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  • Credential theft is when fake webpages are created that look real for the sole purpose of stealing logins and passwords to access legitimate accounts.
  • The top targeted companies for phishing scams from credential theft include Paypal with 11,000 fake login pages, Microsoft with 9,500 fake pages, and Facebook 7,500 fake pages.
  • To prevent falling victim to a credential theft attack, consumers should not click on any links unless they know they are legitimate, double-check the email address of the sender, and change their password if they believe they used a fake login page.
  • For more information about the latest data breaches, consumers and businesses should visit the Identity Theft Resource Center’s (ITRC) new data breach tracking tool, notifiedTM.
  • Victims of identity theft can contact the ITRC toll-free at 888.400.5530, or by using the live-chat function on the website.

Credential stuffing is a term consumers often hear from cybersecurity experts. Credential stuffing is a type of cyber attack where stolen credentials, like usernames and passwords, are used to gain access to other accounts that share the same credentials. There is another term not heard as much, but just as prevalent: credential theft.

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Every week the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) takes a look at the most interesting data compromises from the last week in our Weekly Breach Breakdown podcast. This week, we are talking about creating fake websites that look real for the sole purpose of stealing logins and passwords used to access legitimate accounts. We will look at how security researchers found tens of thousands of fake website login pages that are used to collect credentials from consumers.

Credential Theft

To commit a credential stuffing attack, a hacker must have credentials. Where do data thieves get the logins and passwords needed to fuel these attacks? The most obvious way is through data breaches everyone has seen over the years, where millions of credentials are stolen in a mass attack. However, there are less obvious ways, too. One of those less obvious ways is credential theft.

Earlier in 2020, security company IRONSCALES began to look for a specific kind of webpage; fake login pages that look like they could come from real companies. From January until June, IRONSCALES found more than 50,000 phony login pages from more than 200 recognizable brands with a high volume of web traffic.  

These fake login pages are used in phishing emails as a way of getting people to click on what they think is a legitimate login page. Most people cannot tell the login page is fake, leading unsuspecting victims to enter their real login and passwords into a fake webpage. That is all it takes for data thieves to have actual credentials from live accounts. They do not even have to buy or steal any data.

Top Targets for Phishing Scams

Anyone reading this blog might be wondering if they have ever clicked on an email link connected to an account. If they have, was it a real login page?

IRONSCALES reports that PayPal is the top target for phishing scams, with more than 11,000 fake login pages spoofing the brand. Microsoft is not far behind with 9,500 phony login pages. The list continues with Facebook with 7,500, eBay with 3,000 and Amazon with 1,500 known fake login pages. Other commonly spoofed brands include Adobe, Aetna, Apple, Alibaba, Delta Air Lines, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

All of these companies have people who do nothing but seek and shut-down these and other kinds of fake webpages, websites, social media accounts and text messages that are used to collect personal information from their legitimate customers and prospects. However, research shows that credential theft is easy for a couple of reasons. The first is because malicious phishing emails that deliver fake login pages can easily bypass cybersecurity tools and spam filters just by making small changes in the email.

Inattentional Blindness

The second reason is because of inattentional blindness; when something looks so familiar or causes you to focus so intently that you don’t see the apparent errors hiding in plain sight. An example of inattentional blindness comes from a study where people were told to watch a video to count the number of people wearing white jerseys as they passed a ball. More than 50 percent of people taking the test missed the fact that one of the players was wearing a gorilla suit.

How Inattentional Blindness Applies to Identity Theft

Credential theft attacks translate into the inability to spot the tell-tale signs of a phishing scheme, even among trained cybersecurity and fraud professionals. What should people do if they encounter what they believe is a phishing attack?

1. Don’t click on any links unless you are sure they are legitimate. When in doubt, navigate directly to the website or webpage you are trying to reach instead of using a link.

2. If the link arrives in an email, double-check the address of the sender. An email address can be masked to make it look legitimate in the sender line. However, if you click on the sender’s name to see the actual address, you may find the email from mybank.com is actually from bob@scams-r-us. Get into the habit of checking email addresses.

