Thirteen million people in the United States are victims of identity theft every single year and the growing use of social media, followed by the advances in digital technology, has made it all the more possible for cases of identity theft to pop up like mushrooms.
We put more than we mean to on the Internet
Think about it. You have pieces of you stored on various servers all over the world containing sensitive information such as your Social Security Number, contact information, and consumer behavior, along with income, bank accounts, and even our family lineage. On top of that, almost everything is done online and through a piece of technology. Your biometrics are stored for identification purposes, but it can also be stolen and used to verify your identity without your authorization. Furthermore, since biometrics are unchanging, once it has been cracked, it’s likely that the same hacker will be able to do it again.
Hackers have become a dime a dozen, which have spawned the use of encryption on highly sensitive information such as your healthcare records. Unfortunately, not all data is encrypted and anything with an encryption may be decoded in the right hands. According to SmartCollectiveData, there are over 400 major data breaches annually which poses a risk to anyone with a smartphone or a laptop because the chances are, your information is online.
It’s hard to live without internet access because we are living in the digital age. Even if you avoid using social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram, you will likely be connected to mobile applications such as Uber or Amazon which contributes to your digital footprint. And what about your email account? All of the sensitive information that passes through your inbox is stored remotely on a server.
What is big data and how can it contribute to identity theft?
Big data is not just a trendy 21st century keyword. Big data refers to massive amounts of information which are often used to break down consumer behavior, but can also be analyzed for marketing purposes, which is what it is often used for.
Perhaps the problem isn’t so much that big data exists, but how it can be utilized. As the sophistication of artificial intelligence grows, the more effective we are at breaking down big data to suit our needs.
With so much information available, there are so much more materials that identity thieves are able to use. Not only are identity thieves able to steal your personal information, they may also be able to track you and learn about your spending patterns so as not to ring any alarm bells. Someone who consistently splurges thousands of dollars on a regular basis is the perfect target for an identity thief who wants to take advantage of that spending behavior.
The defenses big data employs against identity theft
As there are always two sides to a coin, you can be sure that there are some counter-measures put in place to prevent big data from being utilized in identity theft.
While we mentioned that identity thieves may be able to take advantage of what they know about their victims and spend within their habits to make detection difficult, machine learning is an up and coming technology that would be able to track behaviors across the board, making it much more effective than human assessment. Therefore, it can help flag suspicious behavior such as purchases that were made outside of the victim’s locality or simply based on their past purchases. Such irregularities will be flagged and brought to the attention of a human employee, which can help against the battle of identity theft.
Be smart about where you house your information
As mentioned, it is increasingly hard to avoid using the internet and keying your information into an application or mobile phone. Don’t try to use the same password for all of your logins and never save your sensitive information on the cloud unless it is your secret account.
Having one account for public use and another for your personal use is most ideal. For the public account, you would use this for your social media and even work. It’s the email you give to people. The second account is purely for your personal use and should never be used for anything other than storing your sensitive information and accounts you want to keep secure. Your secret account should stay secret. Splitting your identity into two can help prevent any unhappy accident from happening.
However, the good news is that while the bad guys can pull your information from the internet through various code-cracking and time-consuming methods, the good guys can pull much more information at a faster speed through authorized channels, allowing them access to information which can help them crack the case with ease.
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