The Internet is arguably one of the greatest inventions in history.
It has prospered humanity in many ways.
The Internet has made it easier for people to share information. It has made it easier for people to make friends. In addition, it has made it easier for all sorts of financial and commercial transactions.
Unfortunately, where people and wealth gather, so do thieves and scoundrels. Like a bustling Mall, the Internet has its fair share of pickpockets.
Cybercriminals commonly exploit the following channels to find victims:
- · Emails
- · Chat rooms
- · Instant messengers
- · Message boards
- · Websites
- · Social media sites
Thieves look for ways to make recipients part with sensitive information. This information is useful for identity theft. It also makes it easier to steal from them.
This information includes the following:
- login information (usernames and passwords)
- home or business addresses
- phone numbers
- social security numbers
- credit card information
How to Protect Your Money Online
With so many threats out there, you need to take extra precautions when dealing with your private information online. There are two reasons why you need strong data security online: the first is to protect yourself against phishing; the second is to protect yourself against pharming. Most cyber crimes fall into these two broad categories.
What Is Phishing?
Phishing describes how cybercriminals “fish” for personal information. This information is useful for fraud. The most common crimes are identity theft.
Since everyone is vigilant about protecting his or her personal information, deception is necessary.
You may, for example, receive an email from a financial organization. It might be from an online financial service like PayPal or well-known bank. The letter usually comes with some kind of warning. Notified that there is a problem with your account, you go to your account to clear it. A convenient link in the email allows you to access your account. When you click on the link, you visit a fake web page. When you log in, the thieves steal your real account information. They then go into your real account and withdraw your money.
Although the email may mention your name, it is actually broadcast to many people. Those who have an account with the trusted company may respond to it. They take immediate action stirred by blind panic. They don’t realize that it is fraudulent.
With the right antivirus software in place, you will not receive phishing emails.
What is Pharming?
Pharming happens when you surf the Internet. Scammers hijack a website’s URL and redirect users to a fraudulent website. Here, they collect personal information to allow the user to access the website.
Here are four ways to avoid pharming:
1. When you enter a URL into a search box, make sure that you land on an authentic URL. Extra characters added to the main page, may send you to a fake website.
2. Use a high quality Internet Service Provider (ISP).
3. Check the website’s certification.
4. Keep your virus protection updated. This will flag you if you’re directed to a fake website.
How Antivirus Software Protects You
While you may be taking many precautions as you use the Internet, it is not enough. You need software to protect your computer, as well.
Here are five examples of how a good security system will protect you:
1. It will protect you from advanced evasion techniques. These are programs that you don’t want on your computer. They include spyware, adware, and other predatory programs.
2. It will protect you from authentication fraud. Zombie networks hijack computers to evade blacklisting by search engines. Hosted addresses shift to avoid detection.
3. It protects you from bots, an abbreviation for robots. Once a bot sneaks into your computer, a scammer can remotely control it. Your computer could be used for many nefarious purposes.
4. It protects you from viruses, which can replicate just like a biological virus. A more advanced form of virus is the polymorphic virus. Webopedia defines a polymorphic virus as a “virus that changes its virus signature (i.e., its binary pattern) every time it replicates and infects a new file in order to keep from being detected by an antivirus program.”
5. It protects you from worms. This is a program that copies itself when a user changes disk drives. Worms may use an email account as a transport mechanism. Worms can sneak into a computer through an infected email.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. But, it does give you an idea of how you need to go beyond behaving cautiously online.
Combating Crime Online
Although it may seem intimidating to go online, you can get comprehensive protection. Knowledgeable security professionals monitor the latest crimeware and work to create a solution. The Internet is far too valuable a resource not to enjoy it. It would be like refusing to go into a Mall because pickpockets hang out there.