People use the internet mainly for three things – searching, sharing, and shopping. The advent of smartphones and social media these last few years has opened up a new activity: texting. This new world is where communication is happening is opening up new security. In many cases people are using social networking as an online diary where they share their deepest thoughts and opinions, their travel plans and personal information.
Funny how we hated the thought of our little brother or sister reading our diary but we don’t think twice about telling complete strangers everything. Plus, who would have thought that even major news organization monitor blogs, Twitter, Facebook and others for their news stories. This new technology world is adding a whole new meaning to your mother’s words, “Don’t talk to strangers.”
Online identity theft is a real and serious issue. It affects individuals, companies and governments. It leads to total distrust which then blocks vital services to people in need. Until there is a savvy virtual police force that can arrest the cyber criminals we all have to take security into our own hands. No we don’t have to carry virtual guns.
In the virtual world, your personal information has great value. It is becoming the currency of the internet. That’s why criminals spend day after day looking for new ways to steal your information like your birthday, address, social security numbers, and any other information that would allow them to pass themselves off as you. Sadly, it’s no longer the 15-year old trying to play a new computer game but rather their terrorists, cyber criminals, governments, ideologues and corporate espionage. They’re also constantly looking for ways to access your credit card numbers, so they can buy that big screen TV they’ve been eying up – on your dime. Here too it is no longer the email from an African princess needs your help and money to get her vast fortune out of her country.
Cyber criminals are skilled, they’re sneaky, and they’re steadfast. They are continually looking for ways around the protection systems that the good guys have put in place. Unfortunately, since the good guys have a hard time thinking like criminals — oftentimes they are a step ahead of what security is prepared for.
My goal here is not to scare you out of using the internet altogether but to make you aware of the most common dangers when it comes to online identity theft. That way you can be net-smart and hopefully avoid some of the mistakes that could cost you a ton of hardship, heartache and headache!
So what I have for you today is a quick test you can take to find out if you are at risk of identity theft online. I recommend that you print out the questions below and check Yes or No to each to determine if you are doing your part to keep your personal information safe.