Have your personal “BC/DR” plan ready to go

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM).   This week, we continue our focus on how to protect you at home. We hope this series will spur thinking and discussion about how to protect your personal digital assets.

Have your personal “BC/DR” plan ready to go ahead of time

It’s important to keep an eye on your accounts to watch out for suspicious activity. This isn’t just related to bank accounts, but applies to other online services which can be hijacked such as international calling plans with automatic top-ups from your debit card. If the hackers can guess your PIN, they have unlimited calls around the world until you figure out the breach and turn off your automatic top-up setting. If you discover a problem with one of your accounts, it’s important to pay close attention to your other accounts as well.

Just like a business, your personal business continuity / disaster recovery (BC/DR) plan should help you continue your “operations” in the event of an adverse physical event, or if your accounts get compromised via cyber theft. Your plan should help you continue to operate “business as usual” and recover your access. Keep a list of important numbers to call in the event of identity theft and a list of your credit card numbers in case they’re stolen. It’s good to have a paper copy of this information and well as a copy on your smartphone so you can report lost or stolen cards immediately. Of course, don’t keep your PINs with your cards, and don’t create PINs or passwords using information that can be guessed easily.

The good news is the banks are getting far more efficient with remediation. After the Home Depot incident, my bank notified one of my family members right away and within 24 hours he was able to get a new, embossed, debit card printed at the local branch a couple of miles away with no need to wait 5 days or more for the postal service to deliver a new card via mail. This kind of “instant issuance” technology in terms of card printing has been around for several years, but is finding even more value in light of rapid response to cyber-attacks.

With the rising number of successful attacks against high-profile targets, it’s now not a question of if you’ll get hacked, but when. Cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility. The nature of the cybersecurity threat is evolving, but many attacks are also successful due to simple lapses in applying common security controls. Businesses can do more to implement robust security practices and so can consumers. There’s no magic fix, of course, but the more safeguards the better.