cyber crime

October is known for pumpkins, scary movies and trick or treating, but it is also known for bringing awareness to cyber-crime. In fact, October is deemed as National Cyber Security Awareness Month. It was established as a way of encouraging awareness of cyber crimes and to strengthen our ability to protect ourselves. Protecting yourself online is so critical, as making one mistake gives hackers the opportunity to inflict significant damage.

Preventative measures are key. You may believe that it will never happen to you, but it is better to remain on the offensive and take the necessary steps. Check out some tips for protecting yourself online.

 

Tip 1: Switch Up Your Passwords

You may have already heard this before, but ensure you have different passwords for all your accounts. If a hacker can get into one of your accounts, at least they won’t access them all when different passwords are used. Also, don’t use common passwords like “1234” or “password” or something that may be easy to guess, such as your birthday. Don’t share your password with others and don’t write it down. Use more than eight characters when you set up a password, with a mix of characters.

Additionally, it’s effective to have separate emails attached to different accounts. If you conduct banking online, as most of us do, have an email account set up solely for banking purposes. If you use one email account and a hacker retrieves it, all they must do is enter a simple “password reset” to your email account and then they have access to all your information, including your hard-earned money.

 

Tip 2: Lock Those Devices

It may seem like a bother to enter a password every time you login to your computer or you want to send a quick text. These days, a lot of us have everything on our phones, including our banking information. Protect yourself by locking your devices and never leave your devices unattended—even for a minute.

 

Tip 3: Be Aware of Your Online Activity

Always be wary of attachments you receive over email, especially if the source is unfamiliar. Before clicking any links in articles, inspect the link. Often links with poor spelling direct you to harmful sites.

Also, if you must use a public computer or a friend’s phone, don’t conduct any online shopping or enter any banking information.

 

Tip 4: Be Careful What You Share

Be mindful of what you’re sharing on social media and your privacy settings. Posting information such as where you work, where you live or when you’re going on vacation leaves you vulnerable to hackers dying to take advantage. Make sure you check your privacy settings on your accounts too, because that leaves you more exposed.

If you receive any random phone calls from people asking for personal information, it’s okay to say no and call the organization directly. In these instances, it’s better to be safe than to be sorry.

 

Tip 5: Dispose of Media and Hard Drives Properly

Throwing out any unused or broken electronics even when erasing your hard drive is still risky. The most effective way to destroy any chance of data retrieval is  through hard drive destruction. Erasing your hard drive does not ensure that the information has been deleted for good. Throwing your electronics in the trash is not only bad for the environment, but it’s bad for your security.

Also, always make sure you report any suspicious activity on your accounts. A vast number of data breaches start with physical documents, so a shredding company is your first means of protecting yourself.

For more information on our shredding services and hard drive destruction solutions, contact SAFESHRED today or call us at 1-800-987-4733.

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September 26th is National Situational Awareness Day, so we thought we’d take some time to talk about different ways you can be more aware of how you present your personal information online and during day-to-day activities.

Carelessness Can Be Costly

In 2016, 15.4 million people became victims of monetary fraud or identity theft. The average amount lost per person was around a thousand dollars. Sometimes, the true cost of the theft may not become evident until several years after the fact. Personal data, like email addresses and account numbers, can be hoarded and later sold online. When the theft or fraud is finally noticed, it can cost untold hours in frustration and worry to get everything sorted out – and even then, there’s no guarantee that the stolen money will be compensated or returned.

The online world is home to our shopping, work, and social lives. We receive credit statements, ID cards, and bank reports through the mail, after which we can examine them in the comfort of our own home. The price for such convenience, however, can easily be found in how often and how easily we put ourselves at risk. Adopting healthier data management habits can help reduce the risk of identity theft and can help grant better control over sensitive information.

