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Identifying the Online Identity Threats – Top Tips for Network Security

Posted by Ronan Kavanagh on Sun, Mar 3rd, 2013

Online identity fraud can be defined as any deceitful or dishonest means that may be used to gain an unjust advantage or information through exploitation of technical vulnerabilities such as malware, illegal funds transfers or plastic card skimming; this is usually facilitated through the use of the internet. It is reported that in 2012, identity fraud cases rose by more than one million victims and cybercriminals stole more than $21 billion, the highest amount since 2009, according to Javelin Strategy & Research.  The study found that 12.6 million people had fallen victim to identity fraud in the United Sates, this equates to one victim every three seconds.

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The explanation for this dramatic increase in the loss of personal data is simple, people are engaging in high risk activities that are leaving themselves vulnerable.  These include the loss of personal items such as laptops, mobiles, tablets and USBs.  But the biggest culprit that is feeding the current appetite of online fraudsters is the amount of personal information that is openly submitted and displayed on social networking sites, sometimes for anybody to see.  Why this is of particular concern is that with the amount of sites people interact with and submit information to, the amount of information floating in cyberspace collectively is staggering and could be potentially dangerous.  A person may list their date of birthday and home address on Facebook while on Twitter you could see their email address and phone number.  It is unlikely that someone would be foolish enough to have all their personal information located on the one page but if somebody really wanted to gain access to your email address, PayPal account, Facebook, how hard would it really be? – The answer, not very, as recent cases of certain celebrities having the likes of their Twitter accounts hijacked have shown.  Every piece of information you put online is another digit in your code that could jepordise your network security.

Here are some top tips for staying safe:

Prevention is the best medicine

Prevention is always the best defence when it comes to a topic such as this.  Secure you data and update your security measures before you are one of the next victims. It could happen to you in the next 3 seconds.

1. Keep Personal & Confidential Data Private

  • At home and work lock all your personal and sensitive data with a password.
  • If making any online payments do so on a secure internet network, not a public Wi-Fi hotspot.

2. Use mobile devices carefully

  • Be vigilant about the apps you download, the data you share over a network and where you leave your devices.
  • Use strong passwords and change them frequently.
  • Turn of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when not using them.

3. Social Networking

  • Be careful about the information you divulge on these social networking sites, never input any personal information that is not necessary.
  • Use privacy settings so that only certain people may see your information.

4. Ask questions — before providing any information over mobile phones, or on social media and retail sites, ask questions:

  • Who is asking for the information?
  • Why do they need it?
  • How is the information being used?
  • If volunteering information, ask yourself if you have more to gain or more to lose by sharing personal and unnecessary details.


Maintaining online vigilance is an absolute necessity.  In 2011, 46% of fraud was first detected by the victims.

  • Monitor online bank accounts and statements at least once a week via online, mobile, ATM, or touch-tone banking.
  • Sign up for security alerts to be sent to your mobile phone and/or email account so that you are notified of changes to your account or personal information. The most common method for fraudsters to take over a victim’s account is by changing the physical address.


If all else fails and you find yourself in the midst of an online identity fraud it is critical to respond quickly to limit the damage.

  • Work with your bank, credit card company etc to take advantage of resolution services , protection services and other methods to limit the damage and re-secure your accounts.
  • Make sure to report any fraudulent behaviour immediately to the governing body, be it your bank, email provider, Facebook or eBay, this is of extreme importance as the timing of the breach or loss may impact the amount that you are liable for under the law.

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