Protecting active-duty military members from cyberattacks

Computer keyboard
Posted at 6:00 PM, Nov 04, 2021

NORFOLK, Va. - From shopping to banking, a lot of our personal information is saved online, whether you use the computer or even a cell phone.

However, there are ways to protect yourself, especially if you're an active duty service member.

For this report, News 3 spoke with a woman named Michelle, who didn't want to use her last name for security reasons, but said she has been serving our country for the last 18 years. She recalls a time a few years ago when she noticed some alarming activity on her account.

"I found that I had four to five additional credit inquiries for other credit cards into my credit history, and I also had approximately $2,000 worth of charges on a credit card that I rarely use," she said.

Sharing her experience, she was about to learn the cyberattack was targeted and others in her unit could also be at risk.

"We started to [say to one another], 'Hey, this really does happen to us more than the average person,'" she said.

In fact, the Federal Trade Commission reports that active duty service members and recent veterans are 76% more likely to fall victim to cyberattacks. They're also three times more likely to report that someone tried to electronically take money from their account.

"Just like when someone breaks into your home, you know, your sense of security has been violated," she said.

According to Hari Ravichandran, the founder and CEO of Aura, for the first time in 2020, the amount of loss that happened as a result of digital crime exceeded home theft.

Aura is a digital security company that offers protection for consumers and service members. Ravichandran and his team are working with Blue Star Families because research shows there are factors that make those who serve more vulnerable.

He said this includes moving homes and traveling overseas, which makes it difficult to monitor accounts regularly.

Ravichandran, along with the FTC, said in order to avoid cyberattacks:

  • Change your password
  • Sign up for free credit monitoring
  • Freeze your account if you will be gone for long periods of time

If you do fall victim, Aura has resources to get back your money and save you time.

"We have a service called the white-glove concierge service that really helps families to be able to take some of the burden of the work away from them as well. Let us, on your behalf, call the bureaus and let us call the credit card companies," Ravichandran said.

With Veterans Day coming up, Michelle cautions that you may not want to jump at every offer to open a new credit card.

"The larger your footprint is, the harder it becomes to manage," she said.