Information is both beautiful and deadly! Today, the online marketplace runs on analytics and data but in the wrong hands, it could turn into the worst of disasters. According to a new study, cybercriminals are costing more than $575 billion every year and this could include your financial data! As the world is speeding into a world of internet and our future infrastructure depending on virtual intelligence, we are more in the risk of exposing our personal information. Cyber terrorists and hacktivists have become regular topics of discussion and the breaches they have been able to make are worth getting concerned of. It's not just that our bank accounts are at risk but hackers could create a global crisis. We have already seen the power when hackers reveal how all of Manhattan's traffic signals can be turned green or a US military drone be rerouted for an unidentified target!
Online crimes are estimated to be about 0.8% of the world's total GDP and this isn't a small number. In January 2016, hackers stole approximately $54.5 million from FACC's (US Aerospace manufacturer) accounts. Given that such a large corporation was compromised, you can never be sure enough if your bank account is safe enough. The crisis becomes more serious when James Lewis from the CSIS says that "We don't catch most cybercriminals and we don't catch the most successful ones. So far, there has been impunity for these hackers".
So, in what ways can the hacker rob you?
The case of frequent flyer miles
In December, 2015, more than 10,000 American users were hacked and cybercriminals were able to book free flights and other upgrades using the stolen perks! The hackers accessed the login information of users (frequent flyers) and flew several miles for free. While these customers got back their free miles in due time, the event reasons why we should be changing our login information (passwords) more frequently.
Even your health insurance!
Today, when medical costs are on the rise and we are depending on fast food for our daily living, it's medical insurance that's kept as a backup plan! However, you can be surprised that even this insurance can be hacked and you are actually paying the premiums for someone else. These identity thieves will obtain all medical benefits you have paid for and you will not know unless you are actually in need for emergency attention.
You can be apprehended for the crime you didn't commit
In the worst case scenario, you could be getting a surprise visit from the police and be arrested for a crime you didn't commit! While, these cases have been rare, identity thieves always have the option of making you the face of a crime. All of it is by using your personal details from different online sources. The lawyers will cost you a wholesome!
Cases have happened in the past when hackers override a company's chat dashboard and talk and make business with your clients and customers. In February 2015, HipChat announced that hackers stole encrypted passwords and other user details for 2% of their customers. After the event, several chat platforms switched to a two-factor authentication apart from asking their users to change their passwords frequently. Though, it doesn't make your credentials completely immune to hacks, it does minimize the risks.
Your tax refunds
Generally, you would have filed your returns by 15th of April but the IRS won't be checking it until late in June-July. This gives hackers a lot of window to steal your social security number and name and file a fake tax return and get the refund on their accounts. When you notice that your return application has been rejected, the money would be long gone.
Credit cards in your name
The most feared act of identity theft is when someone else is issued a credit card in your name. Using your bank login details, social security and email, criminals will be happily running debts in your name until your credit reaches it limit. It is therefore necessary that you review your credit reports more frequently and report transactions that you don't recognize.
Most of us will not think twice when a friend in needs asks for some emergency money. However, there have been cases when you have actually transferred the money to a stranger's account after he has hacked your friend's social account and asked help via the chat box. Referred to as "social engineering", these scammers will ride on your reputation and trick you into sending money.
Your data at ransom
This is among the scariest of scams that has been running on the internet. Hackers will be using a "Ransomware virus" and encrypt all your files on your personal PC. You won't be able to retrieve these files until you transfer a substantial amount to the hacker's account! Well, in this age of information, you don't have a choice.
The key to maximum security lies in the basics. Change your passwords, keep your antivirus software updated, don't visit suspicious links, don't store confidential details on your email or phone and double-check whenever you are dealing with your financial details on the internet.
In 2015, half of all American citizens had their personal information (including banking details) exposed to cybercriminals. The internet was built for openness, speed but not for complete security. As we keep on adding more and more services to make our life more convenient, we are easily becoming the target for hackers. That being said, we don hint about switching back to the traditional means of doing transactions. Breaches have become regular and there is no way to completely avoid them. However, you can make things harder for the criminals and hope that they choose an easier alternative to earn money - someone else's account! It is necessary that we begin to fully understand the scope of the problem and treat hacking as a nuisance. The thieves at the other end are smart. You need to be smarter.
Richard Davis is a director of a custom web design & development company. He is a frequent blogger and published author. Richard Davis has worked as Principal Analyst with a firm, focused on supporting mobile experience providers and web design companies innovate and capture market opportunities.
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