Exercising Due Diligence Online

Online threats are many as we will discuss and exercising due diligence online is highly advised as most of our activities have increasingly moved online from banking to socializing, learning, managing files, etc. The average person owns dozens of online accounts some of which use the same passwords. Traditional theft has evolved from gun totting bank holdups to well-educated and brilliant men and women sitting behind a computer from all parts of the world and stealing thousands, at times millions of dollars at the click of a button. Online identity theft has also increased since many people post and share personal information and businesses collect all the data they can for marketing purposes and then place them on Internet facing systems to be hacked and used for online fraud.

Using Cloud Storage

As the society goes green, most businesses attempt to reduce cost, and users want collaboration capability and access to data from anywhere, files and data are migrating online. Apart from documents and memorabilia, sensitive information like passwords, bank PIN, credit card information and so on are also being stored in the cloud. This in itself provides an Alibaba treasure cove for identity theft.

"As we continue to trust and use online computing and storage, there is so much information in the cloud that  would make any security executive nervous, especially when we have to trust cloud operators to secure the systems and infrastructure where our data and customer information reside" says Henry BagdasarianUnfortunately, most of the data is acquired legally through the user's acceptance of the terms and conditions; opening an aperture for identity theft.

What users forget is that such information can become accessible to unauthorized persons especially for those who use the public WI-FI platforms and computers. Most people do not see the need to have an extra layer of security in addition to the primary password and identity theft is never an issue. Should unauthorized persons steal personal information, the resultant effect can be tragic.

Tips For Exercising Due Diligence Online

Paying attention to detail

While using the Web, exercising due diligence online is paramount. For example, a single letter can make all the difference, having the user end up in Venice, CA when they meant to go to Venice, Italy. Before entering an ID and password, users must ensure he login box is in the correct site or portal.

Take a second to read the popup

Part of the reason online users end up falling prey to identity theft is they click away the pop-ups on their computer screen without reading to see what information the pop up carried. It may have asked for rights to access certain aspects of the user's computer and by clicking on the pop up quickly because you find it a nuisance, you may have unknowingly clicked acceptance and suddenly made your machine vulnerable.

Monitoring keyboard and screen remotely

There is software that allows a third party to monitor your keyboard online or through the network. It is a program similar to what is used to enable teachers monitor and track how the students are using the computer. The teacher is able to monitor the student's keyboard, monitor, and mouse. The same program can be used to facilitate identity theft especially if you use public computer which may have a spyware installed. In addition, a tracking software can also be installed on a person's computer if they allow others to physically access their computers without supervision or if they click a link in an email, text message, or website, or connect a found USB flash drive to their computers, or click a pop-up. An installed malware on the person's computer can have unimaginable consequences regardless of how the malware was installed. Such intrusions often go undetected months or years allowing the hackers to monitor computer activities for a long time collecting all kinds of information before taking their fraudulent actions.

In a nutshell, while conducting financial transactions online or any other activity that can potentially harm us if the information falls into the wrong hands, exercising due diligence online and observing the following rules of the thumb are important:

  • Make sure you are on the right website before you share information, try to login, or upload documents, 
  • Read the small print, it may take a minute or two but can save the user a heartbreak,
  • Don't be in a hurry to check the box without reading or checking content,
  • Read before you click on ‘accept',
  • Use strong passwords. Select passwords that are at least 6-8 characters and include at least one capital letter, and a special character like a slash or an asterisk for example.
  • Never use the same password for multiple important accounts in case someone steals it.

Online crimes may be inevitable, however, exercising due diligence online consistently, will give you comfort that you have at least done your best and taken adequate steps to mitigate identity theft and other online risks.

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