Consider for a moment how often you think about the safety of what you put on the internet. The truth is, many people feel secure giving credit card information to a website they have never heard of before. Many people share personal information through social media, thinking that no one really cares, or that only their friends view their profile.
In reality however, there are thousands of cyber criminals patrolling the web and working hard to steal online data. Some try to steal your identity by stalking you while others will simply hack your system and take what they need. It is important to realize that cybercrime is a real issue, and that virtually nothing you put online is completely safe.
So how does cybercrime work?
Sometimes all it takes for someone to steal your information is to practice “phishing”. Identity thieves may send you a fake email that looks authentic. It may ask you to give credit card information or a social security number. If they can get this info they can make purchases with your card before you ever notice money is gone.
Some cybercriminals work together. They may compare or sell information to others to build up a profile they can then impersonate. In fact, cyber criminals are highly organized into gangs. Each member of the gang may work on getting different information.
Once a cybercriminal gets enough information, they can open bank accounts and spend or transfer money. They often use Mules, a program that allows them to transfer money from one bank account to another. They can also shift money out of a bank account by transferring it into an online payment channel
Is all my information vulnerable?
Essentially yes. Even if you are very careful not to give information out, some cybercriminals can hack into your network if you don’t have network security. They use malware (short for malicious hardware) to extract information like passwords, usernames, etc. If you are unsure about a network you are using, don’t do anything on that computer that requires you to give sensitive information. Install network security to make it more difficult for hackers to break in.
What habits should I be aware of?
You can do a lot to keep cybercriminals from being effective. Don’t even put basic information such as email addresses, telephone numbers or birthdays in extremely public places like social media sites. Identity thieves can often use this to verify your identity on your various online accounts. Also be aware of putting information like hobbies or your employer on social media sites. Phishers can take this information and design emails or websites that will lure you in.
Finally, stay away from using networks that are available to a lot of people. You never know who could be watching. As a general rule of thumb be cautious of all you do online. Don’t assume that anything is secure. There may be someone trying to steal information from you, and it’s always better to prevent than repair.
Rick Delgado is a freelance writer who specializes in technology advancement and protecting against advanced malware. He enjoys keeping up with the latest gadgets and anticipating the next breakthroughs.