Faculty Experts: Identity Theft a Top Concern for Data-Privacy Month

University at Albany University at Albany Headlines

February is Data Privacy Month, a Good Reminder to Check Your Online Security

As security and IT professionals recognize February as Data Privacy Month, even the IRS is providing reminders and safety tips to protect your information from would-be cyber thieves. (Photo Paul Miller)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 15, 2018) — U.S. prosecutors just busted an identity theft ring that stole $530 million from Americans over the past seven years. Cybercriminals continue to buy and sell information on the dark web, and everyone — including newborns — are targets.

As security and IT professionals recognize February as Data Privacy Month, even the Internal Revenue Service is providing reminders and safety tips to protect your information from would-be cyber thieves.

“As tax season gets underway, it’s important to understand that cybercriminals are actively trying to steal everything from your social security number to your banking information and refund,” said Martin Manjak, Chief Information Security Officer for the University at Albany.

There are several actions you can take to protect yourself from identity theft, according to Manjak. For starters, if you haven’t done so already, activate your online account with the Social Security Administration to prevent anyone from doing so. You can also find out if any of your passwords have been exposed in one of the numerous breaches reported by service providers.

Associate Professor of Computer Science Pradeep Atrey

Understanding what the most common targets of ID theft are can help you protect yourself and your assets, says Pradeep Atrey, associate professor of computer science at UAlbany’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

“Money is what matters the most so the most common targets of identity theft are banking users,” said Atrey, noting why it is so important to protect even the most basic personal information. “If someone gets to know your mother’s maiden name, she or he would have all they need to justify being …

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