You probably think that shopping at your local department store is perfectly safe, and the ‘Verified by Visa’ means you don’t have to worry about making a purchase online. Unfortunately that isn’t the case, every transaction is a chance for hackers to steal from you. Brick and mortar retailers in particular rely more on physical theft prevention that cyber theft and as many as 72% haven’t used basic encryption to protect you.
Here are some basic ways hackers target you and your money.
1. Cloning your Credit/Debit Card
This is when they copy the information that is written on the magnetic stripe on the back of your card. Most cards do have chip and pin technology but cloning still works and is still pretty common. Here is a video showing how it is done.
2. Chip and PIN
Chip and pin cards are a little harder to duplicate but it can be done. Often there is a camera somewhere that allows hackers to see you input your pin number, and putting a card reader at an atm. It is less common than having your magnetic stripe duplicated. If you’re still carrying the old magnetic stripe card you should upgrade to chip and pin technology, it is not foolproof but it is better than a magnetic stripe.
3. POS Terminals
POS terminals are usually the target of large scale cyber attacks you’re probably already familiar with the Target hack, this is the best example. Millions of accounts were compromised through no fault of the people who shopped at Target. Malware was installed on the POS terminals and this allowed hackers to access credit card information. The information included card numbers, expiration dates and the security code on the back of the cards.
4. Spoof Websites
You get an email in your inbox saying that your account with your bank or PayPal has been compromised and you need to follow this link to fix it before it is deactivated. You follow the link and the website looks exactly like it is supposed to so you promptly login and do exactly what they tell you. The only problem is that it is a fake website and you’ve just given your information to criminals. If you get an email like that open a separate browser and login independently, never follow a link in an email. To be even safer you can contact the company via phone to verify the email.
5. Stealing Bitcoins
Many people believe that using virtual currencies like Bitcoin is safer and it is easier to avoid fraud. You are just as vulnerable to phishing attacks if hackers can get into the phone of computer where you store them. There is a program called Bitcoin Jacker that will look for a bitcoin wallet and the promptly transfer the coins to the thief’s wallet. All they need is access to your phone or computer, so you still need to be careful.