7 Ways Technology Can Beat Identity Theft

Identity theft affects people and businesses on a large scale every day. Because identity theft is a growing problem, companies are investing in resources to combat it. Here are seven ways they fight identity theft.

1. Digital Certificates

A digital certificate is an electronic password that verifies a device, server or user as authentic. It helps businesses ensure that users and devices connected to their servers are trusted entities. Digital certificates can also verify the authenticity of a website to a web browser. You may also hear this called an SSL certificate or secure sockets layer.

A digital certificate contains identifiable information, including:

  • The user's name and company
  • A device's serial number or internet protocol
  • A public key from a certificate authority that matches a private key

Companies can use certificate lifecycle management to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the management process.

2. Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication requires users to enter information that only they would know. You may have used multi-factor authentication before. One example is if you have entered your username and password on a website while searching for 1950 census records, and the site required you to enter a code texted to your phone.

This security method prevents hackers from making purchases or accessing your personal information. The authentication steps include security questions, unique identification numbers and case-sensitive passwords. Some multi-factor authentication methods may require biometrics such as fingerprints, voice matching or iris identification.

3. Encryption

Encryption is a critical way merchants protect their customers. It scrambles data so that only those who have authorization can read it. Encryption adds ciphertext, or encrypted data, into plain text, making readable text into something that only the involved parties can unscramble.

Merchants use encryption at the point of sale and when financial information is sent to the bank. If hackers try to intercept, the data is unusable for them.

4. Chips in Credit and Debit Cards

Most debit and credit cards now contain a chip. It includes two-step authentication to prevent hackers from using the card. The chip requires a PIN or signature to complete the transaction. The transaction does not occur if they don't match the owner's information.

5. Virtual Private Network

A VPN creates a private network connection when you are using a public network. It disguises your identity while you are online and encrypts your internet traffic.

A VPN hides your IP address by directing it through a remote server owned by a VPN host. The VPN becomes your data source, preventing your internet service provider from seeing the data you send or receive. The ISP is also unable to see what websites you visit.

A VPN is beneficial when you need to send secure information on a public network, such as:

  • Sensitive employer information
  • Bank or other financial transactions
  • Medical information

6. Password Managers

Most people understand that having secure passwords for online accounts is critical. However, as it becomes necessary to have multiple online accounts that require secure passwords, it's difficult for people to keep track of all of them. It can be tempting to reuse the same password for multiple sites. While this is understandable, it is not an advisable way to handle security.

Password manager software can generate and manage multiple secure passwords for you. You only need to remember a master password that allows you to access the application.

7. Identity Theft Protection Service

An identity theft protection service monitors the internet for you. It looks for your personal information on databases and websites, such as:

  • Social Security number
  • Bank account numbers
  • Medical identification
  • Driver's license number

It also searches the dark web, a remote and anonymous part of the internet, for your personal data. The service typically alerts you if your information appears somewhere it shouldn't.

As hackers get better at obtaining sensitive information, technology companies work to stay ahead and find ways to combat them. It is an ongoing competition, but tech companies will keep it up to protect your data.

Related: What to Do in a Cyber Attack in the First Five Minutes