Trend Micro idSafe REVIEW
PAT PILCHER explains pernicious Dark Web threats like stolen identity and credit card theft and reviews Trend Micro’s very useful ID Security.
Your address, online behaviours, commonly used logon credentials, credit card and bank account details are the new gold of the digital age. Cyber crims want this stuff because they can sell it by the boatload on the Dark Web.
Because there is no Bank Of Cybercrime, most hackers are looking for vulnerabilities such as online services with unencrypted user data that they can extract.
Considering how valuable our data is, it’s boggling that we’re providing it to a multitude of online services without knowing how securely it is stored. If there’s a breach in the online systems storing our data, be it accidental or by a malicious hack, your identity is going to make someone a little money. Its theft could also cause you untold amounts of misery.
While Identity theft horror stories abound, the tale of Simon Bunce really stands out. He is a brit who lost a high paying job, friends, and his family, all because his credit card details were stolen and used to purchase and download child porn. He had been a regular online shopper and was arrested as part of an anti-child porn police exercise called Operation Ore. He was charged with possessing, downloading, and intending to distribute indecent images of children.
He was eventually cleared of the charges after investigators determined that his credit card details had been stolen as part of a data breach. By then, the damage had already been done.
The sheer scale of most data breaches is breath-taking. Hackers may only get a fraction of a cent for your details. Still, as data breaches see millions of user details harvested, it can be quite lucrative.
The Dark Web is a part of the internet that anonymises your identity and location information. It is only accessible through apps such as Tor and the Invisible Internet Project. It’s anonymous because your data gets passed through many intermediate servers. It’s also encrypted, which makes it ideal for shady transactions as tracking down users is difficult.
If all this seems a tad alarming, don’t fret. The good Witchdoctor recommends the following steps to protect your data:
- When choosing a username, aim for one that doesn’t explicitly link to your name or other personal information.
- Avoid using the same password for different accounts. Use a unique password for each account. But here’s the tricky part: it needs to be a password that you can remember, but isn’t too easy to guess.
- Getting around this should involve a Password Manager which can generate strong passwords and remember them for when you need them later.
- Change passwords regularly. Thankfully, a password manager makes this easy to do.
- Use two-factor authentication, particularly for online banking and other financial services.
- For social networks such as Twitter or Facebook, enable whatever privacy controls are available.
- Another vulnerability is devices. These should be protected using PIN passwords, face unlock or fingerprints. Then, if you lose your phone, you won’t end up giving a stranger access to your email, social media, internet banking and so on.
- Last but by no means least, be proactive and check for online data breaches. This can be done using Trend Micro ID Security (for Android and iOS). It’ll monitor the Dark Web to see if your personal information is on sale and can help you fix known security issues with your identity data.
ID Security checks to see if any of your personal information has been stolen from data breaches and is circulating on the Dark Web. It identifies which accounts were breached and the kind of data posted. It will also notify you if it finds anything. Because of this, you can change your account details, cancel credit cards which should (in theory) stop the fallout from the sale of your personal data.
Trend Micro has ensured that when they’re handling your personal data, it’s done with a tonne of security. ID Security hashes your data. In non-geek-speak, this involves a convoluted process that converts your data into a series of numbers using the ultra-secure SHA-256 hashing standard. This is done before ID Security sends it through an encrypted connection to check it against a Dark Web database of stolen info.
If all this sounds fiddly, the good news is that iID Security is a doddle to drive. Checking to see if your personal data has made fire sale status on the Dark Web can be done with just a few taps. Doing this allows ID Security to check if the email address you use for online accounts is doing the rounds on the Dark Web. If it finds your email address, it’ll let you know which accounts are linked to the data in question, allowing you to change the right passwords to keep your accounts safe. ID Security will also check to see if anyone has stolen your credit card number and put it up for sale on the Dark Web. Another nifty feature of is the Password Checker, which can check to see if you’re using passwords that are in circulation on the Dark Web. Last (but by no means least), there’s a Personal Data Monitor, which scours the Dark Web for your personal information (e.g. bank account numbers, credit card numbers and passport details). If it finds them, it’ll alert you so you can contact your bank, get new passports and so on.
Given its excellent sticker price (free!), ease of use and useful features, I’m giving Trend Micro ID Security a 10/10.