Most consumers are savvy enough to understand the basics of how to protect your private information from cyber criminals. Secure websites, periodically changing your passwords, distinctive alpha numeric passwords are all aspects of safeguarding your information. But with each improvement made to keep our private information “private,” cyber criminals are looking to attack us and get the details they desire, via other means.
1. PHISHING E-MAILS AND WEBSITES: Designed to resemble legitimate correspondence, Phishing scams are often successful in deceiving consumers into sharing personal information. They are so sophisticated and tricky, that you will actually believe that the message was sent from your bank, credit card company or phone company. They will play on your fear that there is a problem with your account and additional information is needed. Often, a Phishing scam will direct you to another site via a link, a pop-up window or ask that you download a file. If you receive a message that is suspect, or something just doesn't seem right, it is best that you delete it and follow up with a phone call or e-mail to the company to check on your account status. Often Phishing Scams are looking to obtain Social Security Numbers, Bank Account information, Credit Card specifics and even private medical information.
2. MALWARE: Often websites will advertise applications and software that you can download onto your computer for FREE. Could be a game, or music, or a useful tool that entices you. Unfortunately once you download, it tracks all of your activities and feeds vital information back to the source. It can erase information stored on your computer. It pays to be suspicious when offered any FREE software from an Internet source. Before you download anything onto your computer, you should invest in Anti-Virus Software that will check your files for infestation.
3. CELL PHONES & TABLETS: Most people are learning to be hyper-vigilant when it comes to computers, but they forget that their other devices are equally as vulnerable. Think of how much information you access from your smartphone … credit card info, banking info, Facebook, your personal calendar, phone contacts… are all contained in your hand-held device. And how often do you access non-secure wireless networks to not have to pay cell charges? These are virtual traps for cyber criminals to siphon your personal data. You can protect the information contained on these devises through downloading anti-virus software, password protection and never using an automatic unprotected, unsecure login.
The best means by which to protect yourself from cyber-crime is to be vigilant with your personal information. Be wary of anything that is "free" or not secure. Keeping in mind that there is always someone somewhere that is looking to access your personal information will help to protect your data.