How Cyber Criminals Can Steal Your Identity

The most common ways for cybercriminals to steal your identity is by compromising a database that contains your personal information. This database may belong to a government agency, a major corporation, or even your dentist’s office. When the hacker has accessed the system, depending on the nature of the data, there is no limit to what they can steal including your credit card numbers or Social Security information.

As discussed previously, an identity thief steals this information in order to open a new account or overtake an existing one.

These criminals are always on the lookout for holes in the security systems that are trying to hold them back, and they often attempt to exploit the vulnerabilities in outdated or old browsers and operating systems. They can gain access through a wireless Internet connection, today, these cyber attacks are quite common.

While security professionals are working hard to protect data, hackers are working hard to find ways around the security.

I recently worked with a woman who was concerned after a pop-up window appeared on her computer, and it warned her that her antivirus software was out of date. She clicked the window, and was instructed to update the program by paying a license fee. She further went through the process of updating her software, and another pop-up window appeared, telling her that a customer service representative required remote access to her computer to complete the process.

The woman agreed, gave access of her system to the representative, and was told she had a very dangerous virus. They could remove it for $156.

Here’s what really happened. This woman, who did not realize that she was about to become a victim, gave a stranger remote access to her system, (this is known as a remote access scam) and additionally, gave the customer service representative her credit card number.

Both the pop-up window and the message was not from her antivirus software. Instead, it was from a cybercriminal, from somewhere in the world, most likely overseas, who was pretending they were a legitimate company whose motivation is security but in fact was a scam to gain access to her computer and her credit card.

The Definitions of Common Terms Associated with Viruses

Here are some definitions of common terms that are often associated with viruses:

  • Malware: Malware is a term that is short for “malicious software.” Basically, it can apply to any type of software that is invasive from a Trojan horse to a virus. In other words, it is a program that enters your system without your permission. These programs are created for the sole purpose of causing harm.
  • Spyware: Spyware is type of software that has a single job, which is to spy on the habits of the computer users. This software can see and track your habits, can update your account information, and even access passwords.
  • Trojan Horse: You may be familiar with the term Trojan horse from Greek mythology, and today, computer Trojan horses do a similar deed. These programs sneak into your computer looking perfectly harmless, but it is designed to steal information from the hard drive or to possibly even completely destroy it.
  • Root-Kit: A root-kit is also a type of invasive software, and it is the most difficult to detect. Once a root-kit has infiltrated a system, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to delete it. As you may imagine, a root-kit literally digs into the roots of your computer’s hard drive. This software will steal your identifying information and passwords, and you likely will never know it is present until it is too late.