How many times have you gone online today?  Once? Twice? More?

You’re not alone. A growing number of people use their computers, smartphones and other mobile devices several times a day to search online for information or participate in online discussions. In some cases, people actually spend more time online than they spend participating in offline activities. Yes, I said more time, not less.

Welcome to the hyper-connected, always-on, low-touch world…where your online life is an extension of your offline life. Traveling the digital highway to discover, travel and explore the world is like your offline life – not free of challenges. Digital communities are very much like offline communities – connected, dynamic & diverse. Some people online have good intentions and others, unfortunately, are online mainly to do harm.

Internet threats are real and should be treated as real threats to both your online and offline life. Cybercriminals lurk in between internet security gaps waiting to disrupt your online experiences.  Thankfully, there are online communities like BadwareBusters  where volunteers work together to stop viruses, spyware, and other malware.

What does identity theft have to do with social media monitoring, you ask?

The more time you spend online increases the chance that you could be the victim of a digital crime. This is an unfortunate truth and a risk we take every time we spend time online. Social media monitoring should be used as an additional layer to fortify your online safety because if you are proactive and actively listen (scan) for mentions of your name, and monitor where your name appears online, you will be taking preventative steps to stay ahead of the digital crisis ball. No one wants to deal with a digital nightmare!

Criminals spend time online just like you and I. They have a reason why they log on just like you and I. They have a passion, a mission a purpose… just like you and I. If ever there was a boogie man, cybercriminals are the real deal. The Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) of the US Department of Justice defines cybercrimes as “computer intrusions, denial of service attacks, viruses, and worms.” Most of the time you are not aware of how, when, where or why cybercriminals strike until after the disruptive deed is done. As the number of people using the internet increases, you need to pay closer attention to cybercrime. Cybercrime like identity theft deserves more of your attention, especially now that more you are spending a nice chunk of your time living online.

Prevention

Millions of Americans have their identities stolen each year, you don’t have to be one of them. Identity theft happens when your personal information, e.g., your name, Social Security #, or credit card #, is accessed and used without your authorization. This also includes leaving false online reviews – committing fraud- or more intrusive crimes like hacking into someone’s website or social media accounts. The Federal Trade Commission recommended several ways to protect consumers privacy in an era of rapid change in their report released this month.

The comfort of accessing the internet from the comfort of laptops, netbooks, smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices has desensitized us, making us more susceptible to an online identity theft or attack. You must have an anti- virus program to help you prevent any trojans, viruses and other malware like smishing, phishing, from invading your computer, smartphone, mobile device and your life. At the very least, you must practice internet safety and track when & where your name is used online.

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