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Summertime and the living may be easy, but summertime is also prime time for identity theft, says security expert, Alan Wlasuk. He’s managing partner of 403 Web Security a company committed to evaluating and eliminating website security risks.
Likely 140 million Americans will travel this summer, and Wlasuk’s company says while you’re away, thieves are on the prowl for personal information on unsecured wireless networks, at the gas pump, at hotels or in your mailbox.
Can’t happen to you? Think again: In 2011, more than 11.6 million Americans became victims of identity theft, a 13 percent rise from 2010.
Apparently, says Wlasuk and other security experts like the US Travel Insurance Association (USTIA) , the increase in social media, mobile capabilities and lax consumer behavior are responsible for the increase in identity theft.
What’s really troubling, according the National Crime Prevention Council is that identity theft takes place more often offline than online..and that a significant percent of identity thefts are committed by someone the victim knows.
There are ways travelers can protect themselves, and Wlasuk and company suggest the following steps:
• Guard your smartphone as if it were your wallet.
Smartphones are not phones. They’re desktop computers with more private, financial and potentially embarrassing information on them than would ever be found in a wallet.
• Be careful about using public Wi-Fi, and be on the lookout for people watching as you work on your laptop or tablet.
• Secure your smartphone with a pass code. I never do this, but I will now.
• Turn on the remote GPS locater and remote wipe capability. Most smartphones can be configured to allow a registered user to find the location of the phone using its built-in GPS capability. If a smartphone is lost, or stolen, the enabled remote data wipe will allow a registered user to wipe it clean.
* The USTIA says to avoid using your credit card number on public computers, or at least be sure it’s a secure computer and you remove your information before leaving.
Which cities are most known for the risk of cyber crime?
Norton, the Internet security company, ranked the following as the most vulnerable cities at risk of cyber crime. They looked for cities with the most computers, smartphones and high social media use with unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots. It seems that those most connected, are at the most risk.
The 10 riskiest cities in the U.S. are:
1. Washington, D.C.
3. San Francisco
But we say don’t be paranoid. Take precautions, and enjoy your holiday.