Identity theft hit a record high back in 2017. This means 2018 is one year that everyone should maintain a watchful eye on. Experts have already identified trending threats that individuals and businesses need to be aware of. As criminals become increasingly sophisticated, we are likely to be attacked in ways that we couldn't even possibly begin to predict.
Today, cybercriminals are targeting poorly secured accounts in an effort to gain access to the more important segments of our financial lives. Where they used to acquire and sell small pieces of people's personal information, they are now accessing everything from our social security numbers and names, to our mailing addresses, and more.
A new kind of identity fraud creates a fake person by selecting a social security number that wasn't issued prior to 2011, when the Social Security Administration (SSA) changed the rules on how social security numbers were issued.
These synthetic identifications are then used to apply for a line of credit at a financial institution. Regardless of whether or not that line of credit is approved, the criminal wins because the application process results in a credit profile being generated.
Once that credit profile is created, credit is established and the criminal can apply for numerous credit cards. The end game is to play the waiting game, holding off until the credit score is high enough to yield a significant payout, at which point the criminal maxes out the card.
Although this particular scheme does not affect the general public, there are a number of fraudulent methods that can. Tracking by the Identity Theft Resource Center and CyberScout revealed that there were 791 data breaches reported in the U.S. by the end of June 2017.
The Ponemon Institute has said that medical identity theft affects approximately 1.84 million people. According to the Bureau of Justice, in 2014, 17.6 million people experienced identity theft.
That number continues to grow as time goes by.
March has seen Florida police officers busting an elaborate identity theft ring, resulting in no less than nine arrests. But there are plenty of criminals roaming our streets and their techniques are often hard to notice and even more difficult to trace.
Measures have been taken to try to curtail this kind of criminal activity. In 2004, then-President George W. Bush passed the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act to prevent or, at least, discourage such activity, but the number of such incidents has only grown in the years since the the law's enactment.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of security solutions one can utilize to keep identity thieves at bay. Some of the best identity protection services online rely on military-grade encryption to protect against leakage or identification.
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is one such solution which an individual can use to hide their IP addresses, thwart hackers and circumvent censored online content. VPNs rely on advanced protocols to keep your online activity secure and anonymous.
Many of the best paid VPNs available boast advanced features such as intrusion detection and prevention, DNS leakage protection, multiple layers of security, while maintainiong a strict "no logs policy," ensuring that your personal information is never collected or shared with a third party.
The majority of VPN services have hundreds of global servers and can provide remote access to their users globally.
LifeLock is another option for those with some money to spend. This Arizona-based identity theft protection company detects fraudulent applications and promptly alerts their clients. Their parent company, Symantec, is a global leader in cutting-edge cybersecurity.
LifeLock offers a tiered service to suit businesses and private citizens alike. Their Lifelock Benefit Elite ™ is tailored to employers who want to afford their staff a proper safeguard against identity theft. Their products and services include endpoint security, Cloud protection, data loss prevention — and web isolation.
Earlier this year, the company warned of the imminent danger of tax return fraud and tax identity theft. According to their website, this form of identity theft has been behind billions of dollars in fraudulent refunds from the IRS every year.
In this age of intense scrutiny and ever-more malicious software, it is imperative that we protect our privacy at all costs. It only takes a hacker a few key-strokes to gain purchase to your personal data. But it also takes just a few keystrokes for one to set up a viable cybersecurity application.
Sam Bocetta is a defense contractor for the U.S. Navy, a defense analyst, and a freelance journalist. He specializes in finding radical — and often heretical — solutions to "impossible" ballistics problems. Through Lakeview Capital, he also cultivates funding for projects — usually naval, defense, and UAV startups. He writes about naval engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, marine ops, program management, defense contracting, export control, international commerce, patents, InfoSec, cryptography, cyberwarfare, and cyberdefense. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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