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  • Writer's pictureRoy Urrico

Reports List Cybersecurity Threats and Concerns

Updated: Apr 4

By Roy Urrico

Finopotamus aims to highlight white papers, surveys, analyses and reports that provide a glimpse as to what is taking place and/or impacting credit unions and other organizations in the financial services industry.

Protecting data and identities has evolved into a full-time, around the clock practice, but with the tax deadline approaching there is extra emphasis on keeping information and identities safe. To this end, Finopotamus features two noteworthy cybersecurity lists:

Signs Someone Has Stolen Your Identity

Trevor Cooke, online privacy expert at tech news hub EarthWeb, shared his top 10 signs that cyberthieves stole someone’s identity.

  1. Unknown charges start popping up. “This is a warning sign that you can spot quite quickly if you check your credit card app regularly. Look out for one or two small charges, sometimes just a few dollars, that do not look familiar,” advises Cooke. “Even if the charge is small, if you do not recognize it, call your credit card company immediately and file a fraud report.”

  2. Credit score changes drastically. If a credit score dropped dramatically and without reason that is a huge red flag that someone is making large purchases that affect the stolen identity’s credit score.

  3. Statements from unknown credit cards arrive. “If you receive an email about a credit card statement at an abnormal time of the month, or if the statement is for a credit card that you do not own, you should immediately investigate the origin of the credit card and contact the provider to cancel it,” said Cooke.

  4. Login credentials stop working on important accounts. If an individual is denied access to their financial accounts, it may be due to an identity theft attempt. “The best way to prevent this kind of fraud from happening is to create elaborate passwords for all of your accounts and change your passwords regularly,” encouraged Cooke. Passwords that have a lot of random characters and words are the least likely to be hacked, he added.

  5. Receiving emails under a different name. Email that names the wrong person in the text is a big red flag that an impostor has taken over an email account.

  6. You stop receiving regular emails. “Make sure that you have a comprehensive list of all of your regular bill emails so that you can easily spot a discrepancy,” suggested Cooke. “The faster you realize you are missing information, the better chance you have of catching the identity thief before they go too far.”

  7. The IRS contacts you about fraud. If you receive a phone call (from the IRS) and you know that you have done nothing wrong, you are likely having your identity stolen. “This is when the IRS becomes your most trusted ally,” remarked Cooke. “The best thing you can do is follow their advice and take the steps needed to recover your identity from the thief.”

  8. Denial of online credit card applications. “If you have been working hard to build up enough credit to apply for a new credit card but then you receive the news that you have been denied, it’s time to investigate your finances further,” advised the report.

  9. Receiving duplicate bills. “Any duplicate bills should be flagged and you should contact the respective companies immediately,” warned Cooke. “Always act fast in these kinds of situations and never assume it was a mistake. In the digital age, bills are rarely sent by mistake as they are usually automated.”

  10. Changes in product advertisements on your devices. “Although this may be a subtle hint, if you notice advertisements for products, you would not normally purchase like luxury watches or fancy sports cars…the advertisements on your devices may be your first sign that your identity has been stolen,” said Cooke.

Different Types of Security Threats

A report, Different Types of Internet Security Threats to Think About In 2024, by Robin Layton of broadband marketplace Allconnect, provides tips on keeping personal and business information safe from phishing, malware and password attacks.

Among the security threats:

  • Malware, worms and spam. Malware, short for “malicious software,” comes in many forms, including different types of computer viruses, worms, Trojans and spyware. Worms are software programs that replicate themselves from one computer to another without human interaction, and spread rapidly in high volumes. Spam refers to unwanted messages in an email inbox, which can include links that install malware on the victim’s computer. Trojans, a type of malware, used by hackers to breach into a personal or business system.

  • Phishing. Cybercriminals attempt to solicit private or sensitive information by posing as a recognizable entity, like a financial institution or web service.

  • Botnet. Infected with malicious software, a botnet is a network of private computers, often prompted to engage in criminal activities like spam or denial-of-service (DoS) attacks.

  • Password attacks or brute-force attacks. These incursions use authorization vulnerabilities to access and expose a user’s accounts.

  • Ransomware. Malware that encrypts files on a device, making the files and system unusable. The hackers then demand ransom in exchange for the decryption of the system.

  • Man in the middle attacks. Allow criminals to intercept data transmitted between networks, computers or users.

The report also suggested ways to keep information safe, including: using secure sockets layer (SSL) certificates as a URL protection measure; adopting multi-factor authentication to control access to accounts by requiring several types of evidence; protecting email using cryptography, employing a virtual private network (VPN) to provide extra security on an organization’s network; and updating the operating system and software regularly to assure the enablement of new security updates.


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