How to Protect Yourself From Cyber Crime in the Holiday Season?

How to Protect Yourself From Cyber Crime in the Holiday Season?

Most people around the world do the majority of their shopping during the holiday season. According to a survey by a TransUnion 2019 Holiday Retail Fraud, about 75% of Americans plan to do at least half of their holiday shopping online this year. 

Although online Christmas shopping enables you to skip humongous crowds at the mall, it does pose some cybersecurity threats. Holidays are a bonanza for cybercriminals and since people are buying a lot of things in a limited time, they don’t stop to check the authenticity of websites. This presents a wide array of opportunities for crooks. 

The surge in cybercrimes affects both shoppers and retailers. For shoppers, their shopping activities to fulfill their holiday shopping checklist turns into a financial nightmare by becoming a victim of cybercrime. Similarly, for retailers, an opportunity to boost sales turns into security chaos that damages the reputation and trust between them and their customers. This is why it becomes imperative to take precautionary measures to protect yourself from the ever-increasing cybercrimes.

Precautionary Measures Against Cybercrime

According to Trustwave’s 2019 Global Security Report, cybercrime is getting more sophisticated. This is why it’s getting harder to discover whether you have been the victim of malware or malicious software. Let’s go through some of the measures you can take to protect yourself from cybercrimes during the holiday season: 

Don’t Click Links in Emails

Emails are the most common methods for gaining access to people’s personal information or identity. This is done through phishing emails, which are essentially ways to trick people into giving their information. A phishing email contains false links asking for you to put your info but they are made to look official and people fall for them. 

Cybercriminals easily disguise themselves as trustworthy sources. It’s remarkably easy for cybercriminals to send you an email from Macy’s, for example, with promotional Christmas deals for you. This results in unwanted downloads or requests for personal information by hackers. 

This is why it is imperative to take notice of a few things before clicking on a link. When doing so, hover the cursor over the link or button. This will show you the website’s address where that link leads to. If the link doesn’t look trustworthy, you should not click it. In order to figure out if the link is credible or not, look for the following anomalies: 

  • Secure e-commerce websites start with ‘https’ not just ‘http’ 
  • If you have to track a package by any couriers, you should visit the site directly and not click the link in the email. 
  • Ensure that the spellings of a website address are correct, as this is a common tactic by fraudsters to trick people. 

Avoid Public Wi-Fi Spots

Although rogue public Wi-Fi spots are tempting to use, they bring a lot of associated risks with them. Fraudsters set up shop at public Wi-Fi locations, which tempt people to connect their devices. This puts people at risk because it is impossible to know if the device has been compromised by spyware or malware. Additionally, it’s easier to intercept data including credit card numbers and passwords on a public network. Before connecting to any public device, make sure that the connection is password protected. You shouldn’t enter any personal or credit card information as well.

Attachments From Retailers

Just like avoiding clicking on email links, you shouldn’t open up any attachments from retailers. Retailers don’t hide deals and promotions in attachments as this is where the attackers hide malware. And these kinds of fake emails aren’t only about retailers and promotions; you could get a fake email that seems to be from a major shipping company like UPS, DHL, FedEx, etc. You have to remember that you can’t track orders that you haven’t requested. 

Avoid Ads and Pop-ups

It’s not just emails that contain malware and viruses. Hackers have become remarkably smart and leave viruses in places, which people tend to click on, especially the ads and pop-ups. By making attractive pops and ads containing lucrative promotions, cybercriminals make sure that people click on these pop-ups. According to a survey, 84% of online shoppers will do their shopping on smartphones to research products and look for coupons. 

This kind of practice is considered as malicious advertising or malvertising. These pop-ups and ads send you to sites that ask for your information and in some cases, infect your devices with harmful adware, spyware, and ransomware. One thing you should remember is that if the promotional deal is legit, it will definitely be on the company’s website. 

e-Skimming

Card skimming has been happening for several years now. This kind of scam normally happens at gas stations or ATMs by installing a device that gathers credit card numbers and information when a user swipes their card. But this practice isn’t confined to ATMs anymore. Cybercriminals install malicious code on a retailer’s website which enables them to gather credit card data when a user checks out. To avoid being a victim of e-Skimming, make sure you pay using a third party such as PayPal, Venmo or Amazon. This assures that the retailers never actually have your credit card information.  

