How the Uber Hack Could Get You Robbed This Christmas (Again)

hacked

News that Uber got hacked and 57 million records were compromised may not seem like an overt threat after this year’s constant mega breaches—but it is. A recent study suggests that even something as “harmless” as a breach involving names, phone numbers, and email addresses can lead to account takeover.

The study, entitled “Data Breaches, Phishing, or Malware? Understanding the Risks of Stolen Credentials,” was backed by Google and conducted in partnership with the University of California, Berkeley, and the International Computer Science Institute.

While the title may sound boring, the takeaway is terrifying: Account takeover isn’t happening the way many people think.

What Is Account Takeover?

The first thing you need to know about account takeover is this: It’s an incredibly serious matter.

Account takeover is a form of fraud. A criminal attempting account takeover may target your bank account, your credit card accounts, or any other financial service where you do business. Once a criminal has control of an account, you will be robbed.

It’s easy to understand how your Social Security number can be used to defraud you, not to mention the time-suck of setting the record straight with whatever companies composed part of the digital “crime scene.”

Since the days of the rotary telephone, our Social Security numbers have acted as virtual skeleton keys to our financial realities. It was the way we proved that we were the right person to access our money at a bank or to be granted credit. For a long time criminals have found creative ways to use that same key to rob people—whether through the creation of new credit accounts or through account takeover.

Stolen credentials come in many forms, and they are not equal by any means. The importance of the Google study hinges on this new reality: Social Security numbers aren’t the worst threat to your accounts based on current statistics. And herein lies the kernel of what matters most in the study.

Account takeover can also zero in on your email.

How you can be robbed if a criminal has control of your email account? Think about how many of your active online accounts will send a link to reset your password via email—and then continue reading after you stop hyperventilating.

In a world where most of the day-to-day transactions we make are digital but two-factor authentication has not been universally adopted, the control of your email account by a third party may create an even greater vulnerability to fraud than the possession of your Social Security number.

Why Uber Matters (and Doesn’t)

The Uber hack was discovered more than a year before it was reported, and the company paid the hackers $100,000 to keep the incident under wraps. That such things aren’t considered serious crimes in the US is something to ponder, but that’s not the reason the hack matters.

The longer your information is “out there” unbeknownst to you, the longer you are unwittingly exposed to all stripes of crime—including account takeover.

There are many ways you can be attacked, but with the Uber hack, email would be the way in. The phishing ruse can be anything. Social engineering, or the art of tricking people into doing what you need them to do so you can rob them, can be endlessly creative.

Because the Uber hack included names and phone numbers in addition to email addresses, affected consumers may have spent the past 12 months being exposed to the more insidious threat of spearphishing and fraud via vishing (voice phishing).

In spearphishing attacks, the fraudster does a little research. For instance, using an Uber customer’s phone number, they may locate a Facebook account, and, from there, identify close friends and family. The criminal sends a spoofed email from what he or she guesses will be a trusted sender with a link that downloads keystroke-logging malware and thus puts the recipient one login away from account takeover. A majority of people use the same passwords at different sites, which means the fraudster will likely have access to multiple accounts once they determine one password.

Some questions you should always ask:

  • Is it the right time of the month? (Your banks and other accounts usually send statements on the same day every month.)
  • Does it make sense? (Has your cousin ever sent you a cute animal video before?)
  • Can you trust those links? (A general rule of thumb now that spoofs are impossible to detect is to distrust all links, always, and type URLs to wherever you need to go.)

And of course, check the email address behind the display name on any email you receive before replying, and never be shy about asking a sender if they sent you something.

Another thing you should do whenever possible: Enable two-factor authentication. But bear in mind that even if you do everything right you may still be compromised. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet. There is only vigilance and the three Ms (minimize your exposure, monitor your security, and manage the damage), which I discuss in my book, Swiped.

The violation of privacy associated with the takeover of an email account is disturbing, but it is nothing compared to the potential life disruption it can cause. Now more than ever, you need to be exceedingly careful about the links you click on in email and the calls you take—because you truly never know who’s on the other end.

