How Much Is Your Identity Worth?

Todays crims may not be after the families silver or the DVR and Telly in the corner, long gone are the days of some guy coming up to you in a pub and saying, ‘Hey mate I got a load of DVR’s you after one’?

It would be more like, “I have some fresh credit cards tested, if your quick you could get a couple of grand with buying some on line kit straight away.

This is big business, and I mean BIG business, so lets get some perspective.

In the USA alone in 2011 over 11 million adults fell victims to Identity theft, A massive increase by over 12% on the previous year and growing and growing.

Don’t think the UK is safe either, because it is on the increase here as well.

The postman drops a letter on your door mat, you see it is the water rates, a couple of days later, yep you guessed it, the telephone bill. OK we all hate bills its a fact of life, but the burglar is starting to love these bills. Nope, there not going to pay them for you, but the information, like account numbers, middle names, date of birth are all things that are personal to you and therefore, in the right/wrong hands which ever way you look at it, used correctly can request credit and can get things from others that probably are not that clued up.

Then guess what? yep thats right, all these bills are kept in a drawer in the kitchen along with the gas bill, electricity bill, spare key for the car, a probably the details of the car as well. So you can now imagine that before it was the TV etc, now a quick look around and a burglar could be out of your house in less that five minutes with the most important piece thing you hold dear and until now did not put a value on it. Your Identity !!!

To compound it if you are as sorted as my good lady is, then all these documents are listed in some sort of easy to sift through order in a filling cabinet. Giving the crim an index to see what is best to take and what he can do without.

Being in the security industry, we listen to peoples pains and anguish every day as they are phoning us up after the horse has bolted so to speak, so this is real and we, to keep our filing cabinet locked, and all our important documents in a safe, Passports, National Insurance numbers, and lots more are kept safely in a fire rated safe in a location that Im not telling :-)

We all need to wise up to ID theft it is very real, and if you have been a victim you may find credit reference agencies, could black list your name and address for years to come, getting a loan from a bank, buying on credit, all may come back saying thanks but no thanks, even Credit cards that you have, now could be calling saying when are we going to get paid for money that you did not spend.

For the Criminal it is easy to do, in and out in a flash, carrying paper is even easier than the TV!

Get decent locks, get a decent alarm and finally a decent safe. These should be considered as the bare minimum. Maintain a healthy security envelope around you, your home and your identity.

Hope this helps.

Written by Darrel Walters, Head of the tech department @Locks_Online
Managing Director and head of The Walters Group and have been for over 23 years
TRUST Security – Trust LocksOnline

How Identity Thieves Justify Their Pursuits

Note: This is a summary of research done by Heith Copes and Lynne Vieraitis. I highly recommend reading the full paper at:  Identity Theft: Assessing Offenders’ Strategies and Perceptions of Risk

When you hear about crimes, you might think, “How can the criminal do that?” But did you know? Criminals justify their crimes. When a criminal decides to commit crime, he goes through a psychological process of sanitizing the conscience so that the crime can be accomplished. Offenders mentally rationalize their actions and neutralize the guilt associated with them before deciding to commit crime. And identity thieves are no exception to the rule.

Using linguistic devices to blunt the moral force of the law and to neutralize the guilt of criminal participation, the offenders make themselves believe that their actions are ‘acceptable’ if not ‘right’, thus protecting their self-image from serious damage. You tell us, what can social controls do to check or inhibit deviant motivational patterns in situations like these?

Of the offenders interviewed, nearly sixty-percent (n = 35) articulated at least one technique of neutralization and several (n=14) used multiple techniques. However, all the techniques were not mentioned and some techniques were used more frequently than others. The neutralization techniques used by offenders emerged naturally during conversations with no deliberate attempt made to elicit these responses.

It was found that there are many ways in which offenders justify or excuse their crime. Identity thieves, however, tend to rely on a few. In order of frequency, denial of injury, appeal to higher loyalties, denial of victim, and denial of responsibility are the most common excuses used by identity thieves.

