Use Common Sense to Keep Your Computer Safe
Rank amateurs, when compared to modern-day thieves. These people do not need to wear gloves so as not to leave fingerprints, and dark mackintoshes so as not to be seen during the night. They don't have to leave their homes to do their dirty deeds.
They're called hackers, and people who tried to steal the Mona Lisa painting from the Louvre wouldn't have a chance, compared to them.
No matter what you do on your computer - buy and sell things, keep in touch with family and friends, play games, or keep up on the latest news and events - you could be exposing your personal information to fraudsters, which can result in identity theft and financial loss.
How does it happen?
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Easy does it. Even if you just play an innocent game, you still might be exposing yourself and your personal information. And now imagine how much information you are sharing when you do so on purpose, say, to buy a thing or two!
But you can make hackers' lives incredibly difficult, to the point where they see no point in continuing.
Are you guilty or innocent?
Some of the more common ways that people expose themselves to fraud include:
- using public or unsecured wireless Internet
- sharing too much information on social networking sites
- entering personal information on unsecure or fake websites
- downloading viruses, spyware or malware. These programs are designed to damage or do unwanted things on your computer. For example, a keylogging program can track every key you press on your computer keyboard, store that information and send it to fraudsters who may be able to figure out your passwords for online banking or credit card accounts. Another example is a virus that can take over your email address to send spam or phishing e‑mails to your contacts.
- allowing your computer to save your password or personal information
- creating an online profile that includes your credit card or banking information
- saving your passwords on your computer in a file that has not been encrypted, or protected by a key or password.
What, you've given out just a bare minimum? Don't think you've won. You haven't. There are underground markets (where? Under the ground? Well, stating that they are somewhere will have to suffice.) where people sell the information they have stolen. Just as there are individuals who see a 5,000-piece puzzle and put it together in no time, there are people who know how to put together the bits and scraps of information about YOU to get a picture more complete than your personal banker can ever hope to get.
What was it?
Some of the expressions above might seem difficult to understand. Don't despair, read the basic information on the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada's site.
And a tip from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada to round up this warning:
- Always question why a company needs your information. Remember, even if you are dealing with a well-known, trusted company, hackers can break into their databases and steal your information.