Instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Snapchat and LINE have exceeded social media in terms of global usage. In a report by Business Insider Intelligence in January 2016, the estimated number of instant messaging users was recorded at 2.9 billion in 2015, compared to the number of social media users which was recorded at 2.4 billion.
The explosive growth of instant messaging is even affecting the way users spend their time online. More and more users are now connecting with each other much more through instant messaging than social media. Content such as feature articles, newsletters, and e-Books are now being shared on message threads. Even brands are now using it to converse and conduct transactions with customers.
Instant messaging is revolutionizing the way we use the Internet and communicate with each other. However, the growing usage of instant messaging apps also means more opportunities for malicious individuals to steal the identities of users, allowing them to take advantage of sensitive information such as bank account numbers and credit card transactions to gain financial advantage at the expense of the users.
Ways cybercriminals can steal your identity
There are many ways cyber criminals can use instant messaging to steal your identity. In addition to spying on your account, identity thieves can also make use of spamming to lure you into clicking links to locations that contain malicious software such as spyware and keylogger.
Phishing is another type of online fraud that is commonly used for identity theft; this type of online fraud refers to the attempted acquisition of sensitive information by luring users into believing they are accessing a trustworthy website or email.
Even official websites are not safe from identity thieves anymore because of another form of online fraud: pharming. Pharming is when a malicious individual manipulates a website’s host file or domain name so that it links to a spoof website, which then captures the unwitting victim’s personal information.
A VPN can protect you from identity theft
Protecting yourself and your instant messaging account from identity thieves and other cyber criminals doesn’t have to mean shelling out money on software or refraining from using instant messaging when it comes to bank account inquiries or credit card transactions. The simplest, most effective way of keeping identity thieves from accessing your instant messaging account is through the use of a virtual private network (VPN).
Hotspot Shield is a free VPN. You can download it for your Windows PC, Mac, Android, or iOS device. It prevents identity thieves from accessing your instant messages and provides you a secure connection, so you don’t have to worry about unwanted access to sensitive information such as credit card transactions and bank account statements.
Benefits of using Hotspot Shield for identity theft protection
Hotspot Shield is a free-to-download VPN that allows you to surf the web anonymously. It protects you from identity theft by creating an encrypted tunnel between your computer and its servers, so that you can send and receive instant messages while preventing identity thieves from spying on you and tracking your online activities.
Hotspot Shield also protects you by masking your actual IP address. Upon connecting to the Internet via Hotspot Shield’s encrypted tunnels, you are automatically connected to a US server, allowing you to make use of an IP address in that virtual location. This also prevents spammers, spies and hackers from monitoring your instant messaging activities and stealing your online data.
Additionally, whenever you go online while using Hotspot Shield, your instant messages are secured and encrypted, and your personal information becomes out of reach for spies.
Even when it comes to using instant messaging while using a public Wi-Fi connection, where it is possible for anyone connected on that network to spy on your activities, Hotspot Shield secures your online session and makes your data more private.
- Allows you to bypass filters and firewalls set by the network administrator in school and at work so you can unblock your favorite social media sites, such as YouTube and Facebook
- Protects you against malware attacks by notifying you if the page that you are visiting
- All of these for free
Furthermore, if you upgrade to Elite, you can avail additional benefits:
- Access to 15+ virtual locations, providing you with a wide selection of IP addresses by virtual location and allowing you to access geo-blocked content
- A dedicated support team that can help you with queries and other app-related concerns
- Ad-free browsing for a better online experience
Identity theft can be averted. Install Hotspot Shield on your device now so you can enjoy a safe and secure experience on your next instant messaging session!