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Online Credit Card Skimming on a Continual Rise – Here's How to Prevent it

Credit card skimming soared by 26% amid COVID-19 and confinement measures that followed.

Credit card skimming has already been on a rise prior to the pandemic and the trend is most likely to develop in the near future as online shopping has seen a dramatic jump due to the confinement measures imposed in various nations – giving cybercriminals more opportunities to bank upon than ever.

Popularly known as, 'Magecart' moniker, web skimming is the practice of compromising online stores and stealing payment card data in the process. In March, web skimming soared by 26%, as per the data by MalwarebytesLABS.

Credit card skimming is a form of credit card theft where crooks steal victims' credit card credentials and other sensitive information through a skimmer which is a small device constructed to steal information stored on credit cards when victims carry out transactions at ATMs. Lately, the terminology has been expanded to include malicious code that targets payment card data filled on e-commerce websites while making purchases. By either means–hardware or software, skimming attempts to achieve the same goal of performing fraudulent transactions by using the stolen data.

As various nations upgraded their cybersecurity by moving to chip-enabled cards, crooks have also continually adopted new and sophisticated methods to avoid detection. Certain skimming devices are designed to fit into the card reading slot – known as "deep-insert." They are intended to read data from the chips on chip-enabled cards.

Consumers are advised to stay extra cautious as there is not just a single way to fall in the trap of skimming, security experts recommend looking for signs of tampering like chunks of metal or plastic that seem off in dispositions, strange holes, or constituents, not in alignment with the rest of the ATM.

To prevent online skimming, there is not much one can do directly as they can't control the affected software. However, consumers can constantly monitor their card statements to look out for unauthorized transactions. They can use virtual card numbers to make online purchases if the bank offers of can also pay with smartphones; services such as Google Pay and Apple Pay that uses tokenization, replacing the real number with a virtual one, assures a great deal of security for real number by not exposing it. Another way to ensure safety is by making use of an alternative e-wallet service like PayPal.

Recent skimming attacks include a data breach disclosed by Warner Music Group, The American Payroll association's report wherein cybercriminals installed skimming malware on the login page of their website as well as the checkout section by exploiting a vulnerability in the company's CMS. Magecart skimmers also employ Telegram as a means for sending stolen credentials back to its C2 servers.
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