3 Ways Your Personal Data Can Be Stolen

By: Rick Broida

Dear Citizen of the Internet:

Thank you so much for your recent online activities. As a full-time hacker, I have to work pretty hard to steal users’ personal data. That means circumventing security tools, breaching password databases, and using fear tactics to trick people. But you’ve made my life so much easier, and I just wanted to say thanks. You’re a real hero to hackers like me.

 

 

Oh, I realize you’d prefer to protect your identity, to keep your passwords, financial records, and other personal data out of my hands. But thanks to the various mistakes you’re making, that’s just a pipe dream. In fact, here are the three things you’re doing that can really help get your personal data stolen:

1. Using the same password on every site

You’ve read the news: Hackers like me continue to penetrate seemingly secure password databases at stores like Home Depot and Target.

When that happens, there’s a pretty easy fix: Change your password for that site. But if you use the same password everywhere you go online, now me and my hacker buddies can sign into all your accounts. Freaky, right?

There’s an easy fix for that, too: Use a different password for each site. Luckily, that’s such a hassle that most users don’t bother. Unless they install a password manager like Norton Identity Safe, which can import your existing passwords, generate new (and secure) ones as you sign up for new stores and services, and automatically insert them as you revisit various destinations.

Surprisingly, Norton Identity Safe is free, and you can even sync it with mobile companion apps on your smartphone or tablet. The real surprise is that more people don’t take advantage of tools like this.

2. Clicking on Phishing Links

Of all the security threats out there, phishing is perhaps the most insidious. That’s because it can be stopped only by your own common sense -- and hackers like me know how to seriously mess with it.

Here’s an example: An e-mail arrives in your inbox with a dire warning from your bank: Your account has been compromised! Hackers have stolen your password! Your funds are at risk! But, fear not, this is easy to fix – just click this link!

It’s pretty hard to overlook such a scary-sounding message, which is why so many folks invariably click that link – and end up at a very realistic-looking, but very fake, site that asks you for all manner of personal information -- all in the interest of protecting you, of course. Bam: You’ve just been “phished.” And because hackers love double-whammies, that fake site may have also hit your PC with viruses or other malware. That’s because you’re

3. Not bothering with antivirus software

Virus protection? You don’t need that. Windows has all kinds of security measures built right in, doesn’t it? Actually, that’s true, but we in the hacker community know all about Windows and how to bypass its safety tools. Good thing you didn’t bother with any of the myriad more robust antivirus utilities out there. We really hate those.

That’s because they provide the kind of Internet protection that makes it much, much harder to compromise your PC. Which ones work best? A smart user would investigate online antivirus reviews. Virus protection can be a little confusing, so just picking software at random doesn’t make a ton of sense. Research, that makes sense.

But, hey, we’re in this together, right? You keep on doing what you’re doing, making things easier for hackers like me, and we’ll keep on stealing your personal data. Thank you, faithful Netizen!

Want to make sure your identity is protected? Read our Norton Security review.

 

  About Rick Broida  

 A technology writer for over 25 years, Rick Broida is a regular  
 contributor to CNET, eHow, Wired, Time, and other outlets,  
 and has written thousands of product reviews, technology features, 
 how-to guides, and He’s the author of “The Cheapskate Rules: 
 21 Easy Money-Saving Tech Secrets” 
  blog posts. and over a dozen other books. His most recent venture:  
 the room-escape adventure “Trapped in a Room with a Zombie,” 
 now playing in Detroit, MI. 

 

 

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