Er. alokpandey's Blog

Are We Risking Our Digital Lives?

Posted in Uncategorized by Alok Kumar Pandey on January 25, 2010

Consumers are growing increasingly comfortable storing sensitive information on their computers, USB flash drives, and external hard drives, as well as using Web-based solutions to automate Download Free eBook - The Edge of Success: 9 Building Blocks to Double Your Sales regular tasks such as shopping for holiday gifts, paying bills and tracking financial portfolios. The push from vendors encouraging their customers to move toward e-billing has also played a major role in more personal information being stored locally on personal computers.

To put the magnitude of this problem into perspective, consider this: Over 600,000 laptop thefts occur annually in the U.S. alone, resulting in an estimated US$5.4 billion loss of proprietary information, according to the Ponemon Institute. Over 90 percent of these laptops are never recovered.

At the same time, cybercriminals are developing increasingly savvy techniques to access and exploit sensitive information — such as usernames, passwords and credit card details — for personal gain.

There are two very easy methods available to protect consumers from identity theft at a relatively inexpensive cost. The first is to encrypt any data containing personal information, and the second is to utilize password manager tools to store online logins, passwords and banking information.

Exposing Your Data

There are two common situations in which people expose themselves on a regular basis. The first is using systems that rely on automated antivirus software protection and the second is using public or borrowed PCs to connect to the Internet.

Most consumer facing Web sites have now implemented robust security features, such as SSL certificates that display an “https” URL instead of “http,” to alert users that their e-commerce pages are secure. However, the proliferation of public WiFi hotspots and online social networks has created new opportunities for thieves to spread Trojan viruses such as keyloggers, to phish for passwords, and to sniff out packets of sensitive information as they pass through a network.

All too often, I hear from consumers who have picked up viruses on their PCs because they relied on their antivirus software to update automatically in the background or they used free shareware antivirus programs to protect themselves. These approaches can provide a false sense of security. Protection can be compromised if their antivirus application runs past the expiration date or stops updating. To remedy this, I recommend that everyone should do manual software updates on a regular basis and thoroughly review any errors they receive while performing this task.

The other common complaint I hear from customers is that they picked up a virus on their USB drive while using a public or borrowed PC on a vacation or business trip, which has then infected their personal PC. This can be avoided by encrypting your data on your USB flash drive, as viruses can’t penetrate encrypted data.

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