3. If you believe you used a fake login page, change your passwords and alert the security team at the company whose login page has been spoofed as soon as possible. While changing your password, consider switching to a 12-character passphrase with upper and lower case letters. It will take an automated hacker tool 300 years to break that passphrase, as well as be easier to remember.

notifiedTM

For more information about the latest data breaches, consumers and businesses should visit the ITRC’s new data breach tracking tool, notified. It is updated daily and free to consumers. Organizations that need comprehensive breach information for business planning or due diligence can access as many as 90 data points through one of the three paid notified subscriptions. Subscriptions help ensure the ITRC’s identity crime services stay free.

Contact the ITRC

If you believe you are the victim of an identity crime, or your identity has been compromised in a data breach, you can speak with an ITRC expert advisor by calling toll-free at 888.400.5530, or on the website via live-chat. Finally, victims of a data breach can download the free ID Theft Help app to access advisors, resources, a case log and much more.

Join us on our weekly data breach podcast to get the latest perspectives on the last week in breaches. Subscribe to get it delivered on your preferred podcast platform.


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Cense.Ai, Freepik and ArbiterSports Headline Recent Data Breaches

  • Cense.Ai left a temporary data storage repository online, accessible to anyone with a web browser. It led to the exposure of nearly 2.6 million records, including sensitive data and other personally identifiable information (PII).
  • A recent data breach of Freepik, a photos and graphics website, happened when hackers used a known software vulnerability to gain access to one of its databases storing user data. It led to hackers obtaining usernames and passwords for 8.3 million users.
  • After detecting unauthorized access to certain devices, ArbiterSports learned an unauthorized party obtained a backup copy of a database with PII in a recent data breach. ArbiterSports reached an agreement with the unauthorized party to have the files deleted.
  • Victims of a data compromise can speak with an Identity Theft Resource Center expert advisor on the website via live-chat, or by calling toll-free at 888.400.5530.

August was another month full of data breaches, all tracked by the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC). Since 2005, the ITRC has compiled publicly-reported U.S. data breaches as part of our data breach tracking efforts. The ITRC tracks both publicly reported data breaches, and data exposures in a database containing 25 different information fields and 63 different identity attributes that are updated daily. Of the recent data breaches in August, Cense.Ai, Freepik and ArbiterSports are three of the most notable.

Cense.Ai

A recent Cense.Ai data exposure led to almost 2.6 million records, including sensitive data and other personally identifiable information (PII), accessible to anyone on the web. According to TechNadu, a database containing names, dates of birth, addresses, insurance records, medical diagnosis notes, clinics, insurance provider details, accounts, payment records and more was left online due to an error.

Security Researcher, Jeremiah Fowler, found two folders containing the sensitive data and managed to remove the port from the IP address of the Cense’s website. Fowler found that all individuals listed had been in a car accident. In most cases, there was also information like policy numbers, claim numbers and the date of the accident.

According to PCMag, Cense.Ai has not commented publicly about the exposure, and the company did not immediately respond to PCMag’s request for comment. Anyone affected by the Cense.Ai data exposure should monitor all of their accounts for any suspicious activity. If you find anything out-of-the-ordinary in your records, contact the appropriate company and take additional action if needed. 

Freepik

Freepik is a website that provides access to high-quality free photos and design graphics. In mid-August, the popular site announced that they suffered a data breach. According to the company’s statement, there was a breach from a SQL injection in Flaticon that allowed an attacker to get user information from their database. A little more than eight million users were affected. 4.5 million users had no hashed passwords due to exclusively federated logins (through Google, Facebook, etc.), and the hacker only obtained their email address. However, the additional 3.8 million users had both their email addresses and hashed passwords stolen. Freepik says they have taken extra measures to reduce their risk of a similar attack in the future. The company is also in the process of notifying all affected users.

