“And it’s not just a monetary issue, the impact of being hacked has wider implications. Online shopping, for example, may suffer credibility issue, as people will not be confident to share their personal and financial details.”
Growing importance of Privacy
Adding to the debate, Simon Ractliffe, General Manager and Director at Dell SecureWorks believes privacy has become “more important than ever before” as underground hacker markets continue to boom in 2015.
“Online privacy and ensuring all your online entities are secure has never been more important,” he adds.
“The underground hacker markets are booming with counterfeit documents including new identity kits, passports, utility bills, social security cards and driver’s licenses.
“These documents enable many kinds of in-person fraud, whether it is buying a high-end purchase with a duplicated credit card, applying for bank loans or attempting government fraud.”
Ractliffe believes it’s clear the underground hackers are monetising every piece of data they can steal or buy.
Additionally, they are beginning to sell the tools to enable would-be hackers to progress and commit opportunistic crimes, as well as conduct online and in-person fraud.
“Malware, infected computers, walk-through guides and even hackers-for-hire, are all available to purchase on the underground hacker market,” Ractliffe adds.
“In order to prevent this criminal activity and ensure your sensitive information stays private, it is essential organisations, as well as individuals, stay aware of the threat and implement proactive measures to ward against the loss of data.”
Consequently, Ractliffe offers the below tips to ensure individuals maintain their privacy and remain safe:
1. Avoid clicking on links or attachments within emails from untrusted sources. Even if you recognise the sender, you should confirm the sender has sent the specific email to you before clicking on any links or attachments.
2. Reconcile your banking and credit card statements on a regular basis with online banking and/or credit card activity to identify potential anomalous transactions that may indicate account takeover.
3. Make sure your anti-virus is current and can protect against the latest exploits. Also, make sure that your anti-virus vendor has signatures for detecting the latest Trojans and you have the most up-to-date anti-virus protections installed.
4. Do not use “trial versions” of anti-virus products as your source of protection. Trial versions of anti-virus products are good for testing products, but do not continue to use the trial version as your protection for your home or work PC. The danger is that the trial version does not receive any updates, so any new Trojan or virus that is introduced after the trial version was released will have total access to your PC.
5. Make sure you have your security protections in place. Software Patch management is key. It is critical that as soon as they become available you install updates for your applications and for your computer’s operating system.
6. Be cautious about installing software (especially software that is too good to be true – e.g. download accelerators, spyware removal tools), and be conscience about pop-ups from websites asking users to download/execute/or run otherwise privileged operations. Often this free software and these pop-ups have malware embedded.
7. Consider subscribing to a 3 in 1 credit monitoring service to alert you when new credit or bank accounts are applied for, credit balances go over the norm, etc.