Stealing & Selling DataLike other goods, data is bought and sold in a marketplace. The currency of information circulates through a massive, underground economy consisting of hackers and coders who steal data and vendors who buy and resell it to end-users—the people trying to ensnare you in a scam. According to the cyber security firm Digital Shadows, over 15 billion pieces of personal data are circulating the marketplace, ready to go to the highest bidder.
The Evolution of ScammingBefore the internet, scammers would make dozens of calls daily, using the typical sales techniques of bonding quickly with the prospective “client” and creating a high-pressure situation.
The Business of Protecting DataTaking in all of this information can be a little overwhelming, but the good news is that plenty of people are on your side, and you are not fighting this alone. Credit card companies, for one, have numerous checks and balances in place. Anti-fraud detection systems use artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze hundreds of pieces of data for risk when a transaction occurs. These systems are seriously effective (Visa’s global fraud rate is at less than 0.1%), but if a bad transaction does happen to slip through the cracks, credit cards also have measures in place that allow these to be canceled and your money refunded.
- Set up your digital accounts to require multi-factor authentication.
- Don’t save any credit card information on any sites.
- Use facial or fingerprint recognition on your phone in case it is lost or stolen.
- Use antivirus software.
- Don’t keep your phone number stored on any online accounts.
- Ignore phone calls from numbers you don’t know.
- Never make a quick decision regarding money—phrases like “act now” or “exclusive deal” can be signs of fraud.
- Always do some outside research before committing to any investment.
- Never send cash through the mail for something you purchased online.
- A request for payment via gift card is often fraudulent.
- Change passwords for online accounts frequently.
- Take alerts about potential breaches from online organizations seriously.
- Purge social media accounts of any information you wouldn’t want a hacker finding out.