Users who had their passwords stolen in this recent data breach should change their password and the password of any other accounts that share the same password. Also, switch to a nine to ten-character passphrase. They are easier to remember and harder for hackers to guess.

ArbiterSports

ArbiterSports is used by many for end-to-end activities management solution. However, some users of the officiating software company were notified of a data breach that exposed account usernames and passwords, names, addresses, dates of birth, email addresses and Social Security numbers. According to the company’s notification letter, ArbiterSports recently detected unauthorized access to certain devices in their network and an attempt to encrypt their systems.

After an investigation, the company learned the unauthorized party obtained a backup copy of a database made for business continuity reasons. The database contained PII for over 539,000 users. While ArbiterSports was able to prevent their devices from being encrypted, the unauthorized party still demanded payment in exchange for deleting the files. The two reached an agreement, and the files were deleted.

ArbiterSports is offering a free one-year membership of Experian’s IdentityWorks Credit 3B to detect possible misuse of personal information and to provide identity protection focused on identification and resolution of identity theft. Anyone affected should also change their username and password, as well as the username or password of any other accounts that share the same credentials. 

notifiedTM

For more information about recent data breaches, consumers and businesses should visit the ITRC’s new data breach tracking tool, notified. It is updated daily and free to consumers. Organizations that need comprehensive breach information for business planning or due diligence can access as many as 90 data points through one of the three paid notified subscriptions. Subscriptions help ensure the ITRC’s identity crime services stay free.

Contact the ITRC If you believe you are the victim of an identity crime, or your identity has been compromised in a data breach, you can speak with an ITRC expert advisor on the website via live-chat, or by calling toll-free at 888.400.5530. Finally, victims of a data breach can download the free ID Theft Help app to access advisors, resources, a case log and much more.


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Fortnite Gaming Data Being Sold for Hundreds of Millions of Dollars Per Year

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Fortnite is one of the most popular battle royale games on the market. People of all ages play the game to work their way towards the center of the map. However, there is one thing about Fortnite, and other games, that many gamers are not aware of: the massive amounts of gaming data that is collected and stolen.

Every week the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) looks at the most interesting data compromises from the previous week, as well as what happens behind the scenes when someone attacks a company and steals personal or business information in our Weekly Breach Breakdown podcast. This week, we are taking a look at Fortnite in an episode titled “Let the Games Begin!”

The Financial Dominance of the Gaming Industry

What industry made more money in 2019? Video games or movies? The answer will probably surprise most people. Video games generate more revenue each year than movies and music combined. Despite Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame setting a new global box office record in 2019 at $2.7 billion in ticket sales, the film industry’s $42 billion pales in comparison to the more than $150 billion in video game revenue in 2019. The top video game of 2019, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, racked up $1 billion in sales in the last two months of 2019 alone. Call of Duty is still the number one video game in terms of sales nearly a year later.

Data Risk

One of the reasons the game remains so popular is the same reason why video games represent a significant data risk: someone can play Call of Duty online for free and make in-game purchases. When someone goes to the movies, they don’t give away personal information to buy their ticket. However, when someone wants to play video games online, they have to share lots of data.

The Impacts on Fortnite

Nearly 2.7 billion people play video games, and at least 500 million of them play games online; 350 million just play Fortnite. While the online battle game is free to play, Fortnite makers gross $2.4 billion a year in in-game purchases. It’s what attracts data thieves; the combination of player gaming data and people willing to spend lots of money.

Research published by Night Lion Security calculates more than two billion online video game player profiles have been breached in 2020 based on the number sold, or for sale, in underground online forums. It adds up to roughly $1 billion in illicit gaming data sales each year. Of those, Fornite player account information is the most valuable at approximately $600 million per year.

Why? It’s not just personal information being stolen. Instead, its profile gaming data, including game achievements and player personas known as “skins.” With the right skin, a user can become an elite level player without having to play Fortnite or defeat hundreds of players to get to the top of the heap.

