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Identifying Cybersecurity Threats to Prevent Identity Theft

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Identifying Cybersecurity Threats to Prevent Identity Theft

(Photo : Shamin Haky via Unsplash)

In 2019, there were 1,473 data breaches. While the number doesn't seem to be significant, it reflects a 17% increase of identity thefts since 2018. Identity theft is becoming a concerning issue, especially since the world has become increasingly digitized. Fortunately, there are ways that you can protect yourself. Knowledge is power, and to prevent identity theft or fraud done in your name, it is important to learn how identity thieves operate. While some may resort to dumpster diving or stealing your personal mail, here are some of the most common digital methods that identity theft occurs, which is why holograms in personal IDs are becoming increasingly popular because it adds another layer of protection to verifying your identity. 

Phishing

Identity thieves or hackers are very sophisticated and they can engineer emails to look like they came from your best friend or family member. Most of the time it includes a link or an attachment which contains malicious software. We commonly know them as malware. This virus doesn't do anything to disrupt your operating system, but it secretly mines your information and sends it into the waiting arms of cybercriminals. They will then use it to commit identity theft, fraudulent activity, or sell it on the dark web for others to take advantage of. Therefore, it is imperative that you never download anything on the internet before verifying it. You can call your correspondent to ask if they sent you the email in order to ascertain its legitimacy. Phishing can take place through email, or a third party social messaging app like Facebook. 

Illegal downloading

Who hasn't done a bit of piracy? When you download illegal games, songs, or even movies, you're exposing yourself to malware. Not only is it illegal to download media off the internet through irregular channels, it's also very dangerous and puts your computer (and yourself) at risk. The best solution is only to download or stream from official sources, even if you have to shell out a bit of money because the alternative is you watch a movie for free and get your information stolen, or you get caught and hit with a fine or even sent to jail. 

Wi-Fi vulnerability

We sometimes need to leech off free wifi because we aren't getting reception or we're simply running out of bandwidth. Take it from the mountains of cybercriminals that want to steal your data, don't go connecting to just any wifi because public wifi connections are mostly unencrypted which gives criminals the chance to infect your pc with malware. If you absolutely must connect to a public wifi, make sure your antivirus is up to date so that your data stays protected. Fake wifi hotspots are also another common vulnerability, so if you aren't connecting to a legitimate wifi from a reputable source like Mcd or Starbucks, you might want to think twice. 

Aside from keeping your antivirus up to date, you should also make sure that your OS is running the latest version. This is to ensure that cybercriminals cannot exploit any vulnerabilities because the good people who are making your software do their best to address any problems that may arise.

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