If you fear you have been the victim of fraud, check your credit report for suspicious activity. You can get your free credit report at Credit.com.

Image: istock 

The post How the Uber Hack Could Get You Robbed This Christmas (Again) appeared first on Credit.com.

Gifting a ‘Smart’ Device? Here’s How to Keep its Recipient From Getting Hacked

Here's how to avoid identity theft this season.

In October 2016, there was a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that caused serious traffic issues at major internet destinations like Amazon, PayPal and a host of other heavily trafficked sites. You may be giving a gift this holiday season that could make a similar attack possible.

Spot check: Does the gift you plan to give connect to the internet? If you answered “Yes,” keep reading.

A DDoS attack makes an online site or service unavailable by swamping it with enough fake requests to crash the targeted system. The DDoS attacks that happened in October were made possible by devices (largely webcams) that are equipped to connect to the internet — and the available fix is a lot simpler than the looming problem. If you read “webcams,” and decided to stop reading, I encourage you to read a bit further.

‘Tis the Season for the Internet of Things

Any device that connects to the internet poses certain risks to your household and potentially (via DDoS attacks) to the rest of the world, because there are vulnerabilities that allow hackers to use that connectivity to stage attacks such as the above DDoS events. While the October attacks were largely carried out by hijacking webcams, other devices, such as a Smart TV or appliance, could be targeted in the future, and what too many of these items have in common is default user names and passwords. Users don’t change them because they don’t see the threats. Meanwhile, they are easy to look up. More than 60 default user name and password combinations were identified (and published) following the October attacks.

Think of an IoT device as something like all those gifts that require batteries. But if you’re giving a smart device to a friend or family member this holiday season, you might want to consider providing the recipient with a prompt to change the user name and password to something unique as well as long and strong.

Unlike the batteries-not-included gift, an IoT device will still work with the default settings in place, but for the purposes of your security and that of the recipient of your gift, act like it won’t and advise them to always change their user name and password before use.

An Old Threat That Has Come of Age

If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that identity thieves, fraudsters and scammers are on the prowl, going after any information they can use to make a buck. The other big lesson is that they think way outside the box. That’s their job: to case a target and figure out how to nail it. When an architect builds a bank, he or she thinks about structural integrity, function, aesthetic considerations, and security. It’s all tied together. When a thief looks at the same structure, he or she looks for vulnerabilities. The thief has the easier job. A wrecking ball doesn’t need good ideas.

When it comes to IoT, the bad guys are looking at a bank that is still under construction. The walls are incomplete; we may not even agree yet on where the walls are supposed to be. But the money’s already in there.

If you need more reason to change your default passwords — or to encourage your loved ones to do the same — over the holidays, consider that long before the most recent DDoS attack more than 73,000 unsecured webcams and surveillance cameras were made available on Russian websites to voyeurs from around the globe, effectively turning their owners into the unwitting stars of their own reality shows. The site listed the cameras by country. The spreadsheet was impressive. The United States was well represented. In every case, victims ignored safety protocols and installed the cameras with their default login and password — admin/admin or another easy-to-guess combination findable on any number of public-facing websites.

What to Do

In a perfect world, IoT would be … well, perfect. In the real world, IoT is still in the early years of its evolution, with all the lawlessness and chaos that implies. Indeed, smaller companies are rushing IoT products to market in a mad dash to beat bigger brands that have more at stake when it comes to security. As a result, you can’t always be so sure that your data is going to be safe.

Over the past few years, we’ve learned the hard way that there is no such thing as too safe or secure when it comes to cybercrime, and there is a whole host of organizations out there — both big and small — that are doing a miserable job of protecting you. And even if they do everything right, as things stand now in the world of information security, you may still be vulnerable.

Define Vulnerable

The added convenience provided by the IoT is obvious, but the security issues may not be. Are your fitness records hackable by a third party? Are they linked to social media? How much information is required to access them? A login? A password? And what’s to stop a hacker from locking or unlocking your front door, disabling your alarm system, or turning off your heat during a blizzard or your lights during a home invasion — all with an app? The answer is, not very much.