Don’t Fall for Free Offers

During the holiday shopping, there is an explosion of gift card scams and survey. This kind of scam is based around asking people to take surveys in exchange for payments or gift cards. But what actually happens is that when a user clicks through, they are directed to websites that ask for credit card information, Amazon account credentials, etc so they can pay you. When a user types in their information on this site, they are directly giving their information to the attacker. 43% of online shoppers, according to a survey, had their identities stolen during the holiday shopping online. 

Cyber Attacks are More Frequent During the Holiday Season: CISA

Cyber Attacks are More Frequent During the Holiday Season: CISA

The holiday season is always accompanied by deals, discounts, special offers and countless shopping. This presents an opportunity to the hackers, scammers and fraudsters for malicious scamming and hacking. This year, there was a 19.7% increase in spending on Cyber Monday to $9.4 billion, according to Adobe Analytics

As the number of spending increases, an increased number of phishing scams present a huge vulnerability to identity theft, false purchasing and misplaced donations. This is why warnings have been given by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a division of Homeland Security. 

CISA warns the public of potential holiday scams and cyber campaigns, especially when it comes to browsing or shopping online. According to the update, the holidays frequently see an increase in cybercrime and scams. CSA recommends starting with these three simple steps to keep yourself safe: 

  • Check your devices – Before starting the hunt for the best deal, make sure your devices are up-to-date and your accounts have strong passwords. Once you’ve purchased an internet-connected device or toy, change the default password and check the devices’ privacy and security settings to make sure you’re not sharing more information than you want.

  • Shop through trusted retailers – Before making a purchase and providing any personal or financial information, make sure you’re using a reputable, established vendor.

  • Using safe methods for purchases – If you can, use a credit card as opposed to a debit card as credit cards often have better fraud protection.

The agency plans to share additional resources and safety information over the course of the next month in order to keep consumers safe during the holiday season. According to CISA director, Christopher Krebs, 

“The good news is you don’t need to be a cybersecurity pro to defend yourself.  It’s often the simple things that make a big difference in protecting yourself and your family from cyber threats and scams.”

For more information about shopping online safely this holiday season, visit www.CISA.gov/shop-safely.   

 

 

Cybercrimes Rise

Cybercrimes Rise 5 times in 4 years and Continue to Soar!

 A rapid stride in the tech world over the years has increased cybercrimes immensely. According to a report, cybercriminal activities have clamped up 5 times in 4 years.  Since the usage of the internet is increasing with every passing day this internet connectivity has clamped up the volume and pace of cybercriminal activities. It is a challenging task to keep the pace up with new technologies, security trends, and threat intelligence. 

In order to protect information and other assets, it is necessary to take precautionary steps to avoid falling prey to cyber-attacks which are of many types. For instance, identity theft in order to gain sensitive information that is typically protected, credit card fraud, Ransomware which is demanding a payment to decrypt the locked computer or software, phishing in which fraudulent emails to steal sensitive data. Cybercrime in recent times has taken a curious turn with the character assassination of individuals and multi-crore frauds by lurking its way through popular social media platforms.

Cybercrimes- Calling out a set of Perils:

The use of cybersecurity can help prevent cybercrimes, data breaches, and identity theft and can aid in risk management. The protection of internet-connected systems, including hardware, software, and data from cyber-attacks is referred to as cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is a technique of protecting computers, networks, programs and data from unauthorized access or attacks that are aimed for exploitation. Protection of the usability, reliability, integrity, and safety of the network comes under network security. 

At the global level, the U.S. is taking giant strides forward in terms of implementing cybersecurity. In 2017, two cybercrime major incidents brought down government networks that sent an alarming signal. The need to implement reliable and impenetrable cybersecurity systems received an added push. 

Trends in CyberSecurity:

 

In the wake of the growing sophistication of cyber adversaries, the unprecedented volume of attacks and increasingly lethal IT security threats, coupled with stricter regulatory mandates, there is a pressing need to cope up with IT security more than ever in this new year. Here are some cybersecurity trends at a glance:

 

  • Tracking Shadow IT Inventory

 

Software programs and applications which are not approved by enterprise IT but still running on user devices will be more liable to exploit shadow IT resources. As businesses increasingly embrace software as a service (SaaS), norms are becoming somewhat lenient as users enjoy greater freedoms with their own devices. But it should not be happening by putting cybersecurity at the stake. In digital transformation, businesses will need to take steps for security and constantly monitor user access rights and permissions for any possible regulations.

