Guard Well Founder & CEO Cyber Security Forum Panel Expert

Guard Well Founder & CEO Cyber Security Forum Panel Expert

[Cincinnati, OH]  Cybersecurity continues to be one of the least understood but most important issues for businesses today. On Thursday, November 4th, the Cincinnati Business Courier (CBC) will host an in-person Cyber Security Forum at The Learning Center on 4th Street, downtown Cincinnati. The CBC stated that “…our group of experts will provide the latest news and advice related to this critically important topic.”

 

Along with Allan Hilsinger, Founder and CEO of Guard Well Identity Theft Solutions, other panelists include:

 

– Doug Davidson, Director of Information Technology Services, GBQ Holdings LLC

– Ashley Earle, Attorney, Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP

– Jesse Kegley, Managing Partner, Emerge Technologies

 

Interested in learning how cyber security impacts you, your business and your customers? Register online HERE. Tickets are $35 each for this live event.

8.4B Passwords & 25M Records Stolen

8.4B Passwords & 25M Records Stolen

Just recently our security team found two new breaches involving 25,000,000 stolen records and that 8.4 billion passwords have been stolen and sold on the dark web. We see these breaches all the time. The reality is that out of the 8.5 billion IP addresses worldwide, 3.5 billion of them are malware. That’s correct! Almost half of the worldwide web is created to commit fraud. That’s why we have proudly built a strong partnership with industry powerhouse Experian who jointly provides our member’s identity protection, support, and complete resolution service.

 

Guard Well Identity Theft Solutions exists to protect you, your family, and your employees from the damages of identity theft. It has been a pleasure protecting America’s workforce for the last decade. We look forward to many years and much more growth to come!

 

Be vigilant. Be Strong. Stay in the know. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our Member Services immediately. We are always available for you 24/7/365 at 888.966.4827 (GUARD).

 

Photo courtesy of unsplash.com Bermix Studios

Guarding Against Business Identity Theft

Guarding Against Business Identity Theft

Individuals aren’t the only targets for identity theft. Corporate, also known as commercial identity theft, saw a 46% increase last year according to the National Cybersecurity Society (NCSS). Although businesses of all sizes are at risk, small businesses are particularly vulnerable. “Small business identity theft—stealing a business’ identity to commit fraud—is big business for identity thieves,” remarks Mary Ellen Seale, CEO of NCSS.

 

She explains, “Unlike larger corporations, small businesses don’t always have the required security controls in place to detect and deter fraudulent activity, which can make them easier targets. There is also a general unawareness, among large and small businesses alike, of the magnitude of the threat and the devastating effects that business identity theft can have.”

 

Stealing an organization’s identity takes a lot less work than one might think. State laws require the public disclosure of proprietary business information in annual reports, names and addresses of key company personnel as well as the employee identification number (EIN). All of this information can be used by thieves to apply for a line of credit or loan as well as intercept business credit card information.

 

What can business owners do to help mitigate their risk?

 

– Educate your employees about phishing scams. Phishers aren’t just targeting your business … they are grabbing your customers, employees, partners and vendors. Make sure your employees know what red flags to look for when they receive an email that is asking for an action from them. Examples include bad grammar, misspelled words, links to unfamiliar websites and attachments.

 

– Don’t post sensitive company information on your website.

 

– Stay on top of computer security updates.

 

– Check your credit reports regularly.

 

– Follow the IRS new procedures to protect businesses. Visit https://www.irs.gov/individuals/identity-theft-guide-for-business-partnerships-and-estate-and-trusts for detailed information.

 

– File your company’s annual report on time and regularly check the secretary of state’s website. Keep in mind that if you operate your business in more than one state, each state may have their own due date.

 

Unfortunately, identity theft is here to stay. With the number of incidents growing each year, and financial losses piling up, it’s more important than ever for businesses to be vigilant. Do you have an anti-phishing plan for your business? Please contact us if you need assistance developing one or educating your employees about the topic.

 

Be vigilant. Be strong. Stay in the know. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our Member Services immediately. We are always available for you 24/7/365 at 888.966.4827 (GUARD).

 

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

How to Avoid Disaster-related Scams

How to Avoid Disaster-related Scams

Dealing with the aftermath of a disaster is always difficult. Unfortunately, scammers will jump at the chance to take advantage of those who are trying to assess and recover from the tremendous damage that weather-related events, such as hurricanes, floods, wildfires, tornados, along with pandemic-related COVID-19 can cause.

 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests a few ways to help avoid common post-disaster scams:

 

Be skeptical of anyone promising immediate clean-up and debris removal. Some fake vendors will quote sky-high prices and demand payment up-front.

 

Do a background check on them. Before you pay anything, ask for identification, licenses along with proof of insurance in writing.

 

Never pay in cryptocurrency, wire transfer, cash or via a gift card. Only make the final payment until the work is completed satisfactorily.

 

Always guard your personal identifying information (PII). “Only scammers will say they’re a government official and then demand money or your credit card, bank account or social security number.”

