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Mail Fraud Is On The Rise Before The Holidays

Ask any child at this time of year, and they can tell you the number of days left until the holidays arrive. Whether it’s because of the family get-togethers, presents they get to open, or just the time off school, most children in the GTA are already excited for the upcoming month’s festivities.

Feasts and gifts aren’t the only things we look forward to in December. With each day we come closer to the holidays, we can expect more cards, letters, and parcels in the mail. Before you know it, you may be overrun by delivery notices, bills, and postcards. When you’re already busy with the season, the contents of your mailbox may not get your full attention, but as Absolute Destruction & Recycling Corp.’s blog has mentioned before, you need to turn a keen eye on your mail.

According to the latest data collected by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre(CAFC), the number of mail fraud complaints lodged in 2016 was seven times higher than the year before. These scams result in a criminal assuming your identity and rerouting your personal mail to a new address.

If you see a mail-forwarding notification nestled between your bills and holiday cards, and you didn’t personally enlist this service, then your identity has been compromised. This means a criminal has used your contact information to change your address, and they’re using this address as home base for any application for new identification, credit cards, or loan.

At this point, you’ll want to contact Canada Post to alert them of what’s happened. You’ll also want to check your credit report and past financial statements to see if there’s any suspicious activity in your accounts. If there is, you’ll have to alert your financial institutions, the police, the CAFC, and your local document destruction company.

For a more detailed run-through of the steps, check in with our post, “Identity Theft Resources: A Guide for When the Unthinkable Happens” from October 2016.

Identity theft is a devastating blow to your security at any time of the year, but it’s especially stressful during the holidays. Rather than experiencing what it means to celebrate as you handle fraud, early prevention can help you avoid such a fate this season.

Shredding old financial statements and tax records you no longer need is one strategy. Protecting your online data by sharing your info only with trusted venders is another. You should also make sure you keep track of your finances as you ramp up your holiday shopping. A regular and detailed check of your accounts, loans, and credit cards can help you identify any unusual activity and alert the authorities before the theft spirals out of control.

If you’re ready to get a jump on your shredding, contact us anytime in the lead up to the holidays. One of our crews will be happy to destroy and recycle any mail before it leads to identity theft. In the meantime, keep an eye on your mailbox to make sure it’s free of any forwarding notices as you welcome the many cards and parcels of the holidays!

Add comment November 28th, 2017

3 Basic Tips To Start Your Holiday Shopping Right

With the holidays only about a month away, many of us start our annual pilgrimage to the malls right about now. November plays host to Black Friday, so it’s a good time to start, but when the thought of it leaves you shaking in your boots (and not because of the late November chill), Cyber Monday is a logical alternative. You can snag some of the greatest deals of the year from the comfort of your own home. There’s no need to pause that Stranger Things 2 episode playing in the background or even to change out of your pyjamas. It’s the easier, less crowded, and far more relaxing option.

While you’ll avoid the lines, crowds, and grumpy sales reps, Cyber Monday isn’t without its risks. As one of the most popular online shopping days around the world, criminals will be on the lookout for unsuspecting shoppers. The crew at Absolute Destruction & Recycling Corp. want to remind our readers that no deal is worth sacrificing your online security. That’s why we’ve developed a no-fail guide to your holiday shopping.

Use trusted devices and network

Variety may be the spice of the life, but when it comes to online security, familiarity is safer. You’ll want to apply this rule to every step of your holiday deal-hunting, from the device and Wi-Fi connection you use to locate sales to the retailer and items you buy.

Never use a public computer or unsecure Internet connection. Both habits, performed separately or together, open you up to significant risk, as an untold number of people have access to this device and connection. Each purchase requires you to share personal information like your address and credit card number. If shared on the wrong device or network, it’s easy for criminals to find this data. You may browse all you’d like at Starbucks or the library, but wait until you’re home to make the sale.

Be critical of ‘too-good-to-be-true’ deals

As we approach the big day, your inbox will fill up with messages and reminders about Cyber Monday’s greatest deals or a last-chance Christmas Eve sale. Most of these will be legitimate notifications from trusted retailers, but sometimes a fraudulent email will get past your junk filters. You’ll notice them right away, as they’ll promise unbelievable sales like the free iPhone X scam circulating the web right now. At least with this one, it should be obvious a handset otherwise priced over $1,000 wouldn’t be free!

When alarm bells go off, don’t click on any link, but don’t rely on your gut alone. Sometimes seemingly normal emails are scams, so keep an eye on the sender. If you’re ever suspicious, simply google the offer, item, or retailer. If it’s real, you should find other links about the sale than just the one in your email.

Monitor your accounts

Your job isn’t done once you make your purchase and wait for your parcel to arrive. You need to keep track of your finances to make sure none of your Cyber Monday or holiday shopping has compromised your security. You can do everything right in the lead up to the sale, and — due to circumstances out of your control — your personal information gets hacked in a breach targeting the retailer you shopped with.

Check your statements for any unusual purchases you can’t explain. Many of the homeowners who scheduled our document shredding services in Mississauga have secured this service because they found suspicious activity in the accounts. Destroying sensitive invoices and statements is an important step in protecting oneself against identity theft, before or after it happens.

Usually only the GTA’s businesses, government agencies, and multinational corporations need regular shredding services, but individuals can benefit from our one-time residential purges, too. Our uniformed, bonded, and photo I.D.’d customer service representatives can help anyone destroy confidential materials, like old credit card statements, invoices, or even obsolete gadgets used during holiday shoppings of yore.

Give us a call to see what frequency would best fit your needs this November. Until our reps hear from you, we wish you the safest Cyber Monday possible as you begin to shop for the holidays in earnest!

