Welcome to Personal Security Defender

October 12, 2008

Welcome to Personal Security Defender.  I’m Warren Franklin.  I’ve been working in the personal security business for four years.  Prior to that I worked in the radio broadcast industry.  I left the broadcast world because I found a new love in personal security including computer security and identity theft protection. 

Recently, I stated a  free cybercrime and identity theft prevention newsletter.  It comes out twice a month.  You are welcome to sign up and get your copy.  Just go to www.completeinternetprotection.com and sign up.  The Web site also contains valuable information about cybercrime and computer security.

My goal is to share important information that you can use to protect yourself from cyber criminals, identity thieves and any one else who might have an interest in doing harm to you and your family.

There are so many dangers in the world today.  Criminals don’t seem to have any limits.  So, it makes sense that the only one that is going to make sure you and your family are protected is yourself.  It’s my hope to deliver timely information you can use to guard against the bad guys of this world.

You are welcome to share this blog with people you believe can use this information, too.


Compliance Is Good For Everyone

December 18, 2009

Doing business in this wild and crazy world today is becoming more and more dangerous for everyone involved.  There is much to lose for both the customer and the merchant.

Cyber criminals have learned over the years that small and mid-sized businesses are much easier targets than those huge conglomerates.  As a result, we are seeing more and more smaller businesses under attack.  The target is customer and employee information to be used for identity theft.

The problem is most of these businesses are still unaware of this dilemma.   An even bigger problem is most businesses have very little protection against this sort of crime.  The proof is in the numbers:

  • 85% of payment card breaches occur at small businesses
  • 81% of organizations subject to PCI  DSS had not been found compliant prior to the breach.
  • 83% of attacks were not highly difficult to perform

On the other side, most small businesses aren’t aware of the federal, state regulations and PCI standards implemented to slow down these crimes.  You can walk up to nearly every merchant and ask them about the up and coming Red Flag Rules, GLBA, or PCI DSS Compliance and all you will get is a blank stare.  They don’t understand that these federal, state regulations and PCI standards now shift the responsibility for protecting customer information to merchants.  Failure to do so can result in harsh penalties and fines.

Each of the information security laws and regulations are different, but all address the implementation of best practices and various requirements for protecting customer information, including technical, physical and administrative safeguards.  Merchants may not need to be compliant with every law, but by implementing overall information security best practices and safeguards, a merchant can be confident in having the safeguards in place to protect their data, and limit financial risks or liablility with these laws.

Many businesses that are aware of the problem and the requirements placed on them are operating in denial.  I guess they figure putting their head in the sand and ignoring the problem will make it go away. 

What most merchants don’t understand is the public wants to know they are doing business in a safe and secure environment.  Over 10 million individuals lose their identity every year and stolen customer and employee proprietary information stolen from businesseses is one of the key reasons.

Merchants would be smart to get their business compliant with the federal and state regulations and PCI standards.  They would even be wiser to market that security to the public.  It would be good business for them and security for their customers.  Everyone wins!  Compliance with the federal and state regulations and PCI standards is good for everyone.

Time To Get Serious About Protecting Your Good Name

November 30, 2009

Now that Thanksgiving is over and we are headed for Christmas and the New Year it is time to get serious about protecting our good name and money.  Cybercriminals and identity thieves are eagerly waiting for unsuspecting individuals who have no idea how to protect themselves.

You see these bad guys understand that most U.S. citizens live in a world of denial.  With all of the news about identity theft and cybercrime you would think that the average person would be alarmed and do something about it.  Not in the United States.  Most people don’t think anything will happen to them.  They couldn’t be further from the truth.

Cybercriminals are working overtime creating new malware programs to secretly steal private information, money and take control of computers.  According to Sophos Labs over 40,000 new forms of malware is sent out every day.  That’s 40,000 new forms of malware EVERY DAY! 

These bad guys have grown into operating much like corporations with development, sales and promotional teams.  There are companies that actually assure malware makers that their software will work 10 to 20 times better against the traditional over-the-counter computer protection products making, at least in my mind, these products basically ineffective.

