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Your Money and your Life: Gone in Sixty Seconds Flat

Your Money and your Life: Gone in Sixty Seconds Flat!

Cybercrime is on the rise. Your Money and Your Life: Gone in Sixty Seconds Flat! “How?”, you ask. OK, let me elaborate on a few of the many ways cybercriminals steal your money, and, literally, your life and they can do so in seconds, not minutes, or hours.

* You may not be the only one using your computer. Cybercriminals known as hackers may be using your computers and you may not even know it. Would you ever know it if your computer were taken over and being used by a hacker? Not likely. When a hacker hijacks a computer, the victim rarely knows. A computer that has been hijacked is one that is completely taken over by a hacker, or a group of hackers, to be used for their own purposes. The idea is that the real owner of the computer never knows their system has been hijacked, so the hackers can secretly use it whenever and however they want.

* Personal information is now so readily available that a total stranger with nothing more than an online connection and a credit card could discover everything there is to know about you. He or she could compile a complete dossier on you, your family members, friends, work associates, or business rivals without any special investigative training.

* Fears about identity theft are not limited to spyware or to records stolen from corporate databases. As it turns out, the neighbor next door can be just as big a concern. “Definitely, using the Internet to spy on average citizens is our next big social problem,” said Avivah Litan, security analyst for identity-theft issues at the research firm Gartner.

* One of the latest hacking trends is called “Drive-by Hacking”. Popular wireless Internet access points have now become a major target for hackers. Hackers simply take their laptop computers in their cars and drive through business parks or residential neighborhoods remotely scanning for open wireless networks. This is the latest version of the drive-by garage door remote theft where criminal would use universal remote controls to open garage doors without arousing the suspicions of neighbors, police, or home security companies.

* A new trend recently discovered: online hazards in hotels. Authorities are becoming alarmed at the number of traveler-victims who have reported that their personal or financial information was stolen after they had used a computer in a hotel’s business center. It seems like the cybercriminals use keylogging software to record their victim’s key strokes. (See the ABC News Video: Online Hazards in Hotels.)

With cybercriminals always on the move and coming up with new and creative moves to steal people’s money, it would be wise to educate ourselves about the attacks, risks, and threats they perpetrate. Learn all you can, and then take evasive and preventative action. Get the strongest protection you can get that is best suited to your needs.

The best defenses are a combination of education and managed protection service. Off-the-shelve individual or combined anti-spyware, antivirus, and anti-spam software programs may not be sufficient protection, because hackers seem to stay one step of these programs. The popular off-the-shelf products offer you no personalized support. If you want help, you’ll pay for it over and over again! If you need a virus removed with these cheap programs, you’ll pay for it. You may get technical support from your PC manufacturer for security problems, but in most cases, you probably will not. Even if you do, it will likely be for a fee, and one that repeats itself should you need additional help down the road.

To protect yourself, you need an Internet security team of experts making sure that you, your family, and your business computer are always safe and secure. The best protection you can have in today’s rapidly changing world of cyber-attacks is to have expert support for all your Internet security needs that will provide technical support without any hassles and without charging you extra fees. It will become even more critical than it is today as time goes on. You need to find your own personal team of experts to rely on. If you ever have a security problem, you will want to have a trusted expert you can call for professional help, without any hassles and extra costs!

Remember: When you say “No!” to hackers and spyware, everyone wins! When you don’t, we all lose!

© MMVII, Etienne A. Gibbs, MSW, Internet Safety Advocate and Educator

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