An Interview with Mark Boenke, Online Security Expert

By Jordan Sapir

We all love the convenience of getting our shopping done online. If I had to, it’s doubtful that I’d be able to recall all the stores, apps, delivery services and online services I’ve given my credit card details to. ‘It’s all very 90’s to fear identity thief or a stolen credit card number,’ I’d murmur as I entered my details, including my shoe size, into cyberspace.

I assume I’m not alone in the thought I put into online security safety. I know the basics of a site and what is safe. I don’t post pictures of my children, and I stopped tagging my location. I adhere to the basic principles of internet safety. But would I know what to do if I were hacked or my details were stolen? I can honestly say that I wouldn’t know where to start. With the holidays underway, and the convenience of online shopping, it’s important for consumers to know the dangers of online shopping and how to use your data responsibly online.

It just so happens that we have an Über Dad, Abbie Casper’s husband, Mark, an online security expert, to help us out.

Jordan: What would you say are some of the most common mistakes consumers make with their identity data online?

Mark: Identity theft happens all the time. Most people choose easy to remember passwords for their email accounts and reuse the same password for other services. But if you use Gmail, for example, it’s not just an email service. It also saves your browsing history, remembers what you have watched on Youtube, stores all you usernames and passwords if you let it, and much more (contacts, calendar, docs etc). It even offers you to act as a proxy for logins to third party services similar to “Login with Facebook”.

Jordan: What are some red flags when online shopping? How do we protect ourselves from identity thief online?

Mark: A red flag is shopping at a store that doesn’t have encryption (broken lock symbol/red URL in the address field depending on the browser you are using) in place. Don’t buy at a sketchy online shop just because it’s two bucks cheaper than Amazon or similar. Don’t save your address and credit card info with a store you are probably only buying once from. Use guest checkout if available and you are not planning on coming back. Do not use the same password for all your sensitive services like email, PayPal and your online banking.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Jordan: How could online hackers use your data?

Mark: So if you “lose” your Gmail credentials, for example, whoever has your password can access all of this information and see where you usually online shop and worst case, even find the saved password for the shop. They will start using your Gmail address, and the password you used, to login to other services and find out where you’ve reused it. Since they have access to your email ,they can easily reset the passwords for other services by clicking forgot password at login.

Jordan: What is the frequency of online thieves stealing consumers credit card details online?

Mark: There are databases with billions of email-addresses, passwords and even social security numbers freely available on the internet. There are also millions of valid credit card numbers available for sale on the internet.

You can check if your email address is already in these stolen accounts databases using the website: https://haveibeenpwned.com/ (they have a collection of over 8 billion !! stolen records). This website is safe and legitimate. If it finds your email address, start going through your accounts and change passwords, and if available turn on two factor authentication.

Jordan: Could you give us the dos and don’ts of online shopping? How do you keep your passwords safe?

Mark: If a service offers Two-Factor-Authentication (either receive a text message or use an authenticator app like Google Authenticator) switch it on (at least for Gmail and Paypal, your bank usually sends you a one-time code for a transaction).

If you have tons of accounts (like most of us), and you can’t remember all the passwords use a Password Manager like Lastpass, 1Password, Enpass or similar to generate and securely store all your passwords. Most browsers like Google Chrome, Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox offer to generate and store passwords, but only Firefox offers to protect all these with a master password. Whatever service you chose you only have to remember one master password.

Make sure this password is unique and complex, but still easy to remember and do not use any of your old passwords.

Jordan: With holidays in full swing, people are doing just as much shopping offline as online, with easy payment methods like Apple Pay and Paypass, what do we do if we think that we are vulnerable to fraud?

If this ever happens to you even if you are not 100% sure, start with cancelling or locking your credit cards. This also works with Paypal, GooglePay and ApplePay. Call them and tell them that they should put your accounts on hold until further notice (you will get a code that you have to tell them if you want to unlock your accounts). Monitor you credit card/bank account transactions closely (don’t wait for the monthly statement). Switch on transaction notifications (text messages or notifications by the credit card/bank app if available). Start changing all your passwords!

 

 

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Jordan Sapir, mother of two glitter-laden girls, 2 and 5, studied Journalism and International Political Science in NYC, a place she once called home. She can slaughter five languages fluently. She has worked in a newsroom or two, walked a catwalk or three, and is all for an impromptu adventure. Having traded in her Prada for pretzels, the founder of Über Moms lives in Munich, where she is a stay at home mom and studying to become a certified nutritionist. She is a mommy on a mission and wants to help fellow mothers raise healthy happy families, and beat a PR here and there.

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