Now that we are in the middle of the holidays we are sure to see an aggressive attack on the consumer.  There are hundreds of articles covering this problem, yet there are millions of U.S. citizens who take little or no action to protect themselves.  You see, cybercriminals and identity thieves work out of sight quietly plying their trade and causing harm that may not be detected for months or years.

It would be different the crook could be seen.  If he was trying to break into a car or a home and was discovered the police would be called and the whole neighborhood would be alerted.  But, with cybercrime and identity theft the criminals can’t be seen and it won’t be detected for a while and the neighborhood may never know. 

The problem is that cybercrime and identity theft are two of the cruelest crimes.  Once detected they can break up families, destroy careers, and ruin lives.  The damage caused by these horrible crimes can last a life time.  Even when you think you have the problem cleaned up it can return and cause even more havoc.  Life after these crimes can be pure hell for everyone affected.

U.S. citizens need to wake up and take the major steps to protect themselves against both of these crimes this holiday season.  This year, I have posted articles from top experts on identity theft and cybercrime on my Complete Internet Protection web site.  These articles cover the problems we face and many ways to protect yourself against these crimes.  I encourage you to visit the site and get the information you need to be safe and secure this holiday season.




The Conficker Worm Is Still The Biggest Threat on the Internet

September 22, 2009

Since its discovery last November, the Conficker Worm continues to infect computers and threatens the security of the Internet.

Conservative estimates say over five million computers are infected with Conficker.   The botnet is so large that experts are saying it could be used to shut down entire countries.   The worm takes advantage of a flaw in the Windows operating system to expand and grow.

Rodney Joffe, a director of the Conficker Working Group said, “The general agreement in the security world is that Conficker is the largest threat facing us from a cybercrime point of view.  It has proven to be extremely resilient.  It’s almost impossible to remove.” 

He continued to say, “The best minds in the world have not managed to crack the code behind this yet.”

Conficker is so devious.  It is unlike any computer worm that has been developed to date.  It has built-in mechanisms to prevent people from scanning their computers with anti-virus software.  Even those who completely erase everything on their computer and start over, if they back up any important data on a portable drive, the clean machine is reinfected when the drive is connected to the computer.

Even more alarming, you can disinfect all but one computer in a network and that one infected computer will begin to reinfect the others according to Joffe.

Conficker has the ability to spread automatically from computer to computer on a network.  It infects PCs without the user doing anything other than turning the computer on.

 The brightest minds in computer security have been stumped by Conficker.  Joffe stated that Conficker has proven to be the gold standard for botnets.  He said it is rock solid, it’s steady and it has the mechanisms built in that have made it impossible for us to actually crack.

The number of infected machines seems to be staying at around five million.  They include home, business and Government computers. 

Conficker continues to threaten the future of the Internet.  The brightest minds in the industry are struggling to find a solution to this vicious worm. 

It is up to all of us to lock down our computers and do everything we can to protect ourselves against this threat while experts are searching for a way to destroy this King sized worm

The best protection for individuals, families and small and mid-sized businesses against this kind of threat is to put a professional grade protection service on your computer.  A service that maintains the security of the computer scanning and repairing any new threat that may appear on the computer with industrial grade software.  The service should include unlimited tech support at no additional charge.   That way there’s no concern about huge computer repair costs in the future.

Social Networking: Are You Secure?

August 27, 2009

A study released earlier this week called, “Bringing Social Security to the Online Community,” indicates that most social networkers are concerned about their security, but aren’t taking the steps needed to protect themselves from cybercrime and identity theft.

The study released by security software maker AVG Technologies and the Chief Marketing Council states that the fast-growing, widespread use of social networking Web sites is putting users in “serious danger” of cybercrime.  The survey polled a random sampling of more than 250 consumers during the second quarter of 2009.

The report states that while users were concerned about the overall security of such public spaces few users are taking even basic precautions to protect themselves against online crimes.   Unfortunately, the majority of social networking users are afflicted by Web borne security problems, however fewer than one in three are taking actions to protect themselves online.