 

  • User Awareness

 

Businesses need to keep their eyes peeled for any potential risk that can come from their own users. This may include potential harm arising from a sophisticated phishing scam or a user’s lack of awareness in fulfilling a mandate, resulting in data loss, identity theft, etc. Users are always the weakest link in the security chain of business. So it’s crucial to give user awareness training for cybersecurity. 

Just by the employment of next-gen security measures will not help in doing what’s necessary. There are a variety of incidents where users violate the security code of conduct. For example, logging into unsecured public networks, using work devices for personal transactions, downloading unapproved applications, etc. This needs to change.

 

  • Targeted Phishing Attacks:

 

Unsuspected users continue to fall prey to phishing attacks which are the most pervasive IT security threats. A study conducted toward the end of 2018 suggests that online phishing attacks were up 297% over the last year and 2019 shall see this trend booming. Comprehensive security awareness programs should be adopted by businesses. This may include investing in phishing simulators that explain various emerging patterns. This should help users identify suspicious phishing emails, ensuring they do not end up handing over the keys to the castle.

 

  • Operationalizing GDPR

 

Businesses should think of GDPR to increase IT security. As GDPR makes it necessary to appoint a dedicated data protection officer (DPO), operationalizing this compliance will require understanding several aspects of the law, such as how information privacy is protected and anchored in. It will help to determine if the up to date intelligence on the data processed is available. 

 

  • Cloud security:

 

Cybercriminals take aim at the cloud. An increasing number of databases are being hosted in the cloud, which is where software and systems are designed specifically to be deployed over a network. As more and more businesses migrate to the cloud, a new role of cloud migration security specialist will be a key part of large IT teams. Cloud hygiene will only grow in importance over the next 12 months, particularly in avoiding devastating data breaches. Many management and identity verification tools can be used in this regard.

How Can We Fight Cyber Crimes?

 

Fighting cybercrimes is everyone’s business in one way or the other. Following are some ways to protect yourselves against cyber-attacks:

Use Internet Security System

 

Use software that can provide real-time protection against existing malware including ransomware and trojan viruses. It will help protect your data when you go online.

Use Strong Passwords

 

Do not just add easy to guess traditional passwords. Always use a strong password and keep on changing the passwords after some time. Do not repeat the same password for different sites. 

Keep Software Updated

 

Always keep an updated version of the software. Cybercriminals use known exploits frequently to gain access to your software. Keeping updated software will make it less likely that you’ll become a cybercriminal target.

Guide your Children

 

Teach children about the use of the internet. Make sure they are comfortable sharing with you if they experience any sort of online harassment, stalking, or cyberbullying.

Take Measure to Protect Identity Theft

 

You can save your identity from falling into the wrong hands. Know that identity theft can happen anywhere so always be very cautious. It occurs to obtain your personal data in a way that involves deception mostly for economic gain. You might be tricked into giving personal information over the internet or cybercriminal can steal your mail to access account information. So guard your personal information by using VPN over new Wi-Fi connection and keeping your travel plans off social media. Protect your children as identity thieves mostly target children. 

Keep up to Date on Data Breaches

 

Just over the last decade, there have been over  2,550 data breaches with millions of records being affected and the nature of the stolen information makes them considerably more serious than most. One should always stay up to date by such cases so that he can protect himself against such incidents. This will help you find out which type of data was targeted by criminals so that you can protect them. 

Manage Your Social Media Accounts

 

Keep your private information well secure and locked down on social media sites. Just a few data points will be enough for social engineer cybercriminals to get your personal information. It the less you share publicly the better it is. 

Always Use a VPN

 

Whenever you are using any WI-Fi network at a public place it is a good practice to use VPN whether in a library, hotel, cafe or airport.

Become a Victim? Know what to do

 

If you believe you have fallen prey to cybercrime, you need to inform local police and in some cases FBI even if the crime seems minor. Your report may assist the authorities in their investigation or may help to thwart criminals from taking advantage of people’s personal data in the future. If cybercriminals have stolen your identity following are some steps you can take:

  • Report the crime to FTC
  • Get your credit reports and place fraud alerts
  • Contact financial institutes or companies where the fraud occurred. 

As technology is advancing, it is important for every organization to identify the real problem i.e. lack awareness related to cyber intelligence and crime could potentially inflict a heavy loss. One should be aware of how to protect himself against these crimes and where to report if he gets trapped in. In a nutshell, cybercriminals are becoming more discrete and to identify the breach in security needs to be identified and dealt with high urgency to avoid identity theft and data breaches. 

