Understanding Online Threats

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Technology improves the lives of all who have it; there’s no arguing that. However, not everything about technology is good. With its use comes risk: From identity theft to email hacking, online threats are rampant and have the potential to be devastating.

Identity Theft

According to USA Today, identity theft is expected to overtake traditional theft as the leading form of property crime. A large part of this uptick is because of computers: identity thieves can steal your identity from the convenience of their living room.

Typically, online identity theft involves the larceny of credit card numbers or bank account numbers. The thieves then use these numbers to purchase other items for themselves, items you’re unknowingly paying for. Online identity theft may also involve stealing your social security number and opening accounts– such as loans and phone contracts – in your name.

Hacking Emails

As recent events in Hollywood have shown us, the hacking of emails can wreak havoc on a person’s career. In fact, most people – famous or not – have accounts that have been hacked at one time or another. Often this hacking is discovered when your email account sends an email advertising something such as Canadian prescriptions or dating websites.

A good way to protect your Yahoo and Gmail is to change your password consistently, perhaps even weekly.


Computer viruses can range from annoying to devastating: some can ruin your computer and all the files it contains. But, luckily, it’s fairly easy to remain virus free: never open attachments from people you don’t know; don’t visit websites that are unsafe; and make sure your anti-virus software on your laptop or PC is always up to date.

The Facebook Fault

Another threat that comes with going online has to do with what you post to Facebook and other social media sites. Telling your Facebook friends or your Twitter followers that you are going on vacation, for instance, advertises that you won’t be home. Robbers and other like criminals have been known to use these sites as a way to find their targets.

Protecting Yourself from Online Threats

Using the Internet doesn’t have to make you a victim. According to the City of San Jose, California, there are several ways to protect yourself from threats that come with logging on. These include: Never sharing info with people you don’t know, installing security or scanning software on your computer, never disclosing personal information over email, making sure sites you use for financial transactions are secure, and checking your credit and bank account often for any suspicious activity.

You should also be careful when choosing a password. Though it may be convenient, refrain from composing one made of your name, your birthdate, or your address. This information is easily obtained through public records and can help hackers gain access easier. It is also a good idea to use a word that isn’t in the dictionary; hacking software exists that will attempt to get into your online accounts by using every single word in the English language.

Finally, whenever you are using a public computer – such as in a library or on a college campus – be sure to never leave a webpage up with your information on it.

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