And with that, Jeff Moulton of the Georgia Tech Research Institute began his identity theft workshop at AFCEA’s West 13 conference in sunny San Diego. I was fortunate enough to attend the identity theft workshop where he shared some simple, common sense ways that even the “most technologically-challenged” folks can utilize to reduce their exposure to identity theft.
Founded in 1934, the Georgia Tech Research Institute is dedicated to real world research that solves tough problems for government and organizations, and Moulton surely does his part. As a GTRI principal research associate, Moulton focuses on the increasingly critical field of information operations, which seeks to shield the US from cyber-warfare attacks.
While “things that you need to incorporate into your daily habits to make you more secure in this digital world” was probably not his original title for the workshop, Moulton made no cyber promises.
“This workshop is no guarantee that you won’t be the victim of a cybercrime or identity theft,” he emphasized. “If anybody actually tells you that they can guarantee you perfect cybersecurity, just get up and run away as fast as you can.”
“I can help you mitigate but cannot prevent cyber theft from occurring. People that have had their identity stolen can tell you what I’m talking about,” Moulton added. “It’s a very painful process.“
Moulton’s mission is to help people make better decisions online. “What I can do is make you smarter and better qualified to keep your personal information safe, help you to conduct your online transactions more safely, and reduce your exposure when you’re out doing things on the Internet,” he added.
“Identity theft is on the rise,” Moulton warned. “It’s happening more and more everyday, and I don’t believe it’s going to go anywhere anytime soon.”
He also warned that when identity theft occurs, you might find there’s less help out there to deal with it than you would expect. “You’re pretty much on your own when this occurs to you,” he said. “The police will take a report, your creditors will feel sorry for you, but at the end of the day you’re going to be the one that has to fix it.”
According to Moulton, about one in twenty of us will fall victim to identity theft in the next year, and 43% of identity thefts are committed by someone you know.
He said people should think carefully about their time online. Some 80% of all online sales happen between Thanksgiving/Black Friday and Christmas. “This is when the predators are looking for their prey,” he said.
On average, identity theft takes about 330 hours to fully mitigate or resolve. “That’s 41 eight-hour days. I will tell you from personal experience having helped people go through this process, it’s very, very painful and very expensive too,” he said. “People will feel sorry for you, people will sympathize and empathize with you, but at the end of the day it’s on you to correct identity theft,” Moulton said.
In 2011, one in ten social network users reported their accounts hacked. “Last year, that number was one in six,” he said. “It’ll be very interesting to see what the FBI says this year’s numbers will be.”
After quoting Sun Tsu, he said, “I’m not advocating fighting here but we are at war. Good security is a result of good planning. The identity thief’s motivation here is relatively straight forward. They’re after your personal information.
“What you don’t know is what attack method they’ll use to get it,” Moulton said. “You misunderstand how your digital life will ducktail and support your daily life.”
He emphasized how important incorporating security precautions into your daily life can be to staying safe in the digital world. “You need to evaluate the risk, build a sustainable approach plan to maximize the benefits of your online digital persona, and minimize your exposure,” he said. “This should become as normal to you as brushing your teeth at the beginning of the day and it needs to be done every day.
“Talking about hygiene? Consider this as cyber hygiene at its basic form,” he added. “What works for you may or may not work for me. We’re all different, but for cybersecurity to work, it needs to be seamlessly integrated into your way of life.”
After a quick search, it soon became apparent Moulton is not readily found on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. I like a guy that practices what he preaches. I did however find his info on the GTRI site with his email address, probably to his chagrin.
Next week stay tuned when I will share with you Moulton’s “7 Habits of Highly Secure People.”