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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Identity theft via malware on the rise

According to a recent article by David Radin at the Post-Gazette.com, the use of malware to steal personal information later used to steal identities is on the rise. While Mr. Radin does not cite statistics to back up this claim, I believe him to be correct. I too seem to be getting more e-mails of late from those infected by malware.

Malware is defined by wikipedia as malicious software "designed to disrupt computer operation, gather sensitive information or gain unauthorized access to a computer system." A lot of malware will take over a victim's e-mail account and send messages to everyone in the victim's address book, attempting to trick them into responding or downloading malware to steal information. People are more susceptible to this type of phishing scheme since the e-mail appears to come from someone the intended victim knows.

How does one avoid becoming a victim of malware? Again, by being viligant and diligent. If you get an e-mail from a friend or associate that includes an unexpected attachment or asks you to click on a website, e-mail the friend or associate to confirm that he or she meant to send it to you. Some may think that would be rude, but those savvy to the Internet will certainly understand. Also, if you get a malware e-mail, alert the person "sending" it that their computer has been compromised, as they are likely unaware of the malware's hold on their system.

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