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Last year, the pandemic was accompanied by a wave of cyberattacks and cyber fraud attempts (most, successful).

Ill-intended actors took advantage of the general state of confusion and economic instability and worked hard to get access to unsecured networks (as more people were forced to work from home) and out-of-date software tools. 

As things seem to have returned to some type of stability, 2021 should register fewer successful cyberattacks, right? Well, the reason why cybercriminals are so prolific is that they can easily adapt and change strategies. As a result, online fraud attacks are up by 25% in the US this year. 

So, if you don’t want to add stress to your life, it’s best to pay attention to the following types of online frauds that are most common in 2021.

#1: SMS from a Health Authority

This scam is simple in its execution but brilliant in strategy.

People receive an SMS, saying they’ve become eligible for the vaccine. To register, they should visit a link (included in the message) and submit information like personal details (name, address, bank details, and more) to verify they are who they say they are.

In doing so, people hand over their information to cybercriminals, who will put together a personal profile and wither sell it to other criminals or use it for themselves (identity fraud).  

To prevent such a disastrous outcome, you should never trust messages, emails, or any other forms of communication that seemingly come from a legit organization. To make sure you’re not being scammed, call the sender of the message (using contact details from their website) and ask if they have an active campaign. 

You should also look for various methods of protection against fraud, in order to have an extra layer of security. This way, if anyone gets a hold of your personal information, they won’t be able to use it. 

#2: Account Takeover (ATO)

This is identity theft at its finest and it’s usually achieved using the personal data collected via scams like the one above or phishing. 

In this scenario, cybercriminals log into your account (bank or email) and perform unauthorized activities or transactions. They can also change the login credentials (to block you out) or sell the credentials to other fraudsters. 

Another concern is that ATO attacks are spreading from the e-commerce space into the online gaming industry. Here, users can’t check URLs and don’t have the time to pay attention to what’s happening with their transactions.

Therefore, the burden of security falls on the shoulders of game developers, who have to find ways to authenticate users without allowing ill-intended actors to swoop in. 

#3: Transaction Fraud

As more people made the switch to online shopping, cybercriminals now have more opportunities to trick users into surrendering their credit card information. 

For instance, if you receive a very tempting offer via email and you want to take advantage of it right away (they are usually time-limited), you may not pay that much attention to the URL of the page you land on.

You just click Buy Now and add the credit card information. This would be a huge mistake, as you’ve just handed over the details to fraudsters!

#4: Synthetic Identity 

If up until now individual users were the ones most at risk, the rules seem to change as cybercriminals start to use AI algorithms to create fictional client personas that seem real. They do this by combining personal information from a real person (stollen through phishing or other methods) with made-up details.

As a result, if a merchant’s fraud prevention system is not smart enough, it may lead to a false positive, thus allowing the fraudsters to create a legit account and order products at will.  

#5: Voice Shopping Flaws

Due to the development of mobile devices, most users now use their smartphones for online shopping. To make it easier, modern devices come equipped with virtual assistants that can perform searches following users’ instructions and place orders in their names.

Moreover, this can be done using smart speakers as well. 

Still, the technology is rather new, so the system is prone to vulnerabilities, which cybercriminals are happy to exploit. 

Key Takeaways 

Cyberattacks evolve and change to fit modern technologies, which is why users everywhere must be more aware of these risks. Start by making sure your devices are safe to use by performing regular checkups, allowing the system to update, and using various methods of authentication.