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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

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

6 Easy Ways To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

At the beginning of the month, Donald Trump withdrew the United States from The Paris Agreement, making America one of only three countries in the entire world to turn its back on the environmental action plan. It’s a decision that even Kim Jong Un, the notorious leader of North Korea, calls, “the height of egotism”.

But here at Absolute Destruction, we think there may be a silver lining to Trump’s hubris. A number of the state’s largest city mayors have published their cities’ commitment to the goals of the agreement, and Hawaii has become the first state to defy Trump’s rejection of the accord. The president’s choice has also motivated businesses and private individuals to step up where the American government has failed, resulting in innovative answers to the issue of climate change.

It’s another story here in Canada, as Parliament is fully committed to the Paris Accord. But that doesn’t mean we’re wholly unaffected by our neighbours to the south. While American politics affects Canadian policy, we should choose to let those environmentally friendly American mayors, businesses, and individuals inspire us.

Be the change that you want to be. Use this guide to cut your carbon footprint in 6 easy ways.

  1. Get Moving!

If you think nothing of hopping in the car whenever you need to get somewhere, even if it’s just around the corner, it’s time to start! Our cars are responsible for a 26% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. When you choose to walk or bike, you can help cut down on the amount of pollution you personally contribute. As an added bonus, this extra activity is a heart healthy choice.

  1. Use Our Recycling Services

Here at Absolute Destruction, we are committed to the welfare of our natural environment. That’s why we offer recycling services alongside our secure document destruction. Our recycling services include professional pickup of paper, cans, cardboard, and glass bottles. To learn more about how our eco-friendly practices has helped the GTA, check out our Environmental Savings page.

  1. Make it a Meatless Monday

Emerging studies have shown agricultural farming, much of which supports cattle farms used to raise meat, is one of the worst contributors of global greenhouse gas emissions. The UN and WHO suggest we try to limit the amount of red meat we eat in order to help reduce its effects, so try introducing vegetarian meals into your weekly diet.

  1. Support Local

You’ve heard this before. In fact, we’re huge proponents of this shopping method, as we’re one of the local shredding services in the GTA! When you buy groceries, household wares, and clothes produced locally, you’re cutting out the greenhouse gas emissions created in hauling these items on our country’s highways. As a result, your shopping trip won’t have such a high environmental price tag. Luckily, we’re approaching farmer’s market season, so this should be easy to do!

  1. Use Your Water Wisely

Summer is approaching, which means those readers who have green thumbs have already started plotting their gardens. Be wary of how much water you use to water your plants and consider investing in an irrigation system so that they only ever get as much water as they need. Though it’s tempting to water your babies, don’t pull out the hose if your city has called a water ban.

  1. Insulate Your Home

Draughts and air leaks can force your air conditioner and furnace to work harder than they have to in order to maintain the temps in your home. Seal these openings using weather stripping, caulking, or insulation to make sure the air stays where it should be, so you don’t have to use as much energy for your home.

If you want to shave down the size of your carbon footprint, this guide is a good way to start. Give us a call if you have any tips to share or if you’re ready tick of #2 from this list. We’ll send

Add comment June 30th, 2017

Make Sure You’re Smart About Tax Season

With the tax filing deadline approaching quickly, we return to our 3rd annual blog post about income taxes. As we do every year, we here at Absolute Destruction would like to remind our readers to be careful with their personal information as they prepare for their taxes. The documents you use to support your return contain private details about your life that should only be shared with the CRA and your trusted employer.

When your Social Insurance Number or bank account winds up in the wrong hands, these numbers can be used to steal your identity, opening up fraudulent accounts and filing false taxes in your name. Though they’re the one to commit these crimes these criminals act under your name. Their actions will be forever linked with your financial profile. When their overspending and tax fraud finally catches up with them, you’ll be the one to pay the price in the form of subprime credit, debt, and even legal issues with the CRA.

Tax fraud is a serious crime and one that the CRA and the RCMP struggle with every year. Last year, the CRA created a new program that hired 100 new auditors to catch those Canadians trying to evade paying their taxes. As a result, they brought in $1.6 billion on audits that revealed predatory tax planning.

With more stringent rules and frequent auditing, the CRA is better equipped to find discrepancies in your file, but they won’t always catch them right away. As a result, your identity can be used for months or even years before you realize what’s happened. Usually, you’ll stay unaware until a collections agency comes calling about the money you owe on an account you didn’t open.

