What is Cyber Identity Theft?

Cyber Identity Theft is a crime that involves any act dealing with computers and networks. This is sometimes referred to as “hacking”. Additionally, cyber crime can also include crimes conducted using the Internet i.e. telemarketing, fraud, credit card theft and identity theft. It is any illegal activity that uses the computer and internet.

Some of the common issues regarding Cyber Identity Theft crime are:

• How do I secure my PC?

• What type of Firewall do I need?

• What are computer viruses?

• How do I secure my wireless network?

• Do cookies compromise security and increase my exposure with Cyber Identity Theft?

• How do I avoid being spammed?

• Cloud computing, what are the security challenges?

How do I secure my PC from Cyber Identity Theft?

1. Choose an operating system based on its security and vulnerability. Its key that whichever operating system you use whether its MAC or Windows that you update your operating system with security updates weekly. This will reduce your chances of being a victim of Cyber Identity Theft.

2. Choose a web browser based on its security and vulnerabilities. Malware will come through your browser based on a website that you have clicked on. Google Chrome is one of the more secure sites and is more difficult to compromise.

3. Setup strong passwords in your user accounts, router accounts.

4. Use only trusted sources in downloading software.

5. Antivirus software is a must, there are a number of free and paid versions that provide excellent protection.

6. Malware and antispyware – this is really important to have if you’re going to search the internet for information. Superantispyware is best in class and offers both a free and paid version.

7. Install a firewall, this is important to provide you another layer of protection.

8. Close all open ports – hackers routinely scan for open ports.

What type of Firewall do I need?

A firewall is a device designed to permit or deny access to your computer based on a set of rules and is frequently used to protect networks from unauthorized use.Most personal computers operating system includes a firewall for the user to access and turn on.

If you are running an anti-virus program most come with an firewall built in. If not, there an number of 3rd party Firewall only programs on the market.

I would recommend that you consider Comodo's Firewall http://www.personalfirewall.comodo.com if you decide to purchase a standalone.

It’s best to use the one that is part of the Anti-virus and you don’t want to be running two.

What are computer viruses?

The simple explanation to what a computer virus is, it is a computer program that can duplicate itself and spread from one computer to another. A true virus cam spread from one computer to another (using some type of executable code) when the host computer is taken to the target computer. What this means is that the internet can be the means of a virus being spread over a network through a email or file.

Sometimes “computer viruses” are used as catch all phrase that includes all types of malware, computer worms, Trojans, spyware, etc. Any and all malicious code designed to exploit the vulnerabilities of your computer. Each type of computer virus can have different symptoms and have different functions.

Having Anti-virus Software is essential today for all computers. There are many free versions that are available along with paid versions that will help keep your computer safe. All versions require that you keep these updated daily however.

Do cookies compromise security and increase my exposure with Cyber Identity Theft??

Cookies are messages that a Web server transmits to a Web browser so that the Web server can keep track of the user's activity on a specific Web site. The message that the Web server conveys to the browser is in the form of an HTTPheader that consists of a text-only string. The text is entered into the memory of the browser. The browser in turn stores the cookie information on the hard drive so when the browser is closed and reopened at a later date the cookie information is still available.

Web sites use cookies for several different reasons:

• To collect demographic information about who is visiting the Web site. Sites often use this information to track how often visitors come to the site and how long they remain on the site.

• To personalize the user's experience on the Web site. Cookies can help store personal information about you so that when you return to the site you have a more personalized experience. If you have ever returned to a site and have seen your name mysteriously appear on the screen, it is because on a previous visit you gave your name to the site and it was stored in a cookie so that when you returned you would be greeted with a personal message. A good example of this is the way some online shopping sites will make recommendations to you based on previous purchases. The server keeps track of what you purchase and what items you search for and stores that information in cookies.

• To monitor advertisements. Web sites will often use cookies to keep track of what ads it lets you see and how often you see ads.

Cookies do not act maliciously on computer systems. They are merely text files that can be deleted at any time - they are notplug ins nor are they programs. Cookies cannot be used to spread viruses and they cannot access your hard drive. This does not mean that cookies are not relevant to a user's privacy and anonymity on the Internet. Cookies cannot read your hard drive to find out information about you; however, any personal information that you give to a Web site, including credit cardinformation, will most likely be stored in a cookie unless you have turned off the cookie feature in your browser. In only this way are cookies a threat to privacy. The cookie will only contain information that you freely provide to a Web site.

Cookies have six parameters that can be passed to them:

• The name of the cookie.

