5 top cybercrime trends — And how to combat them

Cybercrime is one of the risks of today's digital world. Learn more about what's happening in cyberspace today and be sure to think before you click.
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Cybercrime is one of the risks of today's digital world. Learn more about what's happening in cyberspace today and be sure to think before you click.

From smart homes to smart phones, our lives are more online than ever. Staying up on the latest trends in cybercrime—and taking smart actions—helps us protect one of our most precious assets: our personal and financial information. Here are 5 trends to keep on your radar:

1. Malware on your systems

Malware is software designed to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorized access to a computer system. It can let someone access files on your computer or reroute you from a legitimate website to a fake. Common delivery methods: Fraudulent links in email or from web search results.

What you can do

  • Install antivirus software on your computer or mobile device
  • Scan for and remove malware
  • Check your computer or device for unfamiliar programs or applications
  • Update your operating-system software
  • Change your passwords once you’re confident your system/device is clean

2. Internet of things (IOT) infections

The Internet is interwoven into more devices every day. From thermostats to health monitors to even pet feeders, everyday items connect in ways that resemble 1960s sci-fi movies. Those connections can also create doorways to harvest your data, as a Booz Allen 2019 study notes.

What you can do

  • Change your device’s default password
  • Use a unique, strong password for each device (no repeats!)

3. Social media hacks

Social media is great at connecting us to family, friends, and cute cat videos. But it’s also ripe for account hacking. For example, in September 2018, Facebook famously exposed about 50 million users’ private information.

What you can do

  • Log out of your social media accounts after each visit (especially on your phone)
  • Keep social accounts unlinked to contain any hack
  • Report issues immediately to the provider
  • Use unique, strong passwords for each of your accounts
  • Be smart about what you share: no posting vacation photos while you’re away from home

4. Mobile payment perils

Send money to a friend or vendor via a mobile app? If so, you’re part of the growing mobile-payment trend. McKinsey reported in its Global payments 2018 study that digital wallets added an estimated $40 billion in global payment revenues in 2017.

Millennials and Gen Z aren’t the only ones using mobile payments either. Half of first-time users are Gen X or Baby Boomers, peer-to-peer (P2) payment service Zelle noted in its 2019 Digital Payments Adoption Study.

Payment-scam complaints rose along with use. For example, the National Consumers League saw a spike of such reports in June 2019. Often fraudsters fail to give up the goods, even after you’ve made a P2P payment.

What you can do

  • Use a credit card instead of P2P to limit your liability
  • Don’t transfer funds to someone you don’t know
  • Proofread the information you enter into a P2P system before you hit send; you won’t get your money back if you transmit it to the wrong person
  • Put a PIN on it by adding a personal identification number

5. Healthcare attacks

A monthly average 29.5 healthcare data breaches—a rate of more than one per day—occurred in 2018, the HIPAA Journal reported in June 2019. This rate is on the rise, with a monthly average up to 37.2 breaches from January to May 2019, according to the same report.

Fraudsters prize health records, which commonly include a treasure trove of personal data: Social Security Numbers, addresses, ages, and payment information such as insurance and credit card numbers. Experian estimates medical records’ value ranges from $1 up to $1,000 on the Dark Web, where cybercrime is conducted.

What you can do

  • Don’t give your Social Security Number to anyone—even your healthcare provider—unless required; instead, offer your student ID or another piece of identification
  • Keep track of your insurance card; it’s as valuable as your credit card
  • Monitor healthcare statements carefully: Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), insurance claims, insurance coverage change notices

Janney Montgomery Scott LLC Financial Advisors are available to discuss the suitability and risks involved with various products and strategies presented. We will be happy to provide a prospectus, when available, and other information upon request. Please note that the information provided includes references to concepts that have legal, accounting, and tax implications. It is not to be construed as legal, accounting, or tax advice and is provided as general information to you to assist in understanding the issues discussed. Neither Janney Montgomery Scott LLC nor its Financial Advisors (in their capacity as Financial Advisors) gives tax, legal, or accounting advice. We would urge you to consult with your own attorney and/or accountant regarding the application of the information contained in this letter to the facts and circumstances of your particular situation. Janney Montgomery Scott LLC is a full-service investment firm that is a member of the NYSE, FINRA, and SIPC.

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