August 01, 2012
You likely lock the front door of your house, wear a seat belt and have health insurance for obvious reasons. But how careful are you with your electronic information? Identity theft, via cyber fraud, is one of the fastest growing crimes, which could mean it’s more important than ever to proactively protect your information.
“Cyber crime is just a new avenue for traditional crime,” says Darren Hayes, the Computer Information Systems program chair at Pace University in New York City, who spent more than a decade in the financial industry researching security and computer forensics. “The biggest area of concern is the data leakage through smartphones, especially when individuals have multiple smartphones for the office and home.”
Some criminals now go “bluesnarfing,” where they move within six feet of an individual using a Bluetooth device and have unauthorized access to information from a wireless device like a cell phone through the Bluetooth connection, which usually isn’t password protected, Hayes says. “But using a complex password on your cell phone and setting your Bluetooth device in a non-discoverable mode may help prevent this from happening.”
“Look at the amount of data we hold on a smartphone,” says Steve Durbin, Global Vice President of the Information Security Forum (ISF), an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to investigating and solving key issues with information security and risk management. “That data can be stolen in traditional way by someone leaving an unsupervised tablet or iPhone on the table of a coffee shop or through cyber fraud. Either way, we hold a tremendous amount of valuable information on mobile devices. It’s a fairly rich phishing ground for criminals.”
Even items many people may not consider “electronic” can be a prime target for cyber fraud. That includes newer U.S. passports, which are now embedded with an electronic chip. They can be an easy target, Hayes says, because they hold a lot of information and if they don’t have some type of metal carrying case around them, hackers can access and download information while you walk by them. Even wrapping a passport in a thin layer of tinfoil can add a layer of protection, he says.