No one can deny that we live in the age of technology, with nearly half of all Americans owning a smartphone, computer and regularly subscribing to internet access. This technological boom has created many great benefits – and risks. The newest trend in identity theft is the use of apps, even though you can download them from what you would think to be a safe legitimate source, some of them aren’t what they are advertised to be.
Application stores are home to thousands of apps. There are application stores for our phones and our computers. Some of these stores have people that approve the apps before they are offered from the site, some do not. Even if there are people approving the apps, malicious code can still sneak through undetected due to the newness of the method. Apps are generally screened for content, not for the code used to create the app. Can you imagine how expensive apps would be if the companies hosting the app stores had to hire a team of developers to screen each one thoroughly for threats and malware?
It is always a good idea to be aware of what is going on out there. Apps are a very clever way to essentially plant a Trojan horse. We open up our computers and our phones to these apps, and most of the time it is safe, but when it isn’t, you may not even know. This is why it is so important for us, the users of this technology to use it to watch out for these threats by monitoring our credit reports. It may not be possible to prevent identity theft for everyone, but if you’re watchful you can be much safer than those who don’t pay attention.
How does it work?
So what is the big deal? These applications I am talking about have code that either on your phone or computer basically “digs in” and hides itself, then starts to record information. With all the websites out there that you can purchase items from, it is highly likely that you will at some point enter your personal information into your phone or computer. When those items are infected, there can be a data breach, and though you think your information disappears into the payment, it is actually saved on your device.
The person who created the code then knows
Malicious extensions, what are they?
It was recently reported that users of web browsers (the software you use to surf the internet) are being heavily targeted. Extensions are programs, a lot like apps, that are used to have your web browser perform extra tasks. Extensions are used to do anything from help online shoppers keep track of their wish lists to changing the look of your browser or even make it perform faster.
Developers can offer extensions in an app store or anywhere online. Toolbars which are commonly downloaded to enhance the browsing experience or advertise can also contain the malware that will bring the Trojan programs into your computer. Tech bloggers report the malicious extensions, but the rate with which they are uploaded far exceeds the abilities of the people looking for them to get them all removed in time.
So how do you protect yourself?
Diligently managing your personal information is the best defense against the theft of it. No one is going to stop downloading apps or extensions on their computers and cell phones because they have become a part of our culture and everyday lives. To prevent id theft, monitoring your credit reports is still the best method available. When you monitor your credit, you will be more aware of what is and is not normal on your reports. Knowing what to look for (abnormalities) and where (your three credit reports) is one of the very best ways to stay ahead of the thieves. With diligent monitoring of credit reports, you will know if there have been requests for lines of credit that you did not make, and then can alert the proper authorities to protect yourself.
So what do you think about all this? Please feel free to comment on this post and weigh in on this matter, or share this with your friends so that they are aware of the security risks that are out there. Knowledge is power.