Many people have heard or even experienced identity theft, when some people use other people’s names and personal information on usually illegal activities. Others may have had their Social Security number used for employment purposes or to illegally receive social service allowances. There are actually many cybercrimes committed everyday that it pays to watch out that one does not become a victim.
Following are some tips on how to avoid that.
Manage your email accounts wisely. Use free accounts for general messaging, and private accounts only for particular purposes. Choose gender-neutral names and avoid ultra-feminine, sex-connotative or ‘cute’ names so as not to attract undue attention online. Do not open suspicious files that came from people you do not know, particularly those with .exe extensions. Make sure your passwords are long and complicated with lower cases, capitals and symbols to make it difficult to crack, and change them regularly. Never give out your passwords to anyone, not even your spouse, family or dearest friends.
Protect your machine. Backup your files, protect the computer with antiviruses and firewalls, and never share files with or lend your machine to strangers. Note that free antivirus versions often do not perform complete antivirus service, and may catch only a portion of the viruses that premium or paid versions can. Be wary when your computer is on a network, enable file sharing only when really necessary, and get off the Internet when through with it for the moment.
Do not give out personal or company information unless absolutely necessary. Ditto with pictures of yourself, your family and others, including names and addresses, schools and others. Many cybercriminals can make use of them easily. Never use your business accounts or addresses for private purposes such as in blog or forum posts. Any message leaves the computer’s IP address and this can lead unscrupulous individuals to find you for illicit intentions. For that matter, be wary of what you write or post online. If you cannot verbalize it to someone in the real world, do not do so in the virtual one.
Guard your online financial accounts intensively. If somebody manages to hack into your bank accounts, you can lose all your hard-earned money in seconds. As much as possible, use addresses with the ‘shttp://’ or ‘https://’ groups; they are much more secure than mere ‘http://’. Here strong and difficult passwords are extremely vital to protect you and your money.
Regularly purge your computer of malware, spybots, and cookies to protect it from unwanted ‘visitors’. It is advisable to install a host intrusion prevention system (HIPS) to detect whether someone or something unwanted and unauthorized is trying to manipulate your machine. There are free such software online that are as effective as the paid ones.
It has always been said that the car is as good only as its driver, and this is true to safe computer use as well, especially when the user goes online often. Staying safe online is achieved only when the user is vigilant and always mindful of how he accesses the Internet, of the pitfalls and dangers of erroneous use, and whether he protects himself at all times from the attacks of viruses, trojans, malware and unscrupulous individuals.
This was a guest post by Harry from Storetec Direct, an online supplier of shopping trolleys and display systems.