Too Small to Fall Vic­tim to Iden­tity Theft? Think Again.

Iden­tity theft doesn’t just hap­pen to big com­pa­nies; it’s a prob­lem for small op­er­a­tions, too.

Inc. (USA) - - LAUNCH - For more in­for­ma­tion on the On­line Trust Al­liance, please visit https://otal­­ci­dent

Afew years ago, Joe Palumbo, owner of Min­neapolis­based Ice Dam Re­moval Guys, started get­ting an­gry calls about shoddy work. He was dumb­founded. There was no record of him ser­vic­ing these peo­ple. Neg­a­tive on­line re­views about his com­pany’s ice re­moval ser­vices also be­gan pop­ping up from cus­tomers that weren’t his.

Af­ter some dig­ging, he learned that some­one else was us­ing his com­pany’s name, caus­ing im­mense con­fu­sion. Be­cause he was a lo­cal leader in the ice dam re­moval busi­ness, he be­lieves it was done ma­li­ciously. “He stole my com­pany’s iden­tity,” he says. “He was rid­ing our coat­tails to get some of our busi­ness.”

Un­for­tu­nately, iden­tity theft is a grow­ing prob­lem among small com­pa­nies. In 2016, there were 82,000 re­ported cy­ber in­ci­dents among busi­ness of all sizes, says Craig Spie­zle, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the On­line Trust Al­liance, an or­ga­ni­za­tion that pro­motes on­line trust and se­cu­rity. Un­re­ported in­ci­dences could bring this num­ber closer to 250,000 a year.

“You have to re­think what’s an in­ci­dent,” he says. “To­day’s threats have ex­panded ex­po­nen­tially, tak­ing over so­cial ac­counts, caus­ing rep­u­ta­tional KDUP DQG D HFWLQJ WKH LGHQWLW\ RI ev­ery­thing re­lated to that busi­ness.”

In to­day’s world, breaches are inevitable, says Spie­zle, and or­ga­ni­za­tions need to be pre­pared.

When such breaches hap­pen, they can cause ma­jor prob­lems, es­pe­cially for a small busi­ness, says Jerry Thomp­son, se­nior vice-pres­i­dent at Iden­tity Guard, a Vir­ginia-based busi­ness that helps pre­vent iden­tity theft via a suite of se­cu­rity prod­ucts.

Com­pro­mised busi­ness own­ers may have trou­ble re­ceiv­ing loans from banks, cus­tomers could stay away, and em­ploy­ees may find their own data stolen.

Gen­er­ally, hack­ers use stolen data in mul­ti­ple ways, says Thomp­son. They may with­hold data for ran­som, sell the stolen in­for­ma­tion, or use it to harm the iden­tity and rep­u­ta­tion of the FRPSDQ\ IRU SHUVRQDO RU QDQFLDO JDLQ

Iden­tity Guard pro­vides sev­eral lay­ers of pro­tec­tion with its new Breach Readi­ness prod­uct. First, cus­tomers con­duct a foren­sic scan to QG YXOQHUDELOLWLHV LQ WKHLU FRPSXWHU sys­tems. Hack­ers usu­ally gain ac­cess to a com­pany through phish­ing scams – an HPDLO LV VHQW WR D VWD HU ZKR FOLFNV RQ D link, al­low­ing the hacker into the sys­tem – and they then work their way into a net­work through these vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties.

ΖW LV FULWLFDO IRU RZQHUV WR UVW QG WKHP and then patch them, says Thomp­son.

Iden­tity Guard has also cre­ated a doc­u­ment for its cus­tomers, which out­lines best prac­tices on how to pre­vent and han­dle a breach.

The idea is to pre­vent an at­tack, not sim­ply re­act to one. “You don’t want to sit around and wait to get hacked,” he says.

If a breach does oc­cur, Iden­tity *XDUG ZLOO KHOS [ WKH SUREOHP 7KH\ pro­vide iden­tity-mon­i­tor­ing codes that alert em­ploy­ees if their per­sonal in­for­ma­tion is used, and they also help peo­ple get their iden­tity back by telling them how to deal with credit card FRPSDQLHV RU RWKHU D HFWHG VHUYLFHV

Palumbo would have been well served by us­ing other Iden­tity Guard ser­vices, in­clud­ing so­cial me­dia mon­i­tor­ing.

In­de­pen­dently, he hired a lawyer, sent a cease-and-de­sist let­ter, and used take­down no­tices to get con­tent re­moved from the In­ter­net. While the other com­pany stopped im­per­son­at­ing his busi­ness, he knows there is al­ways a dan­ger of fresh at­tacks. “If you’re a leader, you’re al­ways go­ing to be a tar­get,” he says. “I just need to be pre­pared for it.”

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