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Understanding cybercrime threats

By HUB SmartCoverage Team on May 14th, 2021

Knowledge is power.

Smartphones, tablets, and wireless networks are connecting us in new ways every day. Along with this heightened connection comes increased risk. Today, technology is multiplying at a faster rate than device security. Devices are coming to market with minimally embedded. Smart devices are in demand with or without the most robust security and too many individuals are still thinking, “It won’t happen to me.”

But it could. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, fake cottage rentals, puppy sales, online loan fraud and a host of other scams have cost residents $50 million in 2020 alone.

The pandemic has proved profitable for thieves too. Between March 2020 and the end of February 2021, $7.2 million has been lost to Covid-19 fraud. Such scams may include telling people they've tested positive and that they must follow instructions that direct them to phony websites and products.

However, less than five per cent of scams are reported, meaning Canadians could be losing hundreds of millions of dollars to cybercriminals.

The Centre also says criminals are getting more aggressive in their tactics with phishing comprising many cases. Also, emails or texts appear to be legitimate but are linked to criminals.

“Historically bad guys would sit outside your office or house and choose the right time to break-in. During that period, there were multiple opportunities to identify them,” said Hart Brown, a Vice President with HUB International. “In a cyber environment that visibility doesn’t exist – the bad guys can be as patient as they want. In most cases, we don’t even know they’re there. They don’t have to be near harm you.”

Important tips

  • Use different user ID/password combinations for different accounts. Make the passwords more complicated by combining letters, numbers, special characters and change them regularly.
  • Keep your applications and operating system current with the latest system updates. Turn on automatic updates to prevent potential attacks on older software.
  • Download applications from trusted sources to help make your mobile device less vulnerable.
  • Make sure your social networking profiles are set to private. Check your security settings and be careful what information you post online.
  • Don’t click on links in emails you don’t recognize and delete them.
  • Use anti-virus software

Thieves have many tools they can use to infiltrate someone’s cyber presence – and they use them from the office next door or from their bedroom across the ocean. Understanding them is critical to protecting yourself.

Cyber criminals’ tools

PHISHING: Email messages sent out in the hopes of acquiring usernames, passwords, and credit card details. These emails often contain poor spelling and grammar as well as false links known to spread malicious software so the perpetrator can access an individual’s computer. Hundreds of thousands are sent with the hope that just a few people will respond.

SPEAR PHISHING:Phishing from a familiar email address - either a person, organization, or business known to the victim. This tactic will disseminate fewer, more targeted emails and may contain more detailed information.

WHALING: Phishing that specifically targets high net worth individuals or senior executives – aka “the big fish.” Although fewer nets are cast and the data is harder for the cybercriminal to obtain, the potential payback is much greater.

BLUE JACKING. Criminals will try to download data directly from a wireless Bluetooth connection. It’s that simple - there is even a bluejacking program, downloadable for free.

JUICE JACKING. Unlike computers, cellphones were designed to charge and send data through a single port. Today, many locations have free charging stations. Cybercriminals have been known to set up these stations and download all the data from an individual’s phone while it’s charging.

SOCIAL ENGINEERING. Social engineering is the act of obtaining personal information, like a mother’s maiden name, the first school attended, birth date, address, and banking institution, by skimming the individual’s publicly available social media profiles. By obtaining this information, a cybercriminal can answer security questions or gain access to one’s bank or credit card accounts.

Meanwhile, if you think you’re a victim of fraud report it! Here are some places to contact:

  • If your bank accounts or credit cards are affected by cybercrime inform your bank and credit card providers.
  • If any of your federally issued identification was affected, such as a passport or social insurance number, inform Service Canada.
  • Contact Canada’s main credit reporting agencies to have a fraud alert added to your credit report.
  • File a police report and keep a note of the report number for reference.

HUB SmartCoverage's Identity Protector is another way you can protect yourself against cybercriminals. Once a victim, people must spend their own money and time to clear their credit history and re-establish accurate financial records. For only $30 a year, this policy provides $20,000 in coverage to help restore your identity and peace of mind.

RELATED READING:More than half of Canadians have experienced a cybercrime: Policy group

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