The evolution of cybercrime is never-ending. When one attempt at identity fraud is uncovered or thwarted, several new scams seem to pop up in its place. Cybercriminals take advantage of every opportunity available to gain access to and exploit your personal information. They adapt to the times and constantly explore new methods to gather and profit from a stolen identity.
Keeping a keen eye on the latest threats is vital to remaining vigilant and aware of the best ways to stay secure. Knowledge is an essential step toward establishing adequate defenses and proper restoration when needed. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most recent identity threats from the first quarter of 2021.
Keep Vaccine Cards Private
The pandemic has been a long haul for all of us. Now that an end is within reach, there is an unmistakable sense of jubilation as the vaccination process plays out from coast to coast. Getting fully vaccinated is certainly a reason to celebrate. It not only protects you from becoming infected with COVID-19 but also allows you to hug and be near loved ones who have been distant over the last year. Many people have flaunted this sense of joy by posting pictures of their CDC vaccination cards on social media and other online locations. Big mistake. The information found on the card has everything cybercriminals need to steal your identity. It may not seem risky, but the moment you put the information online, it becomes easily accessible. Take a look at an official FTC warning about the issue here.
Fake vaccine cards have also been popping up lately, and while not a direct threat to your identity, these forgeries are causing confusion and allowing criminals to profit. If you see a vaccination card up for sale on social media or e-commerce websites, it’s a fake.
Over the first quarter of the year, several major hacks have resulted in compromised personal information to millions of individuals. Facebook recently revealed that hackers gained access to over 500 million users’ personal information. This is a global security breach affecting over a hundred countries and 32 million people in the US alone. While this information seems to have been stolen back in 2019, Facebook just informed the public that it has just been posted on a hacking website – making it available for cybercriminals of all kinds. The tech giant doesn’t seem to be providing much assistance to users affected by the massive data theft – so if you think your PII may be now up for grabs, keep an eye out for signs of identity theft and have a restoration plan in place.
More than a million individuals were affected by recent health organization data breaches in March 2021 alone. Thirty-six different organizations reported breaches affecting over 500 or more people in each instance which is the reporting threshold required by the US Department of Health and Human Services. This represents the ongoing threat of security breaches in the Healthcare sector that has been on the rise in recent years.
Malware Infecting Apps & Software
Another ever-present cyberthreat is the risk of malware infection. Popular apps and software remain a breeding ground for this variety of malicious code that can steal your personal information and go unnoticed for extended amounts of time. The heavily circulated Barcode Scanner app for Android phones is one example of this. An update to the app in December 2020 was loaded with malware and installed on nearly 10 million devices. This code was built to be difficult to detect and is built to hijack web browsers and redirect to ad pages. This is more of an annoying example than a direct identity fraud threat, but the sheer scope of it is impressive. Find more information about this malware and symptoms of infection here.
More invasive and potentially damaging malware is also popping up and proving more difficult to locate and contain. A phony System Update app for Android devices can remotely control phones and tablets while stealing data, while allowing access the microphone and camera to take recordings. This is one of the most sophisticated bugs recently seen and demonstrates how effective malware is becoming, alongside being harder to identify quickly and remove. Our recent post on Malware specific to Macs also illustrates how this problem affects new arenas in the digital realm once thought to be less susceptible to the issue.
Ongoing Pandemic Related Fraud
The pandemic opened up a variety of new twists to already known methods of identity fraud. Look for some of these to continue throughout 2021 as unemployment benefits, widespread lending, relief payments, and healthcare services intended to help those most affected by the situation remain avenues for exploitation. Fraudulent unemployment benefits continue to be a problem and represent synthetic fraud adapted to current events. This has resulted in state unemployment offices paying out undue millions to scam artists. Phishing scams are appearing with the intent of stealing information that can be used for future frauds and preying on the hope of relief money. Other criminals are posing as healthcare services to offer illegitimate services such COVID-19 tests and vaccine appointments in order for the criminals to gather personal information on the duped victims.
As always, keeping your personal information protected and having an identity restoration plan in place are critical aspects of staying secure amongst these ongoing threats. Cybersecurity measures will adapt right alongside each new risk, but the cat and mouse games continue. If you think your personal information may have been compromised, you need to start the restoration process immediately to avoid long-term impacts. Also important is realizing that identity theft can happen to anyone, whether you keep yourself informed or not. No one is immune to the risk, and that’s why proper awareness and planning are essential.
LibertyID provides expert, full service, fully managed identity theft restoration to individuals, couples, extended families* and businesses. LibertyID has a 100% success rate in resolving all forms of identity fraud on behalf of our subscribers.
*Extended families – primary individual, their spouse/partner, both sets of parents (including those that have been deceased for up to a year), and all children under the age of 25