Most Unwanted Criminals: Dumpster Divers, Sly Spies, and War Drivers

There is no shortage of bad guys, identity thieves, and hackers trying to separate you from your money. They range from previously discussed pickpockets, Trojan viruses, and ATM skimmers to dumpster divers, spies, and wireless hackers.

Dumpster Diver Dan is a liar who poses as a garbage man and turns trash into cash. Dan dives into dumpsters and trashcans seeking financial statements, credit card applications, and any other personally identifiable information he can piece together. Once the puzzle is complete, he may have enough data to take over existing accounts or create new ones in your name.

Invest in a quality crosscut shredder and shred everything with any information that can be used against you.  Names, account numbers, statements etc. Consider turning off paper statements and going entirely digital. Invest in identity protection, too, because even if you shred sensitive documents, your accountant, school, or doctor may toss your data in the trash.

Sly Spy the Silver Fox may pretend to be a free Wi-Fi hot spot, acting as an “evil twin,” providing wireless Internet access through her laptop while sniffing your account information, logins, and personal data. If you have file sharing turned on, she can browse your PC’s folders and files, and even plant a malicious program that gives her backdoor access whenever you connect to the web in the future.

Never choose an “ad-hoc” computer-to-computer wireless network that may imitate a legitimate wireless connection. It’s best to invest in a cell-based Internet, requiring a username and password. Always wait until you’re on a secure network before doing any banking or shopping. And turn off file sharing whenever you do connect to a hotspot.

Derek the Driver (as in war driver) navigates your neighborhood and local office parks on foot or in a car, seeking out unprotected, unsecured wireless connections to exploit. He hops on your Internet and looks through your data. Worse, he can use your Internet connection and your IP address to conduct illegal activities like downloading child porn, sending spam, or launching hack attacks. It gets scary when the law knocks on your door, blaming you for what a war driver did using your Internet connection.

Learn how to secure your wireless Internet connection at www.McAfee.com/wireless. It is important to observe basic security precautions to protect your identity. However, the safety of your information with corporations and other entities that you transact business with is very often beyond your control. Consumers should consider a McAfee Identity Protection product that offers daily credit monitoring, proactive identity surveillance, lost wallet protection, and alerts when suspicious activity is detected on your accounts.

Robert Siciliano is a McAfee consultant and identity theft expert. See him explain how a person becomes an identity theft victim on CounterIdentityTheft.com. (Disclosures)

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