Here’s a few facts from the report:

  • The majority of social networking users are afflicted by Web borne security problems
  • Fewer than one in three social networking users are taking actions to protect themselves online. 
  • 86 percent of respondants indicated widespread use of social networks
  • Most survey participants failed to conduct basic security measures on a consistent basis
  • 64 percent reported changing their passwords only infrequently or never
  • 57 percent said they adjusted their privacy settings infrequently or never
  • 90 percent said they rarely or never informed their social network administrator of potential problems
  • 21 percent said they had accepted contact offerings from members they didn’t know
  • Over 50 percent allowed acquaintances or roommates to access social networks on their machines
  • 64 percent had clicked on links offered by community members or contacts
  • 26 percent shared files within their social networks

The biggest statistics in the report:

  • 20 percent have experienced identity theft
  • 47 percent have been victims of malware infections
  • 55 percent have seen phishing attacks

The report brings out an interesting problem.  How do you protect people who understand the risks and still are failing to take the basic steps to protect themselves? 

Even though the report indicated that most people seemed to understand the problems and indicated a concern over growing phishing, spam and malware attacks there doesn’t seem to be an effort to protect against these problems.  

Who is responsible for the computer user’s security?

This points out an interesting problem that the Internet, not just social networks, is experiencing today.  We live in a world where most computer users seem to expect someone else to protect them against cybercriminals and identity thieves.  

The results of this report indicates that most people aren’t interested in taking the proactive step of protecting themselves.  It is as if they expect the social network they are on to protect them.  

Social networks were never designed to protect each individual user.  The networks were designed to allow people to socialize within the program.  The more protections and restrictions the less people will be able to be… well… social. 

We live in a world where most people don’t want to be bothered with anything more than their fun time.  They don’t want to get into computer and social network security.  They want life to be far more simple.  They would prefer there were better protection offered from the Internet or social network they are on. 

That raises an interesting problem, doesn’t it? 

At least for now, social networks are not equipped with the ability to protect every member.  They can do some things, but most of the protection is up to the user.

Cybercriminals know this and take advantage of it.  Until the masses wake up and understand it is their responsibility to protect themselves against cybercrime on the Internet and in social networks the level of attacks will continue to grow.

Businesses Beware – European Cybercriminals Are After You

August 24, 2009

Small and medium sized businesses are becoming a bigger target for organized cyber-gangs in Eastern Europe according to Brian Krebs a Washington Post Staff Writer.  In an article titled “European Cyber-Gangs Target Small U.S. Firms, Group Says,” he states a task force representing the financial industry reports the cyber-gangs are setting off a multimillion-dollar on line crime wave that has begun to worry the nation’s largest financial institutions.

Significant cybercrime growth over the last six months

The last six months have seen significant increases in funds transfer fraud involving the exploitation of valid banking credentials belonging to small and medium sized businesses according to an alert that was sent to members of the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, an industry group created to share data about critical threats to the financial sector. 

The article explains that because the targets tend to be smaller, the attacks have attracted little or not noteriety that has followed larger-scale breaches at big retailers and government agencies.  However, some companies have suffered hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in losses.

Victims have come forward to tell about their woes with one Texas company robbed of $1.2 million. 

What small and medium sized businesses must protect themselves against

In many cases the scammer infiltrate companies in a similar manner:  They send targeted e-mail to the company’s controller or treasure, a message that contains either a virus laden attachment or a link that — when opened — surreptitiously installs malicious software designed to steal passwords.  The criminal, armed with those credentials, initiate a series of wire transfers, usually in increments of less than $10,000 to avoid bank’s anti-money-laundering reporting requirements.

The report goes on to say these scams typically rely on help from “money mules,” willing or unwitting individuals in the United States — often hired by the criminals via popular Internet job boards.  Once enlisted, the mules are instructed to set up bank accounts, withdraw the fraudulent deposits and then wire the money to fraudsters, the majority of which are in Eastern Europe.