Other common devices that are password protected should immediately come to mind here. Whether it is your household printer, your wireless router or your DVR, there are folks out there who are very curious about you, not because they value you as a human being, but because they can create value from any plugged-in human — whether by fraud or extortion or (in a more old-fashioned mode) getting the information they need to rob you blind when you’re not home. And even if they don’t want to know about you, they may want to enlist your devices in a spam-distribution effort or a DDoS attack.

The number of people who don’t change default passwords is staggering, as evidenced by the 73,000 wide-open webcams on that Russian website. There’s a major disconnect here, and it’s specific to the IoT. On the internet proper, it seems the message has finally sunk in and people are beginning to make themselves harder targets — making sure their privacy settings are tight and their passwords are both strong and changed frequently. But when it comes to the IoT, there is still more learning to be done — hopefully not the hard way.

If you’re concerned you’ve become the victim of a hack, don’t shrug it off. You can check for signs of identity theft, including mysterious addresses and unexplained accounts, by viewing two of your credit scores for free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

Excerpted from Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves by Adam Levin. Copyright © 2016. Available from PublicAffairs, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc. 

Image: hobo_018

The post Gifting a ‘Smart’ Device? Here’s How to Keep its Recipient From Getting Hacked appeared first on Credit.com.

Gifting a ‘Smart’ Device? Here’s How to Keep its Recipient From Getting Hacked

Here's how to avoid identity theft this season.

In October 2016, there was a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that caused serious traffic issues at major internet destinations like Amazon, PayPal and a host of other heavily trafficked sites. You may be giving a gift this holiday season that could make a similar attack possible.

Spot check: Does the gift you plan to give connect to the internet? If you answered “Yes,” keep reading.

A DDoS attack makes an online site or service unavailable by swamping it with enough fake requests to crash the targeted system. The DDoS attacks that happened in October were made possible by devices (largely webcams) that are equipped to connect to the internet — and the available fix is a lot simpler than the looming problem. If you read “webcams,” and decided to stop reading, I encourage you to read a bit further.

‘Tis the Season for the Internet of Things

Any device that connects to the internet poses certain risks to your household and potentially (via DDoS attacks) to the rest of the world, because there are vulnerabilities that allow hackers to use that connectivity to stage attacks such as the above DDoS events. While the October attacks were largely carried out by hijacking webcams, other devices, such as a Smart TV or appliance, could be targeted in the future, and what too many of these items have in common is default user names and passwords. Users don’t change them because they don’t see the threats. Meanwhile, they are easy to look up. More than 60 default user name and password combinations were identified (and published) following the October attacks.

Think of an IoT device as something like all those gifts that require batteries. But if you’re giving a smart device to a friend or family member this holiday season, you might want to consider providing the recipient with a prompt to change the user name and password to something unique as well as long and strong.

Unlike the batteries-not-included gift, an IoT device will still work with the default settings in place, but for the purposes of your security and that of the recipient of your gift, act like it won’t and advise them to always change their user name and password before use.

An Old Threat That Has Come of Age

If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that identity thieves, fraudsters and scammers are on the prowl, going after any information they can use to make a buck. The other big lesson is that they think way outside the box. That’s their job: to case a target and figure out how to nail it. When an architect builds a bank, he or she thinks about structural integrity, function, aesthetic considerations, and security. It’s all tied together. When a thief looks at the same structure, he or she looks for vulnerabilities. The thief has the easier job. A wrecking ball doesn’t need good ideas.

When it comes to IoT, the bad guys are looking at a bank that is still under construction. The walls are incomplete; we may not even agree yet on where the walls are supposed to be. But the money’s already in there.

If you need more reason to change your default passwords — or to encourage your loved ones to do the same — over the holidays, consider that long before the most recent DDoS attack more than 73,000 unsecured webcams and surveillance cameras were made available on Russian websites to voyeurs from around the globe, effectively turning their owners into the unwitting stars of their own reality shows. The site listed the cameras by country. The spreadsheet was impressive. The United States was well represented. In every case, victims ignored safety protocols and installed the cameras with their default login and password — admin/admin or another easy-to-guess combination findable on any number of public-facing websites.