Many identity thieves believe that stealing identities causes no real harm to victims because they think the credit damage can be repaired by the victim with a few calls and there is no direct financial loss in it for them.

Other identity thieves, however, do acknowledge the victims only to label them as large, face-less organizations like banks and corporations that deserve victimization (i.e., denial of the victim).

Likewise, individuals who work within an organization to carry out their crimes sometimes rely on the diffusion of responsibility to excuse themselves. Claiming that they only played a minimal role in the crime, they believe they should not be judged like the others. The evidence these individuals point to to prove that they “didn’t really do anything”? The small amount of money they made.

Noble intents, mostly helping people, is another excuse identity thieves use to make sense of and justify their crimes. Some said they did it for their children while others pointed to the fact they had done it just to help that random stranger they had met at a bus station.

Thus, it appears that neutralization is a technique that does not just initiate people into identity theft; it is also a technique identity thieves use to continue their current line of behavior.

Juice Jacking – Add It To Your List Of Security Threats

It is becoming more and more evident that the notorious people out there have a lot of unscrupulous yet brilliant ideas going through their heads. What else can explain the plethora of ways they come up with to steal our valuable data or install malware on our beloved devices? From data stealing softwares to malware installing downloads and from malicious websites to laptop batteries that hack our computers; we doubt if they have left any stone unturned. But it looks like they have just turned a new stone to further steal our data or infect our devices with malware.

Ever heard of “juice jacking”? Don’t worry if you haven’t! The newest (explains why you haven’t heard of it!) addition to our list of security threats, juice jacking involves stealing data from your cellphone or smartphone or installing malware to it when you charge it at a free charging kiosk. Yes, this concept might be practically theoretical at the moment and it might be rarely used but it does have chances of becoming a real threat anytime soon. They say incidents of juice jacking are under reported so we have a hunch that “soon” means really soon.

So, just how does juice jacking occur? Have you ever charged your smartphone or cell phone at those innocent looking kiosks; the ones at the airports, hotels or shopping malls? Chances are you have. Who wouldn’t appreciate a charging kiosk when he has a battery starved smartphone and use it? We would! But once you read this, you are never going to be able to think of them as innocent. Alright, all of them might not be guilty of the crime but still, you won’t have the same perception about them. As you must have already seen, charging kiosks are equipped with USB ports. And did you know? Many smartphones transfer data or sync whenever they are plugged directly into USB ports! So, the charging kiosk has a USB port and your smartphone is configured to transfer or sync as soon as it is plugged in, which equals to disaster if the kiosk has been programmed by an unscrupulous someone to download data or upload malware to your device. So, the next time you go up to the kiosk, think twice before you plug in your smartphone or cell phone. But we guess, merely giving it a second thought is not enough. In fact, you should do something to protect your device from juice jacking.

An obvious prevention measure would be to never use the kiosks in the first place. Just think about it; if you practice smartphone battery saving tips, you will not run out of your battery for a long time during which you can get home and charge your device safely. At times when you are out on the road for long periods of time and you do run out of battery, don’t forget to pack your own charger. That way you can plug it into a regular charging outlet and be safe from juice jacking. Or how about using battery powered or solar powered charging devices? That should keep you safe too. However, sometimes, you might not have a choice and you might absolutely need to use the kiosk. If such a situation arises, it is recommended that you switch off your smartphone or cell phone completely before you plug it in. It might prevent your data from being exposed. You might be thinking just turning off your USB transfer mode should do the trick since it’s the USB that is responsible for the data transfer. But it has been observed that it is doing to do you no good.

These days, people use their smartphones for almost everything; for work, for entertainment, for financial transactions, and what not? Unless you want your precious data to fall into the wrong hands or you want a malware uploaded on your device, we suggest that you take the said security measures. As the old adage says, a little prevention goes a long way. This rings even truer today when there are security threats all around us.