Dangers of Cybercrime demands you protect yourself online

Posted on October 3, 2013 09:57 am

Yesterday I had a chat with a friend who has quit cyberspace after she found out more than three people were using her images in their Facebook profiles. Three years ago, she had asked me why I never post pictures online. My response was that I’ve no intention of enriching underworld crooks whose harvesting of other people’s data convert it to currencies of digital economy for their selfish gains. Even after elaborating, she just ignored me and thought that I was paranoid for no good reason. The fact is that using any device connected to the Internet increases vulnerability and that is what happened to her. Her story aside, I propose to individuals to safeguard their privacy and think before acting online whether it is uploading a video or images and even posting that tweet. Research has shown that online illicit activities represented one of most common form of economic crime in most countries with huge losses said to be worth billions of dollars lost annually. Social media sites like Facebook, Google plus and Tweeter have become useful tools that help online criminals gather individual’s information without their knowledge. Few weeks ago, someone sent me friends request on Facebook using a female friend photo yet she’s not on Facebook. After I alerted her, she launched a manhunt and learned the photo was downloaded from Flickr a photo-sharing site.

In most cases, I advice people to upload photos on sites they cannot be downloaded. For email hacking victims there is need to create strong passwords and change them often and never respond to trolls online. I know of a case where fraudsters submitted a copy of an online victim’s passport to a logistics company to get clearance of $1.1m worth of goods released after a friend working as fraud detective shared with me the story. When he went to investigate, the company employee who issued the clearance was himself cleared because all standard procedures of cargo clearance guidelines were followed to the latter and to date detectives have failed to nick the perpetrators. Multiple studies have shown that Internet related frauds are committed with an insider in the company. Studies have pointed that insiders provide fraudsters with vital documents and valuable information. Fraudster are well educated lads who literally knows all details they need before making any move including arranging with an insider in that company to get the targeted victim’s details because without insiders such crimes are impossible.

Last week, I warned my readers how the “underground economy” data theft is flourishing  and has become the hub for theft and sale of credentials of people and is currently the biggest underground industry, where fraudsters are thriving and reaping billions of dollars every year. It has become common to see many duplicate pictures using different accounts with names like Rob the son, Jack the wack, Mike the jackals to mention but a few having different identities but similar profile pictures. In “underground economy” image selling agents with special interests with those who want to have fake social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter. When those fake accounts are created, the account holders can use them to make fake reviews for fake online products, create fund raising accounts pages on Facebook and even create online bank accounts. With use of free and easy to download software it has become easy for crooks to crack into unsuspecting victim’s online username and password to execute frauds. For example using wi-fi, a crook can get information being punched in on the victim’s device. During my Kuwait visit in 2006, I watched a television documentary where an individual was asked by a service provider to produce his driving permit matching his debit card for use in payment of his monthly bill. Little did he know that gadgets used by service provider to verify documents had a skimming device. In the end, his permit details were duplicated and used in committing a financial fraud. The cloned driving permit according to the documentary was activated after the original driving permit got blocked.

By the time the victim knew, his cloned driving permit had made multiple transactions and transferred money into fake beneficiary accounts resembling his name and other online shopping transactions that left him in jail and bankrupt until after three years when investigating team came up with a final investigation’s report. Therefore I urge you to be careful and ensure criminals do not hack into your private details to execute their crimes. Cybercriminals are known to target vulnerable groups like the elderly and young on social media platforms, unsecure mobile devices. In Canada and Australia there has been reports that unregulated usage of cloud services led to the loss of user’s identities and their financial details that ended up being published online by hackers. While interacting with your service providers or your business partners electronically, there are myriad of unique challenges. The best way to handle them is to ensure every single communication or transaction is secure and intact. Your online safety is not an option. Cyber attacks are growing in complexities and authorities can barely help themselves let alone tackling your complains. My advice is that you should ensure a non-compromising security measures to protect your identities, information and transactions both online and offline.

Contador Harrison