Experts offer tips on data protection

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Experts have offered some advice on the best methods of data protection.

Experts have offered some tips relating to data protection and online security for consumers, following further news stories on the disclosure of celebrities’ personally identifiable information (PII).

The posting of details such as names, addresses, birth dates and payment card data is a long-running trend on the internet, with black market sites and forums allowing the sale of the information for criminal profit.

For a special report on the issue, USA Today spoke to experts including Roel Schouwenberg, senior researcher at Kaspersky Lab, who pointed out that the average hacker or cybercriminal is after quick cash, rather than military or industrial secrets like in the movies.

Celebrities represent a special category in this regard, owing to their high profile and the fact that cases attract so much attention, increasing the likelihood of persistent efforts by law enforcement to catch the perpetrators.

While the rich and famous have the means to hire legal teams and private investigators, the average person could be better off trying to avoid being a victim of cyber crime in the first place.

There are several ways to make oneself less of a target, said Troy Gill, senior security analyst at message security firm AppRiver.

"First, practice using lengthy passwords that contain numbers, letters and special symbols," he advised.

"Also use two-factor authentication whenever available since it shows you know your password and have an authentication token. And finally, never manage your financial accounts using the same recovery email account that you use for daily correspondence."

Some additional tips were offered by Adam Levin, chairman of Identity Theft 911, who said people can help themselves by limiting their exposure and shielding PII from those they don’t know.

Personal information should not be shared on sites such as Facebook, all sensitive documents should be shredded and up-to-date security software should be installed on computers and smartphones.

Mr Levin also advised consumers to adopt a "culture of monitoring" and keep an eye on their affairs using resources such as free credit reports.

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