Good Online Safety Habits

  • Keep passwords unique – and keep them safe. Surely no one would use 123456 as a password anymore, right? Think again. A study from the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) found that those numbers, in that order, appeared in over 23 million passwords. Create a unique and memorable password for every account, and don’t share them with friends.
  • Never use a debit card for online purchases. Debit cards draw directly from your private checking account, which means that if it’s compromised, it could be a lot harder to get the money back. Credit cards, conversely, tend to have better protections in place. Even then, you can also get a one-time virtual credit card number from your bank, limiting the use to a single vendor.
  • Keep your phone number private. It can be hard to imagine navigating everything from social scenes to online purchases without a phone number. However, handing out your number to someone you just met can be a big risk. Use an app to create a burner number and save your real one for people and sources you trust.
  • Don’t surf freely on public Wi-Fi. On an unprotected, unsecured network, it’s easy for someone to peek at what you’re doing, and that can include seeing account details or password information.
  • Think before you post. If you post a picture online, you might also be sharing your physical location. If you mention you shop somewhere often, or just can’t get enough of the lattes from this one coffee shop, that information stays available for anyone to find. Carefully consider what you’re posing before you hit the submit button.
  • Read the privacy policy (yes, really). Privacy policies explicitly state how the information you’re submitting will be used. Sometimes, companies will share their customer information with other businesses or automatically sign you up for mailers. Know what you’re getting into before you continue.

Safe Practices for Home

  • Destroy documents with private information on them. Yes, this means the birthday card envelope from your uncle with your home address on it. It also includes anything with your phone number, your social security number, any ID numbers, school records, and credit card details. Pieces from single-strand shredders are relatively easy to put back together, so you may want to invest in a one-time paper shredding service.
  • Keep your ID cards in one, secure place on your person when you go out. Driver’s licenses are one of the most desired targets for thieves and fraudsters, and the violation can be hard to recover from. Similarly, social security cards, credit cards, and other forms of ID should never be left unprotected. If you must carry them with you, keep them somewhere close and never leave them unattended.
  • Request a credit report at least once a year. If there’s odd activity or missing/incorrect information, you may need to take more proactive steps to investigate. It’s an easy, free way to keep an eye on your accounts.
  • Don’t give out any private details over the phone. Phone scams are one of the most common. Your phone will ring, and on the other end, an urgent-sounding individual demanding money or information in order to pay a bill or restore service to a utility. Hang up and call the institution or business back at a verified number.

Be Proactive Through Mobile Document Shredding

Many of the above tips are behavioral in nature, requiring either a change in habit or an action. One, however, requires both the decision to act and the mechanical equipment to follow through.

Residents and home businesses often find they benefit immensely from the peace of mind that follows a one-time paper shredding appointment. They can observe the destruction of their documents in real time and can relax in the knowledge that the particles will be safely transported to a recycling facility for processing. The only preparation required is the gathering of all documents to be destroyed.

For more information on mobile document shredding and how it could benefit your business, call 1-800-987-4733 or send us a message online!

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Data security has become a prime concern for many Americans and businesses alike. With California filing the third highest number of identity theft complaints of any US state per capita, it’s clear that data security is a real issue which has held fairly steadily over the past few years; despite new advancements in data security technology and practices.

Thankfully, governments at both the state and federal level have worked to act and try to reduce the risks for consumers and organizations across the country. With many different pieces of legislation being crafted for various industries with different information needs, one piece of legislation stands out as impacting nearly all US businesses and consumers.

 

A Brief Look at the History of FACTA

Signed into law in late 2003, The Fair and Accurate Transactions Act (FACTA) was put together by federal lawmakers as an amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. It was crafted with the goal of helping consumers to protect their personal information, and to hold organizations and users of consumer data who fail to protect it, accountable. The act applies to nearly all consumers and organizations in and across the US.

 

What do Businesses and Consumers Need to do?

