The only sure thing in the world of information security is that there is no such thing as a failsafe solution. It’s crucial not only to keep abreast of the latest threats out there, but to also act as though the mission is to find your way to safety from the middle of a lawless demilitarized zone that’s lousy with enemy snipers.
Sound extreme? Remember that Cold War classic “A Few Good Men” when Colonel Jessup (played by Jack Nicholson) tells Tom Cruise’s character “You have the luxury of not knowing what I know”? It applies here. I’m not saying I have all the answers, mind you. If anything I think the opposite. But I do know that I don’t know what’s going to happen next in the land of Data Insecurity, and that gives me a better chance of staying safe.
Still Not Worried?
Symantec just reported more than 500 million digital identities were stolen in 2015 while fake tech support scams increased by 200% and ransomware attacks increased exponentially as well. Hackers are getting better at their game—ensuring better results with better techniques and technology.
Want more? Dell SecureWorks annual report was recently released. The takeaway? Hackers are getting organized and entrepreneurial. Want to get access to a U.S.-based email account? It doesn’t matter if it is Yahoo, Google, or Hotmail, they’re all available for a pretty decent price: $129. (Note the market-appeal pricing!) According to the report, it costs a little more to get into a corporate account—understandably—and a little less to get into a Russian email account.
Also on the menu: access to Facebook and Twitter accounts — and for the same price as an email hack! There’s a panoply of services on offer out there — ranging from malware that aids snooping to doxxing — that opens up the possibility for all kinds of identity-related crimes.
So What Can You Do?
There is plenty you can do. The first thing is to change your life. I mean it. You have to completely change the way you approach your life as it intersects with things digital.
I’ve mapped out a way to do this in my book Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves, which provides different discussions and strategies for specific situations ranging from identity-related tax fraud and medical identity theft to phishing and child identity theft.
But if you read nothing else on the topic, there are three simple things you should bear in mind, which I call the Three Ms.
Beyond the Three Ms, here are a few common-sense changes you can make to your daily digital life that will make you a moving target for identity thieves.
We all occupy a digital privacy landscape that is treacherous. It’s a no man’s land where criminals not just figuratively, but in actuality, hold sway over the good orderly direction of daily life. Whether you become a statistic may be out of your hands, but there are ways to improve your odds of staying safe, and it’s very much worth your time.