Secure your computers and copy machines from hackers.
Last year, more than 80 million Americans filed their tax returns electronically and even more stored tax-related information insecurely on their computers. To prevent electronic identity theft, implement the following security measures:
- Install anti-virus, anti-spam and anti-spyware software (generally referred to as a Security Suite) configured to download and install automatic updates. Failure to take this most basic and time-tested of steps allows malware attached to malicious emails, social media platforms and rogue websites to penetrate your entire system, giving thieves access to every computer on your network, not just one.
- Create strong alphanumeric passwords or utilize password protection software to protect the digital keys to your information.
- Encrypt hard drives or data-sensitive folders to keep out unwanted visitors.
- Set up automatic operating system updates and security patches that close gaping entry points for data thieves.
- Utilize only a WPA2+ encrypted wireless network that discourages thieves from sitting outside of your home or office to sniff the data you send over Wi-Fi.
- Have a professional install a properly configured, password-protected firewall that sits between your network and the Internet.
- Don’t email sensitive tax data unless it is encrypted. In a pinch, you can email password protected PDF documents.
- If you use a commonly accessed copy machine, consider erasing your copy machine’s hard drive, as it maintains a digital record of every document you scan or copy. Criminals often access these when you (or your workplace) sells or repairs the machine.
- Continuously monitor your identity using a sophisticated product that handles cyber-surveillance, credit monitoring, restoration services and ID theft insurance.
John Sileo is an author and highly engaging speaker on internet privacy, identity theft and technology security. He is CEO of The Sileo Group, which helps organizations to protect the privacy that drives their profitability. His recent engagements include presentations at The Pentagon, Visa, Homeland Security and Northrop Grumman as well as media appearances on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business. Contact him directly on 800.258.8076.