Tips: Protect Your Financial Information During Final Days Of Tax Season

With tax season coming down to the wire, most American households are preparing to fire up their Web browsers in order to use one of the main online tax preparation software programs in order to begin the dreary, but necessary, task of filing tax documentation for the year.

Filing tax returns is one of the yearly tasks American households must add to their already busy schedules. Without proper network security, households risk having not only their networks attacked, but also risk losing personal information. Some think that having a basic antivirus solution is enough to prevent intrusions. Others may not even be aware that their computer could be at risk. To help American households prevent identity theft, BitDefender is offering valuable tips to follow this tax season.

For most, filing taxes has become a routine. Few pause to contemplate the consequence of exposing all their information to the Net -- and with the multitude of viruses, worms, phishing attacks, hacking attempts and other assorted nefarious acts being perpetrated on the Web these days, data and identity theft are not as remote of a possibility as people would like to assume.

"As cybercriminals learn and employ new ways to attempt to steal financial and personal information, consumers need to be aware that their network could be at risk," said Bogdan Dumitru, BitDefender CTO. "Especially during tax season -- when more and more people are turning to the Internet to help file their tax returns -- it is especially important for households to take extra steps ensuring their network security."

There are simple ways to protect your family's identity and financial information, while still doing your taxes from the comfort of your own home:

1. Sweep your system before you start. Make sure your system is clean -- a full system scan with a good antivirus should be enough. You can schedule this to be done overnight, so you don't waste any time.

2. Type the URL into your browser. Phishing Web sites can be very convincing -- don't follow a link to the IRS website, write the address (www.irs.gov) in your browser's address bar yourself.

3. Use an antispam filter and an anti-phishing Web filter. Using an antispam and an anti-phishing web filter avoids receiving phishing e-mails or being directed to phishing Web sites. Good security software includes both.

4. Disable ActiveX and JavaScript in your browser. If you happen to visit a malicious Web site while doing your taxes online, this lessens the chance of getting infected.

5. Don't send tax-related documents or do tax-related browsing over Wi-Fi. Currently deployed wireless encryption technologies are known to be flawed -- an attacker can eavesdrop on and decrypt all traffic flowing through an access point. Be especially wary about sending through a public location -- places like coffee shops are sometimes "sniffed" upon on a permanent basis by bad guys.

6. Know the company you are filing your e-taxes with. Do they have a valid address? Does anyone answer the phone? Have you dealt with them in the past? Just about anyone can put up a storefront on the web and claim to be able do your taxes -- not all who do are legit.

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