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Metrolinx Claims To Be Hacked By North Korea

At the end of January, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved its symbolic Doomsday Clock forward by 30 seconds. With its minute hand now resting at two minutes to midnight, the clock suggests the apocalypse is nigh. The last time it was this close to midnight (i.e., the end of the world) was in 1953, at a time when both the US and Soviet Union were testing hydrogen bombs during the Cold War. Today, the organization cites the dire nuclear competition between North Korea and the US as the reasons why the apocalypse could be near in 2018.

The nuclear rhetoric shared by Trump and Kim-Jung Un is concerning though no longer surprising. If you’re like the crew at Absolute Destruction & Recycling you read the news expecting to see mentions North Korea. It doesn’t take long, as the nation state is often the focus of political articles. But it may come as a surprise to learn that North Korea is now linked to the GTA.

At the end of January, Metrolinx claimed it was the victim of a North Korean cyberattack. Its spokesperson, Anne Marie Aikins, would not give many details regarding the attack, but she would say no customer information was compromised. She also went on to say investigators believe the attack first started in North Korea before it was routed through Russia.

The Ontario transit agency has failed to go on to explain why they think North Korea is behind this most recent attack. With no evidence to back up this claim, Metrolinx has gained many critics. That’s because cybersecurity researchers usually find it difficult to successfully attribute the source of most cyberattacks. Because it’s so hard, researchers typically give proof when identifying a culprit — especially when these claims involve a nation state.

Some of Canada’s leading cybersecurity experts criticize object

Among its critics is Eva Galperin, the director of cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). When she spoke to the CBC, she said, “simply saying ‘Hey, that’s North Korea’ with nothing to back it up, is not the sort of statement I would put a lot of faith in.”

The CBC also spoke to Mark Nunnukhoven, the vice president for the cybersecurity company, Trend Micro. He said that, “coming out publicly, saying it was a particular nation state, escalates the stakes for no apparent reason.”

Another critic is University of Toronto professor Ron Deibert. He told the Globe and Mail, “if North Korea was indeed responsible for the attack, that would be a major development necessitating a Government of Canada response, since Metrolinx is a Crown corporation.”

Metrolinx’s cyberattack acts as an important reminder

As Metrolinx cooperates with investigators, the recent attack — regardless of its source — underlines the value of maintaining robust security measures. It also serves as an important reminder for our readers to confirm the strength of their own security measures. Though the attacks on Ontario infrastructure is in an entirely different echelon than any potential attacks targeting your small business, your enterprise needs to take its security policies seriously. As we mentioned before, it’s your legal responsibility to protect your customer’s PI.

Small businesses are often more vulnerable to attacks because they don’t have the same budget to support comprehensive security infrastructure as larger businesses. Some security experts suggest adopting cloud-based data storage software if you don’t have an experienced IT security department. This transfers all your data to remote servers maintained by a larger company, which means you aren’t responsible for implementing or maintaining security infrastructure on your own.

Another way to increase your business’ overall security is by ensuring you have the appropriate shredding schedule for your business’ paper and electronic output. If you aren’t sure how often our team should be shredding your confidential material, we can answer your questions about the frequency of your pick-ups. When our services match your needs perfectly, we can work together to make sure your obsolete paper files and electronic devices don’t pose as security risks.

If you’re a small business owner in the GTA, contact us to learn more. One of our friendly customer service representatives will arrange a convenient shredding schedule customized for your business. Together, we can close the chain of custody once and for all with reliable document destruction.

Add comment February 23rd, 2018

In The News: Bell Canada Hit By Another Security Breach

Last year, the Absolute Destruction & Recycling blog started a brand-new feature called In The News. While many of our posts focus on world-wide security breaches that affect millions of people, In The News is an opportunity to cast a tight net and explore issues affecting the GTA. Moving once again from the macro to micro, we present our very first instalment of In The News of 2018. But perhaps today, it should be called In The News Again, as Bell Canada is once again the target of a cyberattack. The hack — which happened sometime in January of this year — has exposed fewer than 100,000 customers.

