The day of the balaclava shrouded, gun wielding burglar seems to be coming to an end. Especially when you consider that the modern thief can steal an estimated $200 million from New Zealanders from the comfort of their own home – all thanks to the ever evolving world of cyber crime.
It’s a cushy lifestyle for the 21st century crook. Setup shop with any “prepay” cellphone, computer and an internet connection (setup under a false or stolen identity) and you’re in business. Your chosen profession made all the more simple by the abundance of New Zealand internet users who divulge personal information, passwords and bank account details through a barrage of common mistakes.
The invent and speedy adoption of social networking sites has provided a raft of positive opportunities for both those seeking to connect with friends and those who want to steal your identity – one of the fastest growing areas of cyber crime.
When participating in online social networking it’s important to educate yourself on the security settings of these sites (usually found in the “help” menu of the website). Most sites default to a “public” view of your profile when you first setup an account.
This means that everything you post (your name, date of birth, address, job history, etc) is available for anyone and everyone to view – all the information a virtual villain needs to steal your identity.
To ensure only those you trust can access detailed information about you, make sure that your profile is setup to only display information to “friends” you have approved.
Furthermore, don’t feel obligated to provide all the information these social networking sites request.
As a rule, I never post my address, full date of birth (I usually only post the day and month, not the year), full work/education history, email address or phone number on my social networking profiles.
My theory is that if people want this type of information, they can ask me for it – giving me an opportunity to assess whether I think they are trustworthy.
I also make it a rule not to add people to my online social network (e.g. become Facebook friends, etc) until I have met them in person.
Indiscriminately adding “friends” provides the perfect opportunity for undesirable people to not only access your details, but also have leverage to access those of your “real life friends”. Be selective about who you let connect with you online.
It is also important to select social networking site passwords that have less emphasis on being easy to remember and more emphasis on being hard to guess. Avoid using details from your life (e.g. your birthday, that of your child, your dog’s name, etc) as a password, as cyber criminals know most people do this and find accessing this information simple.
Also, “Guesser” software, used to hack passwords, will easily dodge security that relies on passwords such as: “password”, “letmein,” “temp,” “123456,” etc. A good password selection tip is to take an easy to remember sentence and turn it into a password. Something like “The itsy bitsy spider went up” might become “tibsWENTup”.
The most effective tools cyber swindlers have are your naivety, greed, pride and good nature. Putting them out of business simply means getting educated and curbing those natural tendencies we all have to look for the quick buck, boast to others (e.g. on social networking profiles) or too readily help those who seem in need.
For more information on protecting yourself from Cyber Crime, please go to: www.consumeraffairs.govt.nz/scamwatch.
Wendy Schollum is a web strategist and Managing Director of Xplore.net Solutions Ltd. If you have a web related question you would like Wendy to answer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 0800 100 900 or post to: Xplore.net, PO Box 907, Napier.
Article source: http://www.hawkesbaytoday.co.nz/business/news/wendy-schollum-act-smart-online-to-help-foil-cyber/3953903/