Criminal hackers are targeting large enterprises and breaching millions of records every year. They are also targeting small mom-and-pop operations that don’t have the security budgets the big companies do. But you and I, the lowly consumer, are also being targeted because many of us are clueless when it comes to information security.

Some unfortunate and frankly unsurprising statistics:

  • 98%: credit cards being the primary data type stolen by criminal hackers in 2011 and 2012
  • 12.6 million: victims of identity theft in 2012
  • 3 seconds: how often someone becomes a victim of identity theft
  • $21 billion: financial losses to identity theft in 2012
  • 7%: percentage of American households falling victim to identity theft in 2012
  • 47%: hacker attacks using remote access, perhaps in the form of a Trojan that compromises a username or password, or by a victim giving up passwords in a phishing attack that gives hackers back-door access to a network or PC.
  • 1%: data compromised as a result of physical theft of a device. If that device isn’t password protected and/or encrypted, the information is up for grabs.
  • 72%: victims of a mock phishing scam who believed their friend was sending them a fraudulent link. This tells me people are too trusting.
  • 19%: home/office WiFi users who still use WEP encryption, which is very hackable. Use WPA2, which is much more secure.
  • 89%: public WiFi that is unsecured. So any time you use public WiFi, use Hotspot Shield VPN.
  • 10%: amount of spam that’s virus laden

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How do you protect yourself from this mess?

  1. Create strong passwords using letters (uppercase/lowercase) and numbers.
  2. Use a secure updated browser and only plug in personal information when it reads HTTPS (S means it’s secure) in the address bar.
  3. Disable autorun, which can automatically download and install software—including malware.
  4. When using public WiFi, disable sharing and use a VPN to encrypt your online traffic.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.

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