How Hackers Use E-Skimming to Steal When You Buy Online
It took many of us years to get comfortable buying online. Now, nothing can stop us. But now eskimming risks face unsuspecting victims who use debit cards.
What is E-Skimming? I’m glad you asked.
Chances are you’ve already heard of card skimming, especially if you read my blog to stay informed about technology and security. Skimming is where criminals put a small device over the card reader at a gas station or other easy-to-compromise location. Then when you swipe, the skimmer collects your card information for theft later.
While these can be detrimental, they’re often caught quickly. Someone sees them and pulls them out.
But now hackers are taking the skimming concept to the Internet. And not unlike malware, it may take a while before the website knows the “device” is there.
How E-Skimming Works
It’s really, very insidious. E-Skimming plays on holiday spirit, a time when you and I are focused on gift-giving and family. These days, we do a lot of that shopping online.
And because many of us are filled with joy and excitement about holiday shopping, we may not be as cautious as we might normally be. On top of that, because we’re doing so much online shopping from different stores this time of year, it may be hard for you to know where a fraudulent transaction happened.
Criminals use e-Skimming technology to inject a little code onto a retailer’s website. This code sends data back to the criminals that they can use to charge your card. But it also lets the transaction go through. So you have no idea you’ve just been robbed.
With techniques like this, it’s no wonder that cyber-crime is on the rise, costing businesses and individuals nearly $3 billion annually. The FBI received nearly half a million complaints last year, and much more goes unreported.
How to Protect Yourself from E-Skimming
You likely won’t know quickly that you’ve been robbed. But you can take some steps to reduce the damage.
- Don’t use debit cards online. Unlike credit cards, your bank will probably not reimburse you for a fraudulent transaction. Use a credit card or gift card only.
- Set up alerts for your credit and debit cards so that you get an email or text each time the card is charged. You’ll more quickly spot these attacks. When you report it quickly, a credit card company launches an investigation. They may be able to recoup their money to break up a ring of criminals. And they’ll generally reimburse you for the loss.
- Don’t feel safer just because you’re on a big-name website. They get attacked too. Also, HTTPS isn’t any safer because these scammers usually trick the person managing the site into giving them their password.
- Notify the website if you suspect where the fraud occurred.
E-Skimming is a nasty trick that preys on our gift-giving spirit. But you can reduce the damage you incur with these tips. For more tips to stay safe, follow my blog.