Data Security Part 3: Don’t Click, Don’t Open!

The world has witnessed massive data breaches in the past few years. Sony Pictures, the Democratic National Committee, Target, Verizon and Cox Communications were all victims of some sort of cyber attack. This week in In Process, we’re speaking again with Trey James, co-founder and CEO of Xcentric, a national hosting provider based in Georgia that is focused on dedicated virtual servers exclusively for tax and accounting firms.  In Part 3 of our discussion with Trey, we explore common cyber security risks and how people can make better decisions to prevent personal and business data from falling into the wrong hands.

If you’re like most people, you download apps to your smartphone without paying much attention to the privacy elements. Maybe you keep your passwords scribbled on Post-it Notes near your computer, and you don’t think twice about checking email using public Wi-Fi. And even if that Wi-Fi-connected security camera mounted on your property gives you peace of mind, it’s a doorway for uninvited eyeballs to see into your world.

“Due to the volume of things we are adding to our phones and technologies we are logging into on the web and on our devices, there is no time to do proper research to understand what you are really exposed to,” said Trey. “We are trading conveniences for security.”

So what are some of the common scams that are going around that people make the mistake and fall prey to that puts their information at risk?

“One big vulnerability remains email attachments, otherwise known as ‘weaponized’ attachments,” said Trey. “When you get an email from someone that says, ‘Here is your invoice. Here is your bank statement or what have you,’ you open that file and the next thing you know, all your data has been encrypted. This is called ransom ware. This is very prolific; we see this in our client base all the time. There is virtually no way to stop it.”

So how can you protect your data from falling into the wrong hands?

“I think the biggest thing is being smart, using common sense about what you should open. If you don't know who it's from and you weren't expecting it, don't open it. If you think about what these hackers are after, ultimately, credentials are the absolute number one thing. If they can grab your credentials, then they can get to places that only you should have access to.”

And with a new wave of smart-home devices, the sphere of security risks only increases.

“I think that when you start seeing the level of control that hackers can actually take over systems, you realize that the more we move everything into the cloud, the more at risk we actually are.”

Stream the conversation with Trey in the player below for more tips and insights into technologies that can prevent you from being a victim. You can also subscribe to In Process on iTunes to receive this episode, listen to “Data Security” Parts 1 and 2 as well as future updates from the show on your smartphone.