Data theft and computer scams, Merry Christmas

Pierluigi Paganini November 26, 2012

The large diffusion of new services on mobile platforms and social networks was accompanied with a sensible increase of cyber crimes, mainly of identity theft. The  US nonprofit consumer watchdog organization Consumer Reports has recently spread an alert on online purchases benefiting of Cyber Monday sales and more in general of discounts for this holiday season.

In this period of the year cyber criminals are very active, with different techniques they operate to steal banking credentials and any other personal information to realize computer frauds.

Consumer Reports reported that more than 3.7 million online households in US suffered of personal information leak due cybercrime or accidental lost in 2011.

The problem are originated by lack of proper authentication mechanisms for principal on-line shops and also by misconduct of buyers, following few tips provided by the Consumer Reports association:

  • Never use the same password for multiple sites. Minimize the chance that a hacker who broke into one account can gain access to your other online accounts.
  • Create and use separate e-mail addresses. Specific e-mail accounts for specific shopping sites—say, “[email protected]”—will limit your data exposure when a particular online retailer gets hacked.
  • Never use any part of your name or any other easily guessed word in your password.
  • Use a strong password, including a mixture of letters, numbers, and special characters. Substituting numbers for letters might help you remember your login–“pa55w0rd” instead of “password,” for example. And some websites allow the use of symbols such as ! and #. For more password advice, see “How to create a strong password (and remember it!).”
  • Verify that the site you’re doing business with is a known and trusted retailer.

Personal data are valuable goods able to attract for various reasons a great interest, data theft and identify theft are very common crimes and the figures behind them are extremely high.

Last week Greek police HAS arrested a man on suspicion of stealing the personal data of roughly two thirds of the country’s population according the declaration of law enforcement. Almost all of the Greek population robbed of their information, that’s amazing and could give an idea on how much simple is to commercialize the “information” and how attractive it is.

“The guy arrested is a computer programmer, it was also suspected of attempting to sell the 9 million files containing identification card data, addresses, tax ID numbers and license plate numbers.”

At the moment there aren’t info regarding the way the data have been stolen, the investigation believe that they could be the result of an attack against government services other possibility is that the guy received the information by an insider.

The situation is really alarming and could and could only get worse, the increasing interest of cybercrime in the sail of sensible information and the leak of security of many applications and services is an explosive mixture.

Christmas is near and web users must be aware of cyber threats that will target mainly mobile users according McAfee, the famous security firm provides that one in four mobile device users will use their smartphones to shop online this year. McAfee listed the most top 12 scams for the period, they aren’t totally new, the majority is a revisiting of old fraud schemas, following top five of the list:

  1. Social media scams
  2. Malicious Mobile Apps
  3. Travel Scams
  4. Holiday Spam/Phishing
  5. The new iPad, iPhone 5,  and other hot holiday gift scams

To avoid problem and defend personal information internet users should keep updated defense systems and fundamental is also the awareness on the cyber threats but McAfee alerts that it’s not enough because criminals are showing increasing capabilities and are constantly changing tactics.

Pierluigi Paganini

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