It may be hard to imagine but by simply and innocently, or not so innocently, downloading a file from the Internet, your real life identity can be compromised.
Most people, I would imagine, download files from trusted sources, at least most of the time.
If, however, you download an infected or compromised file then there is a risk that you could end up installing viruses, spyware, trojans or worms onto your system.
After that, there is a very real danger that you could become a victim of identity theft.
To help prevent yourself from becoming the next identity theft victim, it is important to keep all the various security settings on your computer up to date.
You would also be well advised to never download a file unless you know it’s safe and trust the site where you found it.
Within newer operating systems from Microsoft, i.e. Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000 and ME, there are in-built options for automatically updating essential services and security systems.
If you are running an older version of Windows then you will have to manually install updates which may now be hard to find.
It is essential that you keep your operating system updated.
Beyond that, it is also highly advisable that you scan your system often in order to detect potential viruses and other security risks such as unwanted programs.
Trojans and keystroke loggers can be utilised by hackers and thieves in order to gather personal data for identity theft purposes.
A firewall can protect you and your computer from unknown cyberspace dangers.
A good anti-virus package can be configured to scan incoming email attachments.
Spam and other unwanted emails can be blocked by employing a spam blocker in order to reduce the chances of such junk ever entering your system.
Of course I hope you already know to never open an email from someone you don’t know or to download any attachments that you weren’t expecting to receive.
If, despite your best efforts, your computer does becomes infected with a virus or spyware, then it is essential that you remove the threat as soon as possible.
The longer that your system is left compromised, the greater the chances are that your personal information will be stolen or otherwise compromised.
So, in order to stay protected online, you should keep your security settings updated, run system scans as a matter of routine and not open emails or files from unknown senders.
I would also recommend that you only download files from trusted sources on the Internet.
If you do all these things to protect yourself then you will have minimised the risks of falling prey to identity theft and other potential online dangers.