Protect personal, business information from hackers - Paycheck

Protect personal, business information from hackers

   It’s all about vigilance – both online and in public – when it comes to hacking prevention. But in a technological world, hacking is inevitable. Taking steps to decrease the chances is important for everyone.

   “The most important thing is knowing who you're talking to,” said Detective Chris Buescher of the Janesville Police Department. “If you solve that issue, you won’t fall victim.”

   Anybody of any age or mental state can easily become a victim of hacking. A current scam involves receiving text messages warning of driver license suspension. These messages ask recipients to enter personal information in order to have their licenses reinstated.

   According to an article from the Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles published in November 2020, there are ways to prevent this type of fraud. Paying attention to renewal cycles, which are on a person’s birthday every eight years, can help people be aware of potentially fraudulent activity. Renewing online through the DMV website is secure.

   Watching for products ordered from the DMV to arrive is also helpful. The article states licenses and ID cards should arrive within 10 business days after placing an order. Mailed in applications can take about one month. If products don’t arrive within those time frames, the article suggests people should check up on them.

   Keeping all vehicle titles in a safe place and the registration inside the vehicle are also good ideas when trying to prevent hacking. And subscribing to the DMV’s eNotify service to receive alerts when changes are made as well as renewal reminders can also help, according to the article.

   Buescher said although online scams are a problem for many people, physical thievery of stealing purses and wallets is still very prevalent. As the technological era began many years ago, it was common for hackers to steal personal information from the magnetic strips on credit cards or to put skimmers on credit card readers at gas pumps. These days, thieves seem to find it easier to simply steal somebody’s physical belongings, he said. Being very aware of surroundings is always crucial.

   “There are so many different types of thieves out there these days,” he said. “There are crews that travel around the country to grocery stores, athletic clubs and other public places where people turn their backs on their belongings. One person may create a distraction while another steals something.”

   Businesses are just as hackable, but in different ways, he said. Most business scams start with phishing emails. Hackers hope somebody within a company will respond to what appears to be a legitimate email or website link. These phishing scams typically provide links to websites that, at the first glance from a busy or distracted employee, appear completely normal and safe.

   “The URL link might be just one letter or digit off from the actual legitimate website or email address,” Buescher said. “Busy workers open it, follow instructions and check something off their to-do list without even realizing they might have just provided important information to hackers.”

   Buescher said the primary way hackers obtain information from people and businesses online is through email scams. But online banking is also a significant target, he said.

   “The world is moving toward having everything online, so it’s important to watch monthly bank and credit card statements, stay clean online and keep software and malware updated,” he said.

Mary Hookham

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