Photo shows a graphic of data privacy while someone works on a laptop

Photo Credit: By Rawpixel

Data Privacy and Your PC: What You Need to Know

Your data privacy is more at risk than ever. It is becoming ever more vital for you to know what is happening to your information, how to find your data, and how to protect it.

We have biometrics on our phones, we have been told not to share credit card numbers in texts or DMs, and many of us have a good idea of what spam looks like and how to avoid it. Yet every day, one in ten adults in the US will become a victim of scams or fraud. This is the last thing we at Xidax want anyone to go through.

Here are just a few things you can watch for to protect yourself. 

Social Engineering

Americans are more likely than any other nationality to fall victim to a fraudster. The biggest threat to someone’s personal information is a tactic called social engineering. This is a growing threat to gamers of all ages. You have no doubt encountered these kinds of threats, but let’s go over the most common ones. 

Social engineering is used to get bits and pieces of account information, such as your name or date of birth. These pieces of account information can be strung together to affect your life in various ways. 

The number one type of social engineering is phishing. Even if you don’t know the definition of phishing, you’ve likely seen it before; A strange email from a bank saying your account will be terminated—a signature full of spelling mistakes about your warranty expiration. 

Impersonation is another version of social engineering designed to take advantage of you through people you love. If family members start asking questions they should already know, give them a call if you can or investigate their normal messages and profiles to see if someone has hijacked their profile information. In addition, one in ten dating site profiles is fake; catfishing is a technique scammers will use in order to gain your trust through emotional connection. 

This kind of scam also exists within game chats and interactions. Many gaming companies, like Xidax, love to give away games and other items. However, giveaways can also be used by tricksters after your information. They will often use emails and in-game chats to wiggle information out of people in order to exploit them. 

This is how people can take your full name, find your email address (and anything else you may have online), and then gain access to credit card information through a source they know you use.

To avoid this, keep your personal identifiable information (PII) to yourself and don’t give people you don’t know information about yourself that could make you easy to find. Don’t let yourself become one of the millions of people who fall prey to scammers every year. 

Viruses & Malware

We know these under many names: trojans, adware, worms, and spyware. These can all “infect” and damage your computer or data privacy. However, there are a lot of steps that you as a user can take to avoid viruses and malware. 

Before we talk about how to prevent viruses on your PC, let’s talk about what these damaging programs are and where you might run into them.

Trojans

Often, these look like legitimate downloads, but they are designed to inflict damage on your data or network. These trojans damage your devices, steal your information, or otherwise disrupt your computer.

  • These typically look like harmless attachments on emails. They are also ordinarily .exe files. If you download these files, they automatically run and install. 
  • An excellent way to prevent trojans is to avoid opening attachments from sources you do not trust anywhere on the web and disable the auto-open function on your browser for .exe files. 

Adware

Usually, adware is just annoying, but that should not stop you from preventing it or removing it when you find it on your device. It’s common for adware to be pop-ups, and those pop-ups can cause problems, such as spyware or trojans, or they can make your device borderline unusable due to the ads constantly popping up. 

  • These generally are packaged with other items, a download from a less reputable site, or a bad website, which is a website designed to infect your system. 

Worms

Worms can be used in email and instant messaging attachments, and they can modify and delete files from your PC without you knowing. They are also designed to replicate so they can infect other files in order to spread to other users when you share things. 

  • You can tell you have a worm if your hard drive space starts to vanish, you are missing files, or your network has slowed down. 

Spyware

Many of the other items we have talked about can be spyware, but more would get tedious to list. These kinds of malware by design are meant to gather your information covertly. Various monitoring programs are designed to get your personal information.

Spyware can be the most problematic of any malicious software as they stay hidden within your system until they find the information they have been looking for, usually your PII. Even if you are on a secure site, if you have spyware, that information will be sent to the spyware controller. 

Scam Prevention

Hands typing, one wearing a black glove to imply cyber crimes against data privacy

What can you do with all of these different programs meant to breach your data privacy? First, you can use some steps to prevent and actively protect yourself from getting them in the first place.

Avoid suspicious downloads. If you have never used a website before, research them before downloading anything from their site. 

If you see on-site pop-ups telling you all of your files have been encrypted, do not interact with the pop-up. Instead, close the window or browser. Interacting with the pop-up will be worse than losing the windows you have open.

 

Install a firewall to protect your internet activities. Many on the market will serve you well but remember their limitations. Firewalls cannot help you if you request info from a malicious source.

  • They are not 100% reliable, so there is a chance something can make it through. However, you have to be mindful to make sure it works. 

Use antivirus software. This is your defense against all of these attacks, and if something does happen, it will ensure that you can get help because you tried to protect yourself. In addition, an Antivirus will help you prevent and take care of malicious programming if you end up with one. You can also look into the use of a VPN.

My last tip is to avoid using your debit card on the internet. Instead, use a credit card (wisely). I say this because you have more protection with a credit card if something was to happen than you do with your debit card. 

  • This is because of your restrictions for reporting activity with a debit card. If you report the card stolen before anything happens, you have zero liability; if you report within two days of fraudulent activity, you have $50.00 in liability; within 60 days, you are liable for $500.00, and after 60 days, you have no protection. 
  • A credit card you would only be liable for up to $50.00, and there is no standard time limit on this, but check with your banking institution to be sure. 

What about data protection for gamers?

Most hackers today aim to make money, which is why gamers are an easy target for those after your private data. As a result, many gamers of all ages will look into currency generators, hacks, cheats, shortcuts, and free ways to get paid content. 

Gamers can become easy targets for scams through giveaways, chats, emails, and more. There is also the fact of the gaming community being rather trusting. As gamers, this is something we love, but this is something hackers love too, making many of us easy pickings for people digging to steal personal information. 

The easiest way to protect yourself on the internet and while gaming is to use a firewall, virus software and arm yourself with knowledge. These are two easy steps that can protect your internet use and data from the world at large. 

Lloyds Bank created an initiative to educate gamers on data privacy and help them protect themselves. It is called SHEILD.

  • Screen – chats from strangers
  • Hide – all personal details from others
  • Investigate – gaming-related purchases
  • Evaluate – gaming-related downloads
    Lock – your internet network
  • Delink – your bank details

Doing small things like making in-game purchases more intentional by choosing not to save bank information for the next purchase, downloading security patches to games, and keeping your personal details to yourself goes a long way in protecting yourself. 

You can learn more about Lloyds Bank’s data privacy and protection initiative by clicking here.

Final Thoughts

There are always going to be people trying to get at your information. You need to be aware to ensure you are not the victim of a large-scale identity theft case. Even if some of this information feels like common sense, everyone will overlook safety for convenience from time to time. So learn about data privacy, keep track of your information, keep your games updated, and game on!

SHOP XIDAX