posted on: 3/27/2012 4:03:30 AM EST
To Protect Yourself Against ID Theft, Start With Your Computer, Part 1
ID, theft, criminal, attorneys, computer, protection, Kroll, investigators

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(Part 1 of 2-part Blog Series by Tim Thorndike)

We all know that it's a smart move to have your computer protected with anti-virus protection. Some people take further precautions by installing anti-spyware or anti-adware. But in a survey of more than 600 computer users, researchers discovered that when these users ran all three of these programs simultaneously, they were 50% less likely to have specific financial information stolen from them. This was reported on in the research journal, "Deviant Behavior".

"When you think about anti-virus software protecting you, you might think about it keeping your files safe and not losing your music and photos," said Thomas Holt, Michigan State University associate professor of criminal justice, who led the project. "The important thing we're finding here is that it's not just about protecting your files, but also about protecting you economically – about reducing your chances of being a victim of identity theft."

Holt's collaborated his findings with Michael Turner, associate professor at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte.

One of the study results was that approximately 15 percent of those surveyed had become victims of computer-related ID theft in the past year. Interestingly, males were more likely than females to be affected, Holt said. He added that this might have resulted from men being less cautious as to what they did online. It was suggested that perhaps they were pirating music or accessing pornography to download, both of which are known to carry malware, viruses and adware cookies.

Each of these three programs has a distinct purpose. Antivirus protection detects and removes malicious programs like viruses and worms that can damage a computer, delete your data and transfer it to someone else’s computers. Anti-spyware protects against malware that self-installs without your knowledge or consent. It's unwittingly installed by the user, thus enabling information to be gathered below the radar about your user habits and passwords and such.

However, you can never be fully protected by taking such preventative steps alone. The Federal Trade Commission stated that you have a 1-in-4 chance of having your identity stolen this year. Clearly, more needs to be done to protect oneself and there's no time to wait until someone else becomes you. A plan needs to be in place. The preventative is always preferred over the curative.

Please “stay tuned” for Part 2 of the Blog Series.

Tim Thorndike

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Tim Thorndike   1398 day(s) ago
Yes, ID theft protection for the computer is really just the beginning to preventing your information from becoming someone else's.

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