Emergency Preparedness Committee: Online Safety

Over the last two issues of the Seashore News we outlined some of the ongoing scams and abuses targeting our personal information that compromise identity and financial security through stolen passwords, unsolicited phone calls, credit card information, internet breaches, and many other avenues as simple as stealing mail from our mailboxes, breaking into our cars, going through trash cans, and the list goes on.
A potential solution and method of securing your personal data is “the cloud.” Companies like Apple
and Google are urging us to load all our photos and documents (tax returns, bank and brokerage statements, family trusts) into an online vault called “the cloud,” which is actually huge racks of servers in locations all over the world.
What could possibly go wrong with hundreds of millions of people storing personal data in a centralized warehouse? AYKM? (Are You Kidding Me?) This past August, Dropbox reset passwords for 68 million accounts due to a 2012 breach. Anyone with an email address is at risk with phishers (scammers sending an email claiming to be an established legitimate business in an attempt to deceive the unsuspecting recipient into divulging personal information after directing the user to visit a specified website). Beware. Phishing pros can use commonly recognized logos in their email headers
to make you think the emails are legit. A lesser-known cloud alternative is gaining traction: Store
stuff on a hard drive at home, but access it online anywhere.
Known as “personal cloud” storage, some products from Western Digital and Seagate use your own internet connection and are known only to you and the drive maker, so your files are less at risk from hackers. You can buy gobs of space for under $200 and no monthly fees. Lima Ultra and Apollo are even simpler and work like Dropbox. BUT, what’s reality? Some experts actually advise keeping your personal data far away from the internet, making them difficult to share with anyone. So what’s the best solution? First, do your own research on how to best keep your personal data safe from being compromised. Explore the options, cost, and level of security you are comfortable with. Some folks even believe a locked safe or file cabinet isn’t all that bad a solution. But, another BUT, fire and theft are still downsides to this option, too. Again, do your own research. Ask your bank representative, CPA, broker, and Google the internet for solutions. Then decide for yourself, BUT, always be vigilant.
NOW, maybe the best heads-up about what should mean most to you. What does everyone reading this article have in common? May 14 is our MOTHER’S DAY. Treasure her memory, and if she is still with you, don’t forget to honor her with a card, flowers, a phone call, reservations for brunch, or a personal visit. Make sure she knows how much you appreciate and love her.
—Kent Wellbrock

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