Internet Frauds and Scams - Part IX How to Protect Your PC from Identity Thieves

Your computer may be a gold mine of personal information and the hackers know it. So, even if you have taken all precautions, an identity thief may still pick up personal information from your computer without setting foot in your house.

Here are some tips to safeguard your computer:

  • Update your virus protection software regularly. Without regular updates - your virus protection software is incapable of protecting your PC from latest viruses. Remember, viruses can wreck havoc with your data including lifting your personal files and distributing to all through e-mail.

  • Be on the alert for security repairs and patches that you can download from your operating system's website.

  • Install a firewall system to stop hackers access your computer while you are surfing the Net, more so if you use high-speed Internet connection like cable or DSL that leaves your computer connected to the Internet 24 hours a day.

  • Never download files sent to you by strangers or click on hyperlinks from people you don't know. Opening a file attached to an e-mail expose your system to a computer virus. Clicking at unknown hyperlinks may take you to compromised sites with mischievous codes.

  • Use a secure browser - software that encrypts or scrambles information you send over the Internet - to guard the security of your online transactions. Be sure your browser has the most up-to-date encryption capabilities by using the latest version available from the manufacturer. You also can download some browsers for free over the Internet. When submitting information, look for the "lock" icon on the browser's status bar to be sure your information is secure during transmission.

  • Try not to store financial information on your laptop unless absolutely necessary.

  • Before you dispose of a computer delete personal information from its hard disk. Deleting files using the keyboard or mouse commands may not be enough as any hacker can recover so called 'deleted' files easily. Use a 'wipe out' or 'secure delete; utility to overwrite the entire hard drive. That way - deleted files can never be recovered.

  • Similarly, carefully destroy old CD-ROMS, Floppies and other computer media. Shred or tear off old/discarded print-outs

Internet Resources on Identity Theft:

Related Links:

Source: FAIDA - Newsletter on Business Opportunties from India and Abroad Vol: 3, Issue 46 March 13' 2003

Author : Dr. Amit K. Chatterjee
(Amit worked in blue-chip Indian and MNCs for 15 years in various capacities like Research and Information Analysis, Market Development, MIS, R&D Information Systems etc. before starting his e-commerce venture in 1997. The views expressed in this columns are of his own. He may be reached at )

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