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HOW TO DEFEND YOURSELF AGAINST DIGITAL IDENTITY THEFT

Best Practice for Protecting Email Identities

How to defend yourself against digital identity theft

As ever more services are moving online, your email address is becoming the cornerstone of your digital identity. No wonder that cyber criminals have begun to target email addresses for identity theft, financial fraud and other online crimes. Make sure you know what cyber criminals are up to so you can defend yourself against digital identity theft!

Digital Identity Theft is an emerging threat

In order to make a profit of digital identities, criminals must first get ahold of them. Unfortunately, that is not a difficult feat. Online services are regularly targeted by hackers looking to extract personal data, causing headlines that describe ever larger breaches: “Hackers Stole Personal Data of 2 Million T-Mobile Customers”, “Tens of millions of hacked Gmail and Yahoo Email accounts are being sold on the dark web”, “Every single Yahoo account was hacked – 3 billion in all”, “Twitter advising all 330 million users to change passwords after bug exposed them in plain text”, “Facebook Security Breach Exposes Accounts of 50 Million Users” and even recently “Store of 770m email addresses and passwords discovered after being put on hacking site”. Worryingly, these headlines cover only those breaches that became public. A considerable number of breaches never gets media coverage: either because the organization that was hacked chooses not to publish any information about the hack – or because they didn’t even notice that a hack took place.

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The “Dark Web” and Crypto Currencies are an attractive infrastructure for cyber criminals

Having stolen online identities, cyber criminals often turn to the “dark web” to hawk their wares. The dark web has recently gotten a lot of coverage by the media. It consists of forums, online shops and other websites that cannot be accessed as part of the regular internet. Because they are hard to find, dark web forums give cover to all kinds of activities that can not stand the light of day. The combination of such an attractive infrastructure and the development of anonymous currencies such as bitcoin has given rise to a lively market for identity data. Email accounts and other online identities are being sold at low rates  by criminals looking to make a quick profit.

We often set our priorities on comfort and not on cyber security

The risk increases by the fact that many people use the same email address and password to register accounts with multiple online services. For instance, “85% of the millennials admit to re-use credentials across sites and services”. This leads to a major problem if cyber criminals breach one of these services: a security breach at a single online service can mean that hackers immediately have access to your complete digital identity across all services.

The Digital Identity Theft defense strategy

Having your digital identity stolen can be a harrowing experience. Fortunately, there are some measures you can take to prevent identity theft and to limit its impact.

First and foremost, you should make sure that even if your online identity is breached, the associated data are of no use to cyber criminals. For example, make sure that you use a different password on every website. That way, a data leak on a single website does not lead to cyber criminals getting access to all your other online identities.

In addition to using unique passwords, you should make sure they cannot be easily guessed. “1234” and “password” are so easy to guess that even unskilled hackers can gain access to your account immediately. Instead, choose a complex password (a long password containing letters, numbers and other characters) or a passphrase (a combination of words that is easy to remember but hard to guess).

Some websites offer enhanced security measures, such as two-factor authentication using a smartphone or a security token. By enabling such features, hackers cannot login to your account, even if they manage to obtain your user name and password.

Independent Online Identity Monitoring closes the defense gap

Finally, make sure you are notified if your data are breached. BULIDSEC Email Identity Guard monitor data breaches for any signs of your online identity. That way, you can take countermeasures, such as changing your passwords or closing your accounts, before cyber criminals gain access to your accounts.

Digital Identity

The Cost of Email Identity for cyber criminals

Putting a price on your digital identity

What do your hotel loyalty card, your online bank account and your email inbox have in common? They are all very valuable to cyber criminals! This blog post will explore the many ways in which hackers are trying to make a profit off your online accounts. Make sure you are aware of their methods, so you can defend yourself when your digital identity is under attack.

GIVE NO CHANCE TO CYBER CRIMINALS

Whether you upload photos to your Facebook profile, book a hotel room online or send private emails using your webmail provider - your online identity contains both valuable memories and valuable data. The fact that cyber criminals are interested in these accounts should therefore not come as a surprise. The more sensitive data is processed online, the higher the potential profit is for criminals. For example, hacked iTunes accounts have been reported to sell for $8 a piece on underground markets - because hackers can use them to buy products and services with the associated credit card details. Similarly, McAfee reported a selling price between $0.55 and $15 for accounts for online video streaming services, which can be sold on to unscrupulous users looking for a cheap deal on video content.

Interestingly, even accounts for services that can be used at no cost represent a very real value to cyber criminals. The McAfee report quotes a selling price of $20 for hotel loyalty accounts - which are free for hotel guests that enroll into a loyalty program. Because customers can use loyalty cards to save up points for free hotel stays, they become a target for criminals who redeem the points themselves or sell them on to others. Similarly, online auction accounts, which can typically also be created for free, are popular with cyber criminals. By stealing the digital identity of a seller with positive ratings on an auction platform, they can hide their own reputation when selling fraudulent services or products.

A popular approach to stealing digital identities is phishing. When an online service becomes victim of a data breach, criminals try to extract whichever data they can. If they can get hold of customer email addresses, they often contact users directly and try to impersonate the service in order to extract more information, or even money, from the victims. For example, when criminals obtain email addresses of online banking customers, they may set up a fake online banking website. By luring customers to the fake website, they can intercept login data, which can then be used to steal funds from the account. Some data breaches contain even more data, such as user names and passwords. Cyber criminals that manage to steal such data do not even need to turn to phishing. Instead, they can directly abuse the login data and for instance reuse your identity to attack the accounts of your contacts. For customers that reused their login data on other websites, the effects can be even more damaging, as the criminals are now able to log in to their accounts across the internet.

Considering that the number of active email accounts worldwide is expected to reach 6 billion by 2019, the number of potential targets for phishing and other methods of identity theft will only increase. This means that it is getting ever more important to protect yourself against digital identity theft. BULIDSEC offers a unique software tool that helps you monitor in real time your email identities. BULIDSEC Email Identity Guard makes sure that you are immediately notified if your email address is leaked after a data breach. It lets you take appropriate countermeasures quickly so that cyber criminals can not take over your digital identity!

GREAT PRODUCT WITH GREAT SERVICE THAT IS ALSO SIMPLE TO USE

As many people from my generation, I use Internet to mainly communicate with my childrend and grand-children, to read news and to do some shopping. All these online services are connected to my email account that had been already compromised by cyber criminals. I am impressed that even a person with less IT knowledge like me can benefit from the BULIDSEC Email Identity Guard protection.

THANK YOU FOR THE FIRST CLASS EMAIL IDENTITY PROTECTION

Significant part of my day takes place online. This includes my job, private financies, shopping and social activities. I have 10 email accounts that are used for the various online services that I consume every day. The BULIDSEC Email Identity Guard protection met my expectations. It is simple to use and I do not worry anymore that someone can misuse my Email Identities.