Who's Protecting Your Privacy Online? No One... Except You!

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The Internet
is everywhere. It’s not just on your laptop anymore…nearly
1 billion consumers worldwide now carry Internet-connected smartphones.
That means “malware” spread over the Internet – viruses
that steal your data, pfishing scams that trick you into giving
a thief access to passwords – and other threats will only get
worse as 2011 proceeds.

How can you
protect yourself? Here are a few thoughts:

Your mobile
phone.
Research in Motion – the company that manufactures
the Blackberry phone line – is much more security conscious
than either Apple (which sells the iPhone) or Google (the company
whose software powers the Android). It’s simply more difficult
for a casual hacker to steal your data on a Blackberry than an iPhone
or Droid.

But it’s
hardly impossible. You open yourself up to attack by using applications
featuring mobile banking or other payment services. The most secure
mobile payment platforms force you to enter in a supplemental password
or take additional steps to verify your identity before making a
transaction. Insist on secure applications, or carry out your transactions
the-old fashioned way – by check or with a phone call you originate.

Your social
networks.
Nearly 1 billion people now log on regularly to social
networks like Facebook and Twitter. Attacks and malware aimed at
social networks occur almost daily. Remember, the more information
you post about yourself, the easier it is for an attacker to impersonate
you and steal your identity – or pretend to be a “friend”
and try to convince you to reveal information you’d prefer
to keep confidential.

Your “cloud.”
As computer applications become more complex, not to mention
costly, growing numbers of consumers have opted to use online services
for word processing, e-mail, and data backup. These services are
convenient and cost-effective – but again, security is a big
question mark. Security researchers at ISCA Labs predict: “Cloud
services will become prime targets for hackers wanting to gain access,
not just to a specific company’s data but possibly to multiple
victims simultaneously.” If you use these services, just make
sure that you keep data encrypted as much as possible and keep backup
data on your own PCs. If the cloud “crashes,” as it were,
at least you’ll still have access to your data.

Your friends.
Lots of smartphone users think it’s cool to use location-based
services on their phone so their friends can track their location
at all times. These applications also serve up special offers for
discounts or other deals from merchants participating in the network.
However, it’s relatively easy for criminals to cash in as well
by sending you a persuasive message from one of your “friends”
to convince you to visit a poisoned Web site or release personal
data. So be careful!

Oh yes. Even
if you’re not an “early adopter” of these technologies,
your children or grandchildren probably are. Warn them of the threats
these technologies pose. They may dismiss your concerns as unfounded
or even old-fashioned, but they may not, especially if they or their
friends have suffered lost data, had a bank account compromised,
or were merely locked out of an account.

Reprinted
with permission from The Sovereign
Society
.

January
10, 2011

Mark Nestmann is a journalist with more than 20
years of investigative experience and is a charter member of The
Sovereign Society's Council of Experts. He has authored over a dozen
books and many additional reports on wealth preservation, privacy
and offshore investing. Mark serves as president of his own international
consulting firm, The Nestmann Group, Ltd. The Nestmann Group provides
international wealth preservation services for high-net worth individuals.
Mark is an Associate Member of the American Bar Association (member
of subcommittee on Foreign Activities of U.S. Taxpayers, Committee
on Taxation) and member of the Society of Professional Journalists.
In 2005, he was awarded a Masters of Laws (LL.M) degree in international
tax law at the Vienna (Austria) University of Economics and Business
Administration.

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