How Your Friends & Family Increase Your Risk of Identity Theft

A call, a dodgy website, an impressively themed pop-up – most of us know how tech support scams work, and most of us probably think we’ve got it covered. So how did I end up on the phone to LifeLock, IdentityForce, Experian, Equifax, my banks and my immigration lawyer, in an ordeal so frustrating I’m dedicating an entire blog post to it?

My Mum.

Turns out, our digital risk extends further than our own machines. There are more questions we should be asking, including, “How many people do we know that might be susceptible to digital theft?” And , “How would this affect us?”

Most people I’ve spoken to initially told me they don’t store any private files on their machines. A little probing reveals they do, because they recently renewed their passport, lost their driving license, or confirmed their ID with the bank.

My Mum got caught out by a ‘Microsoft’ pop up. She gave their technical team a call on the number given, and by the time she worked out she wasn’t speaking to Microsoft, they had ran through a barrage of tasks, installed some software and deleted a few bits and pieces. Of course, they charged her for it.

“At best, the software is worthless or available elsewhere for free. At worst, it could be malware — software designed to give criminals access to your computer and your personal information.” FTC

I found out about the mistake several days later in an email containing a list of documents of mine that were on the computer in question. Shortly after, I received a second email as the list increased in size. From forwarding a bank related letter via email, to scanning my birth certificate for my green card application, all my info was on there for one reason or another.

“Tech support scams are a million-dollar industry and have been around since 2008. Every single day, innocent people are tricked into spending hundreds of dollars on non-existent computer problems.” MalwareBytes

It is impossible to fully protect ourselves and others against these attacks, even if you think you personally would never fall for them. As we continue to churn out solutions and educate inexperienced users, there is no doubt the bad guys will come up with more innovative ways of tricking our friends and family.

But that shouldn’t stop us from trying.

Our software has always been designed to use spare space on existing computers to provide highly secure and self healing drives in minutes. While businesses typically deploy it across many machines for these reasons, the encryption, locking and invisibility features could be just as vital to home users with just one or two computers. AetherStore can be downloaded, installed, set up and ready to go in under 5 minutes. If you don’t believe us, watch this 2-minute setup video.

There are a number of other companies and open source projects that provide a service like this, but I believe we have the most straightforward solution to understand, setup, and maintain. We follow the core AetherStore principles: give your drive a name, size, drive letter, and enter a password. Then if there’s anything you’d like to have secured in your computer, store it in your AetherStore.

We’ve decided to offer a 25GB store for free so everyone (and their friends and relatives) can take advantage of this. You can download AetherStore 2.0 here.

It seems that the most popular analogy on the web for having an encrypted drive on your machine is of a house having re-enforced front doors. But looking at this situation, I don’t see it like that. This is an extra line of defense. You might make a mistake and let a dodgy salesperson into your house, but would you open your safe?

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