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Posts filed under 'Document Destruction Tips'

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

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

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

Summer 2017: The Year of The Staycation

The smell of barbeque is in the air, your fridge is fully stocked with craft brews, and the ubiquitous sound of hammering is filling the neighbourhood. It’s obvious that summer is finally here in the GTA. Even busy at work, your favourite document destruction services in Toronto, Absolute Destruction, can’t ignore the signs.

As the sun shines brightly on our little corner of the world, many of us can’t wait to jet set across the globe on their summer holidays. For many of us, exotic locales and far-off getaways entice us to leave behind the daily grind and forget all about our troubles. Those who can’t block out their siren’s call have already booked their flights to far away destinations.

They’ll leave behind a growing number of Canadians who have more familiar locations within their summer sights. According to Expedia.ca, the popular discount travel website, over three-quarters of the country (77%) plan to keep their vacation within the country this summer. The staycation — a twee portmanteau that was a fad of the travel and tourism industry — has become a veritable travel trend.

According to Expedia’s survey, there are many factors influencing Canadians’ decisions to stick close to home. July 1 celebrated the country’s sesquicentennial birthday, and many people booked their holidays to coincide with local events. There’s also the fact that the loonie is performing poorly this year — to the point that Huffington Post has deemed it the “ugly duckling” of global currency. Combined with the rising costs of travel during peak times, international tours are out of the question for many families. Of course, increasing concerns for geopolitical issues and terrorist attacks doesn’t help matters, so security concerns are just another reason why Canadians aim to staycation in 2017.

Luckily, we live in a beautiful country brimming with local events, cultural celebrations, and natural delights to hold our attention this summer. For our readers who live in Toronto — or who don’t mind taking the GO into the city — there’s Carribana, Festival of Beer, Taste of the Danforth, and the Ex’s food trucks to explore this summer.

There’s something going on in any every little pocket of the country. So close to cottage country, Barrie is a popular destination for those who want to escape the asphalt for the woods. London, though smaller than Toronto, still offers a variety of street festivals and special events throughout the summer.

It’s usually around this time of year that the crew at Absolute Destruction reminds our readers to travel with security on their minds. Don’t let your guard down just because you’re sticking close this summer. Abroad, we often make security a priority as we use unfamiliar ATMs and visit unusual places. By comparison, we barely think of cybersecurity during a little day trip. It’s easy to fall into a false sense of security just because you’re around familiar sights.

Don’t fall into the trap wherever your summer takes you. Remain vigilant at home and abroad by keeping an eye on bank statements. Don’t shop at places that make you uncomfortable and be sure to employ safe online shopping techniques. Last but not least, make sure you destroy any travel documents that record your financial information as soon as you don’t need them anymore.

We can help you tackle these travel documents with a one-time purge, or we can set up a regular pick-up schedule for steady paper files and e-waste disposal. Call to secure document destruction in Barrie if cottage country is where you call home.

Don’t forget we’re also a shredding company in London in addition to the GTA, so we can help you successfully destroy documents for good wherever you live in Southern Ontario. Just give us a call once you’re back from your staycation. Together, we’ll make sure your fun in the sun won’t affect your credit score for the rest of the year.

Add comment July 31st, 2017

Bankruptcy Declared After Swedish CEO Target Of Identity Theft

As your go-to source for paper shredding in Toronto, Absolute Destruction is no stranger to the topic of identity theft. Sometimes we think we’ve seen it all, but then the unexpected happens. It’s not often a false bankruptcy application is filed, but 2017 is the year that defies the odds of our expectations. That’s exactly what happened to Alf Goransson, the 59-year-old CEO of Sweden’s largest security firm Securitas AB. On July 10, the Stockholm District Court declared the business man bankrupt after his identity was stolen.

The ruling was reversed quickly as soon as Goransson was made aware of the incident, but not before Securitas removed him as the company’s CEO. It turns out his identity was first hacked back in March, at which time it was used to open a personal loan of an undisclosed amount. Four months later, his identity was then used to file for bankruptcy. The application itself was just a single page and didn’t require notarization.

According to an official statement, Securitas is unsure of how his personal information was stolen. Goransson has also not heard any more about the status of his fraudulent loan application, and Securitas is now working on reinstating him as their CEO.

Though the company’s spokesperson claims the theft and bankruptcy have no effect on the company, the news is bad press certainly for a company that prides itself on data security consultations. As one of the biggest security firms in the entire world, it’s bad form to see its CEO so easily targeted by identity theft criminals. Irony aside, it calls into question the firm’s ability to protect its clients from cyber-attacks.

The Swedish caper is a lesson the entire world needs. Sweden leads the way in digitization. The country is slowly becoming a cashless society. Buses, churches, even homeless shelters prefer card or mobile payments over cash. Sweden is also seeing a rise in identity theft. Nearly 13,000 cases of identity theft were reported in the first half of 2017, with Goransson one of them.

