November 2, 2016

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Cyber Identity Theft: It’s What is Wicked in the Air Post Halloween

Recently, I was watching the evening news and there was a featured story dedicated to the rise of credit card fraud. The next day, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal on the same topic. Then, as I began scanning and paying more attention to what’s making news – outside of the U.S. presidential election, of course, – I was surprised to see that feeds are bombarded with stories about how online credit card fraud is rising exponentially while simultaneously brick-and-mortar retailers are working around the clock to collapse the vulnerabilities of identity theft that can happen in the checkout line.

So perhaps it’s not that surprising that even though there’s a plethora of prevention advice and stories about the rise of security breaches, credit card fraud, and cyber identity theft, there’s limited action being taken by Americans. Case in point – Arbor Networks shared the results of a survey from 2,056 Americans aged 18 and older:

  • We’re Cautious: 71% agree if they hear that a retail store was a victim of a cyber security incident involving customers’ information, it makes them think twice about shopping there.
  • Yet, We Give Unequivocal Brand Trust: 64% say if they are on a major retail or social networking website, they always consider their information to be safe. Among Millennials, its 71%.
  • And, We’re Click Happy: 55% say if they receive an email from someone they know with a link, they usually click it even if they weren’t expecting anything.
  • It’s All So Overwhelming: 55% agree if they were to be hacked, they wouldn’t know what to do. Among Millennials it’s 66%.
  • There’s Just No Safe Place: 80% agree that if the federal government can be hacked, they don’t think they can protect themselves.

Even though anxiety and expectations are high, there’s little action that those Americans surveyed are actually taking:

  • Who Cares about Me?: 39% agree that they don’t worry about being hacked because they are not important enough for anyone to care about their information. That’s 50% for Millennials.
  • Yet, I know it Can Happen to ME: 36% said they were victims of hacking. That’s 44% for Millennials.

Christopher Gaebler, Chief Marketing Officer at Arbor Networks, summarized his thoughts on the survey data, “The big takeaway from this survey is that the relentless headlines about cyber-attacks have led to anxiety among a vast majority of Americans. Ironically, this has not driven people to do more to protect themselves online, but quite the contrary. The survey suggested these same people have really poor online security practices – which only makes the attackers’ jobs easier.”

Introducing New Fraud Protection Standards

October is known as “National Cyber Security Awareness Month” per The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) – and there are a number of preventative measures that can be taken to help protect yourself as a consumer, your family, and your organization’s employees.

In addition, last week, the credit card industry did announce a plan to encourage online merchants to provide card issuers with more detailed customer information that could help catch fraudulent purchases. According to a recent study by Javelin Strategy & Research, a consulting firm that specializes in the payments industry, “As the volume of
e-commerce transactions increases, it becomes harder for merchants to discern between legitimate and fraudulent activity.” The news standards include having card issuers put technology in place to accept additional information from merchants who want to authenticate transactions. “The move will allow merchants to send information such as the customer email address, billing and shipping details to the banks as additional tools to verify that the purchase is authentic,” according to The Wall Street Journal article.

Don’t Be The Next Cyber Identity Theft Victim – Take Action Today

Yes, there’s an abundance of news on cyber identity theft stories, and let’s face it – we live in a digitalized world where anyone, anywhere can be a victim. Just as new standards and technologies are introduced to thwart malicious behavior, so are new methods for criminals to steal your identity. This is the reality and whether you are 18 or 88-years-old, your identity should belong to only you, and you alone.

Don’t be passive. Take action now to learn more about what you can do, either as a consumer, or within your organization, to protect what matters most.

Additionally, whether you’re looking to protect yourself and your family, or you’re interested in adding identity theft protection as a benefit to your employees, the team at IdentityForce is ready to help.

The 2016 Identity Fraud Study, released by Javelin Strategy & Research, found that $15 billion was stolen from 13.1 million U.S. consumers in 2015, compared with $16 billion and 12.7 million victims a year earlier. In the past six years identity thieves have stolen $112 billion.

Donna Parent

Senior Vice President of Marketing at IdentityForce
Prior to joining IdentityForce, Donna was the Vice President of Marketing at Aternity (acquired by Riverbed Technology), a leading provider of End User Experience (EUE) and application performance monitoring solutions. She also led Marketing Communications at SteamBase Systems (now part of TIBCO Software), where her work was instrumental in solidifying StreamBase’s position as the market leader of high-performance Complex Event Processing (CEP) solutions. When she’s not focused on strategic marketing initiatives, Donna enjoys spending quality time with her husband Paul, and their two sons.

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