It used to be that using the computer was the safest way to communicate with others or make an online purchase. When you are chatting online, there is no way for bystanders to eavesdrop on your conversations, or when bidding for that vintage, limited-edition Beanie baby on Ebay, you don’t have to worry about someone trying to steal it right off your hands.

That was ages ago. Now, the Internet world has turned into somewhat of a landmine. Tread carefully and you will make it through safely, but land on a sticky spot and your life is over!

Thanks to advancing technology and a bunch of evil hackers that have nothing else better to do, online identity and credit card breach has been on rise and it’s affecting not just individual people, but even large corporations. What a huge downfall that is, since once that evil hacker cracks into the system, it is a one-stop shop to get access to thousands or millions of innocent customers.

Back in 2007, Monster.com was hit by a massive breach where users were stolen of their name, addresses, phone numbers, and email address. They were also blackmailed by having to click on a link that will download a virus and then threaten to wipe away files from their computer if they did not pay up.

Then in 2011, most ironically, RSA Security also fell victim to stolen records of over 40 million employees. As one if the world’s biggest tech-security companies, hackers had to be wise and careful in their tactic. Their plan included sending out emails with the subject line “2011 Recruitment Plan” that included an excel sheet that contained a virus. Once one email was open, this was used as an open access to all employee information and RSA systems.

For the everyday civilian like you and me, what we have to watch for are online purchases. Your best bet is to switch to Paypal, where the most you did to do is enter in your username and password, instead of the long and drawn-out credit card numbers that can easily be lifted by hackers. For added security with your Paypal account, be sure to utilize their security key. This physical key, about the size of a credit card, displays random security codes every 30 seconds and you have to enter the current one to log into your account.

Of course always use a strong password. It is no longer safe to use Password or ABC123 as your password anymore. So get creative and think of something that no one would ever know … like your 1st grade crush’s mom’s best friend’s cousin-twice-removed dog’s name.