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Identity Theft and Spyware- The New Threat

Guard Your Cards

One easy way to protect yourself against identity theft is to limit the amount of confidential information you carry in your wallet or purse. You should not carry around bank account numbers; personal identification numbers (PINs), passwords, passports, birth certificates, and most importantly, Social Security cards. Leave them at home, preferably in a safe until they are needed.

Add a Password

Ask your financial institutions to add extra security protection to your financial accounts including your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Most will allow you to use an additional code or password (a number or word) when accessing your account. Do not use your mother's maiden name, Social Security Number, or date or birth, as these are easily obtained by identity thieves. See password safety below.

Password Safety

Avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your SSN or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers or keyboard strokes.

If you use online banking or financial services never select a password that matches your username. This is the most common mistake- and the most easy to exploit.

Avoid using words that are in the dictionary. Hackers simply run a “dictionary-attack” where they rapidly scan through common words and attempt to brute force an account. Avoid adding a digit in front or at the end of a word or reversing a word (irish ->hsiri) are not good password choices. Crackers routinely try these combinations. Nor should you use the same password over and over. If a hacker should break one password, the rest of your information or files will be safe. If you have used the same password over and over- they will have no problem accessing more accounts. Never give your password to anyone and be sure to change passwords frequently.

If your store passwords locally on your machine be sure the software uses some type of strong encryption.

Watch For Spoofing Attacks

"Spoofing" frauds attempt to make surfers believe that they are receiving e-mail from a trusted source, or that they are securely connected to a trusted web site, when that is not the case. Spoofing is generally used as a means to convince individuals to give out personal or financial information by deception.
In "E-mail spoofing" the header of an e-mail appears to have originated from someone or somewhere other than the actual source. Spammers and criminals often use spoofing in an attempt to get recipients to open and possibly even respond to their mails.

"Page Spoofing" involves altering the return address in a web page so that it goes to the hacker’s site rather than the legitimate site. This is accomplished by adding the hacker's address before the actual address in any e-mail, or page that has a request going back to the original site, often with a form that looks identical to the legitimate site.

A page spoof might look something like this: http://www.paypal.com@spiesrealdomain.com/index.html the domain will always resolve to the address AFTER the @ sign. If you were to surf to this web address and submit any information via a form it would go to the spy and not to PayPal. Try to get into the habit of visually inspecting addresses in your browser address location bar.

If you receive an e-mail requesting that you "click here to update" your account information, and then are redirected to a site that looks exactly like your ISP, or a site like EBay or PayPal, be on the alert. This is type of spoofing attack is increasingly more common and becoming more sophisticated. Don’t click on the links in the e-mail. The safest way to investigate your account is to type in the domain name you want to reach directly into the browser address location bar and hit enter.

 

Identity Theft- Page Guide
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