Many of us resort to the internet in order to meet people, check our email or buy that new shirt you’ve had your eye on but have you ever thought of the risks associated with using the internet for these simple tasks? When you think about it, how many things do you use the internet for? Personally speaking I know I download all of my music, shop online, and do my banking online. All of this accumulates to having an electronic trail and ultimately an online identity. When I’m purchasing that new shirt online, I never feel as though I need to take precautions to protect myself from hackers or thieves when in reality maybe I should. It happens every day. People have their identity stolen, bank information stolen or valuable passwords stolen. Maybe it’s because we’re naive but regardless, there are associated risks involved anytime you do anything on the internet. Put simply, the internet is written ink and there’s no whiteout readily available if we slip up. The emerging dominance of the internet on our lives requires us to rethink how we go about our business and take the necessary precautions to avoid being a victim of misguided internet trust.
Shopping online is one of many North American’s great pastimes because going to the store is so 2000’s but seriously its an effective alternative to braving the elements. It offers you a chance to browse through thousands of stores all from the comfort of your couch. A popular online platform for online shopping is Ebay.
An auction site which allows you to bid on various items. Even though it’s so convenient, there are always risks involved. You are basically putting good faith forward that the item is in it’s described quality and that the seller will in fact ship it to you. Many people are skeptical about Ebay because there have been countless instances where a seller has not sent the item and essentially ‘scammed’ the buyer. I personally have never had a problem with online shopping or with Ebay for that matter because I look for reputable sellers or companies to purchase items from. An effective way to avoid being scammed, is to stick to reputable sellers or companies such as Walmart ect. Forbes.com provided an interesting acronym to avoid being suckered into identify theft or being scammed:
Check your financial information on a regular basis to make sure your transactions match up
Ask for a copy of your credit report
Maintain and protect your banking information and records
Another way I am able to make the internet my convenient for myself is through online banking. I’ve been using this service for over 6 years now and is basically the only way I’ll handle my banking unless I physically need to deposit a cheque. You are able to transfer money to different account within seconds and again, all from the comfort of your couch. Unfortunately, this is another area to watch out for hackers because they could have access to your account in seconds. Which.co.uk describes different types of hacks designed to access your personal funds. It is scary to think that someone could inflict a Trojan virus on your computer and with out even knowing it, you are sending them money. These types of attacks are commonly referred to as Man-in-the-Browser attacks. Once the Trojan virus has entered your computer, the hacker is able to change the destination of your bills being paid online. It will look as though the money is going to Rogers for your phone bill when in reality its going straight into a separate account of the hacker. It is these malicious attacks that can lead to identity theft and credit issues. Another popular form of hacking is called keylogging. It is the process of recording your keystrokes such as passwords which enable the hacker to gain access to valuables such as your bank account. As I continue to write this blog, I become increasing fascinated yet very disturbed at the amount of control someone could have over my personal information or money.
Ways To Reduce The Risk’s of Online Banking
1. First of all, make sure your password is a combination of numbers, letters and symbols because this increases the difficulty for someone trying to intrude
2. Make sure you change your password every so often so that you don’t fall into a false sense of security
3. Maintain a record and check your transactions on a regular basis. If anything doesn’t look right, contact your bank immediatly
*For more ways to reduce the risks of online banking click here
In my opinion, one of the most dangerous things you can do on the internet is online dating. Sure, its great to meet new people but when you meet up for dinner with the person and realize there profile picture was from 10 years ago or she’s actually a he…. well then maybe its time to be a little more stingy with your screening process. Many relationships blossom from online dating sites like eHarmony or Match.com but there are also many that do not work. As I’m sure you, there are major risks with online dating. Alisdair Faulkner, chief products officer, ThreatMetrix is quoted during a press release as saying:
“Unfortunately, the online dating market not only attracts people genuinely looking to meet, it also attracts cybercriminals, both foreign and domestic, who use fake profiles to steal personal and financial information. Recognizing the huge profits in online dating, cybercriminals have found several sophisticated ways to target innocent users. To prevent attacks, consumers must be vigilant of the information they share with online suitors, and commercial dating sites should make cybersecurity a top priority by implementing an integrated device identification and malware prevention solution.”
As Alisdair Faulkner stated, online dating sites are playgrounds for cybercriminals whose sole goal is to obtain your personal information for their own gain. These are also prime places for sex offenders or convicted rapist’s to lurk. In order to reduce your chances of being a victim of an online dating crime, you must screen out anyone or anything that makes you suspicious. It’s simply not worth it.
Overall, the internet is wonderful place that makes our lives a little easier but regardless of what you do on the internet, whether it be shopping, bankings or online dating, there are risks associated. Bottom line is that you have to use #commonsense when participating in these activities and trust no one. I hope anyone reading this will be just that more careful from now on and have now become more aware of online risks.