Friday, September 3, 2010

Are You Inviting Criminals Into Your Home?

Cybercrime – has it happened to you? Is it just a matter of time before it happens to each and every one of us?  Today’s article comes from 

Even if you're smart about protecting your identity, there is a new and dangerous digital threat. When you share music or download movies from peer-to-peer file-sharing networks, you could also be virtually unlocking your home to criminals.

Don’t remember granting identity thieves permission to come into your life? While you're busy downloading innocuous files, criminals can be tagging along--swiping everything that's on your computer, from your Social Security number to your health information.
Peer-to-peer (or P2P) file-sharing networks are hugely popular with about 22 million people globally using them every second to swap movies, music, software and documents. The problem? Users of file-sharing networks can unwittingly expose the contents of entire hard drives containing your information to everyone else on the network if the P2P file-sharing application is not configured properly. By simply searching for specific keywords, identity thieves are able to access and download the personal documents of thousands upon thousands of individuals that can include personally identifiable information.

In 2009, "The Today Show" demonstrated the dangers of these networks. They found an astounding 25,800 student loan applications, more than 150,000 tax returns, and nearly 626,000 credit reports--all made easily accessible on file-sharing networks.

While antivirus software is great at protecting your computer from viruses, it doesn't stop thieves from accessing your hard drive if you've given them permission. And if you use peer-to-peer file-sharing networks you may be doing exactly that.

You may think you're safe if you don't share files over the Internet, but think again…

Your doctor, employer or accountant could be doing it--with your personal information. The Federal Trade Commission recently warned nearly 100 organizations, including companies, schools and local governments, that the personal information of their customers and/or employees had been leaked onto online file-sharing networks. The information found included Social Security numbers, health information, and driver's licenses--more than enough information for any identity thief to successfully steal someone's identity.

How can you protect yourself?

A number of programs like TrustedID, LifeLock and Identity Guard help prevent identity theft. LifeLock, for example, not only helps provide credit protection, but also notifies you if your personal information is being used to apply for retail credit or mortgage loans, etc. In addition, it sends updated email alerts of potential identity threats and patrols websites for the illegal selling of your personal information.

For more information on these products follow these links to their web sites. 

If your computer is infected with viruses or you need more one on one information on how to protect YOUR computer – contact Simply Seniors Computer Tutor, Brevard’s PREMIERE Computer Consultant Service exclusively for senior citizens!  Visit for helpful links to legitimate FREE software to help clean your computer. 

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