In 2017, there were nearly 1,600 data breaches in the U.S. alone. The number of identity theft cases also hit record highs. In total, 16.7 million Americans had their identities stolen. That same year, identity thieves made off with nearly $17 billion.
Identity Theft Often Begins at a Victim’s Workplace
The tactics identity thieves use have changed significantly in recent years. While crooks still target private individuals, their efforts are increasingly focused on employers. In fact, as much as 50 percent of identity theft begins at a victim’s workplace.
Federal, state and local governments require businesses to obtain and store a tremendous amount of personal data on their employees — including Social Security numbers, addresses and other personal details thieves want. Increasingly, employers are recording this information in digital formats that can be accessed via the Internet, making it easy for cybercriminals to steal troves of data in one swoop.
Often, many managers have access to HR’s employee files. If a hacker can access just one of these user accounts, they can steal the personal details of every employee.
One of the most effective tactics cybercriminals use is phishing. Phishing attacks occur when a criminal sends a cleverly disguised email to a victim in hopes of getting that individual to submit confidential data, his own or his company’s.
In 2016, AlienVault investigated how successful these kinds of attacks are by surveying more than 300 security professionals. A shocking 37 percent of respondents said executives within their business had fallen victim to targeted phishing scams, including those where a phishing email appeared to come from their CEO.
What can we do about it?
Here are three steps you can take today to help protect your company’s greatest asset — your employees.
Educate yourself. The first step to protecting your employees is educating yourself — along with your co-workers and management — about the risks identity theft poses to both your employees and your company. A good place to start is with our complimentary e-book Why Companies Should Care When Employees Have Their Identities Stolen.
Inform your employees. Many employees aren’t as aware of identity theft as they should be; even fewer are taking the necessary steps to safeguard their privacy. Consider having an ongoing discussion with your employees about the many risks of identity theft and how they can help protect themselves.
Protect your employees’ privacy. There are other steps you can take to help them protect their privacy. Consider providing a comprehensive identity protection benefit. Just be sure to select a quality employee identity protection service, as plans can vary greatly.
Karen Ballard is the director of sales with InfoArmor. At InfoArmor, we believe everyone deserves the right to privacy, security and, above all else, peace of mind. This is why we’re proud to offer industry-leading solutions for employee identity protection and advanced threat intelligence. From enterprise to employee, InfoArmor redefines how organizations combat an ever-changing cyber threat landscape. If you’d like more information on how we can help your organization protect its most valuable assets, reach out at www.infoarmor.com. We’d love to hear from you.