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Cybercrime expected to hit $6 trillion in damage annually by 2021

Hackers and computer viruses continue to cause issues as online shopping grows, with estimates that cybercrimes will cause $6 trillion in damage annually by 2021.

That cost is double the $3 trillion in damages that occurred in 2017, according to a Cybersecurity Ventures report. The costs grow as new cyber thief tactics continue popping up and old ones re-surface.

In recent months, hackers have pulled out old tricks to steal credit card information through live chats on retail websites, said Natalie Dunlevey, president of Dayton-based National Processing Solutions. Online shopping-related scams increased 113 percent between 2016 and 2017.

While shopping a stores’s website, Dunlevey said consumers need to beware of the live chats that pop up asking if customer’s need assistance during the online shopping process or have any questions. Later, the chats may give customers a chance to skip regular checkout by providing credit card information in the chat. But there’s potential these chats are not run by the stores themselves, but by cyberthieves, Dunlevey said.

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Even for valid retail stores, payment through chats is never optimal, she said.

It’s especially concerning as the holiday season approaches, and hectic gift shoppers may let down their guard, she added.

Gavin Fafiade of Dayton shops online around holidays and for birthdays, usually on Amazon, eBay or directly on a companies website. While he said he doesn’t usually click on chats that pop up because they disturb what he was looking at, they are concerning.

“I don’t want you seeing my personal information, and if you are really that smart, I wish you would use that for something else,” Fafiade said. “If that’s what you are doing don’t bring it toward me. Do it someplace else.”

But online shoppers can protect themselves, Dunlevey said. First and foremost, all website users should verify they are shopping on secured sites. In the address bar, they’ll see https rather than just http and likely a closed padlock as well.

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Even if a website is secure, protecting personal information only goes as far as the firewall consumers have on their computers, she said. If malware makes it onto someone’s computer, some scammers are sophisticated enough to see key strokes — and therefore credit card numbers.

“I know that everything costs money, and security is one of those things that people don’t really like to think about much, but you don’t know how important it is until something tragic happens,” she said.

In addition to purchasing anti-virus, CEO of Secure Cyber Defense Shawn Waldman said to keep everything up-to-date from anti-virus software to the Windows operating system. In case all else fails, Waldman said everyone should back up their computer documents and files into online storage services and external drives.

“Go home and turn on multi-factor authentication for every account that you have whether it’s Gmail, Yahoo, Microsoft, Evernote, Twitter, Facebook — especially social media,” Waldman said. “If somebody gets ahold of your username and password, you’re done. They’re going to get into everything you have that has that password and username. If you have multi-factor identification turned on, then they have to have your phone too.”

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He said email scams where hackers put themselves between the business and customer are also plaguing consumers. It’s especially become an issue for real estate titles, where at the last second a hacker who has compromised a company’s email will jump into a conversation and change where money is supposed to be wired.

But there are signs consumers can watch for, Waldman added. For instance, bad grammar, an email address that’s one letter off from the usual contact or sudden changes to an agreement are key indicators that security has been breached.

“A lot of it is just using your gut. If it doesn’t sound right or feel right it probably isn’t,” he said.

Because of these crimes, cybersecurity is a rapidly growing field, with Cybersecurity Ventures forecasting that spending on the service will exceed $1 trillion from 2017 to 2021.

Currently. the market is worth about $120 billion, according to the report, up from $3.5 billion in 2004.

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