For people who are nostalgic for the days when hackers were by and large a group of people that broke into websites and software in order to have fun and point out security flaws, the world continues to become a darker place. Some recent problems with mainstream firms online and offline have validated the notion that in today's world, the majority of people using malware to infect systems are doing so for profit and to wipe out personal privacy.
Forbes Has a Run-in With Rogue Malware
Most people appreciate the fact that Forbes serves up some of the best business content around without really expecting visitors to their website to pay for it. Instead, those who read Forbes expect that there will be ads that allow Forbes to pay their bills. Late last year, flaws in their model appeared when a third-party advertising network pushed enticements to download malware through the Forbes site to their customers that were reading articles with their ad-blocking features turned off, something that Forbes requires. For some people, that translated into an experience where they were asked to update software on their machine that would have loaded malware onto their device. Of course, the answer from Forbes' perspective was to do a better job of ensuring that the networks that they do use vet the advertising that goes out on their networks so their clients do not get exposed to this type of request, and to make sure that network monitoring priorities and efforts were appropriately robust. For readers everywhere, the lesson remains that regardless of the trustworthiness of the site, there will be days when common sense with regard to internet security should trump any type of dubious request that is generated as a result of interacting on that site.
Hyatt Confirms an Internal Malware Problem
In a different type of problem for clients, Hyatt Hotels has now confirmed that someone managed to infect around 250 of their hotels with malware that would pull the credit card information and other personal details from guests that were staying there and paying with their credit cards. For business travelers, this doesn't represent that much of a problem as their company will remain on top of any discrepancies in the record. For guests that were on vacation, however, Hyatt has put up data detailing which locations were impacted and what the general trends were with the software that was used to gather data. The expectation for those travelers is that they will check their Visa statements for a number of months to ensure that there is no odd activity that may track back to information being taken from them at that point. So far, there are no reports of any problems—but as a traveler, taking steps like using a pre-paid Visa card for hotel expenses and then moving any remaining balance back to your bank account or a personal Visa card after your trip is over is one way to combat having to worry about this type of incident in the future.
Staying Ahead of Hackers
If you travel frequently, in addition to putting your trust in the places that you stay and the places that you visit online, you will also need to have some confidence that you are prepared for the places around your destination. In Southern California, RFID skimming is a type of identity theft that takes an RFID sensor and uses it to read the contents of someone's wallet. Any cards like credit cards and some identification cards can be vulnerable. In published reports, most places claim that your credit cards can be vulnerable from several feet away, making it difficult for people to put illegal scanners in legitimate establishments. In reality, the latest skimmers operate with a range of 150 feet, making it a good idea for anyone that travels to look at using either aluminum cases or electromagnetic sleeves in wallets and purses that will serve as a shield and block any attempt a scanner might make.
Malware will continue to proliferate online and in businesses because it makes the wrong people money. Being as prepared as you can be by protecting your wallet and using caution while on the internet in public places and publicly accessible websites should lower your chances of being affected by those that want to profit from you.