FACTA requires organizations that maintain and use consumer information to take reasonable measures to protect the data of both consumers and employees. This includes making sure that sensitive data is properly disposed of through the right channels, and with methods that ensure that information can’t make it into the wrong hands. Consumer information can refer to things like:

  • Drivers licenses
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Physical address
  • Social security numbers

 

Professional Shredding Services Offer a Solution

Document shredding has come to be a proven method for the secure disposal of physical and electronic information. When done professionally and with the right equipment, shredding services ensure that information stored on paper documents and hard drives is virtually non-recoverable, and permanently destroyed.

FACTA requires impacted organizations to take “reasonable measures” to ensure such information does not fall into the wrong hands. Reasonable measures have come to include burning, pulverizing or shredding of paper documents. Contracting a document destruction professional also qualifies and is highly encouraged.

 

Let Our Team Help Your Organization Comply with FACTA Rules and Regulations

SAFESHRED maintains the team, equipment and experience needed to ensure that the job is done to the highest quality. No matter whether you prefer on-site or drop-off services, regular or one-off, paper or hard drive; we can do it all.

No matter the job size, our team can take care of it! Talk to us today to find out more about our shredding services and service region.

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No matter whether you use a computer for personal or business purposes, you’ve likely become at least somewhat familiar with computer viruses and the damage they can cause. The reality is that cyber security is a truly critical piece that should be considered any time you use a device connected to the internet. The risks and potential damages that can arise from a lack of cyber security management can be irritating in mild circumstances, and completely devastating in the worst cases.

Cyber security refers to the protection of devices that maintain a connection to the internet. It can be applied to devices such as computers, mobile phones, tablets, smart watches and much more. Cyber security includes the protection of both hardware and software.

 

No Single Solution for Truly Effective Cyber Security

Cyber-security relies on many different things in order to be truly impacting and effective. Generally speaking; this means that simply updating software and installing anti-malware software isn’t enough to have a truly robust cyber security solution. The human element is vital to successful cyber security measures; picking strong passwords, staying away from questionable websites, and being mindful of what you type into a website are all important things to consider maintaining a truly effective protocol.

Email is an area of concern and vulnerability. For many email users, phony emails can often be found by simply browsing your junk email folder (just don’t open any of these emails!). Many senders will use email to lure in users to click a malicious link or website. Knowing how to spot a phony email is key. Take a look at Cisco’s phishing quiz to see how well you can spot fake emails and websites.

 

Multiple Approaches of Attack

Cyber attackers have many ways of going after internet users. Here are some of the most common forms of cyber-attacks:

 

  • Phishing– Phishing is when cyber attackers use websites or emails that appear to be legitimate to draw (or “fish”) victims in. Such websites and emails often imitate other websites, organizations or individuals in order to lure users in.

 

  • Malware – Broadly defined, malware is any software that is designed with malicious intent. Malware can include things such as computer viruses and worms. Malware can also often be found to imitate the appearance of other safe programs or applications.

 

  • Ransomware – This is likely the most frightening of the three listed to experience. Ransomware is when a computer or device is targeted by a hacker and is taken over in its entirety; often through encryption. The user is usually presented with a full screen that reads a message demanding a form of compensation to return access to the computer and its files.

 

With more and more organizations turning to computers to create, manage and store information, cyber security has never been a more vital piece to be mindful of. Proper cyber security can protect not just your employees and devices, but also your entire business.

 

Physical Data Destruction You Can Count on

Cyber security is vital, but it is only a part of total data security. Protect your physical data with SAFESHRED secure document shredding services. Our team of shredding technicians provide secure document and hard drive shredding services right on site when you need them.

If you’re looking for secure shredding services that you can count on, talk to our team today to get started on putting together a solution that works for you!

 

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It can seem like a great idea to save you time and money. Picking up and using your typical office shredder in your home or workplace. Why bother paying to do this when you’re handling it all fine by yourself? The right papers are being shredded on time, shredded material is being recycled properly, and secure retention is being executed. You’re as safe as you can be, aren’t you?

