Protecting email While Traveling From Identity Theft

July 29, 2009
By

Identity Theft Expert Robert Siciliano

You’re traveling on business or vacation and you log into a public terminal to check email. You enter your credentials and then answer a few emails, delete some spam and fire a note off to a colleague at work. You log out and think nothing of it. Meanwhile your email account is hijacked and everyone in your address book receives an email from “you”.

The email sent to your friends, family and business associates states; “While traveling in Europe I was approached by what looked like a homeless man who bumped into me, then he apologized. A few minutes later I went to a café to have lunch. But when I went to pay my wallet was gone. I was pickpocketed! Now I’m stuck here without any money, can you send me money via a wire transfer? I promise to pay you back as soon as I get home!”

Of the 500 or so people in your address book your gullible Aunt Jules engages in an email conversation with who she thinks is “you” but is in fact a scammer who jacked your account. Aunt Jules falls for the ruse and wires $2000.00 to a criminal somewhere in Europe.

Think it can’t happen to you or anyone you know? I met someone this week that actually pulled the money out of his account and wired it. This was an educated person who knew better. But when the “cries for help” came, his maternal instincts kicked in to help someone he loved and did what good people do.

How does this happen? It’s easy, and it’s happening more and more. I’m amazed that I’m not meeting a new victim of this crime every 10 minutes. There are a few simple ways to hack an email account.

  1. Using a public computer at a hotel, library or internet café that has spyware or a keylogger installed. Spyware and keyloggers are hardware or software that copy every single thing you do on the PC
  2. Using your own laptop on an unsecured public wireless connection and your data is intercepted via wireless packets in the air.
  3. Logging into an “evil twin” which is a wireless network set up to look like a legitimate WiFi spot but is actually being broadcast via a router or computer set up by a criminal hacker who filters all your data.

The chance of someone hacking your wireless laptop via a public WiFi is slim, but it does happen. Your best bet is to only log into websites that are secure. In the address bar its shows as HttpS://www. Which means Secure. Otherwise download and install a virtual private networking software such as WiTopia.

If you use a public computer at a hotel, library or internet café you are at the mercy of the administrator who set up the PC, or whoever was on it before you. Unless you make an investment in a very cool USB drive called IronKey. This is a combination of hardware, software and services built into one small secure drive that allows for you to log into any PC anywhere that has an available USB drive.

And protect yourself from identity theft.

1. Get a credit freeze. Go online now and search “credit freeze” or “security freeze” and go to consumersunion.org and follow the steps for the state you live in. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes the SSN useless to the thief.

2. Invest in Intelius Identity Theft Protection and Prevention. While not all forms of identity theft can be prevented, you can effectively manage your personal identifying information by knowing what’s buzzing out there in regards to YOU.

Includes;

Personal Identity Profile – Find out if you’re at risk for identity theft with a detailed report of your identity information, including a current credit report, address history, aliases, and more.

24/7 Identity Monitoring and Alerts – Prevent identity theft with automatic monitoring that scans billions of public records daily and alerts you to suspicious activity.

Identity Recovery Assistance – Let professionals help you recover your identity if you ever become a victim of identity theft.

Robert Siciliano Identity theft speaker discusses wireless hacking on Fox News

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