1. Monitor your Credit ScoreOne way to uncover identity theft is to get a credit report. Yes, you are entitled by law to get one free report per year. This is great, and you should do it--but in a digital realm it may not be enough to check just once a year.
You should always review your credit card statements, and make a practice of checking your bank accounts weekly or even daily. Don't share unnecessary personal details. Change your passwords regularly.
But to really level up in online security, consider a service that will monitor your credit on a regular basis. For instance, Lifelock, which earned an "Editor's Choice" rating at PC Mag, will monitor your credit rating and keep an eye on black market sites to make sure your data isn't for sale.
2. Don't Get Caught in a Phishing Scam.Identity thieves can be extremely clever adversaries. One way these scams operate is to create websites that mimic trusted sites to lure you into entering private data.
If you're ever asked for personal information, even from a trusted site, always take the time to look closely. Type the web address in yourself to make sure that the website isn't fraudulent.
Remember that your non-financial information is also targeted. So a scammer might collect data about where you bank--then phish around and get you to enter your account number and password by showing you a look-alike website.
To level up your anti-phishing skill, use a link scanner like URLVoid. If the site has been the source of malware or phishing, find out before you click on that link. If you are confronted with an obviously shortened link, Sucuri will expand it out and then verify its reputation.
3. Beware of Malware.This stuff can steal your identity or simply kill your computer for the fun of it. Recent outbreaks in the gaming world include the GTA5 mods (Angry Planes and No Clip) that installed a super-sneaky keylogger. (That's a program that records every key stroke you make--including passwords and credit card numbers.)
Online gaming is download-rific. You can take steps to protect your computer from malware. Keep your software up-to-date. Be wary of pop-ups. If you get an email with a link or attachment, pause to consider: is this really from my trusted friend? Or has their account been hacked?
To level up your defense against malware, install security software from a reputable company. PC Mag bestowed their prized Editor's Choice status on not one but three different products: Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2015, Kaspersky Anti-Virus (2015), and Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus (2015).
And don't forget automatic updates are your friend--malware is constantly evolving, and you need security software that adapts to counter it.
4. Stay Vigilant.Stay informed of new security threats to games and gamers. New threats can arise at any time. Gamers are now being targeted by crypto-ransomeware. Your best defense won't matter if you don't keep up with the news.
Fake games designed to install malware made it onto Steam (the game service) and even though the faux page was removed, the future will likely see more efforts by criminals.
To stay safe, stay alert. And play on with confidence.