Multi factor Authentication is being defeated warns FBI

Multi-factor Authentication is being defeated’ warns FBI

For years, online businesses and organizations have been adopting various strategies and defense mechanisms to protect themselves from every kind of cyberattack. Cybercriminals are actively embracing technology to conduct sophisticated attacks online. This increasing trend of data breaches and digital frauds is a striking example of growing cyberattacks. Defending against these attacks has become a new normal for businesses worldwide.

One of the widely used methods to prevent these frauds is multi-factor authentication (2-Factor being the most common one). Although businesses and organizations are proactively using multi-factor authentication to protect their systems and data from perpetual business email compromise (BEC) attacks, the new warning from the FBI has surprised them unanimously.

According to the FBI, cyberattacks are circumventing multi-factor authentication through various social engineering tactics and technical attacks. In multi-factor authentication, the use of a secondary token or one-time generated code verifies and authenticates the identity of the user. But with the FBI’s new warning, businesses are quite bewildered. 

FBI Warning: The Surprise Factor?

 

The reason for this perplexity is that businesses have yet to come across such attacks on MFA. So far, such attacks have been rare to witness. 

Microsoft azure claims that multi-factor authentication blocks an unbelievable 99.9% of enterprise account hacks. Adopting this method is the least the organizations can do to protect their accounts as the rate of compromise of accounts is less than 0.1% for the companies that are using any type of MFA.

Even with the least compromise rate, the use of MFA is uncommon with less than 10% of the users per month (for enterprise accounts) – claims Microsoft. This statistic alone contradicts the FBI’s threat of MFA compromise, and businesses were not expecting it. However, the FBI states that the use of one-time codes and secondary tokens is not enough to back up the user and his credentials, nor is it sufficient to protect his identity.

How MFA is vulnerable to cyberattacks

 

Despite the endless struggle of businesses to protect the user’s information, by making account access harder and complex through two-factor and multi-factor authentication, it can still be vulnerable to breach. There is a high-risk that cybercriminals can attack and trick users into disclosing their credentials and authentication codes through social engineering. Or, they can create an account for themselves through the use of technical interception.

Phishing

 

Phishing attacks are a great example of social engineering. They can be used to lure victims into providing their credentials through a fake login page. Due to readily available technology and APIs, it is not difficult for criminals to create a fake login page. Attackers make use of different social engineering tricks (for example emails, fake job alerts, etc.) through which they tempt the users to click the link which is a clone of the original login page.

When the victims enter their credentials, the hackers fetch that information and pass it to the real login page, henceforth triggering the multi-factor authentication procedure. The victim is shown fake prompt requiring the texted or mailed code. Just like before, the hackers catch the code and complete the authentication process. 

This is not as easy as it seems. Hackers need to be fast enough due to the limited time-factor associated with the code. But once the process is successful, there’s nothing that can stop them from carrying out their activities.

Password Reset

 

Many times, the authentication process can be bypassed through the “Forgot Password” procedure, if a hacker is in possession of “something you have” item (for example, email). 

If the criminal/hacker has gained access to the victim’s email account where the verification link or code is sent, the attacker can easily use the “Reset Password” link and change the passwords to something else by following the instructions. Moreover, once he has access to the account, he can even change the recovery email and phone number, giving him complete access. 

Third-Party Logins

 

The explosion of online platforms has introduced a new authentication process for enhanced user-experience – through third-party logins. 

In this process, the user is offered an option to log in using third-party accounts and bypass the 2-factor authentication procedure. An example of such a case is “Login with your Facebook Account” or “Login with your Gmail Account”. In this case, an attacker can easily take over the accounts once they have access to your Gmail or Facebook credentials (through phishing and forget password procedures).

Brute Force Attacks

 

With the advancement of technology and automated tools, hackers have the opportunity to obtain user passwords and verification codes through brute force attacks. Through brute force, the attackers can gain limited-characters tokens. The tokens or verification codes are quite useless if the attackers get enough time to apply brute force and obtain the token. 

Advanced Tools and Techniques

 

On the one hand, technology has helped organizations in securing their digital presence, while on the other, it has also contributed to the innovation of advanced hacking tools.

In its investigation, the FBI has highlighted different examples of tools and techniques that are being used to defeat multi-factor authentication. It includes web hacks, cyberattack tools like NecroBrowser and Muraen, not to forget straightforward SIM swapping. The main issue with MFA is that organizations find it an ultimate solution for the security of the institution.

