As everyone is gearing up for celebration, merry-making and vacations during this festive season, hackers on the dark web are salivating at the prospects of identity theft presented.
Cases of identity theft and sale on the dark web are not new. The holiday season, however, presents new dynamics for the hackers.
A lot of people will be rushing shop for Christmas and book vacations.
Many are bound to not be conscious of the fact that they are dumping their all personal and financial details in one place, at one time.
Identity thieves will be lurking in ecommerce stores and holiday booking websites waiting to take advantage of any loopholes.
There are millions of people who do their shopping online. They are bound to be making more purchases than usual during the holidays.
While buying anything on an ecommerce site, you have to sign up. You dump a package of critical personal information and data on such a site.
In the event the site is infiltrated by darknet hackers, they will be able to access all your information and data. Anyone can use it passing off as you.
The Identity Theft Resource Center in its 2017 Data Breach report found that there were 1,579 data breaches over the course of the year.
According to Experian, credit card fraud was the most common type of identity theft last year with just over 133,000 reports.
Online fraud attempts rose concurrently with rising number of transactions during the holiday season.
The highest number of online fraud attempts were recorded on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve.
You might be thinking, “but big ecommerce sites have very robust security systems.” Yes, they do.
However, some of the biggest and most robust ecommerce sites have been hacked several times. Take, for instance, Amazon.
The ecommerce giant was reported to have been hacked by mysterious robot chips, allegedly from China, last month.
Amazon, eBay and other popular ecommerce platforms—no matter how large—are not hack-proof.
Identity thieves target personal accounts though. They will look for security loopholes from a client’s end, and try to login into their account.
They will get all your information and neither the company nor you will know. The data is then put up for sale on the dark web.
You will be surprised to find purchases were made using your credit card or through your bank account, and you know nothing about it.
Everyone will also be rushing to secure vacations online. Flight bookings are also majorly done online nowadays.
You will be required to submit your personal and financial information to such sites.
Darknet hackers are likely to be lurking in such systems, seeking to siphon such information.
These people would know your physical location and where you will be travelling to from these sites.
Some will get into your account and steal your travel points, and use them to book flights and vacations for themselves.
Such packages of your information being out there poses a major security threat to you and your identity.
Beware of fake travel websites and promises of free airline tickets. There will be many of those during the holiday season.
The convenience offered by making travel arrangements online is irresistible. Many people tend to be reckless with the last-minute rush to get everything they are looking for.
That recklessness can come at a high cost.
You can imagine if a hacker had access to your activities on your computer, they would have your identification information as well as your financial details.
They would probably know where you will be travelling to and even which flight you will be on if you happen to have booked your flight online.
Such packages of information would be very valuable on the dark web. The identity thieves would know where and when to use your information and make it look like you are the one involved.
It is important to remain vigilant and conscious of the risks involved with sharing your information online.
All this does not in any way imply that you should not shop or book vacations online. You just need to take the necessary precautions to ensure you stay safe.
The hackers will mostly target clients on an ecommerce platform or travel website, rather than infiltrating company databases.
These companies have robust systems to protect their data. They also have people who are always on the look-out for any suspicious activities.
They will try to get into your account and collect your information.
To remain on the safe side, ensure you take the following precautions:
Keep Your Antivirus Up-To-Date
An antivirus on your computer is your first line of defense against hackers and malware. Having an antivirus might sound basic but you should never underestimate its importance.
Make an effort of always ensuring you have the latest update of the software installed on your computer.
These hackers are developing malicious software every day. Each new malware program is more sophisticated than the previous one.
As much as updating your antivirus regularly might be annoying, you need to ensure you give the hackers no chance of accessing your critical information.
Beware of Phishing Scams
During the holiday season, you will most likely get a lot of unsolicited emails and online alerts claiming one thing or the other.
Many of them will tell you you’ve won prizes, especially if you shop online a lot. Most of these are always phishing scams.
These are scammers trying to get access to your computer or trick you into submitting your personal information. Make sure you avoid them at all costs.
Do not open links that you are not familiar with. Don’t open emails whose source you do not recognize either.
Some malware arrives as email and will infect your computer the moment you open the message, links or files within.
If you are unsure of an email or link, but you think it could be important, call the organization involved first and confirm.
Avoid Public Wi-Fi
Everybody loves free Wi-Fi. Hackers love free public Wi-Fi too. Public networks always have weak security protocols, and there are a lot of people on it.
They can easily infiltrate other people’s computers and fish for critical data.
Avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi networks as much as possible. If you do, make sure your computer has an extra layer of protection.
Have a robust firewall system or use a VPN to ensure nobody on the network can access files on your computer.
Hackers use such weak points to fish for people’s passwords and personal data.
Change Passwords Often
You need to be changing your passwords regularly. Also, using alphanumeric characters in your passwords makes them robust.
Avoid saving passwords on your computer as well. You can have them written down on a personal diary or anywhere else no one can find them.
Hackers are often able to generate your password through trial and error methods. They have fast and sophisticated systems that can execute millions of comparisons within a second. Having an incomparable password will keep them at bay.
The festive season should be a time for joy and laughter. Avoid interruptions by ensuring all your online interactions are safe and secure.
Take time to confirm any offers you get to buy products from ecommerce stores, regardless of how enticing they might be.
Some scammers will send you an offer and put a clock on it, just to trick you into giving away your information as soon as possible.
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