 

Understand that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will never ask for an application fee. FEMA has provided over $1 billion to more than 165,000 people to assist with COVID-19-related funeral costs for deaths occurring on or after January. “If someone wants money to help you qualify for FEMA funds, that’s probably a scam.”

 

Spot and report disaster-related charity scams. If you are fortunate enough to be able to help others, visit this link for advice on how to donate wisely and avoid charity scams.

 

For more information and other tips, visit https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/dealing-weather-emergencies

 

Be vigilant. Be strong. Stay in the know. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our Member Services immediately. We are always available for you 24/7/365 at 888.966.GUARD (4827).

 

Photo courtesy credit to Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com.

Data Breach Alert: T-Mobile 100 Million Impacted

Data Breach Alert: T-Mobile 100 Million Impacted

The Associated Press reported yesterday that communications giant T-Mobile confirmed there was unauthorized access to ‘some T-Mobile data’ but that the company is still determining the scope of the breach and who was affected. T-Mobile is actively investigating the leak after someone took to an online underground forum offering to sell personal information from more than 100 million cellphone users.

 

According to Vice’s Motherboard report, the data came from T-Mobile servers and “includes social security numbers, phone numbers, names, physical addresses, unique IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) numbers, and driver license information.” Motherboard also reported that they had seen samples of the data, and confirmed they contained accurate information on T-Mobile customers.

 

The seller on the underground forum was asking for 6 bitcoin, which is about $270,000, for a subset of the data containing 30 million social security numbers and driver licenses. The hacker said that they are privately selling the rest of the data at the moment. For more in-depth details about the hack, you can read the KrebsonSecurity article HERE.

 

A statement on the T-Mobile website reads “We are confident that the entry point used to gain access has been closed, and we are continuing our deep technical review of the situation across our systems to identify the nature of any data that was illegally accessed. This investigation will take some time but we are working with the highest degree of urgency.” The statement also included that the company takes the protection of their customers very seriously and that T-Mobile is “conducting an extensive analysis alongside with forensic experts to understand the validity of these claims, and are coordinating with law enforcement.”

 

If you or a family member has been a T-Mobile customer and suspect your data has been compromised, please contact us as soon as possible. We are always available for you 24/7/365 at 888.966.GUARD (4827). Our Member Services can also be emailed at memberservices@guardwellid.com.

 

Photo credit: John Tuesday on unsplash.com

University of California and StreetEasy: Dark Web Fraud Alert

University of California and StreetEasy: Dark Web Fraud Alert

Our teams have discovered extremely large sets of compromised data on the Dark Web. The latest two websites involved are University of California and StreetEasy.com.

 

The University of California (UC) is the world’s leading public research university system. Like several hundred other institutions throughout the country, including universities, government institutions and private companies, UC has been using a vendor service called Accellion File Transfer Appliance (FTA) to transfer information. Accellion was the target of an international cyberattack where the perpetrators exploited a vulnerability in Accellion’s program and attacked roughly 100 organizations. The attackers are now attempting to get money from organizations and individuals.

 

The breach origination date was March 31, 2021. Information stolen includes names, addresses, SSNs, as well as some email addresses and medical IDs.

 

StreetEasy.com is New York City’s leading local real estate marketplace on mobile and the Web, providing comprehensive listings and market data. The approximate breach size is 990,290 and originated in June of 2016. Data exposed includes passwords, first and last names, email addresses, and user IDs.

 

Be vigilant. Be strong. Stay in the know. If you have visited these websites in the past or have done business with them, please contact our Member Services immediately. We are always available for you 24/7/365 at 888.966.GUARD (4827).

 

Photo credit by Erfan Parhizi via unsplash.com.

How to Spot a Hacker Going After Your Business

How to Spot a Hacker Going After Your Business

When you think of a “bad guy,” what comes to mind? Someone sitting alone hunched over a keyboard in a dark hoody in a dark basement with fast typing fingers and maybe sporting a three-day-old beard? And what do you picture this anti-social “bad guy” doing? Are they only going after huge corporations and corrupt politicians? Nope! But that is what pop society has been assuming cybercrime is and that the everyday individual or smaller organizations aren’t being targeted.

 

The reality is that many of the faces of modern cybercrime don’t look like what we have read in fictional books and seen on tv and in the movies. These cybercriminals are much harder to spot because “they look a lot like legitimate businesses than you might expect,” Hubspot reported. “The work they might do day-to-day to steal personal information and disrupt businesses is pretty boring.”

 

So why do they hack? Money! Cybercrime has cost the world just under a trillion dollars in 2020.

 

The fact is that your Personal Identifying Information (PPI) is just like a currency. When stolen and aggregated, PPI can be sold for a hefty profit and “it’s a lot easier to try to get into your business’s data than to try to gather their own to sell.” Many websites sell aggregated collections of email addresses and passwords that have been gathered from past data breaches. From there, all it takes is a bit of unsophisticated scripting to use these emails and passwords to try to log into different websites across the internet.

 

“These folks aren’t looking to hit the biggest, most valuable businesses. It’s a case of quantity over quality.” These villains take a few thousand emails and passwords and see how many of them work out against high value services (such as email providers or CRMs) to see what data can be pulled out of those accounts to sell or how they can use those accounts for phishing emails or ransomware.

