Online Identity Theft Outbreak: Computers Catching Colds [Infographic]
We’ve all been there — the blue screen of death, the red ring of death, the moment you realize your device is done for. Maybe it’s just an inconvenience. Call it Murphy’s Law or whatever you like. More often than not, your device kicks the proverbial bucket at the worst possible moment. And what for? Why? Maybe you downloaded a song or video or program from a less-than-credible source. Nothing happens immediately, so you don’t worry. When your computer crashes and you lose that big project, was it worth it? Probably not. Online identity theft is a menace. Gone are the days when your Apple or Linux PCs were safe. Mobile devices aren’t immune either. Malware creators are getting increasingly creative. They’re also targeting wider audiences.
Malware production and innovation continually outpaces defensive responses. TechCrunch.com reported that mobile malware alone increased 1200 percent in 2012. We don’t say this to breed a culture of fear, but to encourage a culture of caution. Sure you can find just about anything online, but that doesn’t mean that you should. That free program that supposedly does everything the $2,000 graphic design software does? That’s probably either pirated or malware.
That weird headline your friend shared on Facebook? Could be malware. The thumb drive with 10GB of music you’d love to add to your collection? Could have some malware. Ask yourself if it’s worth opening that email attachment, clicking that link or downloading that program. Not only can malware kill your hardware, it can take information like documents and contacts without an obvious security breach.
Trojans were, by far, the most popular form of malware in 2012, according to Panda Security. They accounted for 76 percent of 2012′s malware. Trojans, like the titular Trojan Horse, pretend to be something they’re not (in this case a program you want) to gain access to your hard drive. Worms overwrite data as viruses replicate themselves to spread the infection.
Don’t let terror win. Do exercise caution. Download with discretion. Don’t click every link sent to you. Do get protection — either on your hardware with malware protection or on your life with identity theft protection. Don’t ever share your passwords. Do change them if you’ve shared them.
The bottom line? Not everyone out there is a good guy. Protect yourself and use common sense and you just might muzzle the online identity theft menace.
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