Add comment November 28th, 2017

The Security Behind Apple’s New Face ID

Launched to limited release on November 3, the iPhone X is an exclusive handset in every sense of the word. As the handset commemorating the 10th anniversary of the very first iPhone, it represents the pinnacle of Apple design after a decade of evolution. Its production delays mean very few people will get their hands on the X initially, and its price tag (a whopping $1,319 here in Canada) further restricts how many people will make the upgrade.

Although the crew at Absolute Destruction & Recycling Corp. is surprised by the price of the new iPhone as much as anyone, there’s another special feature of the X that tweaks our interest, considering our line of work. The iPhone X comes with a brand-new unlocking mechanism: Face ID.

How it works in the simplest terms:

How is a good question! The handset’s camera is more than just a tool to snap the perfect selfie. Equipped with the company’s TrueDepth sensor, it combines several functions. In addition to a straight-up camera, it has ambient light and proximity sensors, an infrared camera, flood illuminator, and dot projector.

This means several things. For one thing, the dot projector sends out 30,000 infrared dots to record the contours of your face on its first scan. On every subsequent scan, it will compare any face to this original map. As a result, it won’t be fooled by look-a-likes (unless you have an identical twin) or a flat photograph of your face. It needs all 3 dimensions to unlock the phone.

The ambient light sensor, infrared camera, and flood illuminator makes the TrueDepth capable of scanning faces in the dark. It’s also been specially designed to avoid facial recognition bias, so it can scan a variety of skin tones successfully.

How secure is it?

Despites its innovative tech, the iPhone X has drawn a lot of concern over its security. Last month Senator Al Franken asked Apple ten multi-faceted questions about the security around Face ID. In response, the Cupertino-based company published two documents, the Face ID security white paper and the Knowledge Base article.

While we suggest anyone using Absolute’s shredding services in Barrie and the rest of the GTA to read these documents in full, we’ll summarize the points here. In essence, Apple stores any biometric data and mathematical algorithm based off of your face in something called a Secure Enclave. This a protected part of each individual device that has no communication with the cloud, meaning no data ever leaves the phone. Any data stored on the Secure Enclave is encrypted.

With this protection and the subtlety of the TrueDepth scanners makes the iPhone one of the most secure phones in the world. Apple claims the chances of someone being able to hack your Face ID is roughly one in one million, compared to one in 50,000 for Touch ID.

 Are you ready to upgrade?

If you’re at the end of your term and looking for a new phone, the iPhone X is an enticing handset — and not just because of its security features. Just remember, when you’re ready to upgrade, don’t throw out your old phone. Like any obsolete electronics, we can destroy it to eliminate any chances of someone finding your data. We’ll also recycle it properly to make sure your old tech doesn’t pollute the world as e-waste.

Our commitment to recycling is just one of the many services we provide to our customers in the GTA. To learn more about what we do, check out these FAQs. Then give us a call on your brand-new X or a scuffed-up Galaxy S5 — anything works! We can set up a convenient shredding time that works with your busy schedule.

 

 

Add comment November 20th, 2017

Yahoo’s Security Breach Is No Halloween Trick

Grocery stores have their seasonal walls of chocolate and candy, your neighbour has his elaborately designed cemetery on his front lawn, and Netflix has their classic horror films on their main menu again. These are just a few of the many signs that Halloween is coming — sooner than you think!

As the GTA is gearing up for the spookiest time of the year, here at Absolute Destruction, we don’t need to wait until the ghosts and ghouls come trick or treating to get a fright. With the latest new reports about majority security breaches, we find real life scary enough!

Let us give you a bit of context. Our regular readers know that, in addition to paper shredding Toronto and the GTA can rely on us for the latest news on identity theft and cybersecurity. As such, we reported on the most recent security breach affecting Equifax customers. The attack impacted an astonishing 145.5 million people — 8,000 of whom are Canadian.

While these numbers are staggering on their own, they aren’t the worst when it comes to security breaches. Equifax’s cybersecurity failures have been overshadowed by the latest new reports from Yahoo.

To refresh your memory, Yahoo was the target of two massive cyberattacks dating back to 2013. The breaches landed a devastating blow to the web services company, as it had to undercut its final sales figure by $350 million when selling its main business to Verizon.

Despite it being several years later, Yahoo’s streak of bad luck is far from over. In what Yahoo is calling “recently obtained new intelligence”, the world has learnt the impact of this fraud is far greater than anyone expected. Initial news reports said over 1 billion of its customers were affected. Now, its ongoing investigation reveals all 3 billion of its accounts were compromised, cementing its title as the largest breach in history.

As with most of these security breaches, poor security is to blame. Account information was protected by out-dated encryption techniques that were simple to hack. While most of the information exposed in the hack didn’t include passwords or any financial information like credit card numbers, the breach did reveal backup email addresses and security questions that could make it easier for criminals to hack additional accounts.

Already facing 41 consumer class-action lawsuits in the US, Yahoo can expect more shareholders and account holders to file against them. Meanwhile Verizon — which has combined its newly owned Yahoo with its AOL subsidiary to create Oath, a new digital media and online advertising company — promises renewed commitment to transparency and online security. As you would expect, the latest news has had negative impact on Oath’s reception.

As with Equifax’s security breach, the attack on Yahoo serves as a reminder of how important effective security is in the fight against identity theft. If you’re ready to beef up your personal or business security efforts this fall, call us anytime. As the GTA’s trusted paper shredding and electronic data destruction experts, we can develop physical security techniques that keep important information safe, even after you don’t need it any more.

Add comment November 20th, 2017

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

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