In 2019, cybercrimes, such as data breaches and hacks, accounted for $2 trillion, convincing most companies that it's time to ramp up their cybersecurity efforts and train employees on how to avoid online scams and ransomware attacks. While the measures that companies are putting in place is admirable, it's just as crucial for you to implement adequate measures to prevent a cybersecurity threat.

While cybersecurity threats are becoming one of today's biggest concerns, many consumers don't invest in a cybersecurity strategy because it seems unnecessary - haven't you ever thought it won't ever happen to me? This mindset can make the consequences of a cybersecurity attack difficult to quantify, and more often than not, a consumer will only realize the importance of cybersecurity once it’s too late.

Consequences of cyber attacks and threats

If you have not implemented a sound cybersecurity strategy, there are three main consequences that you'll experience, each one varying in severity.

1. Liability

Many people don't realize this, but your liability is quite high if your card, especially your debit card, is used by a hacker.

For example, if you don't catch the fraudulent charges within two days, you're liable for up to $500. If you don't catch the charges within 60 days, you're liable for the entire amount. Avoiding these financially debilitating situations requires you to be vigilant about regularly and thoroughly checking your statements if you use a traditional debit card.

2. Time, Effort, and Stress

Even if you do find out quickly that your data has been compromised, there is still a lot of time, effort, and stress involved in getting everything straightened out. A police report is sometimes required for stolen card information. Additionally, you might have to go to your bank and sign an affidavit confirming that the charges were fraudulent, taking up a lot of time.

3. Credit Bureaus

The worst-case scenario involves identity theft. If a hacker steals your identity and starts opening loan accounts in your name, you will need to deal with the credit bureaus, which are organizations that compile and manage individual credit information and sell it to creditors, lenders, and consumers. While there are dozens of credit bureaus in the U.S., you might be the most familiar with Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. If you're a victim of identity theft, you will need to contact one of these three major credit bureaus to create fraud alerts and freeze your credit reports.

With the credit bureaus’ involvement and the several other steps you have to take to get back on track, the overall process is challenging and can require you to get a lawyer. If you want to avoid this hassle, however, the solution is simple: protect yourself from cybersecurity threats.

3 Common Cybersecurity Threats

To ensure you don't fall victim to the cyber traps that are lurking online, you need to educate yourself on the most common and preventable types of threats. While it's hard to stop everything a hacker will throw at you, there are a few typical attacks that you can watch out for and prevent.

1. Stolen payment card information

Hackers can steal your payment card information in various ways. If an e-commerce site that you shop at is hacked, your private information will be compromised. An e-commerce site's core function is to sell widgets, so data security is often neglected on the merchant's part, which can leave you out of luck if a hacker targets that site. Sometimes, their business is simply a front that they use to steal credit card numbers and launder them to another country.

2. Account takeover

For an account takeover to occur, a service has to get breached. An excellent example of this is Adobe's leak in 2013, where a hacker exposed 150 million email addresses and passwords.

Once a leak occurs, the information often ends up on the dark web or is posted anonymously on the regular internet. After the data gets published, the hackers then try to log into any bank account they can find, as well as social media accounts, hoping people use the same username and password combination on other sites.

3. Phishing attacks

Phishing refers to emails from cyber attackers that look similar to emails a person receives from their bank. This kind of email might say something along the lines of, "We noticed a suspicious transaction on your account. Please log in and let us know whether it is real or not." There will also be a button at the bottom of the email so you can log in to their bank account. If you click this, you will be directed to a website that looks exactly like your bank's, but with a slightly different domain.

While everything looks normal on the outside, the website is actually hosted by a fraudulent entity, who is waiting for you to enter your username and password. Once the hackers get this information, they can go to your actual bank's website and gain access to your account and money.

Today, cybersecurity threats can become very overwhelming to think about. But there are steps that you can take to protect yourself and their private information.

How to prevent cyberattacks

Being proactive is the most important when it comes to protecting your digital data. Here are three easys steps that you can take to help prevent credit card theft, account takeovers, and phishing attacks.

1. Start using a virtual card

To prevent credit card theft, it’s advantageous to use a virtual card. With Privacy, you can have the card self-destruct after a transaction or tag it to a particular merchant so that it only works with that merchant.

Thus, if the card information is stolen, there are only two outcomes, both of which are positive. Any fraudulent transactions made will be declined if you've specified that the card should only be used one time. Alternatively, if the card is linked to a specific merchant, the fraudulent transactions will be declined because the purchases do not link to the merchant you connected the card to.

2. Don't reuse passwords

The primary way for you to minimize your chances of being a victim of an account takeover is to never reuse passwords. It can get really hectic trying to keep track of dozens of passwords, but a password manager can help with this, and it will be your best friend once you start to see the value in using different login information for different sites.

3. Prevent phishing attacks

In the case of phishing attacks, virtual cards act as another great solution, but in this scenario, they mainly offer secondary protection. Virtual cards do not eliminate the risk of phishing emails altogether, but they can greatly reduce the chances of you receiving one.

For example, if you're using Privacy's virtual card for online shopping, that means you're not using your bank-issued card. Therefore, if a merchant experiences a data breach, the attacker won't be able to get your real billing information and personal data.

Conversely, if you had used your bank-issued card and the merchant is breached, the attacker can see what bank your card is associated with, which is enough information to pull off a cybersecurity attack. With a few details, hackers can easily send a phishing email to you under the guise of your bank.

Be proactive about cybersecurity

Online shopping has become the new normal, but it has also opened more cases for vulnerability. To avoid lurking cybersecurity threats, be aware of how your data could be stolen and proactively take the measures to prevent it from happening. Otherwise, the consequences you'll experience can be a much more difficult task to undertake.

At Privacy, we want to help you avoid falling victim to the numerous cybersecurity threats. If you want to start protecting your data today, click here to learn more about our free virtual cards.

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