There are a variety of perks of being in the Digital Age, such as online banking, online shopping and even online games. However, it also brings a whole host of threats too. These threats include fraud, identity theft, intellectual property theft, industrial espionage, service disruption, physical damage and even blackmail. All of these thefts have one thing in common, stolen data, and with data being the new cash, how is this data being stolen and what can you do about it?
It is reported that cyber-criminals are able to sell data on the dark web, without the victim without even knowing that their data has been copied or compromised! Contrary to popular belief, individuals may be targeted more so than big wealthy corporations. In particular, those that do not have security barriers in place, will provide hackers with access to their employers and other social and professional groups. This information can be used to then blackmail and provide critical details to allow the cash to flow!
Ransomware is also frequently used to allow the hacker to access the data by obtaining a password. Another method that many hackers use is to form a fictitious romance with a targeted employee; this is not a particularly quick method for a hacker as it can take many months of 'grooming' for the hacker to obtain the information they desire. Sometimes they extort some form of compromising material to blackmail the victim into giving them more details. Once the hacker has extorted the money, they may use someone with a legitimate clean bank account in a foreign country, to wire the money to.
Another way that hackers use data to earn money is by infiltrating a companies network and then offering them a chance to 'close their security gaps' and charging a massive fee for the service, almost like a protection racket. This saves the company the embarrassment and the chance of losing custom, as well as earning the hackers a vast amount of money.
Once your data is stolen, what can you do?
- Contact all of your financial service providers
There is a level of uncertainty that comes with having your personal data stolen. In order to protect your finances and get past that hurdle, contact your financial services. This way they can make sure they can look out for any suspicious activity.
- Whoop whoop, it's the sound of the police!
It is a good idea to let the police know what has happened. This will increase the amount of time credit unions will allow you to place a credit freeze on your account. There may also be a pattern and this will make the police aware of it, although the chances are that you may just get a crime reference number and a visit from a PC....
- Change your passwords and use 2 step authentication
The easiest thing you can do is change your passwords on EVERYTHING. Yes, it is really boring and tedious but it will make sure that the hacker will not do it again. Don't use a simple numeric code on phones and tablets; change it to a complex alpha-numeric password. Also, it is a good idea to implement a password manager, as it allows you to store all your passwords.
- Check your statements
It is a good idea to be vigilant with your personal information. You can do this by regularly checking your bank and credit card statements for purchases you did not make. The transactions may not be big because the cyber criminal may be testing your account.
- Set a limit
With the vast amount of social media platforms, it can be easy to share personal information. Stop this! Don't make it easy for thieves to steal your identity and only use a select few with STRONG password protection and ensure you use 2 step authentication!
There you go folks, hackers may be making money from data but you, as an individual and an employee, can play your part in preventing this.