Our regular readers will remember Bell was the focus of our June 2017 edition of In The News. Then, it was revealed 1.9 million customer emails were stolen. Canada’s largest telecom giant would not say if there was a connection between these two hacks.

On the surface, January’s breach seems less dire. But, in delving a little deeper, the most recent hack could pose more danger to customers. Though fewer customers were affected overall — a tiny fraction of Bell’s total 22 million customers — those whose information was stolen had more details exposed than those affected by 2017’s breach.

The information obtained in the hack includes:

  • Names
  • Email addresses
  • Account usernames and number
  • Phone numbers

Luckily, no credit card numbers or other banking information was compromised in the breach. But the nature of the breach does increase these customers’ chances of being targets of future phishing attacks.

Email addresses attached to contact information and usernames tip spammers off to the fact that these customers have accounts with Bell. They can exploit this relationship by posing as Bell, sending customers false emails filled with accurate information regarding their accounts. When done well, these emails can trick people into thinking they’re real bills. There’s a danger if these customers click any of the links and send payments to these scammers.

There’s a silver lining to Bell disclosing the extent of their breach with transparency. It gives any Bell customers the opportunity to change compromised profile information, including passwords and usernames. Customers will also have the chance to check their credit report to confirm this recent breach hasn’t affected their finances.

Bell now joins the ranks of other large companies like Uber and Yahoo that have been the target of hackers. With data theft on the rise, consumers are increasingly wary about sharing their personal information online. If you own a business that collects this kind of data, it’s important that you use all resources available to ensure your small business protects its customers’ information.

As you patch your online systems, don’t ignore the risk your physical data poses. Paper files and obsolete electronics that hold customer information or corporate property can be exploited if disposed of incorrectly. Make sure you speak with us, the document destruction experts, before you throw out any confidential material.

Though we’re the best shredding services Toronto has to offer, we offer our full range of services all around the GTA. If you need our services in Vaughan, one of our local crews will make sure your company is secure.

Our crews are available even if you don’t own a small business. Many of our clients are homeowners who scheduled our paper shredding services in Oakville. They secured our help only after they had noticed suspicious activity on their credit report.

Whether you were affected by the Bell hacks or not, get in touch to see how we can schedule our pick-ups to best suit your needs. Once we arrive at a time that works for you, we’ll protect your company, your home, and your good name from threats of identity theft.

Add comment February 15th, 2018

Security: A New Year’s Resolution

After the whirlwind of celebrations took us for a ride this past holiday, it’s nice to know that we have a little bit of time to recover at the start of the New Year. The crew at Absolute Destruction, the document destruction services in your area, would like to take this moment of calm to welcome you back to the blog! It’s with warm sincerity that we wish all the best in 2018 for you and yours.

After a year like 2017, we can appreciate how necessary this downtime is for our mental health, but don’t revel in relaxation for too long before you tackle the New Year. Though you may be tempted to see how long you can stay in your blanket burrito as you binge-watch the Alias Grace mini-series, this is a special time of year that shouldn’t go ignored!

The New Year is an opportunity to put the past behind us and embark on the next twelve months with enthusiasm — once we get over our post-holiday blues, of course! (See our upcoming guide to beat just that later this month). After some much-needed R&R, it’s easy to feel optimistic about the year ahead, especially as we frame it with the healthy changes we want to make in our lives.

New Year’s Resolutions: they’re every bit a tradition as singing Old Lang Syne at the stroke of midnight. Many of us prioritize our weight and fitness as we arrive on the other side of the holidays with our waistlines showing the evidence of our overindulgences in sweets and leftovers. Others will look to their finances as they realize just how much they spent on the holidays.

From our perspective behind our paper shredders in Richmond Hill and the rest of the GTA, security gets the highest priority. Experts say everyone will be a victim of identity theft at least once in their lifetime, and it’s easy to accept this factoid as true when you consider the number of commercial security breaches that happened in last year — many of which our blog covered as these cases unfolded in the public eye.