If this is your approach to shredding, then you’re going to be in for a shock, as you’re far more vulnerable than you think. There are unforeseen expenses that will rack up over time, the actual shredding isn’t secure, and you’ll have a hard time proving proper compliance with privacy regulations. A professional shredder will take care of this for you, ensuring your peace of mind. Let’s have a look at each point first.

Unforeseen Expenses

While an office shredder may initially seem like the cheaper option, you are in fact getting exactly what you pay for. The motors in these machines are not up to the job of long-term shredding, and will often burn out, leaving you with a pricey paper weight. Should you choose to spend a little more the first time for a higher quality shredder, you may get more time out of it, but in the end, it’ll suffer the same fate.

That’s all just the shredder itself. This doesn’t take into effect the additional costs of making sure you have proper retention methods for storing papers. All costs ad up over time, and in the end you’ll be out more by going it alone.

Unsecured Shredding

So what exactly do we mean by “unsecured shredding”? What we are referring to here is the actual shred pattern itself. Most office shredders tend to shred papers into long, thin strips, which are easily reconstructed. Anybody with too much time on their hands and a degree of dedication could sift through the remains and rebuild each page, and then they have all the information you tried to destroy. The more expensive units can shred more securely but see back to our points on unforeseen expenses. Professional shredding reduces papers to fine confetti, making reconstruction completely impossible.

Privacy Compliance

Keeping up with all the privacy regulations you are under can be difficult, especially if you have an operation across multiple states. While you need to know this, a professional shredder can help you prove that you are staying in compliance. When you have shredded records with a professional, you will receive a certificate of destruction, an official document that proves you have completed your shredding.

When you don’t meet compliance, or can not prove it, you will be in some trouble. A lose of trust with your client base is only the start if you have clients. Fines may be leveled against you for violating your compliance requirements. Should a data breech occur, and you have been found out, or be unable to prove, your shredding efforts, you’ll be facing massive damage that may takes years to recover from. Assuming you can recover from the damage to begin with.

We’re Here To Help

If we’ve managed to convince you, or if you have some questions, get in touch with us. We’ll help you out with your needs and close as many vulnerabilities as possible.

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Using our shredding services comes with several advantages, not the least of which is how we’ve designed them to maximize security and convenience. Nothing says these have to be mutually exclusive, and we work hard to make sure you get to benefit from both.

Our Shredding Trucks

The advantage of shredding trucks is their ability to come to any location at any time. We’re able to reach all of our clients no matter where they are located in our service area. It also allows us to service any job no matter the size. Doing all shredding right on-site before your eyes allows you to view the whole process and provides you with great peace of mind that the job has been completed successfully and to your satisfaction. Certificates of Destruction are provided to you on the spot for your records, letting you verify you have met your shred needs.

The flexibility these offer also lets us provide you with the options to receive shredding once or on a schedule. This ensures that everyone can stay on top of their shredding needs no matter what they are. By doing so you won’t fall victim to any compliance fines for falling behind.

Shred Bins

When files are being retained, or you find yourself in between visits from the shred truck, you’ll have to keep your records secure. One solution is to keep them locked in a file cabinet or a safe, but this isn’t a great plan for files with a high turn-over rate. What is needed is something that is secure while being quick and easy. The solution to this is the afore mentioned shred bins.

These bins and desk consoles are simply containers with a lock and letter slot on them. This lets you dispose of them easily, reducing any loss in productivity, while keeping papers safe. The bins are placed in strategic locations around your business and office to make them easy to access. When the time for shredding has come, one of our uniformed staff members will come in, wheel the bins out to the waiting truck and commence with the shred action.

Ready to Shred

When it’s time for you to consider shred services, make sure you look for the mobile shredding option with shred bins. By maximizing security and convenience you can make sure your document disposal process is as secure and easy as it can be made. Getting service is as simple as reaching out to us and telling us your needs. We’ll help to determine what is best for your needs.

