Cyber Security Awareness for All

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month! Created under the leadership of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance, NCSAM is a collaborative effort between government and industry to ensure every American has the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online. Many of the security recommendations provided during this month-long event focus on safe and secure online behavior.

Identity theft is on the rise.

The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Consumer Sentinel Data Network tracks complaints received by the FTC directly from consumers, but also from law enforcement agencies (state and federal) and national consumer protection agencies. It is no surprise that for 15 years running, identity theft has topped the list.

Identity Theft Statistics

  1. In 2014, more than 1 billion records containing personally identifiable information were leaked.
  2. Medical identity theft is on the rise, 500,000 victims in 2014 alone.
  3. $5.8 billion was given to identity thieves by the IRS in 2014 due to fraudulent returns. Identity thieves use random social security numbers to file tax forms and by chance, it could be yours.
  4. The number one consumer complaint to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2014 was identity theft. It has ranked 1st place for 15 years running.
  5. Children are susceptible to identity theft. Since most people under 18 are not actively applying for credit or monitoring it, minors can become easy prey.
  6. 19 people become victims of identity theft every minute.
  7. The average victim can expect to spend $500 dollars and 30 hours on average resolving each identity theft crime.

The implications of having your identity stolen can be severe – and it can take years to correct. One of the main ways cyber criminals are able to hijack your identity is to steal credentials to your online accounts. Popular free email and social media accounts contain rich sources of personal information that crooks can use to create fraudulent bank accounts, social security IDs and credit cards under your name.

Cyber Security Awareness Applies to Everyone

One of the best ways to protect yourself is to use multi-factor authentications (MFA) wherever possible. Cyber security awareness and advanced authentication practices aren’t just for corporate environments anymore. The same reasons there is wide-spread adoption of multi-factor authentication in business apply to individuals as well – safeguarding valuable data against theft.

In fact, the business need for strong security is very much linked to consumer authentication practices. Consumers have many personal online social network accounts with information about their place of employment, their job role and other personal information, useful in planning and launching attacks on corporate networks. To make matters worse, many people use the same passwords on their social accounts as their corporate logins or there is enough personal information disclosed on these sites to make guessing corporate passwords easier. Once a password for a personal online site has been compromised, hackers use it to attack corporate networks.

Both consumers and businesses need to adopt MFA to shut down the most common avenue of cyber attacks – compromised passwords.

For businesses, adopting a MFA solution like DigitalPersona Composite Authentication that also applies risk-based authentication policies should be a priority. Risk-based policies look at the threat environment and user behavior to “step-up” authentication requirements for higher risk transactions. For instance, if a user is logging in from an unidentified PC or from a new location, they might be required to use an additional authentication factor, such as a one-time-password. This approach to authentication security insulates businesses from insecure consumer password habits.

Learn more here.

Chris Trytten has over two decades of technical and managerial experience in systems and security at leading companies in Silicon Valley, including positions with Crossmatch, DigitalPersona, Interlink Networks, Apple, Siemens and Amdahl. In his current position as Market Solutions Manager at Crossmatch, he is using his experience serving the Financial and Retail markets by guiding the product and market teams to address the security needs of these industries. Chris is the author of multiple security white papers and articles.

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