The good news is, with the right defence, you can avoid becoming a victim of identity theft — even when this crime is at an all-time high. The sharp blades of our mobile shredding trucks can’t help you get shredded like a superhero, but they can keep you safe from a potential attack from a criminal fraudster. Every truck in our fleet meets NAID (National Association for Information Destruction) standards, so it’s one of the few ways you can permanently destroy documents and electronic data.

For the last 16 years, these trucks have let us service Toronto and the GTA with reliable document destruction for businesses and individuals alike. With one-time purges and regular pick-ups available, you can join our customers and experience the benefit of superior document destruction.

If you have room for one more goal on your list of New Year’s Resolutions, make it security. As the threats of identity theft increase each year, you need to start thinking about how you can protect your personal information. So give us a call once you catch your breath this January, and together we’ll make 2018 the most secure year yet!

Add comment January 29th, 2018

Millions Affected In An Uber Security Breach

At a time when tapping an app has replaced hailing a cab, most of us have relied on the ride sharing firm, Uber, to get around Toronto and the GTA at least once. Though a convenient alternative to taxis, the app comes at a cost to cybersecurity to millions now that Uber revealed it was the target of a significant security breach.

The crew that makes up Abacus’ on call data destruction services was disheartened to hear nearly 50 million customers had their names, emails addresses, and phone numbers exposed in the hack. Hackers also accessed personal information of 7 million drivers — 600,000 of whom had their licence information exposed. So far, the company has yet to reveal how or if the breach affects its Canadian customers. While the Federal Commissioner’s Office is working with regulatory and government authorities to uncover the truth, there’s no evidence to suggest Uber plans on sharing this number.

So far, Uber claims there is no evidence of fraud tied to these exposed identities. It’s still offering up free credit monitoring protection to its drivers, though the same offer isn’t extended to customers. These drivers also have access to an Uber resource page regarding the incident should they have any questions about their next steps.

Last year, our team reported on the breaches that affected Equifax and Yahoo, the latter of which affected billions of customers. By comparison, Uber’s 57 million is a modest number. What is perhaps the worst part of this is the breach’s timeline. News of the hack went public in November of 2017, but the breach happened much earlier.

Uber first learnt of the attack in October 2016 — a month after hackers first accessed the company’s data. This isn’t the first time the company tried to conceal a security breach. Earlier this year, Uber was fined $20,000 for failing to disclose a smaller breach that occurred in 2014.

It was actually during October of last year that Uber was negotiating with U.S. regulator over the 2014 breach. Instead of reporting the new breach from 2016 during the proceedings, Uber stayed mum about the latest hack and chose to pay the attackers $100,000 to delete the acquired data.

Now Uber is under investigation led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Since the reveal, the new CEO, Khosrowshahi said, “While I can’t erase the past, I can commit on behalf of every Uber employee that we will learn from our mistakes.” In doing so, he’s calling for the resignation of the company’s security chief, Joe Sullivan.

Historically, this isn’t the worst case of privacy violation; however, it does pose as a significant reminder about the online security. Always be careful with the apps that you share your information with. When you cast a discerning eye towards an app’s request for information, you can avoid those apps that seek to do you harm.

Uber, on the other hand, is one of the many apps that seemed like it was a safe addition to your phone. While there’s nothing you can do to change the way hackers target companies or how these companies react to these breaches, you can focus on the steps you can take. Protect your personal information by scheduling our secure paper shredding and electronic data destruction services. As a local GTA company, we offer our services in Vaughan, Aurora/Newmarket, and London — just to name a few. Check out our homepage to find the full list of cities we service.

The “Certificate of Destruction” we present at the end of every job means any physical documents or devices storing your personal information is destroyed to such a degree that it can’t be retrieved. This, along with developing safe online habits, is one of the best ways to protect yourself from identity theft.

