Identity Theft On The Internet.
Identity theft on the internet may be a relatively recent crime, but
identity theft itself did not start with the arrival of the world wide
web. It has been around in some form for considerably longer than that.
Throughout history people have assumed the identity of others for criminal purposes.
Long ago, before much of the populace could read and write, there
were probably not too many documents needed to ‘prove’ ones identity.
If a villain wanted to masquerade as someone else, and enjoy
their riches, it may not have taken much more than keeping the victim
out of the way.
One way to keep the victim out of the way was of course,
to murder them.
Nearer to the present day came an increase in paper documentation and
more pieces of ID that, in the wrong hands, can be used to fraudulently
Pickpocketing, burglary and searching through trash are all ways
that identity thieves could, and still can, obtain the personal
information they need.
The invention of the telephone gave the crooks another weapon in
They could simply call victims and milk them for
information without them even realizing what was going on.
With the advent of the information age came cyber crime and along
with a large section of the population, ID thieves went online.
soon devised ways to illegally gain access to a mountain of personal
information and made criminal use of it – identity theft on the
internet was born.
The Risk Of Identity Theft On The Internet.
Does the danger of ID theft mean that it is unsafe to use the
internet for online banking, shopping, paying bills etc? There is a
risk, but there is a risk in everything that we do.
If we walk down the street, there is a risk of being assaulted or
mugged. If we drive there is a risk of an accident. If we eat, there is
a risk of food poisoning or choking. Life involves risk. What we do is
become aware of the risks, take precautions and apply common sense to
reduce any danger.
It’s the same with the risk of identity theft on the internet. As
long as we are aware of the danger and take precaution against it, we
can enjoy all the advantages of life online.
Let’s learn some of the ways online identity theft happens and how we can guard against it.
Phishing And Internet Identity Theft.
One of the ways that thieves obtain the personal information they need in order to commit identity theft is by launching phishing attacks.
Stay safe, take all necessary precautions and use common sense to prevent becoming another victim of identity theft on the internet.
They do this by sending out thousands upon thousands of phoney emails designed to persuade victims to reveal such information.
You of course, know that you should never disclose things like your Social Security number, user-names and account numbers and other sensitive information.
But the ID thieves can be very clever and the phishing emails they send are often well designed and cunningly convincing.
Find out how you can spot a fraudulent email and how to protect yourself from a Phishing Email Attack.
Pharming And Identity Theft On The Internet.
This criminal practice could be described as a close relation to
Whereas phishing relies upon you clicking a link in a
fraudulent email that takes you to a bogus website, pharming does the
same, only without the email.
Online identity theft. Be very careful about what you download to your computer and any files that you share.
Put simply, criminals exploit a vulnerability in the Domain Name System
to misdirect traffic for a genuine website to a bogus site, which is
usually a very good copy.
Even if you enter the correct URL in the address bar, you are
taken to the fake copy of the site.
The victim enters their personal
information which gets used by the thieves to commit identity theft on
The criminals can do this in two ways. They can attack an ISP
(Internet Service Provider) and misdirect the internet traffic from
there. Major ISP’s will have precautions in place to prevent pharming
The easier way for the criminals is to install malicious programs (malware) on your computer.
The programs are often hidden inside seemingly innocent
downloads or shared files.
Once they are residing in your computer these
programs can lie in wait until you visit your online bank or a shopping
site etc., then redirect you to a copy where they can grab your pin
numbers, credit card information and other data that you enter.
So what can you do to protect against pharming?
Make sure that you have a firewall and anti-virus protection and keep it up to date. Also ensure that your operating system (example Windows) is kept up to date with the latest security patches.
When entering sensitive information, always ensure that the URL of the
page requesting the information stats with https:// and not http://, the
‘s’ stands for secure.
Additionally on some browsers, there should be a little image of a locked padlock
or a key at the very bottom, this indicates an encrypted
connection. If the padlock is unlocked or the key is broken, do not
enter your information and close the browser window.
Check the certificate. Right click anywhere on the page and select properties or view page info. Then click certificates or security.
If the certificate is out of date, does not match the site owner
or is in any way suspicious, then do not take the risk.
A page that
does not require you to enter sensitive personal information, such as
this page, will start with http:// and will not require a certificate.
Be very careful about what you download to your computer and any files that you share.
Use a reputable Internet Service Provider. (ISP) The main ISP’s
will do all that is possible to combat pharming by identity thieves and
other online criminals.
Your Browser And Online Identity Theft.
Whichever internet browser it is that you use, Internet Explorer,
Chrome, Firefox etc., you will find that new versions and updates become
available pretty frequently.
Sometimes updating your browser to the new version results in
snazzy new features, other times there does not seem to be any visible
difference at all, just a new version number.
Ever wonder why that is?
The update is often for online security reasons.
Thieves may discover a flaw or loophole in the browser that they
can exploit to steal your private data or highjack your computer. The
browser’s vendors then have to develop patches, or fixes for these
loopholes, hence the new browser version.
The fix will not protect you, of course, unless you update to the
Time does not stand still online however, thieves are
always on the lookout for more vulnerabilities and ways to exploit them.
So then the browser needs yet another update to protect against
identity theft on the internet. And so it goes on.
The only way to be as protected as possible when using a browser is to upgrade each time a new version becomes available.
Yes, it can sometimes be a little inconvenient and may seem pointless
when there is no visible difference to the browser, but to protect
against online ID theft, staying updated is more than important, it is
Combat Identity Theft On The Internet.
It is all too easy for an unprotected home computer to become infected with malware, viruses, spyware, worms, trojans etc.
You need to ensure that you have good antivirus software,
antispyware and a good firewall and ensure they are kept up to date.
Doing so will help to keep malicious programs out of your computer and
thereby stop identity thieves stealing your personal data.
Keep your operating system updated at all times.
You should also have a robust firewall and make sure that it is
active at all times . Going online without a firewall would place you at
risk of being infected.
Never download files from the Internet unless you completely
trust the source of those files. Do not open email attachments from
people or companies that you do not know and trust.
Stay safe. Enjoy life online, but take all the necessary
precautions and use common sense to prevent becoming a victim of
identity theft on the internet.
Identity Theft Prevention
Identity Theft On The Internet.