Guide to Online Protection - Protect Your Personal Information

Protect Your Personal Information

Because you can control the information you choose to release, you are the single best person to protect your personal information. There are some easy ways do this like keeping anything with any personal or account information in a safe place and providing your information only to trusted sources.

Always be skeptical when providing your personal information. If you can't verify the legitimacy of the government entity, business or person requesting your information by calling the parent organization and verifying their contact with you, or if you don't understand why a certain piece of information is needed, do not provide it.

Understand Online Risks

E-mail and fraudulent Web sites

A criminal may send you an e-mail that looks like it has come from a legitimate government entity or business. These phony e-mails ask you to go to a Web site that also looks legitimate and provide your personal account information. Some of these phony e-mails even caution that if you don't do this, your accounts may be suspended or worse. But the Web site is as fake as the e-mail and is a fraud attempt.

This is one of the most common types of online fraud, and is called "phishing or spoofing." Criminals send these phony e-mail messages or direct someone to a fraudulent Web site for one goal: to steal your personal and financial information. Legitimate entities will never ask for your personal information via e-mail.

If you should ever receive an e-mail that appears to be suspicious, do not reply to it or click on the link it provides. Simply delete it. To report a suspicious e-mail that uses the Commonwealth of Virginia's name or the name of one of its agencies, you can forward it to CommonwealthSecurity@VITA.Virginia.Gov

Malware

Spyware, viruses, worms and trojans are all malicious programs that are loaded onto your computer without your knowledge and commonly referred to as malware. Whether the goal of these programs is to capture or destroy information, to attack other computers or to swamp your computer with advertising, you don't want them.

Viruses and worms spread by infecting computers and then replicating. Spyware and trojans disguise themselves as a legitimate application and embed themselves into your computer, to monitor your activity, collect information and deliver it back to online criminals.

All are serious threats to the security of your computer.