We’ve all been there: That moment when you find an e-mail from your bank asking you to click on a link to confirm your account information, or perhaps you discover that a sum of money was mysteriously wired from your account. An estimated 5 percent of adults in the United States falls victim to these kinds of crimes every year. While technology continues to evolve and change the way we lead our lives, cybercriminals are right in step with those changes and intensifying their efforts to access your data.
Know what you’re up against and protect yourself this is the crux of cybersecurity. While we’re often reminded by financial institutions or security experts to fortify our information, the majority of us still don’t do it as methodically as we should, even when we know the alternative having your information stolen and exploited could be devastating. Malware, phishing, social engineering, and wire fraud are common tactics that criminals use to compromise a victim’s identity or login credentials. Some of these are more sophisticated than others. Let’s take a look:
Malware is the use of malicious software to gain access to private computer systems and gather sensitive personal information, such as social security numbers, account numbers, passwords, and more. While malware can be inserted into a victim’s computer by various means, it often slips in when an unwary user clicks an unfamiliar link or opens an infected e-mail.
Phishing is one of the most common tactics used by criminals to acquire sensitive personal information via e-mail. Often times, a criminal will masquerade as an entity with which a victim already has a financial relationship and attempt to solicit sensitive personal data from the unwitting recipient.
Social engineering is a way for criminals to gain the trust of a victim over time through social and other electronic media and then manipulate that person into divulging confidential information.
Wire fraud has been around much longer than some of today’s emerging data security threats, but it’s experiencing a resurgence. The most common scenario involves fraudulent money transfer requests by phone or electronically. Many times, a compromised e-mail account allows a fraudster to gain access to personal information.