You might be surprised to learn that even a child's toy or a simple trash can can potentially lead to a breach of your personal data. While people often focus on securing their computers and cloud accounts, it's important to recognize that everyday objects can also be used by hackers and thieves to access your personal information. While having strong passwords and using antivirus software on your PC are essential, it's equally crucial to be aware of other potential vulnerabilities that could compromise your data security.
At NextGEN IT Solutions, we understand the importance of protecting your personal information from various threats. That's why we want to highlight six common objects that criminals can exploit to steal your information:
1. Old Smartphones:
Many people replace their smartphones approximately every two and a half years, leaving behind a significant number of old devices containing personal data. Consider the vast amount of information stored on mobile phones, including synced connections with cloud services, banking apps, business apps, and personal health apps. With the advancement of chip technology, smartphones can now store documents, spreadsheets, photos, and videos. Cybercriminals can strike gold by finding an old smartphone, often ending up in charity shops or the trash. To protect yourself, it's crucial to properly clean old phones by erasing all data and disposing of them responsibly. Electronics should never be thrown away with regular garbage.
2. Wireless Printers:
In today's world, most printers are wireless and connected to your home or work network. While the convenience of printing from another room is undeniable, the fact that printers connect to the internet can leave your data at risk. Printers can store sensitive documents such as tax paperwork or contracts, yet many people overlook data security when it comes to printers. This oversight can leave them vulnerable to hacking, enabling cybercriminals to access data from the printer and potentially breach other devices on the same network. To protect your data, it's crucial to keep your printer's firmware updated by promptly installing any available updates. Additionally, turning off the printer when not in use prevents unauthorized access.
3. USB Sticks:
Have you ever come across a USB stick lying around? Perhaps you thought you had stumbled upon a free removable storage device, or you wanted to return it to its rightful owner as a good Samaritan. However, plugging in a USB device of unknown origin into your computer can be a risky move. Hackers often plant malware on these sticks and intentionally leave them as bait. Once you plug an infected USB stick into your device, it can instantly infect your system. To mitigate this risk, it's important to refrain from plugging in USB devices of unknown origin and to exercise caution when handling such devices.
4. Old Hard Drives:
When disposing of old computers or removable drives, it's crucial to ensure that they are properly cleaned. Simply deleting your files is not sufficient, as computer hard drives can still store personal data in system and program files. Moreover, if you are still logged into a browser, a significant amount of personal data could be at risk. Browsers store passwords, credit card information, browsing history, and more, making it imperative to take appropriate steps to safeguard this data. Seeking assistance from an IT professional to thoroughly erase your computer drive ensures that it is safe for disposal, donation, or reuse.
5. Trash Can:
Identity theft criminals are not limited to online activities; they can also exploit opportunities presented by your trash can. It's essential to be cautious about what you throw out. Garbage often contains pre-approved credit card offers, which you may consider "junk mail." However, your trash can also hold voided checks, old bank statements, insurance paperwork, and other items that can provide thieves with the information they need to commit fraud or assume your identity. To mitigate this risk, using a shredder is your best friend. Shred any documents containing personal information before discarding them, as this additional step can save you from a potentially costly incident.
6. Children's IoT Devices:
Toys such as electronic bears, smartwatches for kids, and Wi-Fi-connected dolls might seem innocuous, but hackers are attracted to these devices. For instance, Mattel's Hello Barbie was found to enable the theft of personal information and even allowed hackers to spy on families through its microphone. These futuristic toys are often highly desired by children, but their data security aspects are often overlooked by parents. Unfortunately, children's toys can be easier to hack, making them a prime target for cybercriminals. When introducing any new internet-connected device into your home, including toys, it's important to be cautious. Install all firmware updates promptly and conduct thorough research to determine if the toy has been involved in any data breaches.
At NextGEN IT Solutions, we prioritize the security of your personal information. We encourage you to take proactive steps to safeguard your data. In addition to adopting best practices for securing your everyday objects, such as smartphones, printers, USB sticks, hard drives, and trash cans, we recommend scheduling a home IT security audit with our expert team. Our comprehensive audit will assess your home IT infrastructure, identify potential vulnerabilities, and provide tailored recommendations to enhance your security measures. With NextGEN IT Solutions by your side, you can sleep better at night knowing your personal information is secure. Contact us today to schedule your home IT security audit.
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