Wire-transfer fruad is on the rise

Incidences of wire-transfer fraud rose 58 percent in 2008 according to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, a treasury Department division that tracks suspected cases of fraud reported by banks.   Unfortunately, according to experts, reliable figures regarding losses from commercial on line banking fraud are hard to determine because some banks don’t report fraud.

Small and medium sized businesses lack quality protection

The article explains that businesses do not enjoy the same legal protections as consumers when banking online. 

Here’s the difference:  Consumers generally have up to 60 days from the receipt of a monthly statement to dispute any unathorized charges.  On the other hand, businesses that bank online are regulated under the Uniform Commercial Code, which holds that commercial banking customers have roughly two business days to spot and dispute unauthorized activity if they want to hold out any hope of recovering unauthorized transfers from their accounts. 

I recommend you read this article if you own a small or medium sized business.  The more you know about the problem the better off you will be to guard against this kind of problem.

It is apparent that staying on top of your banking accounts and reviewing them on a regular basis is a major requirement to protect against banking fraud and losing a lot of money. 

I recommend you contact your bank and other authorities encouraging them to change the Uniform Commercial Code to better protect small and medium sized business funds.  There is no doubt the code needs to be reworked with this problem in mind.

Are You Ready for the “Red Flags Rule?”

August 21, 2009

The recent Federal Jury indictment of Albert Gonzales of Miami, Florida and two others for alledgedly hacking into computers belonging to retail and financial companies and stealing more than 130 million credit and debit cards is reminder of how vulnerable we are in today’s world.

This should serve as another wake up call that cybercriminals are continually finding ways to steal the publics personal information. 

However, not every hacker is after the big fish.  Most of these cybercriminals are stealing information from small and medium sized businesses.  They know smaller sized businesses aren’t protected at the same level as the large corporations. 

The Federal Government’s “Red Flags Rule” was implemented to force businesses of all sizes to slow or even stop identity theft by looking for red flags in theft of customers personal information.  The problem  is many small and medium sized businesses are struggling to meet the November 1, 2009 deadline.  Most of these businesses will fall short of the “Red Flags Rule” requirements.

One one end, cybercriminals are constantly looking for ways to do one or more of these three activities:  take control of the computer, access personal information and/or steal money from their victims. 

Cybercrime has become a 100 billion dollar industry.  Identity theft is direct result of cybercrime.  The problem is that most computers are not properly protected against the bad guys.  Cyber criminals are well-organized machines operating much like corporations, in that they develop, market, and sell malware to other cyber criminals who use those hacker tools to ply their crimes against innocent victims.

Generally, over-the-counter computer protection products are not adequate or effective enough to guard against the aggressive cyber criminals of today.  Here’s why:  Cyber criminals are using systems developed by other cyber criminals that actually test the malware against traditional over-the-counter protection programs giving an assurance the malware will do its bad deeds.  Authorities say that this assurance increases the malware’s effectiveness by 10 to 20 times; thus, effectively, in many experts’ opinions, making over-the-counter products ineffective. 

Small businesses have become huge targets for these thieves.  Most small businesses can’t afford the same level of protection that the big corporations use.  As a result, cyber criminals find small businesses to be easier prey and more vulnerable to a cyber attack. 

In addition to protecting all customers’ proprietary information, using a professional-grade computer protection service that includes unlimited tech support is a key step in meeting the “Red Flags Rule” requirements.  The “Red Flags Rule” is an anti-fraud regulation that requires creditors and financial institutions to implement programs to identify, detect, and respond to warning signs, or “red flags,” that could indicate identity theft.  The rule includes any entity that regularly extends or renews credit – or arranges for others to do so – and includes all entities that regularly permit deferred payments for goods or services.

 The “Red Flags Rule” was developed to force businesses to guard against this kind of attack.  The rule was designed to protect customers against the effects of identity theft, including medical fraud.  The “Red Flags Rule” will take effect November 1, 2009.  Will you be ready?

