The Dangers of Being Polite When It Comes to Keeping Data Secure

posted on Wednesday, January 24, 2024 in SHAZAM Blog

Our lives are constantly becoming more digital. From what we buy, to the apps we download, to the accounts we set up for autopay, all this activity creates data. Some of this data, such as our favorite websites and online purchases, enhances our online experience. But other data, such as your home address, social security number, or financial information, is more serious data worth protecting.  

We can’t control how all our data is collected. However, we still have a right to data privacy, especially when it comes to our personally identifiable information. This sensitive, unique information is exactly what scammers are looking to trick you into giving up. The good news is you can help protect your personal information by keeping your accounts secure. 

Staying Ahead of Scammers

Fraudsters are constantly using social engineering tricks to try to fool you into giving up your sensitive data. They contact people under false pretenses, posing as someone you trust, such as your financial institution, to “phish” for information. Their messages may ask you to open a link to unlock your account. Or they might use urgent warnings of account closure or security breaches to play on your emotions and override your better judgment to click on their malicious links.  

While these messages may look like they’re coming from a trustworthy individual or business, clicking on the link in a phishing scheme may send users to a fake site where scammers can collect data, such as login info. Clicking on the attachment can install malware on your device.  

However, there are tell-tale signs to protect yourself and your data.

Unusual contact. Did you receive an email or text from a contact you don’t recognize? Be wary of these messages. When in doubt, report it as a suspicious email or block the number.  

Misspelled words. If you see misspelled words or odd grammar, they’re all clear signs of an impersonator.  

Suspicious URLs. Phishing emails use deceptive URLs to take you to malicious websites. Hover over the link to make sure the URL is legitimate, and never click links you weren’t expecting. 

Protecting Your Passwords

Password protected accounts are designed to keep other people from accessing your accounts and seeing your personal information. But what if you and a coworker need to access the same document, or you and your extended family use the same streaming service login? If you shared your password for these reasons, you’re not alone. However, it makes your account less secure.  

Once you share your password, even with someone you trust, you’ve lost full control of your account. The more people who have your password, the higher the likelihood of that account’s password being caught in a phishing attack.  

If you’ve shared a password, consider changing it. While you’re at it, take the time to change any other accounts you have with the same password. Having a different password for each account limits the potential impact of someone with bad intentions getting their hands on one of your passwords. 

Here are some tips to create a strong password if you’re stuck.

Trust but Verify 

Social engineering attacks also happen in person. For example, a person may be disguised as a service technician to get buzzed into a secure building. When you are unsure of a person’s true intentions, it’s okay to ask for identification or confirm with your manager. Never let anyone go where they aren’t allowed to be, always have your vendors chaperoned, and don’t let the fear of being impolite be someone else’s ticket to gaining access into restricted areas. Nothing is ever so urgent it can’t be verified.  

Taking the time to verify could save you and your institution from a much bigger headache.  

Article Contributor: Nathaniel Andersen, IT Specialist 

SHAZAM, Inc. and ITS, Inc. provide this blog for general informational purposes only. Our blog may be shared by a direct link wherein the content remains as originally presented and has not been altered. SHAZAM, Inc. and ITS, Inc. assume no responsibility for errors or omissions in the contents on the blog. By using this blog, reader agrees that the information published does not constitute nor is a substitute for legal advice which should only be sought from a qualified, licensed attorney. 


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