For many of us our job or business requires us to be online, whereas for others it is simply a social ‘fix’, but we all have one thing in common. Our personal and financial data is online and at risk if we don’t follow strict security practises. Even the switch to strong passwords and an email purge will make a big difference. Your passwords and email addresses are the keys to your identity and need to be protected in the same way you would guard a key to a safety deposit box.

Your personal information is everywhere, even in the garbage can in the form of unshredded bills, notes, lists, and any other identifying discarded item. Fortunately for hackers, they don’t have to get filthy to find your data. By gaining access to nothing more than your credit card information, they have your name, address, phone numbers, email, date of birth, Mother’s maiden name, your spending history, and perhaps most importantly, your Social Security number (or a similar government income tax/benefits identification number used in other countries).

What do hackers do with the stolen data? They sell it on the black market, also called the Dark Web. Anyone in possession of your credit card information can max out the spending limit before you even know the card is compromised. A Social Security number and some of your personal information can be used to create a false income tax scenario, where the criminal collects the benefits and you are responsible for the damages.

The threat doesn’t always come from the outside. Anyone in your home including family, friends, or other visitors, can unintentionally compromise your computer network security and put your private data at risk. If you would like to see how fast things can go horribly wrong when you neglect proper security measures, check out the “Identity Theft” and “Email Security” videos in the DNotesEDU “Online Security & Fraud Protection” module .