Latest News! Your Computer Protection May Be Ineffective

July 20, 2009

Cisco’s mid-year security report has me wondering whether over-the-counter and free computer security programs have seen their day.   I have been questioning how effective these low level products can be as cybercrime has escalated at such a rapid rate over the last few years.

Cybercrime is always evolving making one move after another to stay ahead the computer protection we put on our computers.  Every day you can find articles and blogs covering new problems hackers create to either cause harm, gain personal information or  steal money from unsuspecting victims.  

Cybercrime takes another giant step

If you were paying attention you could see it coming.  If fact, you knew it was only a matter of time until it happened.  What am I talking about?  Cybercriminals are beginning to network and work together closer than ever before.  They are treating their trade just like corporations around the world do. 

Their next giant step in making your computer protection ineffective comes in two parts

An Article in Network World, “Latest Malware Trick:  Outsourcing Quality Assurance”, states the problem we face today clearly.  The first big step is a part of a wider trend of malware purveyors who use established business practices to expand their illegal enterprises.  Cybercriminals create working relationships between themselves to develop a partner ecosystem, a term Cisco uses to describe its collaboration with other vendors. 

Cisco uses the Conficker and the creators of the Waledac malware partnership as an example.  The creators of the Waledac malware enlisted the Conficker botnet as a tool to spread their malware for them.  Cisco reports this marked the first time, that we know of, that Conficker, one of the largest bonets in the world, was hired out.

But wait, there’s more

Cisco points out that what makes this more troubling is that cybercriminals are moving on to a new bag tricks that should scare the heck out of all of us.  The next big step, malware distributors are now using quality assurance program services to make sure their malware is effective.  Cisco sites virtest.com as an example.  For a fee, the site tests malware or malicious files against the latest versions of 26 virus-scanning software products to determine whether the anti-virus software can detect the malware. 

The NetworkWorld article goes on to say that running the malware through this screening results in malware that is 10 to 20 times more effective than it would be otherwise.  And, one more thing, actually frees up the cybercriminals so they can work on other products rather than test how detectable their current exploits are on their own. 

How can the over-the-counter and free-ware protection keep up?

Honestly, when I first read this article I was shocked!  So, now there’s professional quality assurance cybercrime businesses working with other cybercriminals to make sure malware does what it is supposed to do and will guarantee its success.  Do you see the potential harm from all of this?

Individuals who are using over-the-counter and free-ware that is tested by these cybercriminals are much more vulnerable than ever before.  I could be wrong, but I honestly don’t think these products have the ability to stay ahead of the bad guys any more. 

Could over-the-counter and free-ware protection be rendered helpless and ineffective from these quality assurance programs?  I believe it is going to take professional grade software with a hueristic solution to have a chance of beating these bad guys at their game. 

What if your computer is compromised?  What do you do then? 

I don’t know of one over-the-counter computer protection product that gets your computer back to running like new at no additional charge once it has been compromised.  So, it’s buyer beware when buying these over-the-counter and free-ware computer protection products.  It could cost you a lot of headaches based on this new information.

County Publishes Social Security Numbers

July 13, 2009

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, “Your personal identity is everywhere!”  In today’s society you can find your identity at doctors offices, hospitals, banks, credit card companies, mortgage companies, auto dealerships and the list goes on and on.  

So, it didn’t surprise me when I saw the article titled, “Okla. Residents Claim Identity Theft Stems From Web Docs.”  Some Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma, residents claim they are the victims of identity theft, and they believe it is the result of their Social Security numbers being visible online.

According to the article, at issue are mortgage and lease documents posted to a publicly accessible Web site. The documents were posted with social security numbers in view.   Pottawatomie County clerk Nancy Bryce said there is no plan currently to remove them from the Web. At issue are mortgage and lease documents posted to a publicly accessible Web site. The documents were posted with social security numbers in view.

 What does surprise me is the insensitivity of most county governments and some businesses to this problem.  It’s as if the county feels like it is above the problems this kind of information sharing can cause its citizens.   This is an example of how arrogant agencies like this can be.   Some states have enacted laws that prevent this kind of personal information being released to the public.