Night Lion notes that one highly prized skin commands as much as $2,500 on the black market. Between reselling elite and average player accounts, data thieves who specialize in Fortnite skins earn an average of $25,000 per week, nearly $1.3 million per year.

How Do Data Thieves Do It?

Cybercriminals use automated tools that compare login and password information from past data breaches to active Fornite accounts, at a rate of almost 500 accounts per second. To cover their tracks, the data thieves use masking tools that go for as little as $15 on the dark web.

What You Need to Do

The best security tools in the world cannot help protect gaming data if players use the same logins and passwords on more than one game account.

  • If you or a family member plays a popular video game, including Fortnite, make sure the game credentials are unique for each game
  • Also, create a unique passphrase and set up two-factor authentication to prevent misuse of your player profile and personal information

If you do not, it could be game over.

notifiedTM

For more information about the latest data breaches, consumers and businesses should visit the ITRC’s new data breach tracking tool, notified. It is updated daily and free to consumers. Organizations that need comprehensive breach information for business planning or due diligence can access as many as 90 data points through one of the three paid notified subscriptions. Subscriptions help ensure the ITRC’s identity crime services stay free.

Contact ITRC

If you believe you are the victim of an identity crime, or your identity has been compromised in a data breach, you can speak with an ITRC expert advisor on the website via live-chat, or by calling toll-free at 888.400.5530. Finally, victims of a data breach can download the free ID Theft Help app to access advisors, resources, a case log and much more.

Join us on our weekly data breach podcast to get the latest perspectives on the last week in breaches. Subscribe to get it delivered on your preferred podcast platform.


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A recent data breach of Dave, an online banking service, has users of the service searching for answers. Hackers often target digital banking services for their plethora of consumer records. In 2018, hackers leaked the information of 2.8 billion consumer data records, costing $654 billion in damages to U.S. organizations. Additionally, since the start of COVID-19, there has been a 50 percent increase in mobile banking. Dave is a fintech company that allows users to link their bank accounts and loan payments for upcoming bills to avoid overdraft fees. The Dave.com data breach occurred after the company’s third-party service provider, Waydev, was breached, allowing hackers access to over seven million users’ data.

What Happened

Dave suffered an attack, resulting in 7,516,625 user records being published on RAID, a hacker forum. Some of the information that was exposed from the Dave.com data breach included names, emails, birth dates, physical addresses, phone numbers, encrypted Social Security numbers and Bcrypt hashed passwords. The company uncovered the hacker’s access point into the database and has since notified customers of the exposure. After becoming aware of the incident, Dave enlisted law enforcement and the FBI to conduct an ongoing investigation, according to ZDNet.

What Does This Mean for You?

While there is no evidence that hackers have used the data from the Dave.com data breach to gain access to accounts or conduct any unlawful actions, there is still a lot of harm that could potentially be done. One threat is social engineering, where someone manipulates someone else into divulging personal information. Since multiple forms of information were exposed, there is an even higher and potentially more harmful risk for those impacted.

While the threat level is not as high as social engineering, hackers could also target victims with mail-forwarding and sign up for accounts with the victim’s information.

Next Steps to Take

Affected users of Dave should consider taking immediate action to minimize the risks of identity theft. Some important next steps include:

  • Change the usernames and passwords on any accounts that share a username and password with their Dave.com account – opt for a stronger, unique passphrase
  • Look out for account sign-ups and websites which they are not familiar
  • Avoid clicking on any links or opening any attachments in messages they are not expecting or giving out personal information on the phone. Instead, users should reach out directly to verify the validity of the message.

Anyone affected by the Dave.com data breach can call the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) toll-free at 888.400.5530 for more information on the next steps they need to take. They can also live-chat with an expert advisor. Finally, victims should consider downloading the free ID Theft Help app for access to resources, a case log to track their activities in managing their data breach case and much more.

