Internet privacy and security course
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Chapter 76

Preventive measures in order to preclude identity theft

We have already told you why and how identity theft happens, now let’s talk about the way it can be prevented. 

Unfortunately, it is difficult to give any particular set of measures for identity theft prevention, therefore I will just offer several recommendations I know, so you could choose the suitable one for you.

Comprehensive Security

It is banal but at the same time the main advice. You should study this course and configure the security of all your devices. Data theft very often occurs via a compromised Wi-Fi router, phishing site or using malicious software. We are to teach you to defend against these threats.

We are not alone in our opinion: the FBI has recently published its advice on protection against identity theft. Key recommendations focus on attentiveness as well as caution when using public Wi-Fi. 

Advice

Configure comprehensive security for all your devices.

Use for transfer the mail services with the ability to delete data from the recipient

You may be surprised but there is a similar functional in Gmail and Protonmail, which allows you to delete the sent letter, to prohibit copying and sending data. In addition to the functionality embedded by developers, there are other services like Criptext. In our course we will teach you to protect sent letters as effectively as possible.

However, I would not overestimate these tools, as they will not become an insurmountable obstacle, in addition, the recipient may insist on sending documents with the possibility of downloading them.

Advice

Use to transfer mail (or messengers) with the ability to delete data from the recipient or to limit their actions with the ones.

Having sent by mail, delete it.

Probably, there is hardly any reader of the course not sending their documents and other valuable data by post at least once; and there is hardly any reader not knowing that all sent documents are saved in the mailbox in the folder with the sent letters; and the saddest thing is there is hardly any reader removing the letter with valuable data from the sent folder immediately.

The reader probably believes that their mail will never be hacked, so did Hillary Clinton, until her correspondence was posted on the website Wikileaks, and it cost her the presidency. The truth is malefactors put on the flow of hacking electronic mailboxes and checking them for the content of information that can be monetized. 

Basically, malefactors are looking for access and passwords to various sites and services, banking data, software keys, but also a photocopy of a passport or driver's license will make them happy, as all this can be sold profitably on the black market. The search, as a rule, happens automatically by keywords, at least, this is how a hacked mail is checked for the presence of letters from websites and banks: if there is a letter, it is likely an account is there as well.

This recommendation applies not only to mail, but also to messengers, if the data is sent through it. These do not have to be files, even if you sent the data in writing, they should be deleted then.

Advice

Delete documents that you send by mail or via messenger.

Ask the addressee to respect your personal data

Sending a letter with documents by mail or in a messenger, accompany it with a request to respect your personal data. Here I wrote an example of the text for the letter, you can use one or make your own version.

«In this letter I send copies of documents containing my personal data, and I would ask you to treat the information given by me responsibly. Responsible attitude to my personal data includes, but is not limited to the safety of their storage. Secure storage involves deleting documents from an email inbox. Please do not transfer or sell my personal data to third parties without my consent. As soon as the need for data storage is over, please delete them immediately. 

Email supplement

Of course one can talk a lot about the effectiveness of the advice, but in the complex of measures described here it definitely will not be superfluous. Security is a two-way process: the responsible attitude of your interlocutor and the measures taken to protect your personal data are no less important than the measures taken by you. 

Advice

Accompany the transfer of personal data with a request to treat responsibly their security.

Do not call photocopies of documents using key words

A few years ago, the social network VK.com introduced the ability to upload documents, and users began to actively use the new functionality to transfer valuable data, including photocopies of documents. The only thing, many users did not take into account that all documents are loaded by default with open access for all. The headers of the uploaded files were indexed, and upon request for a “passport”, fraudsters found new copies of documents every day, which they then sold on the darknet.