Techno-theft and Your ID – Most Common Tech Tricks to Steal Your Identity

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banc machineEric Schmidt, from Google claims that every two days we create as much data as we did from the dawn of the civilized world until 2003. That mountain of data is the main reason we use digital storage today. While the IT management of all that information makes entry more reliable and storage less expensive, it also makes us all vulnerable to ID theft.

Of course, identity theft has always existed in one form or another. Someone steals your wallet and grabs your Social Security card and driver’s license or someone calls your friends pretending to be law enforcement or a future employer doing a background check and asks questions about you. The new ID theft, however, is so high tech that you may not realize you have been victimized until charges show up on your bank statements; that is the bad news. Knowing about digital ID theft can keep you from becoming a victim of it, and that is good news, indeed.

Here are some of the most common tech tricks to steal your identity:

Skimming. This is when a device reads and stores your information without your knowledge. Skimming may be the culprit in some of the recent mega-thefts of information from retailers like Home Depot and Target. Thieves may install readers into legitimate card scanners which record the information as you enter it into the machine. Salespersons may also secretly swipe your card through their personal card reader. (These are available as apps for mobile devices). Although you will not know the theft has happened at the time, frequent checks of your bank and credit card statements will alert you to expenditures you did not authorize.

Overlay. Related to skimming, this is when thieves install a device on an ATM keypad that records your information and relays it to another computer, storing it for future use. Alone, this is not a huge source of identity theft, but when paired with a skimmer or camera at the ATM it can get your pin number as well as your card number.

P2P File Sharing. Peer-to-peer file sharing lets people (targeting mainly young adults and kids) share the information from their computers with others. This is usually music or photos, but unauthorized thieves can get into your tax returns and other sensitive information stored on your computer as well.

Man-in the-Middle. This ingenious scheme involves redirecting your legitimate URL search to a duplicate or mirrored site. The address you typed in morphs to http://www.atacker.com/http://www.server.com. Information you give, like to your bank, is recorded, then rerouted to them. Information your bank sends to you is rerouted to you.

Malware. A thief attaches a harmful program to emails or downloads that seems helpful. The malware can scan your keystrokes and record your information, sending the information to the thief who is at another computer.

You may know your wallet has been stolen fairly soon after the theft. You are wise enough not to give out sensitive information over the telephone. The trouble with techno-attacks on your ID is that they are virtually impossible to detect as they happen. Thieves are techno-savvy. We have to get smarter. Your best defense is to invest in an identity theft protection service. You can help as well, by checking bank accounts and credit cards regularly.

Resource: A Forensic Approach to Effective Identity Theft Investigations

Published by Kidal Delonix (763 Posts)

Kidal Delonix is a contributor to Mr. Hoffman's blog. The views and opinions are entirely his/her own and may not reflect Mr Hoffman's views.

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