7 Reasons Why They're After Your Personal Data

Every time we connect to the Internet, we leave digital footprints behind. In the modern era, our lives are intertwined with digital technology and the our digital footprints are constantly increasing. As experts from global digital security firm ESET state, "Some of the data we generate, such as posts on social media or online purchases, can be of enormous value to cybercriminals lurking in the shadows of the internet."personal data

The more online services we use and the more information we share, the more likely it is that our data will fall into the wrong hands. As we all face potential risks, from financial scams to extortion campaigns, the importance of protecting our personal data cannot be understated.

Understanding the value of personal data

First of all, what exactly do we mean when we talk about personal data; Simply put, they include any information – such as names, dates of birth, social security numbers, home addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, health data, financial information, photos, biometric information, location data, and even IP addresses – that can be used, either alone or in combination with other information, to identify a specific person.

So what is it that makes cyber criminals after our personal information? According to experts from ESET these are the 7 most important reasons.

Financial Fraud: Protect Yourself from Financial Fraud in the Digital Age

In today's digital age, financial fraud is a pervasive threat that affects us all. Our personal data is not just information – it is the gateway to our financial assets. This makes them a prime target for cybercriminals.

Surely you know how important it is to protect your bank card details. But it is equally critical to protect all kinds of personal information. Why; Because this information can open the door to unauthorized access to your bank accounts.

This is not just about financial data. Cybercriminals can exploit a wide range of personal data – from names and addresses to social security numbers and our online shopping habits.

Consider the following: By combining pieces of your personal information, cybercriminals can impersonate you. They can tamper with your accounts and make unauthorized transactions. The consequences can be far-reaching and serious.

Identity Theft: Protect Your Identity From Theft

Imagine a stranger using your identity information for malicious purposes, putting not only your money at risk but also your reputation and credibility. Identity theft is a serious threat that can affect your personal well-being. Cybercriminals handling stolen identities can carry out a range of malicious activities “in your name”, threatening your financial stability and personal integrity.

Why is it important? The more data fraudsters acquire, the greater their arsenal for all kinds of malicious actions. They can trick your contacts with misleading campaigns, create fake social media profiles, and commit various forms of fraud, including tax, insurance, and online shopping fraud.

 

Ransomware: Protect Your Data from Ransomware and Extortion

The threat of ransomware has been one of the most terrifying risks in the digital world for years. Imagine being suddenly locked out of your devices and data – personal documents, sensitive business data, and irreplaceable memories. The psychological impact is intense and immediate.

What happens when you fall victim to ransomware? Cybercriminals lock your data and demand a ransom to release it. Faced with this tragic situation, many victims feel compelled to give in to their demands, paying high sums in the hope of regaining control of their digital assets.

This reality underscores the importance of strong cybersecurity measures and proactive defense against the ever-evolving threat of ransomware attacks.

 

Dark web : Protect your Personal Data from being Sold on the Dark Web

Your personal data has become a lucrative commodity on the internet's dark underworld, known as the dark web, but also on social networking platforms such as Telegram. Stolen login credentials, Social Security information, and even children's personal data are all up for sale.

Why is this so worrying? In this illegal market, cybercriminals can buy and sell stolen data and carry out further malicious activities. These illegal transactions create a cycle of exploitation that fuels the thriving dark web economy.

What is the impact for you? If your personal information falls into the hands of these criminals, they can use it to steal your identity, empty your bank accounts, or commit other fraud in your name.

Account Theft: Protect Your Bank Accounts

Account theft is a quick and dangerous way for criminals to infiltrate various aspects of your online life. From social networking sites and email services to other platforms, criminals can exploit their access to commit illegal activities and spread malware.

How is this done? Attackers can crack your passwords either through a data breach at a company, account, or service that stored your data, or by using the information you voluntarily share online. Often, simply by combining names, surnames, dates of birth or other personal information, criminals gain access to your accounts.

What can you do to protect yourself? To reduce these risks, it is extremely important to protect your accounts with strong security measures. Use strong and unique passwords or passphrases for each account. Implement two-factor authentication (2FA) where possible. These preventative measures act as critical barriers against account theft and help protect your digital assets from threats.

Safety is in your hands. By taking these steps, you can strengthen your defenses against attackers and protect your digital identity from theft. Securing your accounts is key to keeping your online information safe and secure.

Phishing : Protect Yourself from (Spear)Phishing Messages

Phishing, also known as phishing, is a common cyber threat. Its most targeted form, the spearphishing, can use your personal data to create highly persuasive messages specifically targeted at you or your organization.

How does spearphishing work? Cybercriminals scrutinize their targets to gather information such as names, job titles, corporate affiliations, and even personal interests or activities. With this data, they can tailor their messages to increase the likelihood of success.

Examples of spearphishing attacks:

  • A scammer who knows what you buy online can create a convincing email that appears to come from a well-known trading company, asking you to update your details or download a file.
  • In other scenarios, the attacker may impersonate a colleague or supervisor at your company, using information from publicly available sources to bolster the credibility of the message. Phishing, especially its targeted form known as spearphishing, can exploit personal data to create persuasive messages aimed at specific individuals or organizations.

Industrial espionage

Think cybercriminals are the only ones interested in your personal data? Think again. Rival companies, governments and other groups have their eyes on this data as well. And why; Data stolen from employees can become tools for attacks.

Think of your personal data as a tool in the hands of an attacker. From industrial espionage aimed at gaining knowledge of competitors' activities to campaigns targeting critical infrastructure and sensitive government systems, risk is everywhere. It is time to understand the value of protecting our personal data and cyber security in general.

7 tips to protect yourself

It is important to protect our personal data in cyberspace. Even if you're not a cyber security expert, there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself, advise experts from the ESET team.

Wondering what those are? Let's see:

  1. Be wary of emails: Avoid opening emails from unknown sources or clicking on suspicious links. Do not disclose personal information via email.
  2. Be careful what you share online: Don't reveal too much information on social media or other online platforms.
  3. Create strong passwords: Use unique and strong passwords for each of your accounts, and change them regularly.
  4. Enable two-factor authentication: Add an extra degree of security with two-factor authentication on all accounts that support this feature.
  5. Check your financial activities: Regularly monitor your bank accounts, credit reports and other financial accounts for any unauthorized activity. Report any suspicious transactions or signs of identity theft immediately
  6. React immediately: If you receive a password breach notification, change it immediately.
  7. Use reliable security software: Install and update security software on all your devices to protect against attacks.

And don't fall into the trap of the 'Well, I've got nothing to hide!' or 'Don't mess with me!' or 'I'm not uploading anything important that hackers might be interested in!'

Statements like these reflect common misconceptions about the importance of personal data and cybersecurity.

We hope the above figures help illustrate how valuable even seemingly innocuous information can be to malicious actors.

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