Consumer education key to cybercrime war
On one hand, there have been some huge victories recently in the battle against the bad guys. This week, three men were arrested in connection with a creating a “botnet” that infected an estimated 13 million computers from 190 countries and stole personal and financial information.
In 2008, the alleged mastermind of the largest cybercrimes in history was arrested. Albert Gonzalez is responsible for the greatest data breaches in history, including Heartland Payment Systems, TJX, Hannaford Brothers, 7-Eleven, Citibank and Dave and Buster’s, according to his indictments.
Gonzalez also supervised an online forum in which more than 160 million credit cards, birth certificates, Social Security cards, PIN numbers and computer login information was exchanged.
So, the good guys must be winning the war, right? Probably not.
Security firm Symantec says it identified 2.9 million discrete viruses in the last 15 months—more than the total found over the last 18 years.
“The virus writers and the Trojan [horse] writers, they’re still out there,” said Tom Karygiannis, a computer scientist and senior researcher at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. “So I don’t think they’ve deterred anyone by prosecuting these people.”
It would be smarter, Karygiannis said, to develop new anti-virus technologies and to teach people how to protect themselves from Internet crime.
Considering the magnitude of these recent hackings, how can individuals protect their computers and their information? What can they do to protect themselves from massive data breaches when many corporations and financial institutions aren’t applying even the most basic security practices?
Individuals can protect themselves in two ways: They can follow the basic rules of PC security, and subscribe to services that comprehensively monitor their financial and identifying information.
To protect PCs:
• Never click on attachments in email or instant messaging, or from social media if you don’t know the sender.
• Install a firewall.
• Install security software with anti-malware.
• Use the latest operating system.
• Immediately apply patches and updates.
The second line of defense—monitoring your information—is best left to the professionals. The fact is, their technology and resources are more powerful and effective than anything available to individuals. Additionally, overseeing every aspect of your identity and finances is a full-time job.
LifeLock now provides an extensive suite of services designed for the utmost in security. Command Center™ watches illegal Internet forums, court records, peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, payday loan applications, address change requests, and requests for mortgages, utility hookups, cell phone contracts and more. If they ever detect an indication that your information is being misused, they contact their member immediate and begin remediation and restoration services.