T'was the Season...

cyber crime at Xmas

Is this post a little late, ‘the season’ was last month..? Well, that’s true, but it’s this month that the credit card bills and bank statements arrive, so now is the time to check that there hasn’t been any fraudulent activity.

The rise of contactless payments has not only acted as a benefit for speedier payment of small amounts, but has also exposed another threat vector for both fraud and for mispayment. The latter is getting sorted out, although caution as to which card is used for payment is still an issue unless you remove the actual card and present it. The ‘big benefit’ of not removing the card from the wallet has been removed as most people have multiple cards contained in their wallets (and purses) so swiping the container creates a problem. A quick check that you haven’t been charged more than once on different cards for the same transaction is all that is needed.

From a fraud perspective, the devices needed to read and process contactless payments are becoming easier to buy and use. They are only effective over very short distances so the opportunity only really arises if you are in a crowd. Shopping during the holiday season provides the opportunity for that 'crowd' and the fraudsters. This is where extra vigilance is required, the maximum amounts are not big so there is a tendency to skip the spend when looking at statements – but do keep a close eye on the line items to watch for any dodgy transactions.

Outside of shopping crowds, the other major opportunity for people to get close enough to run a contactless payment is when commuting – especially if you are on the London Underground or the Tokyo Subway systems. Of course there are other places like concerts and sporting fixtures, particularly when going into or leaving the venues. I wrote a while ago about RFID shields for contactless payment cards, these are very thin sleeves which you put your card in to prevent them from being accidentally or maliciously swiped without you knowing. Since most people now get their cards out of their wallets to use them, it is worth getting a shield (or you can buy an RFID resistant wallet / purse) to keep you safe.

In business as well as in your personal life, critical information needs to be protected at all times – and with new ways of doing business, you need to look at new ways to protect the information from the cyber-criminals who will always be looking at new ways to exploit new technology.

Dr. Guy Bunker