How Criminals Capitalize On Our Digital Lives

Studies are beginning to show consistency in our digital behaviors. For example, almost 50% of us check Facebook or Twitter either immediately after waking or in the evening, after work or school. Criminals know this, and wait for these busy times to post tweets or status updates containing infected links.

When unsuspecting users accidentally click on those links, their PCs become infected and begin to do things like recording all of their keystrokes, or becoming a zombie that is part of a larger botnet. 30% of all spam is relayed by infected computers located in someone’s home or office, but controlled remotely by criminals.

And according to digital research firm comScore, close to 32.5 million Americans accessed banking information via mobile device at the end of the second quarter of 2011. During that time period, Android malware jumped by 76%.

Criminals know what we do online; mostly, we’re searching for photos and videos of celebrities. So they use those celebrities’ names as bait. In 2011, for example, a search for Heidi Klum had a one in ten chance of leading to a dangerous website.

We also play games online. How often does a kid get bored with the usual games and click over to some rogue site hosted on an overseas server? Many of these websites also contain explicit pornography. Studies show that 27% of teens have infected their home computers with malicious software designed to steal identities.

Is this your family’s digital life?

To stay protected I recommend you:

  • Use comprehensive, up-to-date security software on all your devices.
  • Use parental controls to protect kids online.
  • Use strong passwords for all devices and websites.
  • Use caution when clicking on links.
  • And increase your security intelligence, so that you are able to recognize scams before it’s too late.


Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Evangelist to McAfee. See him discussing identity theft on YouTube. (Disclosures)

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