How safe are you on the web? The June 2012 issue of Consumer Reports says you’re more vulnerable than you think.
Thirty million computers infected in just in a year with malware. Sixteen million households in which somebody suffered identity theft. More than 9 million times where someone had their personal info compromised. Eight million episodes of security breach where your info ended up out there in the twilight zone. And more than 7 million unauthorized charges on credit cards.
The stats are overwhelming, as you can see, according to Consumer Reports. But I don’t tell you all this to make you cynical or to feel resigned. In reality, this situation calls for simple prevention and commonsense. You can’t prevent every criminal act, but you can mitigate them some.
Below are a few pointers to keep in mind. Remember, prevention is the best cure, especially when it comes to the web.
- Be careful which emails you open. Turn off any feature that automatically opens emails for you.
- Be wary of any hyperlink in any email.
- Beware of phishing attempts from your bank or other financial institution. If you believe the email is legit, call your bank back at a telephone number you know to be legitimate for them from the back of a billing statement.
- Run a free antivirus program on your computer, but know that this is not foolproof; it’s just another step in the nuclear arms race with the criminals.
- Freeze your credit. If you get a notice of a data breach in the mail, the possibility that you’ll be subject to full blown identity theft goes up 10 times over. So you need to do a credit freeze.
- A huge number of tweens on Facebook gave false birthdays to get on. Parents overwhelmingly have no idea their tweens have a Facebook account. If your tween is allowed to be on Facebook, make sure they friend you so you can monitor what’s going on, and be sure to lock everything down with the tightest privacy setting possible.