The incident highlights the need for strengthened cyber security and personal vigilance in the face of a changing society. Though Sweden is leading in digitization, Canada is close behind. At the time of a 2013 MasterCard study, Canada was third in the world for cashless payments. Since then we’ve eliminated the penny, and now the Mint has its eyes on the nickel. The future where we discontinue all cash may not be far off. According to a Payments Canada survey, 50% of us are ready to abandon cash and coin altogether.

As a result, we’re relying on digital payments more every day. Businesses need to invest in robust security protocols that include the latest firewalls, site certificates, Secure Socket Layers, and internal safety procedures. Any obsolete company electronics should also be destroyed properly through our electronic data destruction services. You can add electronic pickups to our paper shredding services in Mississauga quite easily, as is the case with are our other locations.

As a leading mobile shredding service in the GTA, we can help businesses and individuals all over Southern Ontario. That’s the advantage to our fleet of mobile trucks. We’re a Markham document shredding company as much as we are a Toronto-based company.

Though it’s unlikely to have bankruptcy filed fraudulently in your name, identity theft is still a real threat wherever you live in Canada. Give us a call if you’re ready to beef up your defences against hackers. We’ll help make sure physical evidence of your personal information is never used against

Add comment July 21st, 2017

Where Will The Civic Holiday Take You?

The Civic Holiday — a lackluster name given to the August long weekend — exceeds the boring reputation that its name implies. Synonymous with British Columbia Day in BC, Heritage Day in Alberta, and Regatta Day in Newfoundland, the Civic Holiday marks the start of the dog days of summer in Ontario, and people all over the country aim to get the most out of the season over this weekend.

Here in the Toronto and the GTA, tradition holds we leave behind the smoggy air and the pot-holed streets of the city for beautiful blue skies and dirt roads of cottage country. Those in need of our document shredding help in Toronto and the surrounding municipalities often postpone or reschedule our services around the holiday. They have plans to lounge dock-side with a cold beer in hand. And we don’t blame them!

Soon enough city-dwellers will stock their cars with meat primed for the grill, craft brews chilled on ice, and pool noodles awaiting the lake. That’s the easy part. The biggest challenge the Civic Holiday poses is where to go. As one of the biggest weekends for cottage country, it can be difficult to enjoy the holiday as you envision it. If your family doesn’t own a vacation rental, you’ll fight with all of the other cottage-less Canadians over the remaining rentals available.

Hopefully, you already secured your place. If not, let Absolute Destruction help you with your holiday hunt for a cottage. Check out our quick guide to cottage country. All options are within driving distance from Toronto.

Muskoka

Chippewa for “not easily turned back in the day of battle”, Muskoka has evolved far from its violent roots. Now known as one of the most famous cottage country locales, the area between Port Carling and Gravenhurst is synonymous with summers spent relaxing at the cottage. We’ve even renamed the Adirondack chair for its ubiquitous presence on Muskoka docks.

It’s made up of 6 municipalities, including Bracebridge, Huntsville, Lake of Bays, Georgian Bay, Gravenhurst, and Muskoka Lakes. There, you can find over 1,600 lakes, and locals aren’t the only ones to find some peace and quiet on their shores. Hollywood stars like Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, and Goldie Hawn spend their summers here, too.

Lake Simcoe

It’s only fitting to drive to Lake Simcoe on the Civic Holiday. After all, it also goes by Simcoe Day in Toronto. In the 17th century it was known in Wyandot as “beautiful water”. As the fourth largest lake found entirely within the province, we think it earned that particular name. A popular summer spot, most cottages can be found around the lake itself.

No stranger to our team, Lake Simcoe is a just short drive from the GTA. We offer document shredding in Barrie, which is one of five municipalities that make up the area, including Innisfil, Keswick, Orillia, and Georgina. Though it’s much less famous than Muskoka, it’s still a great place to spend the long weekend.

Kawartha Lakes

It isn’t just known for its ice cream. The Kawartha Lakes are also a destination for cottage goers throughout the year. Just over 100 kilometres northeast of the big city, it marks one of the closest options for those customers who use our document destruction in Markham.

Make sure you play The Tragically Hip’s Bobcaygeon on full blast on your way up. Not only is it a Canadian cottage anthem, Bobcaygeon is just one of the many towns that make up the Kawarthas, including Bolsover, Fenelon Falls, Woodville, Omemee, and Lindsay. Though barely a stone’s throw from the GTA, it promises a tranquil setting for your long weekend.

Whether you choose Muskoka or someplace different, it’s important to start hunting for that rental soon. Cottages go quickly any time during the summer but the Civic Holiday is an especially busy time of year. Blink and they’ll be gone so hop onto AirBnB and other vacation rental websites to find your cottage in time. And don’t forget to call us in case you need to reschedule our services while you’re away.

Happy cottaging!

Add comment July 17th, 2017

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