10 Modern Tips to Protect Your Privacy

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Privacy is becoming increasingly precious these days. It is now often too easy to look up someone and have access to their important data just by using certain websites. Some companies even claim that they’ve got access to your income, address, family, phone number and more for a fee. Though it is true that not everyone who wants your details are bad guys, is that something you’d want to risk?

Leave Important Data Out of Your Social Media Profile

The people who need to know where you’ve been born, when’s your birthday, and what your phone number is already have those data. There is no need to share all of that in your Facebook profile. More so, these data can be used to hack into your other accounts, like your internet banking one.

Add a Password to Your PC

You may trust the people you live and/or work with, but what if your computer gets stolen or gets lost? The same goes for your smartphones and tablets. A passcode helps you prevent a stranger from accessing your personal data as long as you’re not using the worst passwords there is!

Your Social Insurance Number is NOT for Sharing

Unless you are 100% sure that you’re talking to your bank or credit company or someone who has a legitimate reason for knowing your social insurance number, there is no need to disclose even just a few digits of it unless you’re asking for your identity to be stolen.

Use Private Browsing

Some browsers can automatically save your password and log-in details as well as auto-fill forms, leaving you vulnerable to people who want to know your browsing history, preferences, and other data. By using private browsing in your browser, you automatically delete your browsing history, cookies, and temporary internet files after you close your browsing window.

Use a Password Vault or a Password Manager

Password managers can help you keep track different unique passwords as well as generate hard to guess ones for all your different accounts. This way, you’ll be less vulnerable to phishing attacks as well as hacking attempts.

Turn on Two-Factor Verification

Services and social media such as Twitter, Apple ID, Microsoft, Dropbox, Facebook, and Google now offers a two-step verification process that is triggered when you log-in or access your account from an unknown device (a device you’ve never used to log-in to your account before). Two-step verfication only allows you to log-in after you input the unique code that will be sent to your phone or email for every log-in attempt, thereby adding an extra layer of protection even when someone is able to guess your log-in details.

Make Your Social Network Activity Private

Check your Facebook privacy settings and make sure that you’re not sharing more than you want to. Do you know that Viber sends your location to whoever you are talking to unless you turn the location off? The same goes for Twitter. Even YouTube lets people see what videos you like unless you choose to make your history private.

Pay in Cash

Some credit card companies sell your data to advertisers, and they’re interested in what you’re spending on! Don’t give them any data at all by paying for your purchases in cash.

Google Alert is Your Friend

Want to know when someone is saying something about you on the web? Set up a google alert for your organization’s name, your business name, or your name. Google will email you when content gets published mentioning your search terms.

Use Incorrect Information When Setting Up Password Security Questions

Since your birthday, favourite colour, mother’s maiden name, and the city where you were born are often easily searchable through social media, using these data when setting up your password security questions can leave you very vulnerable to hacking attempts. The answer? Lie! The pre-set questions can’t be changed so simply create a whole new set of answers that only you will know, perhaps use a character from a book’s data to make things easier to remember.

Concerned about your privacy and need help protecting your personal data? Allow the top private investigators in Toronto to help you! Our various personal investigation services and decades of expertise can help shield you and loved ones from cyber attacks, phishing attempts, and hackers. Contact us to know more about how we can help!

Worst Passwords List for 2015

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Another year has passed and a lot of you may be into the annual password-changing trend – that’s when people change their passwords yearly to make it ‘more secure’; but does that really work? Not if you’re using the worst passwords there is!

In an annual study by SplashData, it shows that people are still committing the same password mistakes that they’ve been making for years. Call it the dilemma of the lazy (we are all certainly guilty of that at one point!), but the most used and unsecure passwords in the world are often the least imaginative. If you’re still using “PASSWORD” as your password, or the ever so popular “123456789”, then you are a part of the problem – a problem that’s been making the internet security world a lot easier to navigate for hackers.

Consistently Risky

“Password” and “123456” still remains as the most commonly used passphrases by people according to the information collected by SplashData since 2011. It seems that people are still not learning their lessons or are still living on the edge of hackers-ville.

The report for 2015 is the fifth annual compilation and contains more than 2,000,000 leaked passwords for the entire year. If any, there seems to be a trend that longer passwords are now part of the mix; perhaps as an indication that websites are increasingly forcing members to create longer passwords for their protection. Still, the longer passwords are incredibly simple. Simple to the point that their length is of no worth as a security measure.

Popular Password Trends

Below are the trending biggest password blunders for 2015:

  • Long passwords climb in popularity but users seem to take no notice that the main reason for having a long password is to make it harder to guess. Examples of long passwords that are so easy to guess are “qwertyuiop” and “asdfghjkl”. Both are just rows of letters at a standard keyboard (the top and second row, respectively).
  • Numerical passwords remain to be some of the common ones, with “123456” and “1234567890” still on the list of the most popular.
  • Sports is still one of the most favourite password themes. In fact, “football”, and “baseball” are both in the top 10 of SplashData’s list.
  • Pop culture seems to be focusing on Star Wars, with people using Star Wars terms such as “solo”, “princess”, and “starwars” so much that all 3 made it as new entries unto 2015’s worst passwords list.
  • Some words just waltzed their way into the list out of nowhere. Words such as “welcome”, “passw0rd”, and “login” seem so common and yet so unusual.

