Protect Your Computer To Protect Your Identity
March 19, 2012

Protect Your Computer To Protect Your Identity

Peter Suciu for

This week 19 people were arrested in Nevada and eight other states in a Las Vegas-based identity theft and tracking ring reports the Associated Press (AP). The scheme involved the buying and selling of stolen debit and credit card information on an Internet site called “”

Credit card theft has been on the rise and members of this ring, and criminal enterprises like it, use websites to trade the data.

Identify theft is becoming big business and this week UK-based credit report firm CreditExpert released the findings of a study that show that identity theft affects around 1.8 million Britons every year and costs the UK economy GBP 2.7 billion a year.

The problem is also global, as the Federal Trade Commission reported receiving 1.8 million complaints last calendar year. Moreover, in the past three years, an estimated 13 million Americans had fallen victim to identity theft, and seven percent of all American households were targeted.

It is clearly a growing problem, but one that doesn´t need to be so.

Researchers from Michigan State University have found that having triple-threat protection, including anti-virus, anti-adware and anti-spyware software can greatly reduce the risk to having one´s identity stolen.

The study, which appeared in the research journal Deviant Behavior, found that of the more than 600 people surveyed, those running the three types of protective programs were 50 percent less likely to have their credit card information stolen.

“When you think about antivirus software protecting you, you might think about it keeping your files safe and not losing your music and photos,” said Thomas Holt, MSU associate professor of criminal justice and lead researcher on the project in a statement. “The important thing we´re finding here is that it´s not just about protecting your files, but also about protecting you economically — about reducing your chances of being a victim of identity theft.”

The study further found that about 15 percent of respondents said that they had experienced a computer-related identity theft in the past year, and males were more likely to be victims of such theft.

It was found that those who engaged in so-called “computer-related deviance,” which included downloading pirated music or pornographic images, were more likely to be victims of identity theft. Pirated movies and music were also found to contain malware and thus put users at risk for harm.

The most practical solution, beside a change of user patterns, was to use the combined protective factor of anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-adware software. This is because each has a different function for keeping a computer safe.