Internet computer users have the usual security threats to deal with; including email based phishing, drive-by malware downloads, Facebook based malware, and malware transmitted by physical devices such as thumb drives.
There is also another category of threat from which no anti-virus, anti-malware, or firewall will provide protection. That threat is the theft of the personally identifiable information from the many databases of the companies from which we’ve purchased products, the organizations we’ve joined, and the social networks we use. The information we’ve entered on our Facebook, Twitter, LinkdIn, and Google+ profiles is a prime target for cyber criminals.
There have been several such attacks in the last year, which came in two flavors. One is an outright infiltration and one-time attack of the network housing the database, and the other is the infiltration and occupation of the network, sometimes for months and years; totally hidden and therefore afforded more time to “mine” the personal data and creating more complete “pictures” of the identities to be stolen. See Target: Social Networking Sites, Target: Cloud Storage Databases, and Target: Government & Private Databases.
As I stated above, there’s not much an online consumer can do to avoid being the victim of one of these attacks.
What we can do is:
1. be stingy with the personally identifiable information you enter into the social networking applications;
2. enter the least allowable amount of information into an online purchase transaction;
3. keep aware, through news reports, of the large databases that have been compromised, and if you suspect your data may have been affected, contact the company or organization to find out if your data was in fact stolen and what action you should take.
Be very careful…it’s dangerous out there.
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