Give us a call when you’re ready to take the next step in your defence. In addition to on-site pick-ups, we offer consoles and containers to collect your documents, electronics, and recycling in between our visits. Each console and container is locked to prevent any tampering, so you’re safe at every step of the destruction chain. If this sounds like something you or your business could use, let us be your safeguard during a volatile time for cybersecurity.

Add comment January 25th, 2018

How To Get Over Your Post-Holiday Blues

After months of preparation, the holidays are over in the blink of the eye. It’s a little anti-climatic for those of you who revel in the season — those who takes great pleasure in decorating their houses, watching their favourite films, and finding every excuse to nibble on some gingerbread. Once it’s all over, you can feel a little underwhelmed and overexposed in the cold, harsh light of January.

The crew of Absolute Destruction paper shredders understands how visceral the post-holidays blues can be for most people, so that’s why we’ve put together a short guide to beating the winter doldrums. Despite it being the coldest months of the year, the winter is a time when Toronto heats up. There are a lot of things to see and do in the upcoming weeks, and we’re willing to bet any of the following events will get your mind off the blues.

Winter Village: December 2017 to March 2018

You may have already heard about the Evergreen Brick Works’ Winter Village during the holidays, as it’s been up for the holidays since December. But it runs until March of 2018, at which time it leaves behind any signs of Christmas to embrace the sights and flavours of winter. The Winter Village offers a perfect weekend outing for friends and family with outdoor activities around the Don Valley and an opportunity to taste-test your way through the GTA’s finest street-eats. There’s also a farmer’s market that operates every Saturday.

Toronto Light Fest: January 19 to March 11, 2018

The Toronto Light Fest is back at the Distillery District for another year, and it’s bringing an illuminating art installation to light up the historic cobblestone streets from January 19 to March 11. Head down to the Distillery District to see how 17 artists from Canada and around the world design inventive light displays that cast the neighbourhood in an entirely different light. Best of all, it’s free, so you can get a little bit of culture without paying a dime.

Winterlicious: January 26 to February 8, 2018

The area’s biggest foodies will already be aware of Winterlicious, a time when restaurants all over Toronto design creative menus at prix fixe values for two weeks in January. Over 220 restaurants join in on the fun, and there’s no limit to the cuisine, making it easy to tour your way through the diverse flavours of the city. There’s something delicious waiting for you at Winterlicious, but you’ll have to act fast if you expect to sample any dish. The food festival is incredibly popular, so reservations can be difficult to nab. If you want to experience these handcrafted menus, don’t wait — call your favourite restaurant now.

It’s alright to mourn your long-gone holidays, but don’t let your grief ruin the rest of the season for you. There’s a lot to see and do around town, and the three examples above are only a very small sample of what’s going on in Toronto this winter. Check out your local listings for events, and look up extensive winter guides for more ideas. From singles to families, there’s something for everyone.

Soon enough your calendar will be full of things to do, so you won’t have time to think about anything else. Just remember to leave enough time to schedule one of our shredding services or our professional recycling program this winter, so you can keep safe as you explore what the city has to offer this winter.

If you aren’t sure which one would best suit your needs, check in with our FAQS about document destruction. It’s a quick and simple resource for the services we offer. Get in touch once you have a better understanding about your options, and we’ll make sure your privacy stays protected in 2018. In the meantime, get out there and explore the big city!

Add comment January 16th, 2018

See You In 2018!

Get ready with the champagne and party hats, it’s that time of year again! It may feel like only yesterday we were ringing in 2017, but it’s already drawing to a close. Before you raise your cup to another rendition of Old Lang Syne and welcome 2018, the crew at Absolute Destruction wanted to reach out and wish a happy and healthy New Year to you and yours.

One of the greatest joys of the season is the opportunity to express our gratitude for the people we serve, so we wanted to take the time to thank every one of you for another great year of document destruction. It was just as much a pleasure meeting new faces as it was returning to longstanding clients of document shredding in Vaughn, Markham, Barrie, and across the GTA.

