CyberThreats Daily: How to Protect Your Identity Online

Cybercriminals have their scamming efforts made easy if they can get hold of any personal info of the potential victim. Since we recently warned of social engineering scams hitting Ireland, here are some tips on protecting your identity.

suggests the following tips to protect your identity online:

  • Use the highest level privacy settings that the site allows. Do not accept default settings.
  • Read privacy and security policies closely – know what you’re getting into. Some major social networking sites actually say they will use or sell information about you (not individual data necessarily, but aggregate information based on your personal information and that of others using their site) in order to display advertising or other information they believe might be useful to you.
  • Use the least amount of information necessary to register for and use the site. Be careful when picking a screen name – make sure it doesn’t provide clues to your “identity”.
  • Create a strong password and change it often. A strong password should be more than 8 characters in length, and contain both capital letters and at least one numeric or other non- alphabetical character.  Use of non-dictionary words is also advised. Do not share your password with others.
  • Be wise about what you post. Never post personal information such as your address, phone numbers, e-mail address, driver’s license number, Social Security Number (SSN), birth date, birth place, school’s name, or student ID number. When blogging, do not disclose your location for any given day or the exact location for an event you are going to attend.
  • Be careful when posting photos. Make sure they do not provide clues – such as where you live, work or go to school. Also, do not post photos depicting negative behaviors – including drinking, provocative poses or illegal activities. While you may attempt to delete the photo at a later time, it will continue to exist in the cyber world.
  • Only connect to people you already know and trust. Don’t put too much out there – even those you know could use your information in a way you didn’t intend.
  • Verify emails and links in emails you supposedly get from your social networking site (e.g. the recent Facebook scam emails that asked customers to re-set their passwords). These are often designed to gain access to your user name, password, and ultimately your personal information.
  • Install a firewall, reputable anti-spam and anti-virus software to protect your information– and keep it updated.

Beware of Japan fake quake relief scams

We have warned of the imminence of scams, including fake charity and relief ones, on the day Japan was hit by the earthquake. Since then, they have become a reality. In the United States even FBI has issued a warning about relief scams. The FBI warned potential donors no to respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages because they may contain computer viruses. It also said to be sceptical of individuals representing themselves as members of charitable organisations or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.

Four Fold Increase in eMail-Based Malware

Although it seemed it was a thing of the past, recently Network Box have been noticing an unusual increase in eMail-based malware. They have not seen such an increase for several years, and this is occurring globally. This increased activity is probably caused by botnet herders attempting to increase the size of their botnets, and this will probably be followed by a corresponding increase in spam levels.

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