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Cyber Terrorism: Protecting Your Personal Information

With the U.S. government s increasing interest in cyber terrorism and new approaches to controlling the flow of sensitive information, average Americans should be vigilant about the measures they take to protect their identities and personal information online. Cyber terrorism may be a broad threat aimed at harming government or military operations, but daily attacks take place on Americans from criminal rings looking for quick access to as much personal information as possible. Keeping potential cyber terrorism threats at bay involves several approaches, including purchasing antimalware and antivirus software and employing common-sense techniques while online.

Let s start with the obvious and easy ways to protect your system and personal information. Cyber terrorism attacks on your personal information can happen when you visit a malicious or infected website, or if you open infected emails on your computer. Once you ve opened an entry portal to malicious viruses, Trojans or worms, cyber terrorists can search your system for data and, more threateningly, collect the usernames and passwords you key in when you visit your bank, brokerage or utility providers' websites. The most basic protection against personal cyber terrorism requires your constant vigilance; you should never visit websites if you suspect they are unsafe, and you should never open suspicious emails or attachments.

Next, to combat cyber terrorism, you should routinely change the passwords to your email and key financial accounts. Maintaining the same passwords for all accounts or for long periods without changing them is sloppy and doesn't help safeguard your personal information. If you have a hard time remembering to change your passwords, set a schedule in your calendar to remind you to update old passwords with new ones that are difficult to deduce from basic facts about your personal life. In other words, don t use the numbers of your street address or birthdates of your loved ones as part of any password because thieves who already have these numbers can easily use them to guess your passwords. Instead, choose passwords with unusual word and number combinations that others would be unlikely to associate with you.

Next, install antivirus and antimalware software that is designed to detect, isolate and quarantine invasive infections. You should have both antivirus and antimalware software because they serve different purposes and provide a full spectrum of protection. Antivirus scanning applications can stop invading viruses and remove them. You must update this software frequently, which is easy to do with online updates offered by the manufacturer.
Meanwhile, antimalware applications go after undetectable malicious software for an extra measure of security. When a malicious infection gets past your security and goes undetected by your antivirus software, antimalware software can find and remove it completely. The key is complete removal, as any parts of an infection left behind can continue to cause problems.

The good news about cyber terrorism and protecting your personal information is that you can download some free security software, and the ability to maintain updated passwords is fully within your control. If family members frequently use your computer, instruct them to be careful about the emails they open and the websites they visit while they use your system, and run your security scans frequently.

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