Online Shopping Can Open Doors for Cyber Criminals
In recent years, cyber crime has attracted increasing attention, and, in 2013, reports of stolen and leaked passwords have made big news.
Cyber crimes include online credit card fraud, phishing scams and identity theft, and is increasingly common during the holiday season when online shopping drastically increases. While such crimes can take many forms, there are a few simple steps you can take to protect yourself.
By using a password that is your name, birthday, child's name or something similar, you're making it easier for others to gain access. Instead, use different characters, capital letters and numbers to make your passwords more complex.
One trick is to pick a sentence you'll remember and use the first letters of each word in the sentence. To make it harder to crack, add a number or character at the end. For example, if your sentence is "My first dog's name was Spot," your password could be MfdnwS%. Another recommendation is to use multiple passwords, so that even if one password is compromised the rest will still be safe.
Avoid clicking on pop-up ads that appear while you're online. While some are harmless, others may be an attempt to access to your information. If a pop-up asks you to enter your password or username, the best thing to do is usually to ignore it.
Anti-virus software is one of the best ways to protect yourself from malware and viruses. If you're using your computer for banking or business, you should have software to help detect and eliminate harmful programs that could be out to steal your data. Norton is one of the most common brands of anti-virus software.
In the real world, hanging out in bad neighborhoods makes you more likely to be a victim of a crime. The Internet works the same way. If you visit or download content from unsecure or unverified sites, you are at a higher risk of becoming a victim of a cyber crime. The same goes for opening emails, email attachments or social media messages from people or sites you don't know. When you're shopping online or using personal information, make sure the URL appears as https:// site instead of http://. The s stands for secure.
On the Lookout
When your bank or credit card statements come in, check them for suspicious transactions. If you watch for abnormalities, you have a much better chance of spotting cyber fraud before it becomes a major problem. If you notice anything that seems odd, contact your financial institution and make them aware of the issue as soon as possible. They may put a freeze on your account or stop payments to keep the fraudulent activity from happening.
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