Ten Tips to Protect Yourself against Identity Theft
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Things we all have heard before, but it’s good to be reminded:

FRAMINGHAM, Mass., July 21 /PRNewswire/ — A new CSO Magazine Security Sensor(TM) survey of 389 chief security officers (CSOs) and senior security executives reveals the majority of security chiefs believe taking the right precautions will protect the average consumer from becoming a victim of identity theft. More than half of respondents (58%) say identity theft can be prevented, 28% believe identity theft is inevitable regardless of the precautions taken by consumers, while 15% are simply unsure. Of those who believe precautionary steps will help, respondents — comprising the nation’s leading security executives — recommend ten tips in safeguarding against identity theft:


1. Do not share passwords or PIN numbers with anyone (95%)

2. Do not reply to, or click on links within, emails or pop-up messages
that ask for personal or financial information (92%)

3. Update virus protection software regularly (91%)

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4. Update security patches for web browsers and operating systems
regularly (90%)

5. Protect your social security number at all costs (i.e., do not give it
out unless it is mandatory) (90%)

6. Shred, or otherwise destroy, all documents with personal information
prior to disposal (90%)

 

7. Monitor personal credit reports and statements from financial accounts
regularly (89%)

8. Install firewall software (88%)

9. Before transmitting personal information online, verify that the
connection is secure (i.e., check for an “s” after “http” in the URL,
as well as a lock symbol in the lower right-hand corner of the
screen, which indicates the transmission is encrypted) (84%)

10. Do not email personal or financial information (71%)

Only 2% of respondents recommend staying offline altogether as a precautionary measure. A complete list of recommended tips is available at https://web.archive.org/web/20060507085801/http://www.csoonline.com/info/security_sensor_findings_2005-07.pdf.

Interestingly, the majority of respondents (74%) believe the theft of an average consumer’s identity is the fault of both consumers and organizations failing to implement security precautions. Only 16% believe theft is more likely as a result of organization’s failure to protect personal information, while 8% believe lack of security precautions among consumers is more likely to lead to identity theft.

According to CSO magazine editor, Derek Slater, “Cybersecurity really requires cooperation of individuals, companies and government, as these results indicate. The good news is that the steps CSOs recommend for consumers are pretty straightforward. You don’t have to be a computer expert to greatly reduce your risk of identity theft.”

CSOs on Digital Pearl Harbor and Securing Cyberspace:

Forty-five percent (45%) of respondents anticipate a “digital Pearl Harbor” (i.e., a situation where a dedicated group of cyber-terrorists or malicious hackers plunge America into chaos by using computer-technology and the Internet to attack national critical infrastructure) in the future, with 32% anticipating an attack to occur in more than one year and 10% anticipating it to occur within 7-12 months.

Although almost half of security executives responding to the survey anticipate digital Pearl Harbor, the majority of respondents (59%) are not confident in the U.S. government’s ability to successfully secure the U.S. information infrastructure and respond to cyber emergencies. When asked how government could better safeguard cyberspace for its citizens, the top answer from respondents is a tie between establishing better communication with and among the private sector (71%) and educating more people about cybersecurity roles and capabilities (71%). Other high-scoring recommendations include: make cybersecurity a greater priority (70%), educate the nation’s critical infrastructure on cybersecurity risks and how to respond to cyber emergencies (68%), and develop national cyberthreat and vulnerability evaluations and cybersecurity contingency strategies (64%). Of note, 49% of respondents believe consumers, the private sector and the U.S. government are equally responsible for securing cyberspace.

CSOs on Background Checks:

On the topic of background checks, three out of four security executives (78%) say their organizations conduct background checks when making hiring decisions for all new employees. According to respondents’ answers, organizations also conduct background checks when making hiring decisions for specific positions such as management positions or other positions deemed “security sensitive” (55%), when making hiring decisions for temporary workers (43%), when security concerns about current employees are raised (37%) and when making hiring decisions for employees from other countries (28%).

Among the respondents whose companies conduct background checks when considering hiring a new job applicant, the most common types of background checks conducted are: criminal records (89%), address, both present and previous (88%), previous employment history (81%), education records (68%), social security number verification (68%) and character references (67%). Respondents whose companies conduct background checks on new vendors or potential business partners reveal the most common types of checks are: basic financial summary (63%), address, both present and previous (60%), bankruptcy, liens and judgments (54%) and business affiliations (50%).

CSOs at Home

CSOs are also facing cyber security threats on the home front. Survey findings reveal the majority of respondents (and/or someone in their household) experience spyware/adware (75%), virus or other malicious code (71%) and phishing attacks (59%) at home. One in four (24%) respondents cites exposure of private or sensitive information by a third party as something someone in their household personally experienced. Only fourteen percent (14%) of security executives and/or their household members have personally experienced identity theft. Of those respondents who have experienced identity theft in their household, the average dollar amount loss is $1,558.

Methodology:

The CSO Magazine Security Sensor(TM) survey is conducted online between June 8, 2005 and June 28, 2005 among 389 chief security officers and other security executives who subscribe to CSO magazine. An email invitation containing a link to the survey was sent to 15,000 CSO subscribers, receiving 389 completed surveys. Respondents have average company revenues of $8.8 billion, average security budgets of $17.6 million and an average number of 22,835 employees.

CSO subscribers are pre-qualified security executives with security purchasing authority at their organizations. The sample was chosen randomly and each CSO magazine subscriber has an equal probability of being selected. Results have a +/- 5.0% margin of error.

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The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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