How hard would it be to simply black out the personal information like Social Security Number, drivers license number and date of birth for example.  Why is it necessary to put all of this personal information up on the Web site in the first place? 

Instead the citizens are left to fend for themselves.  Perhaps Pottawatomie County and others like them should shoulder the cost of recovering those lost identities.  Identity theft isn’t an easy thing to overcome.  The Identity Theft Resource Centeris the best place to go to understand the effects of cybercrime. 

In many circumstances, it can take thousands of hours of personal time including lost work plus thousands of dollars to get your identity back.  The scary part is that even though it may appear your identity has been recovered you’ll never know.  The question is who else has your identity.  Was it sold to a group of identity thieves?  Will they hold on to my personal information for several years and then attack me again?

You will continually look over your shoulder wondering whether another identity theft incident will happen. 

Identity theft isn’t fun.  It is a horrible experience.  It breaks up marriages.  It ruins jobs.  It destroys people.  Yet, we find organizations and companies who have a total disregard for the outcome of simply posting your personal information on the web or not protecting it adequately. 

So, in the end, we need to protect ourselves.  We have to understand the identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the world today and the only way to guard against it and its horrible effects is to protect ourselves. 

You will never be able to protect against identity theft, but you can protect against its horrible effects.   There are whole identity theft protection programs available that include full identity recovery back to pretheft status.   I recommend everyone subscribe to this kind of service because you never know when a county or business is going to have your personal information released or stolen.

Latest Microsoft Vulnerability Highlights Value of Qulality PC Protection

July 7, 2009

The latest computer security vulnerability announced by Microsoft July 6th is another example of why a good strong computer security and protection service is needed on every computer. 

Microsoft announced that anyone using Internet Explorer with Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 operating software is vulnerable.

The security hole  can allow hackers to remotely take control of a computer and the only thing a user has to do to be infected is visit a Web site that has been hacked.

Experts are saying cybercriminals have been taken advantage of this vulnerability for about a week, now.  There are thousands of Web sites that have been hacked into and now spread malicious software that takes advantage of the security hole.  Most people find these Web sites by clicking on a link from spam e-mail they have received.

The vulnerablility comes from a part of Microsoft’s software used to play videos.  Hackers found a hole to climb through in the way the software works with Internet Explorer. 

Look, we all know that Microsoft, or any other software maker for that matter, is going to have vulnerabilities.  I contend if it is man made it is more than likely going to have a few holes in it.  It might take time for hackers to find the hole, but if the software is popular enough and there is the possiblity of money to be gained then, eventually, a hole will be found.

If you believe this then you should also believe that you need to have the best Internet security and computer protection to guard against these kinds of security holes.  A good quality security service may not plug the hole, but it will detect an intrusion and block it from happening. 

What does a good quality Internet or computer protection service offer?  It includes enterprise grade protection including anti-spyware and anti-virus software, a bi-direction industrial grade firewall and unlimited tech support.  It the unlimited service or tech support that makes the difference because anytime you can’t figure out what is wrong with your computer all you have to do is call tech support and they will take care of it for you without charging you an additional fee. 

Not every computer security company offers this sort of service.  Most of them offer their products and then charge you extra for service or repair.  Sometimes you can pay a lot of money per minute for their service.  Or, you can take your computer to a tech shop, be without you computer for many days and pay a hefty fee on top of it.  Who knows what’s going on with your computer when it is out of your hands and in the shop? 

As long as there are hackers there are going to be software holes that are discovered and used for personal gain.  The software companies are always playing a catchup game.  They never know where the next hole in their software will be found.   Using an Enterprise grade of computer protection along with a service that backs it up is the only way to surf the Worldwide Web and feel safe at the same time.

Social Networking – You Must Be Smart & Savvy to Stay Safe

June 30, 2009

Millions of people who participate in social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook are discovering that cybercrime is ripe and ready to pounce.   The growing popularity of these social network programs has brought with it the cybercriminals who populate the Internet.

While being a part of the a social network like Facebook is fun and makes communicating with friends simple and easy, everyone involved must be smart and savvy to stay safe.  There are a few basic steps you can take to guard against this danger. 