What to Do

In a perfect world, IoT would be … well, perfect. In the real world, IoT is still in the early years of its evolution, with all the lawlessness and chaos that implies. Indeed, smaller companies are rushing IoT products to market in a mad dash to beat bigger brands that have more at stake when it comes to security. As a result, you can’t always be so sure that your data is going to be safe.

Over the past few years, we’ve learned the hard way that there is no such thing as too safe or secure when it comes to cybercrime, and there is a whole host of organizations out there — both big and small — that are doing a miserable job of protecting you. And even if they do everything right, as things stand now in the world of information security, you may still be vulnerable.

Define Vulnerable

The added convenience provided by the IoT is obvious, but the security issues may not be. Are your fitness records hackable by a third party? Are they linked to social media? How much information is required to access them? A login? A password? And what’s to stop a hacker from locking or unlocking your front door, disabling your alarm system, or turning off your heat during a blizzard or your lights during a home invasion — all with an app? The answer is, not very much.

Other common devices that are password protected should immediately come to mind here. Whether it is your household printer, your wireless router or your DVR, there are folks out there who are very curious about you, not because they value you as a human being, but because they can create value from any plugged-in human — whether by fraud or extortion or (in a more old-fashioned mode) getting the information they need to rob you blind when you’re not home. And even if they don’t want to know about you, they may want to enlist your devices in a spam-distribution effort or a DDoS attack.

The number of people who don’t change default passwords is staggering, as evidenced by the 73,000 wide-open webcams on that Russian website. There’s a major disconnect here, and it’s specific to the IoT. On the internet proper, it seems the message has finally sunk in and people are beginning to make themselves harder targets — making sure their privacy settings are tight and their passwords are both strong and changed frequently. But when it comes to the IoT, there is still more learning to be done — hopefully not the hard way.

If you’re concerned you’ve become the victim of a hack, don’t shrug it off. You can check for signs of identity theft, including mysterious addresses and unexplained accounts, by viewing two of your credit scores for free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

Excerpted from Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves by Adam Levin. Copyright © 2016. Available from PublicAffairs, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc. 

Image: hobo_018

The post Gifting a ‘Smart’ Device? Here’s How to Keep its Recipient From Getting Hacked appeared first on Credit.com.

Forget Credit Cards — Hackers Want Your Uber Account

uber_app

Your Uber account is about 17 times more valuable to a hacker than your credit card credentials, according to a report security company Trend Micro compiled for CNBC. They found that stolen Uber credentials sell for an average of $3.78 per account on underground online marketplaces, while bundles of credit card data are sold for 22 cents, at most.

Lots of accounts are more valuable than credit card info. PayPal accounts with a guaranteed balance of $500 go for an average of $6.43, Facebook accounts run about $3.02, Google Voice about 97 cents and Netflix 76 cents, Trend Micro found.

So what good is this info to a hacker? There are a few ways someone can capitalize on stolen credentials. The information people store in online accounts can help someone piece together the details they need to steal and abuse others’ identities. Then there’s the potential to steal money. For example, a hacker could charge someone’s Uber account for phantom rides, a theft tactic in which someone sets up a fake driver account to receive payment for rides the user never takes, CNBC reports.

Preventing various kinds of account theft can be really difficult, and people usually find out about it only after it occurs. One way to keep hackers at bay is to use multi-factor authentication, if available, to log into accounts. Security experts tend to recommend people avoid using the same password across multiple platforms, so one account hack doesn’t lead to another, potentially more valuable, break-in. With all the online accounts people have, it’s challenging to regularly monitor every one for unauthorized activity, but it is in your best interest to do so.

On top of that, frequently reviewing your credit card and debit card activity can help you quickly spot fraud. You can monitor your credit, too, if you have reason to believe your personal information was stolen. Unexpected changes to your credit scores can be a sign of identity theft, as well. (You can get two free credit scores once a month on Credit.com.)

More on Identity Theft:

Image: Danilo Andjus

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