 

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Spring Cleaning Your Desk

On April 30th, 2019, posted in: SAFESHRED News by

We’ve come to that time once again, a time where we look to any messes that have accumulated over winter seasons and declare that they must go. Spring cleaning can be a hassle, but it’s also a relief once its been cleared away. While you’re in cleaning mode, it’s a good time to take a hard look at the growing clutter happening at your desk, be it at home or work.

So why might you want to do this anyways? Well it all comes down to staying on top of any secure information that may have ended up lost in the mess. It happens to all of us. Papers come in and get put to the side on top of one another, and then more come in and it happens again. Sometimes this happens right on the desk’s surface, other times it happens in a drawer as papers get pushed back into their depths.

If you’re vigilant about what is being kept then this probably isn’t a problem for you. However, for the rest of us who aren’t necessarily on top of it all the time, this is a chance to get caught up. Speaking of getting caught up, where do we even start this process?

Getting Caught Up

So depending on how bad the build up is will depend on how long it will take to get it all done. The only way to get caught up is just to dive in and do it. Doing it properly is just as important as doing it to begin with.

By this point you should probably know the types of things you need to be on the look out for in that mass of papers. If not, here’s a quick reminder of some of the items to be on the lookout for:

  • Financial information
  • Medical records
  • Bank & Credit card statements
  • Pages with names and address on them

In addition to cleaning up your desk, there are other areas where you may need to have a look at this spring. We won’t go over it all here as you can see our recent article on the subject, but some times we do not realize that an area could be a problem for this sort of thing.

If you need assistance with this sort of clean up, then our experts at SAFESHRED can assist you. Simply contact us and provide the details, and we’re more than happy to lend a hand.

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Information safety has a few common areas that are obvious when it comes to data breach risks. Improper disposal of hard drives and secure records carelessly thrown into the garbage are among the most common. Working with a certified secure shredding company like SAFESHRED can help you identify areas you may not have thought of beforehand.

Paper Records

The areas around printers are always a hot spot for papers. Very often you’ll get excess papers by mistake, or something went wrong during the print. These pages are of course disposed of, but sometimes left on the printer, in the nearest receptacle. You need to be aware that these papers still contain sensitive information and must still be disposed of properly, keeping secure shred bins near by is a good way to mitigate this problem.

This problem can also manifest at our very desks. Let’s be honest, we’ve all been there. Papers and clutter taking over the desk happens to the best of us. What’s absolutely vital is to make sure none of those papers are a security risk. Just like with printers, keeping a desk side console for the excess is a great way of preventing this, or even using a lockable desk draw for those records needing retention.

Data Files

Keeping older computers around for parts or just as back up isn’t an uncommon practice, but it can lead to some security issues when they haven’t been cleared and secured properly. Any one could slip into a room with a USB and attempt to recover data from these machines. Like wise your server room could be at risk for similar problems if it’s not secure. Making sure the data is encrypted, disposed of properly, and keeping rooms securely locked is vital in our digital age.

On the topic of old USB’s, are you keeping track of all yours? These devices are easy to “misplace”, and if that’s how you’re transferring data around then you need to keep a close eye on them. Likewise, with old CD-ROMs, if you aren’t using them anymore then you need to have them properly destroyed so they don’t become a risk. Any data that might still be needed should be transferred to more modern and secure storage methods, and then the disks destroyed. The same goes for those old floppy disks, but hopefully you’ve handled those things long ago!

If you need assistance identifying areas of risk, or are ready to act on them already, reach out to us and tell us your needs. Our secure processes will help to reduce the risks of information theft from affecting you.

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Bringing Document Shredding To LA County

On February 27th, 2019, posted in: SAFESHRED News by

Businesses and residents of LA county can rest a bit easier about identity theft and information fraud when they partner with a secure shredding company like SAFESHRED. Our services are designed to ensure the maximum amount of security while being as convenient as we can make them. In addition to security and convenience, our services are tailored to help the sustainability effort and reduce our environmental impact.

