Target: Government & Private Databases is the second installment of the series of “Target” articles, discussing the various areas the cybercrime organizations are attacking. Unfortunately for computer users, our Internet environment is, as the military would say, “a target rich environment”. See Target: Social Networking Sites, the first article, to get some background on the tactics and strategies of cyber crime organizations.
Government & private databases are targets primarily for the personally identifiable information (PII), and/or financial information they house. Cybercrime organizations’ two main sources of income are identity theft and credit card fraud.
Identity theft involves impersonating someone, using PII to convince financial institutions that you are in fact the other person in order to open credit accounts and take out loans in order to generate cash. Of course, the impersonated person is victimized by having to pay the stolen money back and having to repair their credit reports. Many large government and private databases contain information such as name, address, phone numbers, social security numbers, and account numbers. This is more information than is needed for any self-respecting identity thief to impersonate the person and commit the fraudulent act.
Some databases, such as those of large retail corporations, contain credit and debit card numbers. These are stolen and sold on the Internet to other criminal organizations, who charge purchases, return the merchandise, and thus generate cash.
To avoid or at least limit your losses, should you become victim to this target, monitor your bank accounts and credit card transactions frequently. I monitor mine online. If you see a transaction you didn’t make, notify your financial institution or credit card company immediately.
Be very careful…it’s dangerous out there.
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