Solutions to Cyberattacks

 

While massive data breaches and identity theft are on the rise, multi-factor authentication is becoming the standard procedure for most of the organizations to secure themselves from attackers. 

No doubt, it is quite a secure method but hackers are now finding ways to get around MFA. While the risks are rare, the fact that a growing reliance on MFA can lead to growing attacks on MFA can’t be ignored.

FBI states that as per research 99% of the attacks are triggered by the person’s activities i.e. through clicking the link and falling victim to phishing scams as well as social engineering hacks. The most effective solution is to educate employees and consumers to recognize the phishing attacks so that they can try to avoid them.

Use of Biometrics

 

Use of Biometrics

 

The multi-factor authentication can be secured just by adding an extra layer of security i.e. Biometrics. 

The hackers can access something you know (credentials) and something you have (authentication codes) but they can’t access something you are (biometrics). Biometrics are the unique features of a person that can’t be stolen or changed. Incorporating biometric verification with 2-factor authentication can provide the most effective and secure authentication process.

fraud prevention detail

5 Industries Where Anti Fraud Solutions are Gaining Prominence

Every profit generating business has some level of risk of falling victim to fraudulent activities. The constant threat of fraud in the market encourages businesses to seek out fraud detection and prevention services. The sector that is immensely vulnerable to and affected by frauds and scams is the Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI). Fraud, in general, is responsible for a loss of one trillion US dollars to both online retailers and financial service firms. However, the finance sector is not the only industry plagued with scammers and fraudsters. Such circumstances have led companies to seek fraud analytics and anti fraud services.

Anti Fraud Solutions on the Rise

Fraud analysis, however, is not enough; for businesses to take an on hands approach to battle fraud they need proper anti-fraud solutions. Businesses are now in need of user authentication services more than ever. Such services can take the form of identity verification services, single or multi-factor authentications and face verification services. Industries more prone to fraud have been implementing such solutions for a while now. However, some industries where fraud prevention techniques are gaining prominence include;

Cryptocurrency Sector

Conventional banking has always been ailed by fraud and scams. But since the crypto industry is a relatively new find, and more or less employs the same methods as traditional financing, it has also been affected heavily by fraudulent activities. Due to its primary presence being on the web, crypto is more prone to cybercrime, wherein lies its need to employ cybersecurity measures. Authentication services are the best solution to counter such threats. Their need for such solutions has led the crypto industry to KYC verification service providers. Due to the nature of their business, they also look for AML compliance measures which allow them to avoid financial and white-collar criminals.

E-Commerce Industry

Fraud in the e-commerce sector is not new. However, online retailers have had to bear the brunt of fraudulent activities from both the customer and the banks involved in their transactions. Therefore, proper verification of their customers has had immense advantages for them. Fraud prevention measures allow them to verify the customers’ addresses, thereby ensuring that they are selling to the right person and make sure that they do not have to face any chargebacks.

Travel and Hospitality Sector

One victim of identity and credit card fraud is the travel and hospitality sector. Scammers are widely known to steal identities to use for travelling and availing hospitality services. With fraud protection services now being provided by some companies, Hotels and airlines can make sure that all bookings and reservations made with them are from authentic customers rather than fraudsters or scammers looking to avail travelling and lodging services from a stolen ID or credit card.

Online Gaming Industry

Online Gaming has been emerging as a major player in the market gradually over the years. With the growth of advancement in the tech industry, gaming has also evolved into a significant revenue generating industry. The industry is no less fraught by scams and has been in need of fraud protection. Moreover, the gaming industry is also in need of age regulation, thereby requiring age verification of its users. Therefore, implementing ID verification and face verification services from a reliable identity verification service provider, they can ensure safe business practices.

Real Estate

The real estate industry is also known to be scammed by buyers, instead of the situation only running the other way round. Scammers usually target real estate businesses by providing fake financial details and a shady story into why they wish to buy an estate. Such scams can be avoided altogether by the real industry by implementing Know Your Customer (KYC) verification solutions. They ensure the business that their buyer is authentic and is providing legitimate details into his/her financials.

When it comes to identity verification services, Shufti Pro is a veteran in the market providing top of the line anti-fraud solutions to businesses, enabling them to ensure the ingenuity of their customers. Shufti Pro provides both KYC verification services as well as AML compliance to businesses through its state of the art AI-based authentication protocols.  It can be easily integrated into a business’s existing interface and is supported by all major web browsers in addition to having SDK integration for Android and iOS.

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