 

Look at the statement released by Darkside, the group whose ransomware attack brought down the Colonial Oil Pipeline and caused gas prices to spike in May this year. They released: “We are apolitical, we do not participate in geopolitics, do not need to tie use with a defined government and look for other motives. Our goal is to make money and not creating problems for society.” They want cash flow not world domination.

 

Hubspot reported in a blog last month written by Ryan DiPetta, “A lot of hackers look and behave like legitimate businesses, even if they do illegitimate things. Maybe they work a regular nine to five schedule. Maybe they take vacations with their kids. They’re trying to build a business just like you, too … but their business is built on theft and exploitation of your business and the data and trust of your customers.”

 

Are you and your employees protected? For more information on how to protect your company’s bottom line and employees by providing this must-have voluntary benefit, please click HERE.

 

Our team at Guard Well Identity Theft Solutions is available 24/7/365. Contact us at 888.966.GUARD (4827) or email memberservices@guardwellid.com if you suspect fraud or have any concerns. We are here to help!

 

Photo credit: Markus Spiske via Unsplash.com

Zoofari 2021: Through the Zoo

Zoofari 2021: Through the Zoo

We are so excited that Zoofari is back in 2021! Once again, we are a sponsor of this ‘party of the year’ in the most unique space in the city. From dinner-by-the-bite samples by Cincinnati’s amazing local restaurants, creative cocktails and entertainment, as an attendee you will also be able to wander through themed sections of the Zoo.

 

Individual tickets and ticket packages are available. Visit http://cincinnatizoo.org/events/zoofari/ for more information. We hope to see you there!

The Steps We Take to Protect Your Identity

The Steps We Take to Protect Your Identity

Identity theft is inevitable. If it hasn’t already, it will victimize you, a family member, or an employee’s life in the near future. ‘Data Harvesting’ has become a major threat to identity protection. Browsing history, online shopping, and messaging data is being used against you.

 

The statistics are overwhelming. Cyber attacks, malware, and phishing scams have increased over 1000% since Covid-19 began. There are 3.5M Google searches every minute and 4.4B Facebook messages each day … all of that information is collected, stored, and sold. Essentially, your data is being stolen then sold back to you.

 

As a leader in the identity protection space, we are advocating for laws to protect the American consumer from Data Harvesting. Additionally, of the 8.5 billion IP addresses worldwide, 3.5 billion of them are malware. It is our hope that stronger IT security efforts are implemented in America (and worldwide) to block the thieves from stealing your information.

 

Protecting identity includes five main steps:

 

1. Implementing proactive safeguards with Guard Well fraud specialists.

2. Protecting personal identifying information (PII), such as social security number, date of birth, driver’s license ID number, financial institution account numbers, passport number, IP addresses, passwords, etc. Remember that even the smallest amount of stolen PII can be used against you.

3. Browsing in incognito or private mode, deleting unused email accounts, using two-factor authentication whenever possible, changing your passwords every 60 days, and removing your information from ‘people finder’ sites.

4. Monitoring credit and identity to quickly detect theft/fraud when it occurs.

5. Resolving all theft/fraud issues completely and continuously monitoring for recurrence.

 

Finally … we always strongly recommend that you DO NOT CLICK on any online link that you are not 100% certain is safe, secure and legit.

 

For more information on how to protect your employees by providing this must-have voluntary benefit, please click on the flyer: GW_Flyer_070821_OnePageMktgPiece

 

Our team at Guard Well Identity Theft Solutions is available 24/7/365. Contact us at 888.966.GUARD (4827) or email memberservices@guardwellid.com if you suspect fraud or have any concerns.

The Biggest Ransomware Attack Ever

The Biggest Ransomware Attack Ever

On Friday, July 2nd, an affiliate of the REvil gang (Russian-linked) infected millions of victims in at least 17 countries via the US IT software company Kayesa. Our cybersecurity team has learned that the company’s software was used to slip into victims’ systems, which they’re now holding hostage.

 

The hackers have demanded $70 million in cryptocurrency to end what is now the biggest ransomware attack on record. The attack was specifically timed for the 4th of July holiday weekend when most office workers would be out of office. As reported in The Washington Post, most of the 1,500 victimized organizations were public agencies and small businesses.

 

The ransomware attack “has temporarily shutdown hundreds of Sweden’s Coop grocery stores because the cash registers locked up. The full scope of the attack probably won’t be known for quite some time.” The Associated Press noted that “due to the potential scale of this incident, the FBI and CISA may be unable to respond to each victim individually.”

 

Unfortunately this is not REvil’s first attack. Last month, timed with the Memorial Day weekend, the group extorted $11 million from meat supplier JBS after forcing it to shut down all of its manufacturing facilities.

 

Please contact us 24/7/365 at 888.966.4827 (GUARD) if you have any concerns or suspect identity theft. Additionally, you can email memberservices@guardwellid.com. Day or night, we’ve got your back and will always be open for you.

 

Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash