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Good News: Fewer Canadians Affected In Equifax Breach

Back in September, Equifax reported a breach that affected over 143 million of its customers. As one of the premier document destruction services in Toronto, here at Absolute Destruction, our primary concern was how this attack would affect Canadian customers. Now, several weeks after we first posted about the breach, we have our answer.

An Ongoing Investigation Offers More Info

Since the initial report, Equifax hired Mandiant, a cybersecurity firm to reveal details about the attack. The investigation is far from over, but Mandiant has revealed the number of Canadians affected by the breach is much lower than originally thought. It reports that 8,000 Canadian customers’ information was compromised, a number far off from the preliminary figure of 100,000 first reported.

While Mandiant’s investigation confirmed the Canadian impact was much smaller, it has revealed an additional 2.5 million US customers were involved in the breach, bringing the total number of those affected to 145.5 million.

Former Equifax CEO, Richard Smith, is currently under investigation as he testifies before Congress about his involvement in the breach. He’s to explain how long he and other executives knew about the attack before they did anything to rectify the issue.

Americans Have More Recourse Than Canadian Customers

He’s replaced by interim CEO, Paulino do Rego Barros Jr., who apologizes on behalf of Equifax for its slow and inadequate response to the breach. On September 27, he penned a letter published by The Wall Street Journal. In it he acknowledges the company compounded the problem by offering “insufficient support”. As a result, he promises free credit locking for any American who had their personal information stolen.

Freezing a credit report is the most effective defence against identity theft in these circumstances, but it’s not yet a service available in Canada. Equifax Canada is offering free credit and identity theft monitoring for a year for any Canadian compromised in the breach. These services, in addition to fraud alerts, are the only tools available so far.

How Do You Know If Your Information Is Compromised?

Like we reported in our post, US Equifax Website Hacked, Canadians Amongst Millions Affected, you can head to Equifax’s special website to see if you were impacted by the breach. Equifax is also cooperating with MasterCard and Visa to alert any affected customers. If one of your credit cards was involved in the breach, you’ll be contacted by your financial institution.

What’s Next For Canadians?

Even if you aren’t one of the 8,000 customers affected by the breach, the attack provides a reminder about the importance of security. Security breaches are becoming more and more common these days, so you need to be vigilant about how you store and share your personal information.

As a consumer, you can watch your credit carefully by watching for any suspicious activity in any of your accounts. If you suspect you’re a victim of fraud, set a fraud alert on your credit report. This signals to credit companies that you account may be compromises, so they’ll treat any changes to your file carefully in case someone is attempting to open new accounts in your name.

As a business owner, you must ensure your security strategies are thorough. Your plan should involve comprehensive online security measures, physical security for storage, and staff education. You also need document shredded at your office to make sure your company is doing everything within its power to protect its intellectual property and its customers’ personal information. If you don’t, you risk exposing confidential information.

There are laws in Canada that make these security steps mandatory, so don’t get caught with an deficient security plan. If you do, you can face expensive fines and irreparable damage to your reputation. As one of the fastest growing municipalities in the GTA, we know a lot of our corporate customers are located in Vaughan. Businesses have been trusting us as their number one shredding company in Vaughan for over a decade, so please give us a call if you need help boosting your security plan this fall.

Whether you suspect you’re one of the many victims involved in Equifax’s security breach or not, we welcome your call about secure document shredding. If you’re ready to talk about paper shredding, electronic data destruction, or recycling, then pick up the phone!

Add comment October 23rd, 2017

Cyber Security Tips For Cyber Monday

Welcome back after the Thanksgiving weekend! If you’re anything like the crew at Absolute Destruction, then you’re returning to business as usual with a full belly and a full fridge. It can be a challenge getting back into the regular rhythm of the work week after a holiday, so we want to thank you for taking time out of your day to visit our page. If you’re looking for a document shredding company in Toronto, you’ve certainly come to the right place.

Now that we’re back at the grind, we may have had our fill of turkey and cranberry sauce here in the True North, but our neighbors to the south are still looking forward to their Thanksgiving dinners. Timing isn’t the only thing that differentiates our two holidays. American Thanksgiving is quickly followed by two of the biggest shopping days of the year: Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

They’re as red, white, and blue as NFL football following the Thanksgiving Day feast in November, but after years of being the quintessential American shopping event, things are changing. According to the latest data, roughly 50 percent of Canadians took advantage of these American deals last year.

Though a low loonie means they aren’t hopping the border to shop in-person, many still plan to hit up the Cyber Monday deals online. Before you fill your digital shopping cart, the team at Absolute Destruction wants to remind you of proper online shopping etiquette, so you don’t get burnt this year as you search for amazing deals.

Create a Secure Homebase

Don’t let a pumpkin spice latte and free Wi-Fi fool you, Starbucks is not an ideal place to check out Cyber Monday deals. Neither is the GTA’s library system or their community computers. When you use a public computer and unsecured Wi-Fi, you’re opening yourself to risk. Anyone with a bit of computer knowhow can eavesdrop on your online shopping by tapping into unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Not only will they see your accounts’ log-in information, but they’ll also able to see any financial and contact info you type in to make a purchase.

Take that latte to go, and do your shopping at home on a trusted computer using a secure network. Beef up security by equipping your laptop with a reliable anti-virus software, and you’ll be better protected from malware as you shop.

Be Password Savvy

Most retailers make you create a profile before you can go through with your purchase. Many of us don’t think twice about these log-in credentials, but you should consider them as important as any heavily-guarded account.

If you can choose your username, choose a distinct one for each retailer, and pair them with unique passwords every time. Don’t get lazy. Try using a mixture of upper- and lower-case letters, symbols, and numbers that isn’t immediately recognizable. That means your child’s name and birthdate, followed by an exclamation mark, isn’t good enough. If you aren’t sure how you can develop several individual passwords (without forgetting them!), check out a password manager for help.

Use Trusted Apps Over Web Browsers

Convention says we shop from our desktops and laptops, but things are rapidly changing. In 2016, nearly a third of Cyber Monday shoppers (or 28%) carried out their purchases on mobile devices. If you’re one of the mobile-savvy shoppers, don’t complete your purchase through your web browser. Many retailers have their own mobile apps that give them more control over the security features embedded at every step of the transaction. Go ahead and search for items on the browser, but download the official app before you present your credit card number.

Be a Critical Shopper

Though nothing compared to the extraordinary Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals enjoyed by our neighbors in the south, our sales still offer considerable savings, but don’t get caught up in the season. There’s a limit to what retailers are willing to offer through these deals, and if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Cybercriminals will take advantage of our penny-pinching ways, so be wary of any emails, pop-ups, or texts that promise unrealistic savings. They often have links that lead you to scam sites or viruses, so don’t click anything from a sender you don’t trust. Even then, be critical of the content of any email sent, regardless of the sender. If you’re ever suspicious, start googling the deal or the retailer to see if it’s legit.

Review Your Credit & Bank Statements

Keep an eye on credit card statements to ensure there isn’t any suspicious activity on your accounts. You can easily check in on these accounts online, but many people around the GTA still receive their statements through the mail.

If you have paper copies of these statements, use our document destruction services in Mississauga to make sure they’re disposed of correctly. With your contact and financial details recorded on their pages, these invoices are the bread and butter of identity thieves. Keep this critical personal information out of their hands by contacting our local services in Mississauga or any other municipality in the GTA.

We’re also available for electronic data destruction in case you have old devices you once used to store private financial information. Wiping these gadgets before throwing them out or selling them isn’t enough. Hard drives have a permanent memory system that computer scientists can access despite your best efforts to delete files. Only through complete and utter destruction can you ensure data can’t be retrieved.

Give us a call if you want to learn more about our physical or electronic data destruction services. We’re happy to answer your questions this fall, before or after you shop till you drop. Until we hear from you, we hope you take our cyber security advice as you take advantage of Cyber Monday deals.

Add comment October 17th, 2017

US Equifax Website Hacked, Canadians Amongst Millions Affected

If you’re like most Canadians, you check your credit score often. As proof of your creditworthiness, this number is an important financial tool. You need to show it to potential employers, landlords, and lenders to demonstrate you can be trusted to make regular payments on time.

Equifax is one of the most popular credit services Canadians use to check their scores. They input confidential contact and financial information into its website to determine where they stand. The information shared is exactly what paper shredding Toronto businesses aim to destroy with our mobile shredders.

Unfortunately, the credit-monitoring company was victim of a cyberattack in the spring of this year. Equifax discovered the breach at the end of July, and, after internal investigation, it reveals the breach exposed over 143 million Equifax customers’ PI — many of whom are Canadians.

By exploiting a part of the US’ faction’s website, cyber criminals accessed contact details, as well as social security numbers and birthdates of Equifax customers. In some cases, even drivers licence numbers were included in the stolen cache of information.

This information is necessary for Equifax and other credit-monitoring companies to create an accurate profile, so credit reporting is one the rare times you should share this data. As one of the best shredding companies in Vaughan, we recommend sharing PI carefully, as even trusted names can experience a leak. Never share this information with any company or individual unless they have the appropriate security measures in place. Use our shredding services to destroy everything else to ensure it can’t be retrieved and used again you.

According to Avivah Litan, a security analyst for the search and advisory firm, Gartner Inc, this incident is significant. He puts the breach into perspective, saying, “On a scale of 1 to 10, this is a 10 in terms of potential identity theft”.

Historically, this breach is one of the biggest ones to occur in the US. With 143 million potential victims, it’s just behind eBay, which suffered a cyberattack that affected 145 million customers in 2014. Both incidences are far behind Yahoo. In 2013, over 1 billion of the web service’s user accounts were compromised.

Though it’s not the worst breach to affect North America, the attack’s fallout is a blow to the company’s credibility. In addition to millions of people now made vulnerable, the company itself is facing consequences. After Equifax announced the breach, its stock dropped by 13 percent. The long-term effects of this breach remain to be seen.

To see if you were one of the people affected, head to equifaxsecurity2017.com. The company developed this website so customers could check the potential impact of the breach. You can also call them at 866-447-7559 to learn more about the attack.

Once you confirm your PI is safe, this is a good time to put in place the right defences against other future attacks. There may be nothing you can do to protect yourself from these large-scale cyberattacks targeting a company as large as Equifax, but you can take the necessary steps to defend your personal information with a call to our offices.

Call us and schedule our paper shredding and  electronic data destruction services to increase the security around your private information. Together, we’ll keep your PI safe from prying eyes.

Add comment October 2nd, 2017

This Autumn, Don’t Fall For A Scam

As the summer heat begins to taper off into fall’s chill, you’re probably focused on what the season means for you and your family. Pumpkins take the spotlight, featured heavily in our porch seasonal displays and our spiced lattes. Soon enough, they’ll be joined by the turning leaves, as the trees lining Toronto’s streets ignite into fiery-bright reds and yellows. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, thoughts of the harvest come to mind, and many of us will take to our kitchens to preserve our gardens’ bounties. You may even be considering what to wear for Halloween!

It’s a very busy time as Mother Nature gears down, and we need to hustle if we expect to match her pace. As we prepare to close the chapter on summer, the team at Absolute Destruction wants to remind you not to let the season overwhelm you. The fall — like the summer and spring before it — brings with it threats to your identity, but the nature of these scams may be different from their fair-weather counterparts.

When it comes to document shredding Toronto relies on the crew from Absolute because the city knows we can be trusted. We’re a NAID-certified company that adheres to internationally recognized standards of security, so we can guarantee destruction and recycling with every job completed.

Part of our success as a shredding service is how we help eliminate the threat of identity theft through education. In addition to our services, this blog helps our readers keep on top of the latest scams to sweep through Toronto, the GTA, and Canada at large. Today, we’re focusing on the scams most likely to occur this fall.

Utility Phone Scams

As Canadians turn on their furnaces, the fall will see a rise in utility-based phone scams. These criminals will call pretending to be your utility company with threats to turn off your service if you don’t pay their bills. Like most phone scammers, the perpetrators use aggression to intimidate their victims into transferring them money.

If you’re on a tight budget and tardy payments happen from time to time, this kind of call is more alarming than if your account is in good standing. If you owe money, then you will be contacted by your service provider, but the method is important to note. Remember utility companies will never threaten to turn off your power after just one overdue payment. Even if you are late with your payment, you’ll receive several notices in the mail to alert you of your outstanding debit.

When the outstanding amount seems unusual, ask to call them back after you’ve checked your account. If you take the time to sign in and check your usage and billing online, you’ll see that everything’s in order.

Fall Maintenance Service Scams

Last year, a couple from Vaughan was scammed out of thousands of dollars when they hired a duct cleaning service through a telemarketer. The service came and cleaned their ducts but at a rate much higher than agreed upon. At the time of the sale, they used a hand-held POS machine without a display to conceal their scam, so the homeowner wasn’t aware of the higher cost until he reviewed his receipt much later.

Since we operate out of the GTA, we provide outstanding on-site document destruction services in Vaughan, so last year’s case is especially dear to our hearts.

If you need your ducts cleaned this fall, be careful how you book this service. Don’t reserve services from a discount duct cleaner who called you, even if they promise a discount price. There are many legit duct cleaning services in Vaughan and the GTA, and they don’t rely on telemarketing sales to find new customers. Instead, look up a company online or check in with friends to find a reliable service to help prepare your house for the oncoming winter.

Whether it’s a threatening call about your utilities or a telemarketing call securing your business, be critical about the conversations you have on your iPhone or Android. You have a lot of power with a phone because you aren’t locked into anything without your consent. You can hang up on the person on the other end any time they make you feel uncomfortable. Don’t forget this fact, no matter how aggressive these scammers get.

Keep this in mind as you prepare for the cooler months of the fall and don’t forget to give us a call. If home for you is Toronto, Vaughan or somewhere else in the GTA entirely, we can help you eliminate the physical risk of identity theft through effective document destruction. Regardless of where you live, our team upholds the same standards at every job. With mobile teams ready to be deployed on-site to your home or business, our paper shredding in Markham provides the same guarantees as our services in any other city.

Give us a call before Thanksgiving and schedule your first-time purge around the holiday. Until then, our team wishes you and your loved ones a happy Thanksgiving with the hopes of a secure fall to come.

Add comment October 2nd, 2017

In The News: Avro Arrow Found In Lake Ontario

In the next installment of our semi-regular feature, In The News, the team at Absolute Destruction considers the recently recovered Avro Arrow. Found at the bottom of Lake Ontario near Point Petre, the remains of the iconic fighter jet provide an unlikely lesson for our readers.

The Avro Arrow — a supersonic, delta-winged, twin-engined interceptor aircraft designed and prototyped during the Cold War — was supposed to be the crowning achievement of Canada’s aviation industry, but it’s abrupt cancellation in 1959 grounded the jet before it could ever leave the ground. Since then, it’s reached a near mythic reputation as the nation mulls over what once could have been.

In offering document destruction Toronto calls its own, the team at Absolute Destruction isn’t indifferent to the mythos surrounding the Avro. Even nearly 60 years later, the question of ‘what if’ hangs heavy in the air, with some experts suggesting it could have made way for a entirely different Canada — a technologically advanced nation that may have sent a man to the moon.

After 9 models were tested, the Diefenbaker government pulled the plug on the jet, citing mounting costs as their reason for cancellation. With the advantage of time, we can understand a changing political atmosphere was another motive, as cost-effective interceptor missiles superseded expensive fighter jets in the Cold War.

At the time of its cancellation, Ottawa ordered the company to destroy everything related to the Avro project, including any completed jets, but the remains found in Lake Ontario suggest engineers skirted these commands.

OEX Recovery Group, the expedition company responsible for the find, posted a picture capturing the sunken Avro found through its Raise the Arrow project. At the time of this article, only photographs of the free-flight model are available, but there are plans to recover the target so it can be displayed at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum.

But what does this all have to do with the document shredding experts in Markham? As a prominent shredding service in the GTA, Absolute understands the Avro Arrow represents the potential of Canadian engineers and scientists; however, its recovery acts as a reminder of a completely different sort.

What was supposed to be destroyed was merely dumped, and in the near future, OEX will be able to recover its remains. Though its water-logged hull will never fly, it will reveal key details we thought lost about the Avro.

Without complete destruction, classified information is always retrievable. It takes a lot to sink a model fighter jet. In comparison, dumping paper documents or old gadgets in the garbage is incredibly simple. So easy, in fact, that you may think it a better alternative than hiring a professional shredding service to demolish the evidence.

Unfortunately, when you throw out full sheets of paper containing important personal information or toss computers with financial data saved to their hard drives, the easier route can end up hurting you.

In 2017, the secrets recovered from the Avro will help us see the advances the aviation industry made in the 50s. But any recovery of your PI now will result in identity theft, tanked credit scores, and potential legal troubles for businesses.

As a GTA business owner, you’re responsible by law to properly dispose of any paper or electronic data containing client information. Don’t do what the personnel tasked with “destroying” the Avro Arrow did. Commit to absolute destruction by hiring our mobile shredders in Oakville, Markham, Toronto, or anywhere else in the GTA. We’re only a phone call away, and we’ll make sure what you need destroyed stays that way.

Add comment October 2nd, 2017

Labour Day Checklist: Security On Vacation

As the unofficial end of summer, Labour Day marks the final weekend to enjoy what the season has to offer. With the clock ticking down of what’s left of the summer, the pressure is on. Many of us here in Southern Ontario book last minute day-trips and holidays to get the most out of what remains of the season — even if it is just for a weekend.

As the GTA’s paper shredding experts, we want to remind our readers of the importance of security wherever your Labour Day takes you. Just because you’re planning on relaxing doesn’t mean thieves will. Whether you’re planning on experiencing the Ex’s last weekend, driving up to the cottage, or something completely different, use this guide. We’ll make sure you’ll have an amazing weekend — and a safe one, too!

Be Vigilant & Read the Fine Print

AirBnB makes travel easier for the average globetrotter, but don’t let online convenience fool you. Just because you can find something online doesn’t make it legit. That beach-side resort in the Muskokas costing only $100 on the final weekend of the summer may be too good to be true!

Be wary of the booking site you use. If its URL isn’t something you recognize, research it. If a quick Google search brings up bad reviews or — worse — nothing at all, don’t book with this site. A poor or non-existent online footprint is a warning sign in this day and age.

Put Your Shredding On Hold

While we’re one of the dependable shredding companies in Aurora, we don’t suggest you bring your personal documents along the way to Cottage Country for our Aurora crew to destroy. Our on site shredding services Aurora businesses use are better used for businesses based in town. Transporting sensitive documents or electronic data in anything but our NAID-approved mobile trucks opens you up to risks.

Simply give our offices a call and let us know if you plan to be out of town during our regularly scheduled pick-ups. We can arrange a more convenient time to pick-up your documents once you’re back from the long weekend.

Don’t Overshare Online

Though it’s tempting to tell your followers and Facebook friends your great plans for the weekend, posting your travel plans on social media makes you vulnerable. John Terry, a famous soccer player in the UK, found this out the hard way. After posting several photos of his family vacation abroad, his £5 million mansion was ransacked of thousands of pounds worth of belongings.

Keep your pics to yourself until after you come home — even if you only plan on checking out the ribs at Canada’s Largest Ribfest. Hosted each year in Burlington’s Spencer Smith Park, over 150,000 pounds of BBQ’d ribs are eaten over the Labour Day weekend.

Tell your friends and family your plans, but don’t post specific details about your trip online to accounts that aren’t protected. Leave posting pics and other details until after you return home. Trust our paper shredding Burlington team when we say waiting to post will work to your advantage. Not only will you be in a more secure position, but you’ll catch just how much BBQ sauce is on your face before you post that selfie.

Whether you plan on eating your weight in ribs or sitting by the dock with a cold beer in your hand, remember to stay safe. Security on vacation doesn’t have to be hard work. These tips are simple enough you can add them to your Labour Day without feeling like you’re sacrificing a good time. And we’re always just a phone call away if you have any questions! So enjoy the long weekend and keep your personal information safe.

Add comment August 28th, 2017

HBO Offers Hackers A Bounty Payment

Unless you’ve been living under an especially remote rock, you’ll have heard about the latest season of Game of Thrones. Premiering on July 16, the first episode was watched by over 26 million viewers, with another 91 million people pirating a copy. Now several episodes in, the season hasn’t lost any steam, and it remains the hot topic around water coolers in offices around the world.

We’re no strangers to Throne talk here at the Absolute Destruction office, but we’re not just trying to sort out the many callbacks to previous seasons. What’s caught our eye is HBO’s latest security breach.

At the beginning of August, HBO was the target of hackers that stole roughly 1.5 terabytes of data from the TV network. The data included the personal information of the show’s stars, including their phone numbers and home addresses; the email correspondence of HBO’s VP of Film Programming, Leslie Cohen; several financial balance sheets; and two previously unreleased episodes.

So far, the hackers have only released approximately 3.4 gigs of the data they stole, but they threaten to leak the entirety of their bounty if HBO fails to pay an undisclosed ransom. If you recall our post on ransomware in May of 2016, you’ll remember that it’s never a good idea to bow to these demands. It suggests to other hackers that this kind of behaviour will be rewarded, and there’s no guarantee the hackers won’t just take their ransom and release the data anyways.

It’s unlikely HBO will cough up the entirety of the ransom; however, HBO is willing to negotiate — in a way. In an attempt to extend the ransom’s deadline, the TV network offered hackers a bug bounty payment of $250,000 in Bitcoin.

A bounty payment is something that most corporations budget for each year. It’s refers to payment given to those hackers that find the flaws in security on behalf of the corporation. It’s a useful strategy for company’s concerned with finding each hole in its security. And, according to many insiders, HBO is hoping to use it as a delay tactic.

Bitcoin isn’t a currency that’s easily gathered. HBO can use its lengthy acquisition process to find holes and track the hackers. Already there have been four arrests.

As it stands, HBO’s undergoing a strict forensic review to find out the details behind the hack. Jeff Cusson, a spokesperson for the TV network, says the review has yet to reveal any issues with its security or email system, so there’s no reason to believe the hack is part of a bigger problem. It should, however, lead the company to renew its security protocols.

As HBO struggles with its security issues in the limelight for all of the Internet to see, it poses a perfect reminder that your company — small or large — should take the appropriate security measures to protect its confidential information. While a leak affecting your offices may not have the same impact as HBO’s, yours will have significant consequences to your finances and your reputation.

In addition to updating your digital security policies and employee training, electronic data and document destruction is an important part of any commercial defence. Once you ensure your security policy is comprehensive enough to protect your clients and intellectual property, give us a call.

We can be your trusted document shredding company in Aurora, offering shredding and recycling services to those who call the York Region home. But we aren’t bound by city limits like so many of our competitors. As a mobile shredding service, we bring the on site shredding services Aurora business owners trust to the rest of Southern Ontario, allowing us to protect businesses and individuals all around the GTA.

That means we’re a document destruction company in Burlington as well as a variety of cities around the Golden Horseshoe. Check out our landing page to determine if we service your town. If we do, it’s only a matter of a few clicks to schedule a one-time purge or a regular weekly pick-up.

Game of Thrones usually provides a nice escape from reality every Sunday night, but for once the HBO show reminds us of an important lesson. There are significant consequences to data breaches. We must take the appropriate steps in our security if we expect to avoid them. Beef up your digital security policies and call us when you’re ready to start shredding.

Add comment August 22nd, 2017

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