When we think of identity thefts we usually picture someone stealing a wallet or a purse and using the information inside to gain a bit of short term financial security. A deeper and more sinister cause may be right at our fingertips and we don't even realize it. Have you received suspicious emails lately saying "Your application for home refinancing has been approved," or "your credit card application has been approved." This and other examples of identity theft are on the rise across the nation. How are these bandits getting your information? Alarmingly more and more people are realizing that these culprits are stealing personal information right off of their home computers. In a recent article published by Adam S. Marlin (2003) titled "Online identity theft a growing concern" he illustrated how a California family physician religiously shredded every piece of mail prior to putting it out in his trash. Yet the doctor was charged with a $115,000.00 bill for medical equipment he never even purchased. The resulting investigation revealed that his social security number and credit card information were stolen from a small file saved on his home computer. Because the doctor failed employ a personal firewall on his home computer, his financial record is now tarnished. Law enforcement officials consider online identity theft the fastest-growing financial crime in the United States. The Social Security Administration received 7,867 complaints of misused social security numbers in 2000, nearly 11,000 complaints in 2001 and more than 30,000 in 2002. This growing epidemic of identity theft can largely be attributed to the use of unprotected information filed on home computers. Protection against identity theft from personal home computers can be effectively combated if owners install and properly maintain anti-virus programs and firewalls culminating in enhanced security consciousness.
One line of protection that every home computer should employ, is the use of anti-virus software that blocks computer viruses such as Trojan Horse programs. A Trojan Horse virus is a destructive program that masquerades as a benign application opening up ports to your system and allowing free access. Any good anti-virus software package is designed to identify and remove Trojan Horse programs, but the key is to ensure you keep it up-to-date to defeat the latest subterfuges. Failing to keep your software current will assuredly lead to unwanted infiltration of your home system and theft of your personal information. In a report published by CNET News.com (May04) America OnLine (AOL) says it's anti-virus program blocked more than one billion virus-infected emails since launching in April 2003. This roughly equates to 30 viruses per customer stopped, which in-turn protected the users from identity theft.
A Firewall is considered the most important line of defense in protecting private information on your computer system. Webopedia.com defines a Firewall as a devise designed to prevent unauthorized access to a computer system. Firewalls can be implemented in both hardware and software, or a combination of both. A Firewall works by analyzing all messages entering or leaving the system and ensuring they meet the specified security criteria established by the owner. If a Firewall is properly installed and maintained it can prevent unwanted invasion of the computer system. This single device could be all that stands between you and an individual wanting to be you.
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According to Murphy's Law, anything that can go wrong, will. People are putting more sensitive data (such as financial records) on their home PCs, and sending other sensitive data (such as credit card numbers) over the Web. Meanwhile, identity thieves are acquiring more devious software tools allowing them virtual free access to our home systems and placing more potential victims at risk. Identity theft will inevitably increase, but the good news is, you can protect yourself now. Keep security uppermost in mind. Use and update your anti-virus software regularly and for best protection incorporate a Firewall into your system. These simple steps will increase your protection against identity theft ten-fold.
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Anti-Virus Programs and Firewall: Protection from Identity Theft. (2023, May 25). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/anti-virus-programs-and-firewall-protection-from-identity-theft/