Credit: Towfiqu barbhuiya
The 21st century has often been called the Information Age. And for good reason. Thanks to the developments in cyber technology, information science is the driving force behind our technological developments. On top of that, information is at the tip of our fingers thanks to the internet and social media.
The benefits of this digitalization far outweigh the cons. However, it is important not to forget about these cons, which we often do. Cybercrime has seen a significant rise in the past couple of years. Experts estimate that cybercriminals earned a total of $600 billion in 2020. That same year, hackers reportedly stole and sold over 500,000 Zoom passwords, an incredible feat, that should give us all pause.
What is Identity Theft?
When it comes to cybercrime, one of the most serious criminal acts is identity theft. As you can probably guess, identity theft involves the use of somebody else’s personal information for personal gain. This crime can include using somebody’s credit card information to purchase goods and services, using somebody’s ID or passport to get across state lines/borders, or using somebody’s social security number, insurance, etc.
In 2022, the Federal Trade Commission received over 5 million reports in regards to fraud and identity thefts. This number is worrying all by itself. However, what makes it worse is that since 2020, fraud and identity theft cases have gone 70%. In large part, this is because cybercrime in general has gone up by a significant margin.
How You Can Protect Yourself?
The main reason for cybercrime’s spike has to do with the fact that our data is being carefully harvested and sold by various data brokers. In 2018, it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica exploited the data of millions of Facebook users for their own gain. For those who did not follow the controversy closely, you can take a look at this YouTube video published by the New York Times. The video does a great job of explaining the whole controversy quickly and concisely.
This brokerage of data makes said data an easier target for hackers and other cybercriminals. So, what can you do to ensure your data privacy? The options are plentiful. You can use stronger passwords, browse in incognito mode, avoid any unsecured apps or websites, avoid saving any financial information, and avoid giving out any personal information to websites.
If you want to take some truly big steps in ensuring your digital data privacy, then you can always employ services like Incogni. Incogni is a digital data privacy service, whose goal is to keep your data safe and private. Upon registering for the service, Incogni will contact a list of data brokers in possession of your data, and get them to delete it.
Lastly, another option is getting ahold of a virtual private network, or VPN. A VPN will connect your private network to a public network anywhere in the world, making it a lot more difficult to track or harvest.