Wherever you are, our crew wants to remind you that Absolute will continue to offer on site shredding services as usual in the New Year. Whether it’s a one-time residential purge to help you reach your de-cluttering resolution or a regular pick-up for commercial shredding, we’re ready to safeguard your personal information in 2018 and beyond. All you have to do is pick up the phone and speak with one of our friendly representatives. Until then, here’s a toast to success and good fortune in the New Year!

Add comment December 28th, 2017

Break These Holiday Shopping Habits

If you’re like most people, this page isn’t the only tab open in your browser. As you begin your holiday shopping in earnest, you probably have at least eight tabs going at one time. Some are set to the homepage of your favourite online retailer, while the others are open to shopping guides and review pages about your potential gifts.

A recent survey conducted by Canada revealed 62 percent of Canadian hate the Christmas crowds while shopping for presents. That could explain why 82 percent of those surveyed said they’ll skip the malls by shopping online.

Whether you’re filling in last-minute purchases online or you’re shopping for your full list from the computer, stop what you’re doing. Before you add any more items to your digital shopping cart, our crew wants to make sure you’re properly prepared. We don’t just offer document shredding services in Toronto and the GTA. As an electronic data destruction service, we have an interest in online security.

Now that the countdown to the big day is on, the ticking of the clock can wind you up tighter than a toy soldier. It’s easy to make mistakes when you’re stressed, so our team wants to remind you to break these online habits when you head online.

Don’t visit unusual sites to get a deal

If you like a deal, then you’re probably already searching for the best price on the items on your list. You can find discounts and other great deals if you shop with care, but don’t let a low price deceive you. Sometimes a deal is too good to be true, just like the scam that promises a free iPhone X if you like a Facebook page.

It’s around this time that cyber criminals send emails promising unbelievable prices to get people to click fraudulent links and share personal information. Don’t get sucked in by it. Only follow links when you can verify the sender. Meanwhile, only visit retailer’s official sites and confirm they have SSL (or Secure Socket Layer) encryption before you type in your credit card number.

Retire any passwords that rely on your child’s birthday or pet’s name

Once you get shopping, you’ll notice how retailers will ask you to create a profile before you continue with your purchase. You don’t have to accept this invitation, but it may improve your shopping experience. As a member, you often receive emails notifying you of deals or sharing with you special coupons. If you decide to create an account with your favourite retailers, be careful with the password you use. Your child’s birthday is not a secure password, nor is any other detail of your life that’s easily guessed. Avoid names, phone numbers, and dates, and replace them with a password made up of letters, numbers, and symbols.

Stop letting your browser remember your info

When it seems like every website requires a profile, it can be tricky to remember login credentials for each account. Many of us rely on our computers to remember them for us by authorizing a browser or website to retain your details. While this may save you time typing things in, it can increase your risk of a breach. When credit card numbers, contact information, and passwords are saved on your computer or in your browser, this information can be accessed by anyone who uses your computer or who uses the same network as you.

That’s exactly the kind of data we would destroy when you secure our paper shredding in Richmond Hill, so why would you offer it up to strangers online? Keep your information safe by using a password manager instead. These programs encrypt passwords so only you can access their information. There’s just one caveat: you’ll have to remember your password for this app to get in.

In conclusion

Remember these tips when you start shopping this year, and you’ll strike a perfect balance between being a generous gift-giver and a secured shopper. But don’t let your commitment to security stop there. As your parcels begin to arrive, remember those invoices carry important contact and financial information.

If you live locally, we’re one of the best mobile shredding companies in Oakville, in Barrie, and in the GTA at large, and we can help you destroy these documents safely. Schedule an appointment and you can enjoy the big day without the threat of identity theft. Give us a call now or in the New Year. Until we hear from you, we want to wish you and your family a happy holiday and safe shopping!

Add comment December 28th, 2017

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