Here’s a Little Cybersecurity Trick I Learned to Keep Your Identity Secure

Morey Haber, Chief Technology Officer
April 10th, 2018

If you have ever been the victim of identity theft, you know that the sheer frustration of cleaning up your credit, settling fraudulent charges, or investigating falsely-filed tax returns can be an absolute nightmare. Outside of being a huge time sink, the stress alone can delay the purchase of a new house or car when the fraud is detected – especially if you do not pay close enough attention to the credit, accounts, or transactions associated with your identity.

Even though human beings can only have one static identity associated with them, each identity can have multiple accounts, aliases, credentials, passwords, or email addresses that are linked to it. So, to better protect your identity I recommend having more than one personal email address. And in reality, I recommend a minimum of three of them. You should have:

  1. One email account for all your sensitive financial information. It should never be used for correspondence or personal communications.
  2. A second email account for all your correspondence. This would be an address used to communicate with family and friends but never has a credit card or merchant associated with it for any Internet or brick and mortar sales.
  3. A third email account for all online transactions/purchases that is never used for banks or correspondence.

This simple approach can help you spot potential identity theft and phishing attacks when an email comes from an incorrect address. In addition, it is a security best practice to keep the passwords for all of these email accounts different (and obviously use different passwords for every site they may be registered at). While this could easily exceed 100 sites, a password manager built into the operating system, or through a third party, is the safest route to keep everything secure.

So, what is the trick? How does this apply to business?

The same concepts I mentioned above can apply to your business. Individuals in finance, legal, and human resources can have multiple email addresses delegated for specific sensitive conversations. The email addresses may also be restricted to only internal communications such that they do not have the same risk surface for a phishing attack. The threat of an email posing as a fake wire transfer can be minimized since the address would have to originate within the organization versus being publicly addressable. Many organizations already utilize internal only email addresses, but creating some of the most sensitive communications and individuals just make sense. So why aren’t more organizations doing it?

One simple reason is passwords. It is yet another account to manage and another password to potentially remember. This is where a good enterprise password safe can help. It can store these credentials and allow information technology administrators to set and reset them as needed to keep them random and secure.

With both concepts working together – multiple email addresses and unique passwords for everything – consumers and businesses can keep identities and accounts secure. In addition, a residual benefit is a reduction in risk surface for phishing attacks since only certain emails should contain only specific content. It is not hard to teach individuals, or even yourself, to know the difference.

So, if you are looking for an enterprise password manager that could help, PowerBroker Password Safe can help keep the problems related to identity theft down to a minimum.

Morey Haber, Chief Technology Officer

With more than 20 years of IT industry experience and author of Privileged Attack Vectors, Mr. Haber joined BeyondTrust in 2012 as a part of the eEye Digital Security acquisition. He currently oversees BeyondTrust technology for both vulnerability and privileged access management solutions. In 2004, Mr. Haber joined eEye as the Director of Security Engineering and was responsible for strategic business discussions and vulnerability management architectures in Fortune 500 clients. Prior to eEye, he was a Development Manager for Computer Associates, Inc. (CA), responsible for new product beta cycles and named customer accounts. Mr. Haber began his career as a Reliability and Maintainability Engineer for a government contractor building flight and training simulators. He earned a Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.