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Significant and negatively impactful data breaches in the healthcare industry have happened for a long time. Back in 2015, Anthem suffered a massive data breach that led to as many as 80 million people having their information stolen. In 2019, third-party billings and collection agency, American Medical Collection Agency (AMCA), suffered a data breach that affected over 24 million people and 20 healthcare entities. That included Quest Diagnostics, who had 11.9 million patients impacted. More recent healthcare data breaches include Florida Orthopaedic Institute, University of Utah Health and PaperlessPay.

What Does it Mean to You?

Data breaches in the healthcare industry continue to happen because of the availability of both personally identifiable information (PII) and personal health information (PHI) available to bad actors. Hackers can do a lot of damage with access to sensitive PHI and PII, like Social Security numbers, health insurance numbers, drivers licenses or identification numbers, medication lists, conditions, diagnoses and financial information. Fraudsters can submit use this data to file fraudulent health insurance claims, apply for medical care and prescription medications, use the information on billing and much more.

According to the Protenus 2020 Breach Barometer, in 2019,  data breaches in the healthcare industry continued to be a problem, involving sensitive patient information, with public reports of hacking jumping 48.6 percent from 2018. The 2020 IBM Report on the average cost of a data breach reported that the most expensive attacks in 2019 occurred in the healthcare sector. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s (ITRC) 2019 Data Breach Report, there were 525 medical and healthcare data breaches in 2019, exposing over 39 million sensitive records. The medical and healthcare sector had the second-highest number of breaches and sensitive records exposed of all the sectors the ITRC tracks.

What Can You Do?

Data breaches in the healthcare industry will continue to happen because of the troves of information. However, there are things consumers can do to reduce their risk.

  • Victims should change their username and password for their affected healthcare account
  • Consumers should also change their username and password on any other accounts that have the same username or password as their healthcare account
  • Depending on what piece of PHI is exposed, victims should contact the affected healthcare provider to see what steps need to be taken

Victims of a data breach in the health care industry can call the ITRC toll-free at 888.400.5530 for more information on the next steps they need to take. They can also live-chat with an ITRC expert advisor.

Victims are also encouraged to download the free ID Theft Help app. The app has tools for data breach victims, including a case log to track all of their steps taken, access to helpful resources during the resolution process, instant access to an advisor and much more.


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Being Able to Identify a Phishing Attack is More Important Now Than Ever

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Hacked Dating Apps are a Popular Target for Social Engineering Scams

People are spending more time on their phones, tablets and computers now than ever, making the importance of cyber-hygiene tips as paramount as they’ve ever been. The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) wants to highlight some of the best practices and steps that users can take to improve their online security.

We recommend everyone make these cyber-hygiene tips part of their regular routine to greatly reduce their risk of identity theft or other cybersecurity compromises.

1. Use a secure connection and a VPN to connect to the internet

A virtual private network (VPN) is a digital tool that keeps outsiders, such as hackers, identity thieves, spammers and even advertisers from seeing online activity. Users should also be wary of public Wi-Fi. While public Wi-Fi may be convenient, it can have many privacy and security risks that could leave someone vulnerable to digital snoops. If connecting to public Wi-Fi, be sure to use a VPN.

2. Get educated about the terms of service and other policies

It is important to understand what the terms of service and other policies say because, once you check the box, you may have agreed to have your information stored and sold, automatic renewals, location-based monitoring and more.

3. Make sure anti-virus software is running on all devices

It is very important to have anti-virus software running on every device because it is designed to prevent, detect and remove software viruses and other malicious software. It will protect your devices from potential attacks.

4. Set up all online accounts (email, financial, shopping, etc.) with two-factor or multi-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of protection to your accounts; it requires at least two separate verification steps to log into an account. Relying on a minimum of two methods of login credentials before accessing accounts will make it harder for a hacker to gain access.

5. Use secure payment methods when shopping online

One easy cyber-hygiene step is to only shop on trusted websites and use trusted payment methods. Consumers should not use payment portals or shop on websites with which they are not familiar.

Always use a payment instrument that has a dispute resolution process – like a credit card or PayPal – if you have to shop on an unfamiliar site.

