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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

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

In The News: Bell Exposes Millions in Large Scale Breach

Last month, we explored the story of a local woman who realized she was a victim of identity theft after receiving an unusual ETR bill. The Absolute Destruction headquarters, located in Aurora, is only a stone’s throw away from Vaughan where the crime took place. It’s the first time we examined an incident that was so close to home.

We think it’s important that we investigate local cases of identity theft, to show that it isn’t just a subject of Hollywood films. Identity theft is a real danger to anyone who doesn’t protect their personal information properly.

That’s why we’re starting our second installment of our semi-regular feature, In the News, in which we look at a Canadian telecomm company that failed to shield its customers from a cyberattack — many of whom live in the GTA. Last month, Bell was the victim of an online hack that exposed the personal emails of roughly 1.9 million people and the contact information of 1,700 individuals.

The anonymous hackers posted a note that promised to leak more information should Bell fail to give into their demands. What those demands were are still protected by the ungoing investigation, but it’s likely the criminals were asking for a ransom. Remember, from our post on Ransomware back in May of 2016, that paying these demands rarely works to the victim’s advantage.

Though millions of people were affected in the attack, Bell maintains there was “minimal risk involved” with the breach, and they are still working with law enforcement and the government to ensure the safety of their customers.

We’ll be hearing about breaches more often in the future because of the way companies must now handle these leaks — not because we suspect the threat of hackers has multiplied in any way. Under the guidance of the Canadian Securities Administrators, the federal government is making changes to the country’s privacy laws.

In the past, some cyberattacks were never reported, as there were no legal regulations requiring companies to share this information. The latest changes require companies to disclose more information about every single data breach that results in exposing Canadians’ personal information. These modifications dictate companies also divulge any risk they think may result in another cyberattack sometime in the future.

As a result, more Canadians than ever before will be notified their personal information has been leaked. While these reports will be alarming to those affected, those responsible for these privacy laws hope their work will ultimately lead to greater transparency regarding security.

It only makes sense in terms of marketing. If a company is forced to share every data breach and internal weakness that could lead to more in the future, they’ll want to demonstrate to their customers the way they use their information and how they hope to protect it.

In addition to firewalls, network antivirus, and server security, hiring our commercial shredding services is an essential way to eliminate the threat of identity theft. While firewalls and server securities will protect current information your business needs to store, our document destruction and electronic data destruction ensures obsolete paper and digital files can no longer expose customer information or company intellectual property.

If you’re one of the many business owners that call the GTA home, get in touch with our team. We’ll arrange a convenient shredding schedule customized to your needs, so you can protect your company from local threats of identity theft.

Add comment June 26th, 2017

Click Before You Think: A Look At The Latest Google Phishing Scam

Blog post after blog post, we always come back to the same piece of advice: only click on an attachment if it’s from a trusted source. Usually it’s a good rule of thumb that can protect you from the majority of phishing scams, but the crew at Absolute Destruction is prepared to eat our words. Sometimes, even seemingly trusted sources can send you bogus attachments.

Last month Google was at the heart of an insidious phishing scam that was aimed at its Google Doc users. It sent out an alarmingly realistic email to users asking permission to manage their email and contacts. If you clicked allow, it would have access to everything within your email accounts and your contact list, which it would then use to send out similar emails to your friends and family.

It worked so well because it sent you a Google-hosted page that listed all of your Google accounts, making it seem like a legit request from the tech company. The scam also bought the rights to a third-party app called Google Docs, further legitimizing the scam. Most people didn’t realize there is no such thing as Google Docs app. The real application is built-in to your Google account and has access to your email by default.

Though Google was quick to neutralize this threat, the scam managed to work on roughly 1 million users. Despite the large number, it seems like the tech giant dodged a bullet. Their investigations revealed the scam managed to access only contact information and no other personal data was exposed.

It was a near miss, but it provides a great lesson to all of us. While it’s easy to dismiss emails from unusual sources, with suspect titles and strange attachments, it’s not as simple to identify sophisticated scams that copy the look and writing style of trusted accounts.

Just as phishing scams are evolving, our approach to these cons needs to change along with them. In this latest case, critical thinking was the key to avoiding becoming a victim. Google Docs already has permission to see your emails and the documents you send through it, so it would never need to send this email in the first place.

This method is certainly a lot harder to lock down, and it will take practice.

It’s certainly much more difficult than scheduling our secure electronic data destruction services. Though easier to arrange, our data destruction is an essential step towards digital security, as it eliminates the physical theft of your data once you throw away obsolete devices. Once your computers, phones, or hard drives pass through the teeth of our mobile shredding truck’s blade, there’s no way to retrieve financial files or personal information stored on their chips.

To protect yourself even further, check out the top guides outlining how you can avoid phishing. Experts like WIRED and Norton Anti-Virus provide are a good place to start, so you can protect yourself against sophisticated phishing scam.

We’ll wait as you study up. Once you’re ready, give us a call to schedule your first pick up, and you’ll be one step ahead of the game.

Add comment June 22nd, 2017

Why GDPR Are Four Letters Businesses Need To Know

Back in September of 2015, our blog took a look at the various privacy laws in countries around the world. Along with the US and UK, the crew at Absolute Destruction reviewed European privacy policies as it compared to Canadian legislation. For any archive jumpers (or for those with great memories) we have an announcement to make. This past April, the European Union has passed a landmark privacy bill in the General Data Protection Regulation, and it will effectively replace Directive 95 as of this time next year — which means, as of May 2018, everything within that article regarding Europe’s current laws will be outdated.

To remind our regular readers, Directive 95 is the colloquial term for the Data Protection Directive or Directive 95/46/EC. Since 1995, the directive regulated the way personal information of European citizens could be collected, shared, and discarded. It was a head of its time, as it protected European’s personal data online when the Internet was in its infancy. Times have changed drastically, as has digital storage capabilities, which is why the EU has drafted a new and improved directive.

GDPR or Regulation (EU) 2016/679 will strengthen what was established in 1995, and it will roll out new enforcement measures for those who fail to comply. Should a company fail to protect personal information according to GDPR terms, they could be charged as much as 4% of their revenue as punishment. Continue reading here to get an in-depth review of the proposed changes.

Though the GDPR protects European citizens, it’s a bill that holds significance for business owners here in the GTA. Its regulations apply to any company that collects or stores information from EU citizens. Like Canada’s PIPEDA, you must follow GPDR if you’re a multi-national organization that deals with European customers or you will face the consequence outlined above.

The regulation may be a European law, but you can ensure your business practices abide by it through local means. As your resident shredding service in the GTA, we can help. We’re NAID-certified, so our fully bonded document destruction crew can guarantee our commercial shredding services follow the letter of the law — wherever it hails. In addition to adhering to the latest disposal techniques set out by the National Association for Information Destruction, we strive to meet the appropriate measures set out by the federal and provincial government’s privacy laws.

We like to be prepared, so we’re already gearing up for upcoming regulation, so we can ensure our multi-national clients are compliant with the GDPR once it comes into effect in May 2018. Until then, it will be business as usual as we provide secure, dependable shredding services that abide by necessary disposal regulations.

To make sure your small business or multi-national organization is compliant with every law, give us a call and schedule an appointment. With a variety of options that accommodate a wide arrange of digital and paper document outputs, we can help any company in the GTA confirm compliancy with laws local and abroad.

Add comment June 6th, 2017

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