Our Shred Services

Our services cover a range of options so you can always be choosing the right one for you. Onsite document shredding gives you the maximum level of convenience without sacrificing security by having a shred truck come to your location. Since all shredding is done onsite you’ll be able to watch the whole process, ensuring your own peace of mind. The trucks themselves hold an industrial grade shredder that reduces all material into a fine confetti that makes it impossible to reconstruct documents. All material is then taken to be recycled into new paper products.

If onsite services aren’t your thing, we have a modern shred facility where you can simply pop in and drop off what you need destroyed. This is great if you’re only looking for some quick one-time services to take care of your needs. While no job is to big or small for us, we ensure all our options are available to you. All shredding clients are provided a Certificate of Destruction upon completion of the job. With this you will be able to prove that you’ve taken care of your secure shredding needs.

Why it Matters

Identity theft and information fraud remains on the rise sadly, and it is more important than ever to ensure you are doing what needs to be done to ensure your safety and the safety of your clients and employees. Becoming a victim is a hard thing to deal with as it can lead to years of hardship in trying to prove your information has been stolen and it’s not you doing something you shouldn’t be. In addition, the loss of trust with clients and customers can potentially lead to permanent damage to your name and brand.

Aside from the above risks, there are also compliance regulations you need to be adhering to. Failure to do so can result in fines being leveled against you. Make sure you are aware of what the state and federal level regulations are. If operating in multiple states you will find yourself under multiple state level regulations that you will need to adhere to, but if you are only in one state then there will be only that state’s regulations to understand and be made aware of.

How To Request it

Benefiting from our services is as easy as reaching out and contacting us and passing along what your needs are. We’ll work with you to determine what service is best if you’re unsure what you need. All residents and businesses in LA county shouldn’t be without a plan for their information protection needs, and we’re here to provide it to them.

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With the New Year under way it is a good time to review the compliance regulations and your procedures. It can be easy to slip into routine and fall behind on staying updated with anything that changes. In addition, the retention period of certain records may have come to an end, and it is important to stay on top of this or else face compliance fines.

State Law

There are state specific privacy laws, in addition to the national levels, which you must be aware of. Operating in only one state certainly makes it easy to be aware of, but for those who operate on a multi-state level will have to be aware of all of them and adhere to them fully. In short; the state of California requires businesses to protect their customers, and employees, private information. While this also sums up the national level, the following will touch on the state specific level.

  • California Senate Bill 1386: an agency, person or business that owns or licenses computerized personal information to disclose any breach of security. With the rise in cyber security and data theft, and the loss of trust in business, this is an extremely vital law to be compliant with.
  • California Online Privacy Protection Act of 2003: COPPA is the California Online Privacy Protection Act of 2003. This act was created for operators of commercial websites that collect confidential data of individuals who use their services. Because California is synonymous with Silicone Valley, lawmakers realized the huge need to protect Internet user information. Most of this data is stored on servers or computer hard drives. This act is another reason why it is extremely important to shred all your old hard drives, especially if you collect client information online.
  • “Shine the Light” Law: This Law applies to any business that hopes to share customer data with other companies. This data becomes the responsibility of any business who ‘owns’ it and requires them to properly store and dispose of this information.
  • The Privacy Act of 1974: The Privacy Act of 1974 was created specifically for any government institution in California that stores confidential information regarding any business or person. These records must be securely stored and when the time comes, shredded in compliance with this act.

For a complete list of links as well as some really good resources you should be aware of, check out our page specifically about all of these things. While there is a lot to be aware of, these things are vital in this age of information and data. Information theft is still on the rise sadly, and it is the responsibility of those who are handling sensitive information to make a difference.

One way that SAFESHRED helps out is by offering secure document shredding services for businesses and residents. When it comes to securely destroying paper documents, shredding really is the best way to do it. If you’re interested and/or would like to learn more, reach out to us and we’ll help you out.

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