Social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram, increase the risks of becoming a target of identity theft. Privacy in the digital age is lost, for personal information is widely spread on many channels and services. Criminals have various means to get their hands information they need to steal someone’s identity through social media accounts and e-mail phishing. Once the information is collected, it is usually sold on illegal marketplaces on the dark web. Hackers can get credit card numbers, open new mobile phone subscriptions and make purchases on online.
Data breaches and cyber-attacks are increasingly the M.O. of professional criminals and they are organized and more commercialized than ever before. This also benefits amateurs, who can now easily get hold of the tools needed to commit identity theft online.
Young men and the elderly are at risk of identity theft
What preventive measures can you take to lessen the risks of becoming the victim of data breaches and a target of identity theft? Can you protect your identity?
”In most cases, identity theft is only revealed, when one’s personal information has already been sold on the dark web and used to take out a loan or purchase something online. By then, the victim has already suffered financial damage.” says the CEO of mySafety Finland, Niclas Fagerlund.
Identity thefts are on the rise in Finland and the number of victims is as high as 160 000. For 23% the identity theft has been the result of a data breach. Among young men aged 18-29 the risk of falling victim to identity theft is twice as high, compared to the rest of the Finnish population. As banking and many other services are transferred online, the elderly and those suffering from dementia are also the ones who don’t know how to protect themselves.
”The best protection from identity theft is to anticipate and take precautions. Be rigorous concerning where you add your personal and credit card information. You shouldn’t reveal too much of yourself on digital forums. Protect important documents, which contain personal information. Don’t throw any of them in recycling bins and keep your mail box locked. If your identity is still stolen, fill out a police report. Nowadays you can also find services and insurances to protect your identity” Fagerlund advises.
Data security can fail
”Preventive data security checkups, like antivirus software and security updates, are very much needed today, but you should be prepared that all security measures can fail at some point. Even though you haven’t done any mistakes yourself, a service provider you use can be hacked. Every online purchase or registration to a new service provider can lead to a breach of credit card information” explains F-Secure’s Chief Security Information Officer, Erka Koivunen.
Data breaches, where passwords are leaked, are by now an everyday occurrence and Koivunen recommends using a different unique password for every service used.
“Being proactive is one way to limit the damages. For example, it is advisable to have several credit cards and to keep them separate so you have one for your holidays, one for everyday purchases and one for work trips. This way it is easier to keep track if a credit card is being misused.” Koivunen suggests.
The problem is not limited to consumers only, also businesses are targeted
“Data security risks must be treated as seriously as any other business-related risk. However, the company’s biggest security risks are still it’s employees – for example; human error or hackers accessing social media accounts may result in abuse of company or personal information“ Koivunen sums up.
*Source: A survey regarding Identity thefts in Finland was conducted by Research Insight Finland in March 2017. A total of 3077 interviews were held, with participants between the ages of 18-75.
Phone +358 (0)50 3150 207
Chief Security Information Officer
Phone +358 (0)50 309 8094