Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Secure Your Online Identity

Identity theft or fraud is one of the fastest growing areas of crime in the digital world and has impacted millions of consumers worldwide. According to a recent study on identity theft published by Javelin Strategy & Research, identity fraud affected 11 million Americans in 2009 which is a 12% increase from 2008. In monetary terms it is estimated that identity theft approached $54 billion through the end of 2009.

Identify theft is defined as one person impersonating another person by using stolen identity (personal information) for committing financial fraud or any other criminal activity. The fraudsters typically steal the personal identity by breaching the security of your personal computer and gaining access to personal information like credit card numbers, bank account details, social security number (SSN), financial documents, and other personally identifiable information (PII). The data from your computer can be stolen by a malicious program, through network intrusion by a hacker or by physical theft. Once a fraudster has access to your personal information he/she can use your stolen information in a number of malicious ways including:

  • Steal money from your bank account(s)
  • Make purchases using your credit card(s)
  • Apply for home loans
  • Get medical benefits
  • Any other financial gain

At we encounter thousands of issues related to diverse malware attacks on a daily basis. Most systems found to be infected do not have active and up-to-date security software that can prevent such malicious attacks. Our Personal Technology Experts help consumers by identifying and removing malicious programs from their computers in order to safeguard and protect their identity.

What can you do to protect your identity before it is compromised? Here are five simple steps that will make your personal information more secure:

  1. Keep your computer secure by using up-to-date antivirus and antispyware software.
  2. Prevent network intrusion by hackers with an active and properly configured firewall and by ensuring Windows Update is active and all security patches are applied automatically.
  3. Never provide sensitive information over emails in response to a mail.
  4. Beware of fake corporate emails, web address redirects and cloned web pages that plant malicious programs like viruses and key loggers to capture sensitive information.
  5. Provide only limited access to your computer, and only to those whom you trust. Use restrictive permissions to protect sensitive data and hard to guess passwords.

In addition, there has been a renewed focus among financial institutions and businesses to counter the threat of identity theft. Follow the best practices and technological solutions recommended by these institutions to safeguard and secure your personal information.

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