It can be quite scary to see a headline that says your favorite store has experienced a security breach. Unfortunately, those alerts appear more and more frequently these days. What’s going on? Why are all the best stores being hacked, and what exactly does it mean when your information has been compromised? Are you a victim of identity theft? What should you do if you’ve bought goods at those stores during the time frame in question?
Identity theft is defined as the fraudulent acquisition and use of a person’s private identifying information, usually for financial gain.A security breach can be complicated. Simply put, identity theft is not always the result of a security breach, but it could be. The criminals behind these cyber attacks are just that -- criminals. Sometimes, all they acquire is names or birth dates. Other times, they get passwords and account numbers. The worst part is that the targeted stores rarely know exactly how much information was stolen.
Trying to decipher the motive of a cybercrook isn’t very helpful. Some have political reasons, many are interested in any vulnerabilities they can find, and others still are just learning and accidentally achieve an “in” they shouldn’t be able to reach. Often, bad guys don’t lurk in dark basements with sophisticated equipment the way Hollywood portrays. You’ll be surprised to learn that most offenders write programs to do all the heavy lifting for them. Password decryption and trolling for open ports can be done while bad guys are out to lunch.
The good news is you’re not alone. The FBI has been tracking fraudulent financial activity for decades, and their best experts are constantly on the case. Plus, there are a number of helpful resources available to you from the Federal Trade Commission, should you ever become a target. Perhaps the best news of all is you’re not powerless. You can protect yourself in the future.
Do your part to keep yourself and others safe from online villains. Here’s are some tips.
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