Develop Internet Street Smarts to Guard Against Online Identity Theft

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How can I guard against online identity theft?

Develop Internet Street Smarts to Guard Against Online Identity Theft

Most people can think of at least a half dozen ways to prevent and protect themselves against identity theft in the “real” world but give little thought to online protection, assuming the computer itself is equipped to handle it. Yet, identity theft and the Internet can be a dangerous duo. Developing online “street smarts” is essential to safeguard your personal information. Here are a few of the fundamentals:

Beware of the “something for nothing” invitation. According to a study conducted by the University of Washington, one in 25 web sites contained invasive software. Some of it is simple adware, which is more annoying than it is damaging. But other software goes beyond menacing, like the kind that actually allows someone to see every word you type. The study showed that “something for nothing” sites can be the most dangerous, like those offering free games and free, usually illegal, music downloads.

Get your coffee to-go. Cyber cafés can quickly lead to cyber identity theft if you aren't protecting your information. Major coffee chains and other businesses offer free Wi-Fi access. This convenience can also compromise your security. Check your settings before logging on to ensure your computer is set NOT to share files with a network, or that guy quietly surfing the net from the corner table may be downloading your files from the second you connect to the shared network.

Don't just delete old information – destroy it. You may think pressing the delete key or emptying your computer's trash or recycle bin erases information. Not true. Information remains on your hard drive despite your command to dump it. Before you throw or give away your old computer, scrub the hard drive with software that meets Department of Defense standards for data destruction. Or, if you prefer, remove the hard drive and smash it!



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