 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.
Electronic bears, smart kid watches, Wi-Fi-connected Barbies… all toy hackers love. Mattel’s Hello Barbie was found to enable the theft of personal information. A hacker could also use its microphone to spy on families.
These futuristic toys are often what kids want. Parents might think they’re cool but don’t 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 going to be 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.
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