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How Fraudsters Steal Your Data in the Digital Age

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Back in the day when bank robberies were rife and one of the preferred and most common forms of crime, the thief would have to physically walk into a building to demand money or present a fake proof of identity for the individual they were trying to impersonate. And, even then, they’d really only have one chance to pull off their heist or fraudulent transaction. If they failed on their first attempt, they’d know it would likely be too risky to return to the same place to try the scam again. The risk was high and the crime was public and visible — but not anymore.

Digital transformation is great for many things and has advanced society past what anyone could have imagined. But it also creates a playground for fraudsters, cybercriminals and identity thieves.

Hiding in plain sight

Most of us spend the majority of our working days in the digital realm doing our business from home or the office. But at the very same time, fraudsters are also working away diligently behind closed doors. They’re an invisible enemy and all they need is a device and an internet connection to wreak havoc and misery.

Now, they can make multiple attempts to defraud individuals or businesses simply because of digital advances. Digital technology makes it possible for fraudsters to effectively walk back into the same bank hundreds or thousands of times until they’re successful.

Related: How to Connect People, Process and Technology to Deliver Exceptional Customer Experience

Identity under attack

Today, our identities are under attack.

For many decades, we’d prove that we were indeed who we said we were by producing photo IDs and passports or by scribbling down handwritten signatures. Sometimes, just showing up in person and being recognized was good enough. But now, in the dark underbelly of cyberspace, where deepfake technology and people’s sensitive information are rife and readily available, it’s all too easy for fraudsters to assume or steal another’s identity.

Sometimes, the individual that steals the identity or impersonates another isn’t a real person at all. They’re essentially a ghost, auto-generated by a few lines of code. If photographic proof of identity is required to facilitate the deception, it’s easy for fraudsters to give themselves a random human “face” with a few clicks on a facial composition app or by stealing a photograph from someone else’s social media page.

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The net is spread wide

The government is another popular target for online fraudsters.

Fraud linked to the pandemic has cost billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money. Government aid designed to help, and often save, people struggling through the lockdowns of Covid was stolen at record-breaking rates. 

Related: Employees Can Be Insider Threats to Cybersecurity. Here’s How to Protect Your Organization.

Securing the digital ecosystem

Individuals, the government and companies all have a responsibility to protect themselves and their personal and professional ecosystem.

Today, advancements such as zero-trust security and secure access service edge (SASE) models can ensure that security extends all the way to the edge — the user and the device — regardless of where they are. Businesses and governments should explore and invest in the latest identity and access management technology.

It’s not enough to simply “lock the front door” to our businesses, our government apparatus and infrastructure or our personal identities. We also need to double-bolt our back doors, and every other physical and digital window in the house.

Individual people can only do so much. Systems and protections need to be in place in order to stop and catch fraudsters at the source. With the digital revolution, there also needs to be a revolution of identity security.

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