What you should know about identity breaches

Our society becomes more digitalized, and so does our personal data. That's why identity breaches have moved from the pickpocket to the cybercriminal.

29-03-2023 - 6 minute read. Posted in: cybercrime.

What you should know about identity breaches

In the digitalized world, identity breaches, theft and fraud are becoming more frequent. That's why we are raising awareness of the phenomenon by explaining what it entails and what to look out for. The sooner you detect the identity breach, the sooner you can secure your personal data.

What is an identity breach?

It is becoming easier for hackers to steal information online. That's why we need to raise awareness of how they do it - and why they do it.

An identity breach is a security breach involving personal data and information that can identify you as an individual. This includes information such as contact details, credit card details, passwords and usernames.

By stealing this information in data breaches, hackers can try to break into banks or obtain confidential information to sell on. Victims of identity theft often don't know they are victims before an identity breach has already happened.

We also have a blog post on identity theft so you can go in depth with this - and you might think it's the same as identity breaches. But there is a difference between the two concepts, and moreover between the two and identity fraud.

The difference between the three types of identity fraud

The three concepts of identity theft are very closely related. However, there are some differences:

Identity breach: This term is one of the broader terms that refers to an unauthorized access to identifying and sensitive personal information. Typically, identity breaches will occur through malware attacks, ransomware, personalized hacking, password cracking and social engineering, as seen in phishing attacks.

Identity theft: In identity theft, the hacker has gained access to your personal data. Hackers steal a person's identity - without the victim even realizing it. The hacker intends to use the stolen identity to commit criminal acts. This is often for financial gain.

Identity fraud: The last concept we will address in the context of identity theft is identity fraud. Here, a hacker will pretend to be someone else. Again, financial gain is the motivating factor. Once the hacker has a victim's information, they can do the following:

  • Create fake insurance policies.
  • Transfer money to themselves.
  • Register false tax information and commit tax fraud.
  • Open new bank accounts and take out loans in the victim's name.

The most common types of identity breaches

To give you a better insight into identity breaches, we have compiled an overview of the most common types of identity breaches.

Economic identity breach

As the name suggests, the economic identity breach is where the identity theft is exploited for financial gain for the hacker. In this case, the hacker uses the victim's personal data for their benefit. The hacker can make bank transfers, create new accounts, or commit tax fraud.

Financial identity breaches involve the theft of information such as: CPR numbers, banking information and card details.

What you can do to detect a possible identity breach is to keep an eye on your bank accounts and what transfers are being made. If there are suspicious transfers, you should contact your bank and get their help to shut the hacker out.

Criminal identity breaches

These types of identity breaches involve the hacker using stolen personal data to commit criminal acts. In this case, the hacker pretends to be the victim to avoid a fine or to avoid being summoned to court.

Victims will therefore receive court summons and arrest warrants for crimes they did not commit. This can lead to false arrests, denial of loans, or incorrect additions to the victim's criminal record.

Identity breaches exploiting children's identities

Child identity breaches can also be exploited by both family members and hackers. Family members or acquaintances of the child may exploit the child's identity for financial gain.

Hackers often target children's identities because children often have no financial or criminal history, making it easy for hackers to steal their identity to commit fraud. In addition, it also takes longer for the fraud to be detected, as neither the children nor their guardians will keep an eye on any exploitation of the child's information.

Account takeover

The last method to mention is account takeover. Here, the hacker uses the stolen information to access essential accounts such as email accounts, bank accounts or cryptocurrency accounts. The hacker will typically use brute-force attack to force their way into various accounts.

To avoid brute-force attacks, you can use multifactor authentication to make it harder for the hacker to force their way in. In addition, it is also important to create strong passwords, which the hacker cannot crack as easily - here you can also use a password manager.

Common methods used by the hacker

There are several different types of methods hackers use to commit identity theft, breach and fraud. Typically, individuals and businesses are targeted if they do not have adequate cybersecurity.

In addition, hackers use both physical and digital devices to gain access to personal data. Therefore, it is important to completely wipe devices when throwing away an old computer, hard drive or USB stick.

Cybercriminals still engage in pickpocketing, stealing purses, packages and letters from people to get their hands on personal data. Others also monitor ATMs to get the code for a credit card.

Of course, in addition to the "classic" methods of identity theft, hackers also use digital methods.

Phishing is the easiest way for hackers to get personal data. Hackers use social engineering to persuade victims and convince them that the hacker is a legitimate person they can trust.

In phishing, the hacker can install malware on the victim's device. The hacker can also "capture" information and launch a ransomware attack on the victim, be it an individual or a company.

As mentioned, hackers can also force access to various accounts with brute-force attacks, where they use machines to crack passwords. The machines will keep running until they crack the codes, so it's a good idea to have a strong password. With a longer and stronger password, it evidently takes longer for the machines to crack it.

Signs of an identity breach

Finally, we will highlight some of the signs you can look out for to spot identity breaches. These can be:

  • Transfers and activity on bank accounts that you have not authorized.
  • Suspicious activity on your email, bank accounts and social media.
  • Discovering that your information has been involved in a data breach.
  • Messages from unknown persons making suspicious requests.
  • Unknown users and accounts being created in your name.

By keeping an eye out for these signs of an identity breach, you can hopefully catch the breach before the hacker exploits your information. If you are the victim of an identity breach, you should contact your bank and the Data Protection Agency and report the incident. This way, your bank accounts can be closed and attention will be drawn to the cybercriminal act.

Author Caroline Preisler

Caroline Preisler

Caroline is a copywriter here at Moxso beside her education. She is doing her Master's in English and specializes in translation and the psychology of language. Both fields deal with communication between people and how to create a common understanding - these elements are incorporated into the copywriting work she does here at Moxso.

View all posts by Caroline Preisler

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