Only link up with people you know and trust

There are so many ways to find people you know.  On Facebook, for example, you can actually look at your friend’s friends and invite them to be your friend.  A cybercriminal who has invaded one of your friend’s Facebook accounts can do the same thing.  Only he isn’t looking to hook up to be a friend.  Cybercriminals are looking for ways to take something from you or to use you and your computer.

So, one of the first ways to protect yourself is to make sure you don’t let anyone into your social circle without knowing who they are and why they want to hook up.   If you don’t know the person requesting to join your inner circle do some research.  Check to see who their friends are and how many of those friends you know.  Ask the friends you are both connected to what they know about this person.  Never invite someone into your social circle you don’t know.

Only click on trusted links

Many times we have friends who ask us to visit a link to check out a news article or web site with interesting information.  It is wise to make sure you are only clicking to a reputable site. 

Here’s one of the big challenges we all face:  A hacker can invade one of your trusted friends accounts and send a message to all of your friends contacts asking everyone to check out a web site.  That web site could be infected with malware that can cause you and your computer great harm.   Once this malware is on your computer it can do any number of things including turning it into a zombie or bot, send Spam e-mails, store items or information for the hacker, steal your personal information and more. 

A cybercriminal is pretty crafty.  When he asks you to click on a link he makes it look legitimate.   Most people don’t know they have fallen into a trap until it is too late. 

So, again, make sure you are only clicking on links that you feel are safe and secure and won’t cause you any harm.

Make sure you use a secure password

Cybercriminals use password cracker tools to breaking into areas locked away for security.  These tools are designed to go through millions of combinations with everything on your keyboard to crack the password.  The simpler the password the easier for it to be cracked.

Make sure your password is complicated using capital letters, numbers, a pound sign or other keys on the keyboard.  Your password should be at least 8 letters long.  I recommend longer.   You should use a distinct password for each log in you do for various activites or web sites.  I know this is hard.  However, it is the best way to make sure you are as safe and secure as can be.

Put the best computer security money can buy on your computer

So many people I know try to take the cheap or inexpensive road when it comes to computer protection and security.  Well, that cheap or inexpensive route could end up being very expensive in the long run. 

Cybercriminals are smart.  They know most people aren’t willing to protect their computers adequately.  As a result, most people fall prey to the cybercriminals tactics. 

Most people don’t know their computer has been invaded.  The cybercriminal silently plys his craft using the computer without the owner knowing.  This can go on for months or years.  It is to the cybercriminals advantage to do his bad deeds without being detected. 

 Many of the tools these cybercriminals use are hard to detect by the free and over-the-counter protection companies.  It takes a professional grade solution to lock down a computer and keep it safe from the bad guys.

If you can, I recommend you find a personal computer protection service that not only offers the professional grade protection, but gives you tech support at no additional charge.   That way when you have a virus detected you can make sure you have it eliminated without a lot of hassle.

Identity Theft Protection is a Must

Remember, cybercriminals aren’t just after your computer.  They are looking for your personal information and a way to use it to their benefit.  Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the world today.  Over 10-million people lost their identity last year according to the FTC. 

Once your identity is compromised your life will never be the same again.  You will always wonder whether your identity will be stolen again. 

I recommend signing up with a company that offers whole identity protection.  Whole identity protection includes credit protection, like Lifelock and freecreditreportdotcome, but includes much more.  It includes protection against all othe forms of identity theft including:  drivers license fraud, medical fraud, social security fraud and 401k fraud.  It should cover the whole family and include whole identity recovery, not assisted identity recovery. 

You must be smart and savvy to stay safe when on social networks

You must be careful who you hang out with on the Internet.  There are many people who have learned the hard way.  Always make sure the people who are asking to hook up with you are people you want to be friends with. 

And, you must always be protected.  There is no way that even the brightest and most careful won’t, one time or another, fall for trap.  Make sure you have the best computer and identity theft protection.  That way when the unthinkable does happen you have a back up plan.