Today’s biggest cyber security concern is Identity Theft. Cyber thieves use all kinds of methods (hacking, use of spyware for intercepting information, etc.) in stealing personal or financial information from their victims, mostly from the computers.
The latest of these nefarious activities even sports a name: phishing (pronounced like ‘‘fishing”). The thief sends a simple e-mail that looks like it came from a genuine site (mostly from financial institutions as Citibank, eBay, PayPal, Best Buy and others), telling you there is a problem with your account.
They would then ask you to click on a certain link in the e-mail, and you are taken to a site that looks exactly like that of your bank. Here, they will ask you to fill out again your Social Security or credit card numbers, and/or other confidential numbers.
The following are some ways to minimize the risk of your identity being stolen:
Do business with reputable companies
Some attackers may try to trick you by creating web sites that appear to be legitimate.
Don’t visit any site that is using third party links. Open a new browser and type the address yourself if you want to visit a site.
You can also check privacy policies to see how the company in question use and distribute information. Many companies allow customers to request that their information not be shared with other companies.
Maintain a security mindset – always be skeptical of unfamiliar sites and links, suspicious e-mails and IM messages.
Anti-virus software and firewall
As standard practice, use and maintenance of an anti-virus software and firewall will protect your computer from attacks that may steal or modify data in your computer.
Make sure to keep your anti-virus program and firewall up to date.
Fighting identity robbery
As precautionary steps, regularly check your credit reports for strange transactions or transactions you don’t recall, unusual charges on your bills, bills for products and services you don’t have, or worse, unexpected denial of your credit card.
Once the identity robbery has been confirmed, calls to appropriate companies and agencies have to be done immediately. Have your credit card accounts closed right away so future charges will be denied.
Contact the Social Security Administration if your SSS card number has been accessed or the DMV if your driver’s license or car registration papers were stolen. This is to warn these agencies for possible unauthorized use of your personal ID information. Of course, you need to file a criminal report with the local police.
For U.S. citizens, you need to contact the main credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) to see if there had been any unexpected or unauthorized activity. Have fraud alerts placed on your credit reports to prevent new accounts from being opened without verification. File a complaint with the FTC and IFCC.
A website, IdentityTheftActionPlan.com, had been created to help citizens prevent, detect, and respond to identity theft and fraud. Within the site is information on how identity theft occurs, the latest prevention tips, what to do in case you are victimized and pertinent information of law enforcement agencies that investigate these crimes. Two other sites to learn more about phishing and ID theft are the following: consumer.gov/idtheft/ and
Vigilance, information and action
Cyber security dictates that every cyber citizen (those using computers and the Internet in most of their activities) needs to be vigilant at all times.
Everyone is enjoined to keep up with the latest information, so that they can do the appropriate action by themselves.