It’s a sinking feeling, when you wake up one morning and see that your credit card has been drained. Every dollar gone and spent by someone who employed advanced techniques to gain control of your information, use it to their advantage, and leave you hanging high and dry by the end of it all. It’s like living in a bad nightmare, and worst of all you could have taken steps to protect yourself — but didn’t take the time to read our in-depth guide on how to keep your identity secure while browsing anonymously online!

Wi-Fi Networks

One of the most innocuous methods attackers use to dig through your treasure trove of credit card details, Amazon.com order lists, and Google Docs presentations is through the sharing of public Wi-Fi hotspots. Whenever you connect at your local Starbucks, you’re opening your computer up to a whole host of issues, not least of which includes real-world crack artists who prey on popular networks and pry their way in to people’s personal details.

Phishing Attacks

One of the oldest tricks in the book, phishing attacks have been around since the dawn of the first world-wide-web. As soon as web pages existed, there were people creating fake versions of your favorite internet portals to gain access to sensitive credentials and personal information. Hackers can use these faux-sites to trick you into entering secret usernames and passwords, granting them full-access to all your account information and the ability to charge your debit cards with any online retailer they wish.

P2P Downloads

Of course, the simplest method is usually the best, and often hackers can get control of your data through nothing more than some good old fashioned malware, packaged up with that most recent version of Photoshop you downloaded on less-than-legal terms. We put ourselves at risk whenever we decide to skirt the law and look for our favorite movies, games, and software online for a bit lower than the advertised price. Many torrents come wrapped up in .zip, .rar, and .exe files, all of which are known to be efficient attack vectors for infecting the most vital and low-level areas of your laptop or desktop at home.

While not all of these issues can be solved with a VPN, those that can are what put you at the highest amount of risk, which is why signing up for one of the dozens of available providers is always a smart idea and a safe investment in the future of your file security.