Your identity has quite a lot of value, especially in the wrong hands. Security firm ZoneAlarm put together some numbers in 2011 concerning identity fraud, and it even shocked us. Let’s talk about a few of these statistics and what it means.
First of all, what shocked us the most is that according to the FTC, in the United States, 9 million individuals have their identities stolen each year. Identity theft is a little different than identity fraud, however. Theft is when personal information is exposed and taken without permission. This is happening all the time by malicious software like spyware, but it can also happen when legitimate websites and services get infiltrated by cybercriminals. If a reputable online store (or even a database for a brick and mortar store) gets hacked into, your personal information can be stolen. That’s identity theft.
Identity fraud is when that data is misused for financial gain. This is when things start to get very dangerous. In 2009, $56 billion dollars were accumulated by cyber criminals through identity fraud. The good news is in 2010 that number went down to “only” $37 billion. What does that mean to the average person? On average, victims of identity fraud had $4,841 dollars stolen per victim. Trouble is, the world has had to improve drastically to protect consumers from identity fraud. This means higher costs of doing business which then get reflected on prices of products and services. In other words, because of identity fraud, we all lose.
How does your data get stolen? There are plenty of ways, but here are a few popular methods:
Hackers can pick up credentials via public Wi-Fi and public PCs.
Credit Card Skimming – a process that involves your credit card data being stolen when your credit card is swiped at a standard ATM or credit card terminal.
Selling or discarding used computer equipment that isn’t properly wiped can expose personal information.
Hackers can infiltrate networks and databases.
Dumpster diving and paper mail theft.
Malware and viruses
You can reduce your exposure, learn how in a Cyber Security Seminar