• The value of the cookie.

• The expiration date of the cookie - this determines how long the cookie will remain active in your browser.

• The path the cookie is valid for - this sets the URL path the cookie us valid in. Web pages outside of that path cannot use the cookie.

• The domain the cookie is valid for - this takes the path parameter one step further. This makes the cookie accessible to pages on any of the servers when a site uses multiple servers in a domain.

• The need for a secure connection - this indicates that the cookie can only be used under a secure server condition, such as a site using SSL.

Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) can be set to reject cookies if the user prefers to use the Internet without enabling cookies to be stored. In Netscape, follow the Edit/Preferences/Advanced menu and in IE, follow the Tools/Internet Options/Security menu to set cookie preferences.

How do I avoid being spammed?

The best way to avoid spam is not getting on spammers' lists in the first place. Find out how to use disposable addresses, obfuscation and your watchful eye to steer clear of spam altogether.

1. Stop Spam with Disposable Email Addresses

You've read it here, and you know it well: using your real, primary email address anywhere on the Web puts it at risk of being picked up by spammers. And once an email address is in the hands of one spammer, your Inbox is sure to be filled with lots of not-so-delicious spam every day.

2. Watch Out for Those Checkboxes

When you sign up for something on the Web, there is often some innocent-looking text at the end of the form saying something like: "YES, I want to be contacted by select third parties concerning products I might be interested in." Quite often, the checkbox next to that text is already checked and your email address will be given to you don't know who. To avoid that...

3. Disguise Your Email Address in Newsgroups, Forums, Blog Comments, Chat

Spammers use special programs that extract email addresses from Web sites and Usenet postings. To avoid ending on a spammer's mailing list when you post to a Web forum or a newsgroup, you can...

4. How Long, Complicated Email Addresses Beat Spammers

Spam will, eventually, make it to any mailbox. Any? Here's how to make it hard for spammers to guess your address.

5. Use Disposable Email Addresses at Your Web Site

Using disposable email addresses in forms on the Web and for mailing lists is a great way to stop spam. But with a little effort you can even use them on your home page, too, and allow legitimate mail from unknown senders while keeping out spam...

6. Domain Owners: Set up Throwaway Addresses to Fight Spam

If you own a domain name, you have a great anti-spam tool at hand: your mail server. All mail to a address at your domain that does not already exist (such as "quaxidudel@example.com") is forwarded to your main account by default. You can use this feature to...

Cloud computing, what are the security challenges?

In the last few years, cloud computing has grown from being a promising business concept to one of the fastest growing segments of the IT industry. Now, recession-hit companies are increasingly realising that simply by tapping into the cloud they can gain fast access to best-of-breed business applications or drastically boost their infrastructure resources, all at negligible cost.

But as more and more information on individuals and companies is placed in the cloud, concerns are beginning to grow about just how safe an environment it is. Does this increase Cyber Identity Theft?

1. Every breached security system was once thought infallible to Cyber Identity Theft.

2. Understand the risks of cloud computing and cyber identity theft.

3. How cloud hosting companies have approached security.

4. Local law and jurisdiction where data is held.

5. Best practice for companies in the cloud.

Every breached security system was once thought infallibleSaaS (software as a service) and PaaS (platform as a service) providers all trumpet the robustness of their systems, often claiming that security in the cloud is tighter than in most enterprises.

But the simple fact is that every security system that has ever been breached was once thought infallible to cyber identity theft.

Google was forced to make an embarrassing apology in February when its Gmail service collapsed in Europe, while Salesforce.com is still smarting from a phishing attack in 2007 which duped a staff member into revealing passwords.

While cloud service providers face similar cyber identity theft security issues as other sorts of organizations, analysts warn that the cloud is becoming particularly attractive to cyber identity theft crooks.

"The richer the pot of data, the more cloud service providers need to do to protect it," says IDC research analyst David Bradshaw.

Understand the risks of cloud computing and cyber identity theft

Cloud service users need to be vigilant in understanding the risks of data breaches in this new environment.

"At the heart of cloud infrastructure is this idea of multi-tenancy and decoupling between specific hardware resources and applications," explains Datamonitor senior analyst Vuk Trifković. "In the jungle of multi-tenant data, you need to trust the cloud provider that your information will not be exposed."

For their part, companies need to be vigilant, for instance about how passwords are assigned, protected and changed. Cloud service providers typically work with numbers of third parties, and customers are advised to gain information about those companies which could potentially access their data and expose the user to cyber identity theft.

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