Small Ways to Prevent Expensive Problems: Tips and Tricks for Digital Security

“Big hacks” are commonplace these days – Target in 2013, Sony in 2014, and most recently, the DNC during the 2016 presidential election. These large-scale attacks are devastating, however, seemingly minor hacks, in mass, are just as damaging. Although the highly publicized hacks are more visible, countless medium and small businesses (and individuals) fall to hacks each day. Whether the door to your crown jewels is left wide open or you simply have an unlocked window in your digital “house,” a vulnerability is a vulnerability, no matter how large.

Individuals and businesses alike can take small steps to both proactively monitor their digital footprints and stay secure day to day. Below are some tips you can use to assess your business’ exposure, as well as your own.

Know Your Own Exposure:

  • – A people search and public information site.
  • – Input birthday, gender, and zip-code to view how easily you can be identified.
  • – Search personal and corporate email addresses to see if your login credentials or other personal details have been exposed online and when.

Stay Safe Over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth:

  • Delete past and unused Wi-Fi known networks from your devices.
  • Do not use WI-FI networks that are not protected by encryption.
  • Use VPN service to connect via public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Change Wi-Fi SSID name to something unique (besides the default) and change it often.
  • Be aware that when using Automobile Bluetooth for phone calls in a rented car, your entire contact list will be downloaded to the car media computer. Currently rental car companies do not purge this information.

Use Google to Your Advantage:

  • Know who sells your information by modifying your Gmail addresses for loyalty/rewards programs. Did you know that you can easily make an “alias” email address by adding a keyword into your Gmail email address? For instance: This allows you to sign up for loyalty or rewards programs at restaurants or retail locations, while still getting the email (Gmail forwards it to your actual email address), and helps you track which vendor is selling your information. You can also use it to track the source of your leaked information.
  • Google Alerts / Personal terms – Setup Google Alerts for keywords based on your name, email address, place of business, or any personally identifiable terms.
  • Google Alerts / Honeytokens – Consider inserting “honeytokens” into your documents and then setting up Google Alerts for them. Honeytokens are word and number combinations that are so unique that they would never normally be used together. This allows you to “track” any document that has one of your honeytoken phrases in the meta data or footer in case it is posted to the external web.

Use Google for Virus Scans and Reviewing Documents:

  • Google Email (Gmail) – Emails with suspicious attachments can be forwarded to a Gmail account for a free virus scan.
  • Google Documents – Use to scan and preview non-sensitive documents before actually opening them on your computer or email client.

Protect yourself and your digital footprint with better cyber security practices. Want to know more? Think you’ve been compromised? Need a forensics and security partner? IntelliGenesis can help.

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