Bank Cards: How Cybercriminals Can Steal Data?

Deepak Gupta July 13, 2022
Updated 2022/07/13 at 1:47 PM

Bank card data theft? Despite all the security offered in the digital world, cybercriminals always find ways to steal information and even money. The cybercrime underworld is a well-oiled machine whose activity is valued at several billion dollars.

Do you have any idea how cybercriminals steal bank card data? Know the most used scenarios and techniques indicated by the ESET.

Currently, there are many ways for cybercriminals to obtain our bank card details and their techniques are constantly evolving. The risks of your card data getting into the wrong hands can be mitigated: good usage practices are the key to staying protected. But how do cybercriminals steal bank card data?

5 ways cybercriminals steal bank card data

#1 - Phishing

Phishing is one of the most popular techniques for cybercriminals to steal data. In its simplest form, it is a trick where the hacker impersonates a legitimate entity (for example, a bank, an e-commerce provider, or a technology company) to trick you into disclosing your data. personal data, or unintentionally downloading malware.

They often encourage users to click on a link or open an attachment. Sometimes, in doing so, the link or attachment takes the user to a phishing page - where they will be encouraged to enter personal and financial information. In a recent assessment, it was concluded that phishing reached an all-time high in the first quarter of 2022.

Phishing techniques have evolved in recent years. Instead of an email, today you can receive a malicious text (SMS) from a hacker pretending to be a delivery company, government agency, or other trusted organization. Criminal agents may even call you, again pretending to be a trusted source, in order to obtain your card details. SMS phishing (smishing) more than doubled in 2021 compared to the previous year, while voice phishing (vishing) also increased, according to one estimate. Phishing is one of the most used techniques to steal bank card details.

How can cybercriminals steal bank card details?

#2 - Malware

Underworld cybercrime is a huge market, not just for data but also for malware. Over the years, different types of malicious code have been designed to steal information. Some log your keystrokes - for example, when typing card details on an e-commerce or banking site. How do criminal actors get these tools onto your system?

Phishing emails or texts are a popular method. Malicious online ads are another. In other cases, they can compromise popular sites and expect users to visit them. This type of “drive-by-download” malware is installed as soon as a compromised website is visited and subsequently leads to the theft of bank card data. Information-stealing malware is also often hidden inside legitimate-looking but malicious mobile applications.

How can cybercriminals steal bank card details?

#3 - Digital “Skimming”

Sometimes hackers also install malware on payment pages of websites via bank cards. These are invisible to the user, but will steal your card details as they are entered.

There's not much users can do to protect themselves, other than shopping only with big name brands and websites, which are likely to be safer. Detections of digital skimming increased by 150% between May and November 2021.

#4 - Data breaches

Sometimes bank card details are stolen directly from the companies you do business with. It could be a healthcare provider, an e-commerce store, or a travel company. This is a more cost-effective way of doing things from the hackers point of view, because in an attack they have access to a huge set of data.

On the other hand, with phishing campaigns, you have to rob individuals one by one - although these attacks are usually automated. In the US, 2021 was a record year for data breaches.

#4 - Public WiFi

When you're out and about, it can be tempting to surf the web for free at public Wi-Fi hotspots - in airports, hotels, cafes, and other shared spaces. Even if you have to pay to join the network, it might not be safe if hackers have done the same. They can use this access to spy on your data as you enter it.

How can cybercriminals steal bank card details?

How to keep your bank card details safe

Fortunately, there are many ways to mitigate the risk of your card data getting into the wrong hands. THE ESET suggests that you consider the following as a good starting point:

  • Be alert: never reply, click on links, or open unsolicited email attachments. They may be “trapped” with malware. Or they may take you to legitimate looking phishing pages where you will be encouraged to enter your details.
  • Do not divulge any details over the phone, even if the person on the other end appears convincing. Ask where they're calling from and then call that organization back to check - although don't use any contact numbers they give you.
  • Do not use the Internet on public Wi-Fi, especially without a virtual private network. If necessary, do not do anything that requires you to enter your card details (eg online shopping).
  • Do not store your card details on online shopping or other sites, although this will save you time on future visits. This will reduce the chances of your card details being taken in the event of a breach by that company, or if your account is hijacked.
  • Install anti-malware, including anti-phishing protection, from a reputable security vendor like ESET on all portable computers and other devices.
  • Use two-factor authentication on all sensitive accounts. This reduces the chances of hackers opening them with stolen/phished passwords.
  • Only download apps from legitimate stores (like the Apple App Store, or Google Play). If you are shopping online, do so only on sites with HTTPS (you should display a padlock in your browser's address bar next to the URL). This means that there is less chance that the data can be intercepted.

Finally, it's good practice to keep an eye on all your bank accounts and bank cards. If you detect any suspicious transactions, please inform your bank/card provider's fraud team immediately.

Some applications now allow you to “freeze” all spending on specific bank cards until you can check for a security breach. There are many ways cybercriminals can obtain our bank card details, but there is also a lot we can do to keep them at bay.

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