Before we get into details, let us first understand what does these two terms, cyber security and identity protection, mean and what role they play towards data protection.
Cyber security is the protection of systems, networks and programs from getting breached. Such breach of security is known as a cyber attack, which is usually aimed at accessing, changing or destroying sensitive information for the extortion of money from the users or for the interruption in the normal business processes.
Cyber attack is an umbrella term under which there encompasses several types of attacks such as phishing attacks, SQL injection attacks, malware attacks, cross-site scripting, online identity theft, and many more.
With the new age technological advancements, more and more businesses and consumers are relying on internet and other forms of electronic communication to conduct transactions and spend time on the internet. Fraudulent activities conducted in order to hack into these transactions and get access to sensitive information of the same to obtain credit or to make transactions of purchase etc. are known as identity theft.
Identity protection is one of the cyber security measures, used to prevent identity theft. Identity theft is closely linked to phishing and other social engineering techniques that are often used to gather sensitive information from the victim, which include victim’s online account details, ID password, credit card details, social security numbers, etc.
Causes of Identity Theft
- Malware: Malware is a software that is specifically designed to cause damage or to gain unauthorized access to a computer, server or computer network. New malware is being created all the time to gain, illegal access to devices for gaining unauthorized access to sensitive data and copying it.
Malware can enter you device through various ways:
- Though attachments in malicious emails.
- Through accessing unsecure websites.
- Through file sharing.
Once malware gets into your system, it starts destructing your programs and gets into gaining your personal information. It can, sometimes, even freeze every operation of your company.
- Unpatched Security Vulnerabilities: As technology is getting more and more advanced, the hackers are also figuring out new techniques to crack the security barriers and hack into the systems of the victims. With unpatched security softwares like anti-virus, and other old software vulnerabilities, it becomes very easy for the hackers to hack into your business profiles and steal your personal information, and use them for fraudulent purposes.
- Social Media: people nowadays are active on social media for most of their time, even during work. While surfing through your social media account, there can be some ads that have malware attachments and can prove to be of great threat to your company. It can even cause you to lose your personal credentials, as well as the personal credentials of the members of your company.
- Phishing: Phishing is a kind of attack, where the attacker attempts to trick the employees of the victim company into giving out the sensitive information and account credentials. In phishing the attacker mimics the identity of an employee of the company who has a lot of authority in the company, and sends fraudulent emails to the sub-ordinate employees which contain malware attachments or other hacking software, through which the attacker can bypass one or more security layers and have the access to the persona data easily.
Effects of Identity Theft
- Financial: after your personal information is exposed, the financial hardships caused by identity theft can last for months or even years. It can result in you cleaning up and closing your compromised bank accounts and opening new accounts, it can result in tax invasion, where the IRS sees that you are under reporting your income, etc. With your personal information, the attacker can also take over your financial investments and other financial accounts.
- Criminal: through your personal information, attackers can commit crimes and in return you would end up being arrested. Clearing your name off criminal charges takes a lot of effort and can also pop up in background checks, even if cleared. This can be a lasting effect for you and moreover to the person on which the crime was committed.
- Reputation: hackers can hamper your reputation and can even put your job on the line by using your personal information to create new social media accounts through it and posting illegitimate things, pretending it to be you. This can cause you lose your reputation in job and in your personal life as well.
Ways to ensure Identity protection
Virtual Private NetworkVirtual Private Network (VPN) is a secure channel between two devices, and transfers information through secure lines, which cannot be hacked. It is a technology that safeguards your connection and allows you to securely access your applications from anywhere. VPN uses authentication methods such as password protection and other unique identification processes to finally let you gain access to the VPN server. There are a number of VPN’s available in the market, for instance Nord VPN. However, it is advisable to always read reviews for VPNs before finalizing. VPNpro’s Reviews are highly recommended as it keeps the users aware of both the advantages and disadvantages of the VPN, remaining completely unbiased for the welfare of the users.
Keeping Softwares UpdatedAs already explained, the vulnerability of the unpatched software for identity theft, it is important to keep the software up-to-date. Updating the software will lead to addition of new security filters, which will prevent the hackers to hack into your systems and servers and gain unauthorized access to your personal information. Keeping your anti-virus updated, will lead to the detection of new and advanced malware attachments, that are capable of breaching the old security barriers and enter the devices.
Educating EmployeesEmployees are an integral part of a company, and keeping your employees educated about cyber security threats would be beneficial for them as well as the company. An educated employee is less likely to get trapped into a phishing scheme that the one who doesn’t know about the protocols. Even if the attackers bypass the outermost layer of security, there would be other layers of security between the compromised network and the rest of the information.
Taking necessary precautions for Identity Protection will prevent you from the disasters that are caused by identity theft. As is said, “Precaution is Better than Cure”.