Prevent Identity Theft When Working from Home

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on September 16, 2010

Today’s criminals are attacking home computers to make money by stealing your personal information. For stay-at-home small business owners, this could include your client’s information as well, which would be devastating for your business and reputation.

As phishing and other types of attacks become less effective, criminals are moving on to more sophisticated techniques, such as installing a "keylogger" on your computer that captures everything you type (including passwords) or infecting your computer with a Trojan virus that gives them complete unauthorized access to your computers.

A good practice, especially for professionals working from home, is to apply the security solution in layers, so that if one element fails or is disabled by the criminal, you are still protected. You need to take these steps on all the computers in your home network to be fully protected:

1. Anti-virus and anti-spyware protection should be updated regularly, and you should perform regular scans of you system, since criminals can disable this software and you may not even know it is happening.

2. Ensure your operating system, plug-ins, and all applications are patched and up-to-date, as criminals look for weaknesses in common software to exploit and take over your system.

3. Do not open files or e-mails sent to you by strangers, or click on hyperlinks or download programs from websites you don’t know and trust. Be especially careful of clicking on shortened URLs and links on Twitter and Facebook, as these have become an increasingly popular way for criminals to spread online threats. Currently a scam to add a "dislike" button to Facebook is being spread by users that click on the link.

4. Properly configure firewall programs or enable the firewall on your home router to stop uninvited access to your computers. But don’t forget to keep this firewall software, your modem software, and your router software up-to-date as well.

5. And finally, you should have a security layer that analyzes your network traffic to provide protection when your anti-virus and other security precautions do not. Ask your ISP if it has a network-based security service that provides this additional layer of protection against identity theft and other online threats.

Brendan Ziolo
Vice-president of marketing
Kindsight
Sunnyvale, Calif.

Reader Comments

Lisa Kanarek

September 17, 2010 1:24 PM

Anyone working from home needs to take computer security as seriously as they would in a corporate office. Unfortunately for the small business owner, identity theft can be devastating to a business.

Good tips!

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