Watch Your Back…

Things you should know about what’s happening in the Cyber World


Facebook takes it on the chin again

Unfortunately for Facebook, there’s more bad news. The BBC’s Russian cyber investigation team recently uncovered a group of cyber criminals selling private messages of more than 81,000 Facebook users. They also claim to have personal information belonging to several million users. The information stolen includes holiday photos and videos, private messages, email addresses and sensitive private information.

Mostly affected are accounts from the Ukraine, Russia, the United States, England and Brazil. Originally the hackers posted an ad selling this information for ten cents per account. The online ad has since been shut down.

Facebook spokespersons are claiming it’s not a Facebook security issue; rather hackers are taking advantage of malicious browser extensions (malware that attaches itself to a browser such as Internet Explorer and once running, performs bad things) that permit the illegal data extraction.

Yet another lesson for all of us – don’t post any personal information if it’s not necessary anywhere on the Internet. This includes photos that you consider personal and only wish to share with a few others. Here’s a good rule of thumb: Don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t want used to steal from you or that you would want your grandmother to see or read.

Apple has its own woes

Apple has just released its new iOS version for the iPhone, iOS 12.1. Within hours after the release hackers found a way to see all the contact information from a locked iPhone. The hacker needs only to call your phone, change the call to Facetime, select “Add Person” and then select the “+” icon to access your entire contact list. This will only work if both phones are iPhones.

For iPhone users, it might be a good idea to pass on the latest upgrade and wait for Apple to patch this leak.

Virtual Credit Cards

The concept of virtual credit cards was created in an effort to make online purchases more secure for both individuals and businesses. The important thing to note is virtual credit cards can be used for online purchases only.

Credit card companies created embedded chips to make cards more secure in an effort to stop the cloning of credit cards. And it’s true – credit cards with embedded chips are more secure than those that do not have embedded chips. However, since criminals are known to take the path of least resistance, they have focused their attention to online hacking to obtain credit card information for online purchases. Here’s a few large retailers who have been hacked since January of this year: Orbitz Travel, Best Buy, Delta Airlines, Panera Bread and Under Armour.

Virtual credit cards add another layer of security. While you still have a unique credit card number that does not change, a virtual credit card has its number randomly generated which changes every time you use your real credit account number. This works in a similar fashion to the chip technology. When you use slip your credit card into the chip reader at your local Starbucks, the coffee seller receives a one-time use number (known as a token) that is nothing like your credit card number. Every time you use your credit card chip, the token changes. In the event someone obtains your card number (from a breach) and tries to clone the card it won’t work because the unique token is only good for the single purchase. That said, virtual credit cards work in a similar fashion. Since temporary (token) account numbers are used during an online purchase, if a hacker gets your virtual card number, it’s useless and your real credit card number is safe.

Some credit card companies offer different options. Some companies will change the virtual credit card number after each use while some will permit you to continue using the same number. In the event you find that number was hacked, you notify the credit card company and the virtual number is changed immediately. This does not affect your actual credit card number – it’s still secure – and you don’t have to cancel the card and wait to receive a new one.

One thing to consider – since this is a new concept – it may be difficult to return your online purchase and get a refund since most companies must refund your money to the same account number used to make the purchase.

Putting it all together

The use of virtual credit cards is a step in the right direction for online purchases. However, you still need to remain vigilant. Although this is a win for the good guys, we have to remember there are very smart people out there who have little or no conscience and who will continue to work tirelessly to steal your money. Be safe out there.

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