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What can you do to protect your identity? Click to see full-sizeAccording to the article, "Citi Data Theft Points Up a Nagging Problem," not only Citibank, but many other financial institutions have recently suffered hacker attacks, including the IMF: "IMF Hacked; No End in Sight to Security Horror Shows". In the Citibank case, customers weren't notified of the hacker attack for a full month... giving that much time for the cyber-thieves to loot the customers' accounts and share their names and credit card numbers with the world-wide underground hacker network.

One of the first steps in protecting your identity, then, is to check your bank's policy on indemnifying you in case of information theft: will the bank fully compensate you for any and all financial losses if your Social Security and/or credit card number, CCV code (the 3-digit code on the back of the credit card), your name, address, date of birth, etc. are stolen from their computer systems? Will the bank compensate you for all expenses incurred due to identity theft if they didn't prevent hackers from stealing your personal info from the bank's computers? If not, better change banks! And whenever your bank sends you a notice about changes of its policy regarding privacy of your personal info, read the notice carefully.

Don't be like two-thirds of people who use the same password on multiple websites: in "A brief Sony password analysis," Troy Hunt analyzed the quality of passwords people use. He wrote - "With all this [Sony] customer data now unfortunately out there for public viewing, I thought it would be interesting to do some analysis on password practices. There are some rather alarming (although not entirely surprising) findings including: 36% of passwords appear in a common password dictionary. 50% of passwords are 7 characters or less. 67% of accounts on both Sony and Gawker use the same password. 82% of passwords are lowercase alphanumeric consisting of 9 characters or less. 99% of passwords don't contain a single non-alphanumeric character." (But some websites don't even permit you to use non-alphanumeric characters!)

Thankfully, the hacker group "LulzSec" that broke into the Sony website has itself been compromised and a member of the group, Robert Cavanaugh, was arrested by the FBI on June 6. Meanwhile, do yourself a big favor and put the free KeePass password vault and secure password generator on your PC and on your flash drive. KeePass will automatically generate and store a unique random password for each of your online accounts - a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters that is virtually unbreakable. Then all you need to remember is one master password.

If you laid a trillion one dollar bills end-to-end, they would reach to the moon and back seven times.
If you laid all our reprehenstatives in DC end-to-end along the Beltway... it would be a good thing!

Also, guard against "social engineering" attacks trying to steal your personal info. This refers to emails or messages on social networks like Facebook or Twitter that pretend to be from your bank or someone you know. It's easy for an interloper to find out the names of your acquaintances, then set up an account using that name and send you a message. You tend to automatically trust the message contents, and might click on a link in the message that takes you to a "trojan horse" website. Once there, you're prompted to enter your login and password for your bank, Facebook or Twitter account. Then the data thief saves your login info and quickly takes you to the real website - you might not even notice the switch, it happens so fast.

"Okay, I understand why my bank account login is important, but what's the big deal about my Facebook or Twitter account?" - you might ask. Those kind of social networks keep your name, address, date of birth, often your place of birth and answers to "secret questions" such as your mother's maiden name. Only "you" are supposed to have access to that info, but if a thief gets your login and password, he can pretend to be "you" ... and login. Presto! He now gets at enough info to generate your Social Security number, then to access your bank, PayPal and online shopping accounts, and in general steal your identity. Solution: never click on a link in an email to your bank, Facebook, Twitter, etc., account without first ensuring that the domain name belongs to that account. Sometimes cyber-thieves will use domain names such as "www.paypal.anything.com" - the real domain name is "www.anything.com", not www.paypal.com - so look carefully at the domain name!

Maybe you've heard about the recent breach of logins and passwords for Gmail, Yahoo! and Hotmail accounts. It was a sophisticated attack traced back to China, where cyber-crooks used "social engineering" to fake the names of friends of U.S. government officials, then steal these officials' logins and passwords to their Gmail, Yahoo! or Hotmail accounts. You may think - "So why are their Gmail, Yahoo! and Hotmail accounts important?" Sometimes busy officials may forward a few messages from their tightly-secured government email accounts to their personal accounts so they can finish their work at home. Then a thief can have access to the names and email addresses of the originators of those messages. Thus the thieves' list of people susceptible to "social engineering" attack grows, plus simply learning someone's network of contacts tells intelligence agencies quite a lot about what that person is working on. Also, see "More than E-mail at Stake in Google Gmail Attack" - once a cyber-thief has access to your Gmail, Yahoo! or Hotmail account, he also can get at any contact lists, documents, spreadsheets, photos, etc. that you might have stored on those accounts.

Click on Online PC Support for our worldwide help   &   Offsite Backup Services for securing your files!

And lastly, backup your personal information! Your computer and programs are replaceable, but your files are irreplaceable. We've been considering today how cyber-thieves can steal your personal information and your identity, but statistics show that you're at a much greater risk of losing your personal info due to lack of backups than because of cyber-thieves. So check out our Offsite Backup Services link above, and get the free 5-Gb offsite backup account from IDrive!

The goal of our CN.Net-News is to share information that we think you'll find helpful as you wrestle with that little monster on your desk, your computer. And we aim to present this information from a Christian worldview. Thanks for your time!

Best regards,

"Dr. Bob the CompuNerd"

Robert D hoskEN
See the "nerd" in my name? (It helps if you're a little dyslexic!)
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