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Nearly 60,000,000 Americans have been affected by identity theft, says a Harris Poll survey. For instance, 2,000,000 identities were stolen and used to make fake comments during the Federal Communications Commission inquiry into net neutrality.

"It's not surprising that many people may view the Internet as more dangerous than earthquakes, terrorism, and wars," notes Daniel Markuson, a digital privacy specialist at NordVPN. "People may feel they have little control over how to deal with bad actors who exploit online technologies. These concerns are a red flag for governments and companies to put even more effort into making online experiences more secure.

"One of the best ways to empower people is to educate them on how they can mitigate cyber risks themselves. Even though people do not have direct control over which company or institution will be the next target for a cyberattack, we always can take precautionary steps to protect our data."

Markuson recommends the use of strong and unique passwords. "Create complex passwords that identity thieves cannot guess. If a website where you have an account has a breach of its databases, first change your password. Then take the steps advised by the company that compromised your data."

Moreover, think twice before posting anything on social media. "This information can be used against you. Sharing your location can reveal sensitive details like your home address, work address, and the places you visit. Use of photo- and video-sharing sites like Flickr and YouTube provides deeper insights into you, your family and friends, your house, favorite hobbies, and interests. All of this information could be valuable

to identity thieves."

In addition, provide companies with necessary information only. "The less data they have, the less they can leak. Make sure not to provide your birth date, Social Security number, or bank account number just because someone asks for it."

It also is best to shop exclusively at reputable websites. "One of the reasons why shopping online is so great is that you can find sites that sell just about everything, but how do you know that the company will keep your information secure? Be suspicious of offers that seem too good to be true. Make sure that the address bar says https:// instead of http. Check if the privacy policy of the store clearly communicates how it collects, uses, and protects your data."

Indeed, always be on the lookout for fraud. "Don't forget that companies with big data sets are not the only desirable targets for cybercriminals. Your sensitive personal data is also attractive. That is why it is important to constantly educate yourself on how to protect yourself from email phishing and other online threats."

It also is wise to utilize security tools. "Antivirus or anti-malware software can protect your computer from random attacks and alert you to any intrusions. Additionally, a VPN encrypts your Internet traffic and protects your online identity. These steps will help you to enjoy the highest level of safety while browsing."

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Title Annotation:INTERNET
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Apr 1, 2019
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