Thursday, July 10, 2014
Tips for preventing identity theft - Digital Hygiene: Part 5
This is the fifth in a series of articles by Don Gardner, Clearwater County Emergency Management Coordinator, about protecting your digital identity.
Your credit card information could be stolen just by walking by someone in a store or a mall that has possession of an RFID scanner. An RFID tag is located in credit cards that are noted by a radio signal symbol on the back of the card. If you have this radio signal on the back of your credit card, you need to take some precautionary measures.
The RFID tag includes a tiny microchip that works with an antenna sending out a radio signal with your credit card information. While it makes it easier for customers during checkout, it also makes stealing easier for committing fraud.
How can you protect yourself against wireless identity theft?
Leave the RFID credit cards at home. Only use these cards for only online purchases, and have another credit card without the RFID tag for outside purchases, or simply use cash.
You could wrap the RFID cards in aluminum foil before putting them in your wallet and it would block the signal, but it’s not a great idea. Or you could use a protective sleeve to help block RFID scanners from reading your card.
If a separate protective shield is not desired, consider a special wallet, such as DataSafe wallet. These wallets are manufactured with materials that have been approved by the Government Services Administration to block RFID transactions.
Monitoring credit card statements on a regular basis for errors or unknown charges can help detect purchases you did not make. Credit card fraud and identity theft can occur even if precautions are taken, however; monitoring statements regularly can help mitigate this risk.
There are a host of tools, sites, and practices that can improve your chances of avoiding catching that digital virus or risking your private information. Below is a list of links that is by no means inclusive. Just remember, practicing good hygiene in your digital life will help ensure your offline activities aren’t interrupted.
Tor - Anonymous browsing on the Internet https://www.torproject.org/
Tails - Bootable operating system with lots of privacy and security tools baked in https://tails.boum.org/
Guardian Project - Mobile security tools https://guardianproject.info/
TrueCrypt - Enryption of your data at rest http://www.truecrypt.org/
Avast - Anti-virus software http://www.avast.com/en-us/index
Tactical Technology - Has lots of resources for good digital hygiene for activists https://www.tacticaltech.org/
Portable Apps - Easy-to-use bootable apps http://portableapps.com/
Google 2-Factor Authentication - Increases email security https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/180744?hl=en
RedPhone - Encrypts mobile calls https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.thoughtcrime.redphone
TextSecure - Encrypts text messages https://whispersystems.org/
Facebook Privacy Settings - Change your Facebook Settings https://www.facebook.com/help/445588775451827
Increase the length and complexity of your passwords and use something like KeyPass for password management http://keepass.info/
Next week I will conclude this series, by providing tips to protect your information while traveling, and by describing how to report identity theft.