6. Use unique passphrases for passwords and do not reuse passwords

The best practice these days is to use a nine to ten-character passphrase instead of an eight-character password. A passphrase is easier to remember and harder for hackers to crack.

Also, users should employ unique passphrases; if they use the same one, hackers can gain access to multiple accounts through tactics like credential stuffing.

7. Never open a link from an unknown source

Do not click on links or download attachments via email or text – unless you are expecting something from someone or a business you know. If it is spam, it could insert malware on your device.

Also, never enter personally identifiable information (PII) or payment information on websites and web forms that are not secure or have not been fully vetted. It could be a portal to steal personal information.

8. Make sure devices are password protected

If devices are not password protected, it is just that much easier for a hacker to share or steal personal information. Without a layer of protection or authentication to access the device, all the information saved on it becomes fair game. Use a PIN code, biometric or pattern recognition to lock your devices and set the same protection for apps that have access to sensitive information like banking or credit cards.

9. Log out of accounts when done

This is another bad habit that makes it much easier for someone to share or steal your information. Always log out of accounts when done so no one can get easy access to them.

While there is nothing that can be done to eliminate identity theft, account takeovers and other malicious intent, these cyber-hygiene tips will help keep consumers safe, as well as reduce the number of cybercrime victims.

For anyone who believes they have been a victim of identity theft or has questions about cyber-hygiene tips, they can call the ITRC toll-free at 888.400.5530 to speak with an expert advisor. They can also live-chat through the website or the free ID Theft Help app.


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Each year, about half of U.S. taxpayers rely on a tax preparer and a tax preparation service to help them file their required tax returns. These professionals offer a wide array of options, from a very simple franchise that plugs in the numbers on the consumer’s behalf to certified public accountants that know the ins and outs of the entire U.S. tax code. From accounting firms to walk-in services like H&R Block, TurboTax/Intuit, Credit Karma or Jackson Hewitt, these tax preparation services often have one major similarity: they are a hot target for hackers and identity thieves.

Trusting an outsider with highly-sensitive personal data is not something that people should take lightly. Having a professional take responsibility for the paperwork, helping to navigate the annual changes to tax laws and even assisting in the event of an IRS audit are all reason enough to pay someone to take care of the filing. However, the sheer volume of personally identifiable information (PII) that a tax preparer must collect and store means there are literal treasure troves of identities waiting to be compromised by a malicious actor.

There are plenty of ways that stolen PII from a tax preparation service can benefit a hacker. First, accessing a stolen return not only means the hacker can file the return for themselves and steal any refunds the consumer was expecting, it also means having the ability to file a fraudulent return every year. Hackers can cause even more harm with information gleaned from a tax preparer’s computer; credential stuffing is another major concern, as the complete information they might steal can be used to access the victim’s other accounts.

There are some important steps that consumers can take to protect themselves when using a tax preparation service. First, people should only choose a professional tax preparer who has a valid IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN), but also understand that there are many different services, ability-levels and offerings that a professional can provide. It is also important for a consumer to find out what the preparer’s credentials are—such as having an accounting degree or being a member of a professional organization—before signing on to work with them. Consumers should not hesitate to ask what information the preparer will be able to access, how that information will be stored and for how long, who will be able to access that information and other related questions. There have been many situations where tax preparation services and professionals have been the target of malicious actors and understanding how they are going to safeguard information is just as important as their capabilities.

More guidelines from the IRS are available, but consumers are also cautioned to begin using a nine to ten character passphrase in place of the traditional eight-character password. A passphrase is longer and easier to remember, which makes it both harder for fraudsters to guess and more likely that consumers will deploy a different passphrase for each account.

If someone falls victim to identity theft from a data breach, they can live-chat with an Identity Theft Resource Center expert advisor through the organization’s website, as well as call toll-free at 888.400.5530 for an action plan that is customized to their needs. The free ID Theft Help App for iOS and Android also provides a number of resources for consumers to use in the event of a data breach or suspected identity theft.


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