It’s been National Identity Fraud Prevention Week all this week. If you want more details, email us your name, age, address and bank details. And if for a second you seriously thought about doing that, you really have to check out these top 10 tips from security firm CA to keep yourself safe. Because you can play a big part in protecting just that sort of data…
James Ferguson, global internet security expert at CA, offers 10 simple steps to help protect against internet identity fraud.
1) Protect your passwords
Carelessness with your passwords and PIN numbers can result in leaving yourself open to attack. Avoid using obvious passwords that could be guessed, such as pet or family names. Do not share your password with anyone that you cannot trust and never write them down. Regularly changing your passwords will also make it harder for fraudsters.
2) Never respond to suspicious emails or messages
If you receive a message from someone that you don’t know or that looks suspicious, do not respond but delete the message immediately. If it is a friend then they will contact you by other means.
3) Shred private documents
Online bank statements, telephone and shopping bills; all of this information can be used by internet criminals, so if you print something out, make sure that you shred it before putting it in the bin.
4) Social network safely
A growing target for internet criminals is social networks. Always make sure that you use the security controls available and if in doubt, avoid revealing any personal details on your profile such as contact numbers, date of birth, address or holiday arrangements.
5) Use anti-virus and anti-spyware products
If a would-be thief gains information about your PC, IP address or connection location, they could then seek control of your PC by trying to install malware. One of the easiest ways to thwart malware is to use anti-virus and anti-spyware products that automatically update themselves 24/7. If the products require you to run the updates yourself, chances are your signatures will fall out-of-date and will fail to locate the newest threats. If a fraudster gets your email address somehow, the anti-virus software will scan your incoming messages for troublesome files. The anti-spyware will look for programs that have been installed on your computer to track your online activities.
6) Use a personal firewall
Even if you don’t provide clues about your identity to a fraudster, they can still use various methods to send threats with information gleaned about your PC through an Internet connection. A personal firewall will help prevent the menace from sending information to or from your PC without your knowledge. This is especially important for Internet users that use a broadband connection, because their computers are open to the Internet whenever they’re turned on.
7) Beware of prying eyes
When using the internet in a public place, such as an internet café, make sure that you are not being watched by any prying eyes. Beware of shoulder surfers attempting to memorise your password, or trying to photograph your personal details on screen.
8) Be cautious about meeting online ‘pals’ in person
It’s often tempting when you meet ‘friends’ online, to want to meet up face to face. But cyber-criminals have been known to gain trust in order to then steal money and personal information. If you decide to meet someone in person, do so during the day in a public place, and ask for information that you can verify, such as the person’s place of employment.
9) Don’t trade online money or points for real money
This practice is a known catalyst for online scams. If you must use real money – to gamble or buy real estate in social networks like Second Life, for instance; use an online intermediary like PayPal to broker transactions.
10) Ignore ‘you have won’ announcements
If you receive a message telling you that you have won a competition that you did not enter, ignore it. The message may contain viruses or spyware that could damage your computer or steal your personal information – including your online passwords and account numbers (which you shouldn’t be storing on your PC anyway).