All that a criminal needs in order to file a false income return is similar to the information needed to open a false bank account or credit card. Your name, address, and account numbers like your chequing, savings, or even SIN are exactly the personal information these individuals target. That’s why it’s incredibly important to keep and dispose any document or electronic file recording these details carefully.

The CRA requires most folks to keep their returns and any supporting documents for 6 years, but this may differ depending on your circumstances. Checking in with the CRA is a great way to make sure what you need to keep on file and for how long according to your employment situation. Any tax advisor, accountant, or organization like Intuit and Equifax can answer similar questions.

After 6 years pass, you may dispose of these documents in order to clear up space in your files, but you must discard these papers wisely. Throwing them out whole into your garbage or recycling bin invites consequences. Career criminals look through these containers in order to find the financial information left on these returns. All it takes is for these individuals to happen upon your bins and take the paper when no one’s looking.

Don’t give these criminals an opportunity this season. Take advantage of our document destruction services. We’ve helped businesses and individuals destroy their obsolete tax returns successfully for years using our mobile trucks. We drive to your home or place of business whenever you’re ready to clear out your old files, and our bonded employees shred them on site under your watchful eye. Only once we can guarantee every piece of paper is suitably destroyed (to the point where no information can be retrieved) will we drive the remains to a secure recycling facility. Our guarantee extends to any digital media you may use to help file your taxes online, including full devices, memory sticks, and external hard drives.

This year, be safe with your old taxes. Call us up and request a quote, and we’ll make sure no obsolete return of yours can ever be used against you.

Add comment May 2nd, 2017

Don’t Let Tax Season Become Scam Season

Now that the tax deadline is just around the corner, many Canadians are feeling the crunch. Unfortunately, so are cyber criminals. The number of phishing scams and deceptive phone calls skyrocket at this time of the year, as identity thieves attempt to capitalize on people’s tax anxiety. We here at Absolute Destruction don’t want you sharing your personal information accidentally, whether it’s by an errant credit card statement or by one of these cons. That’s why in addition to providing the GTA with secure document destruction, we’ve compiled a cheat sheet to help you avoid falling for these scams.

Some popular scams include an email stating you owe on one of your returns, and in order to pay the difference you must follow the link that they provide. In clicking this link, you may be sent to a page that looks very similar to the Canadian Revenue Agency’s official website, as these criminals will take care to make their request look legit; but there are little clues that should tip you off.

  • The CRA will never email to you unless it’s to confirm your email for your My Account or to notify you of new mail on your My Account
  • The CRA will never email you a link asking for your contact or financial information
  • The fraudulent link in these phishing emails won’t have the CRA domain name nor will its email address come from the official agency

Another scam currently targeting Canadians is done over the phone. Someone posing as a CRA agent will call you claiming you owe a lot of money on one of your returns. They’ll use hostile language and threats of jail time in order to extort the amount that you supposedly owe. They’ll also suggest you divulge your credit card number or use a pre-paid credit card or retail gift card to pay off your debt. Like the phishing scam above, there should be clear signs that you aren’t speak with the CRA in this situation.

  • The CRA will never use threatening or vulgar language when speaking about your account
  • The CRA will never ask for your credit card information over the phone
  • The CRA will never suggest you use pre-paid credit cards or retail gift cards in order to pay what you owe on your return
  • The CRA will never leave an intimidating voicemail message detailing personal information.

What seems like an obvious scam to you has fooled a number of Canadians into giving their personal, financial information to these criminals. According to the latest studies, the number of people who were defrauded by these kinds of scams have increased. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) found that more people were targeted successfully in the first half of 2016 than all of 2015. The CAFC also believes this figure doesn’t even tell the true story, as most victims don’t report their issues.

Be wary of how you share your information at any time of the year, but especially tax season. If you ever receive an email or phone call that you think is unusual, don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Disconnect the call or exit your email to check in with the CRA. Log onto your My Account or call the official number of the CRA. You’ll be able to verify if your tax account is normal and then alert the agency of the scam.

Stay safe this tax season, and be careful with your personal information. Share your personal information with only the CRA, and be sure to call us to destroy any obsolete tax returns.

Add comment April 19th, 2017

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