How Do You Protect Yourself as Business Hacking Grows?

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The daily news of data theft and cyber-attacks keeps rolling. A California company that handles workers' compensation data and the International Monetary Fund are two of the latest institutions to admit their systems were breached. A study from The Ponemon Institute and Juniper Networks found that 90 percent of businesses were hacked at least once in the last year.

According to SC Magazine, a trade publication for computer security professionals, 78 percent of those surveyed reported more frequent attacks in the past year, and said hackers are using methods that are harder to detect and that have a greater impact on their businesses.  "We are seeing an uptick in hacking for profit and hacking for activism," Johnnie Konstantas, director of marketing of cloud security at Juniper Networks, told SC Magazine in their eye-opening article that notes among other stats: 9 out of 10 businesses were breached in the last year.

It's easy to throw up your hands and feel helpless against this kind of sophisticated hacker attacks and misuse of consumer data. But more education is the key to reducing identity theft and the frauds and scams that follow from it.

Instead of minimizing the impact that ID theft can have on a person or business, media and financial institutions should be teaching how to keep alert and not fall into a scam, how to respond quickly if you think your data has been stolen, and why a little time and money spent on

For example, while many people have become aware that they need to file a police report to document ID theft, too few people know that they should file an identity theft complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, which you can do at the detailed and helpful FTC website about identity theft.

I was dismayed to hear that some banks discourage making a police report when the ID theft amounts to a small amount of money. Most people call their bank or credit card issuer as soon as they notice suspicious activity - if the fraud detectors at their bank don't call them first. But consumers believe that since the bank will protect them from any losses, there's no need to notify law enforcement.

Carol Frederick of the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association notes that failure to report ID theft leaves police at a disadvantage. "While the companies may make customers financially whole, it doesn't help protect the next victim; it merely lets thieves continue their activity undetected and unpunished, moving from one victim to the next. With each new caper, the crooks hone their skills and avoid arrest." Without law enforcement involvement and coordination, these ID thieves commit the same crimes over and over, creating victims all over the country.

Having an FTC complaint as well as a police report on file helps you manage your recovery from an ID theft, because it verifies to creditors and credit reporting agencies that you are a victim of fraud. It also goes into the FTC's Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse, which is used by law enforcement agencies all over the country in their work nabbing scam artists. The collected data helps the FTC and law enforcement track ID theft problems and identify trends.

I can't stress this enough. Whether you're a business owner or an individual, the more informed you are about scams and fraud, the less likely you'll fall victim.
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