Wait, Another Breach, YAWN

Another week goes by and another cyber threat has been revealed. The Marriott breach from the end of November exposed some 500 million guest of the hotel chain covering a period of over 4 years. It is suspected that this intrusion stole more than just credit card numbers. Along with that was a pandora’s box of customer information: passport numbers, cell phone numbers, hotel arrival and departure dates, birth dates, etc. As this has now become commonplace, too commonplace, a splashy headline, a few comments in a blog and the salacious news of the day helps us forget the crime.

While our control of external merchants security protocols is beyond our ability to control (unless one considers voting with their dollars and taking their business elsewhere), our own personal data security is another issue all together.

While we may be practiced at avoiding public wi-fi’s and suspicious hotspots, we all accept a measured amount of risk when we go online, especially when done wirelessly.

VPNs, Banks, and Risk Management

That wireless signal, whether in our homes or offices is nothing more than a radio wave waiting to be listened to. Using a VPN can create a secure, encrypted tunnel between our devices and the destination we choose. What we sacrifice is speed.

One thing to keep in mind when we use a VPN is the destination that is being used as our entry point to the internet. VPN’s allow a user’s origin to be masked, making it more difficult for criminals to follow our digital footprints across the internet. I recently encountered an issue where a financial account that I securely accessed was subsequently shut down by the financial institution’s risk-management department! Their system reported a successful “breach” into my account from a server in Iceland. After a 45 minute explanation of the how’s and why’s of the event, access to my account was restored. That level of intense response, albeit disruptive, is what I am looking for from those that I entrust to secure my data.

So, remember, when working to take the precautions to secure our digital footprints, we can be at times be stumbled by our own actions. But the alternative, the unprotected way, leaves us vulnerable to intrusions and attacks that can be far worse.