SplashData’s list consists of passwords held by users from Western Europe and North America. It shows that a huge number of individuals are still knowingly putting themselves at risk for identity theft and hacking by using easily guessed and weak passwords.

Are you one of the individuals using the easily-hacked passwords above? Then you may want to start changing your passwords using the following:

Password Safety Tips

  • It is best to use passphrases or passwords that are 12 characters or more that consists of a mixture of letters and numbers.
  • Using the same password for multiple websites is not recommended.
  • Using a random password generator and keeping generated passwords safe by a password protection software may help.

For help with security concerns, talk to us! We serve Toronto, the GTA, and all of Ontario. Contact us for an obligation-free initial consultation of our private investigation (and other) services.

Social Media Investigations: 5 Must Know Tools

social-media-investigations

Any investigator worth his salt these days knows that harnessing the power of the social web is a must. With so much information being shared by people via their social media accounts, the amount of data you can harness just by knowing what tools to use is impossible to ignore – and you shouldn’t be oblivious to it!

Why?

There has been instances when the information which is publicly available via social media has served as the deciding evidence for building a case and closing it.

Don’t believe it?

In fact, one large-scale investigation about a certain executive of a certain company was done like that. It did take about a hundred hours for the team of investigators to put together a compelling story – but they did it, all thanks to their social media know-how.

So how do you use social media to help you out with your investigations? It’s no secret at all! Here are some tools and techniques you can use to launch and complete a successful social media investigation.

Reverse Image Search

There is nothing you cannot find via Google reverse image search if the image is publicly available or has been ‘published’ on the web. For real? Yes! Right click on any photo and scroll to ‘search google for this image’. You’ll see if an image is legit, stolen, or if there are people connected or tagged to it. Yes, that includes Instagram posts, blogs, and Facebook posts!

Is this tool perfect? Nope. Not by any means. One thing for sure is that this is better than Tineye though is limited to photos which are publicly available and indexed; but hey, it’s free!

So how do you use this? Ever ‘dated’ anyone from overseas or not sure if the item you’re buying online is from a legit seller? Do the Google reverse image search and it will save you from a lot of headache (and heartache) in the long run.

Facebook Graph Search

With the information being shared at Facebook, this platform is a mine field of data for internet-savvy investigators. How so? All you have to do is enter a few words and some clicks later, bham! There’s your information.

How does this happen? You see, Facebook is not very good with privacy and very few people really bother to check their privacy settings, letting valuable information slip just like that to people (like you) who shouldn’t have access to it.

With the graph search, finding someone and finding information about someone is relatively easy. All you have to do is enter the name and city and you’ll be given a list of people with that data.

This really is an incredibly powerful tool. Imagine that you can even find someone just by knowing their first name and the places they frequent. Yes, it also applies to places like hotels and bars if that person checked in at Facebook when visiting; isn’t that amazing?

Oh, and if that person somehow have set his or her Facebook profile to private, you can still find out information about them by searching via friends or family members. Information gold mine indeed!

Instagram Search

Hey, we cannot mention Facebook without mentioning Instagram, right? A picture is worth a thousand words after all. Now, imagine more than 20 billion photos (and growing), that’s more than 20 trillion words! Information overload!

Instagram has more than 200 million active users, all posting photos at least a few times a week or selfies at least a few times a day (hey, some people are vain, and their vanity is your tool!).

The only problem with Instagram is that it is not super friendly for desktops users as it is built for mobile use. However, there’s something called ‘Instagram for Chrome’ which enables you to search for GPS tags, user tags, and hash tags to find someone and their ‘inner circle’ of friends and family. This will come in handy when doing your Facebook search for those with private profiles.

Spokeo

Spokeo doesn’t always work, but when it does, oh boy, you’ve hit jackpot!

How does Spokeo investigations work? Well, Spokeo can search the top social media websites if you have a certain person’s email address. Yes, it is THAT easy.

So when do you use this? If you suspect someone is cheating or is using a fake name, or have multiple identities and profiles, all you need is that person’s email address and you’ll find out what you need to find out…unless if that person is smart enough to use different emails for his or her ‘other activities’.

Knowem

Speaking of people who are not using their real names, Knowem is the tool to use. How?

Well, it just so happens that psychologically speaking, people are creatures of habit. They often stick to their username or internet handle through the years. For instance, if someone is mrinvestigator19 on a certain site, you can bet he is mrinvestogator19 on other websites as well.

Knowem is fantastic because it can help you search more than 500 well known social media networks to track down someone. Sure, sometimes someone else may use a certain username but chances are, you’ll find some juicy tidbits just by using Knowem.

To Sum it Up…

Are these 5 tools and sites all you’ll ever need for an epic social media investigation? Of course not! You’ll still have to use lots of the old-fashioned sweat and time (make that total finger workout!) to find what you need. Think reading hundreds or thousands of tweets, browsing awkward selfies, and reading through the everyday drama plus bits and pieces of life shared via social media. This is where a little bit of internet-savviness won’t hurt and of course, you’ll have to be social media literate.

If you are looking for a private investigator in Toronto, contact us today!