The digital wallets of Chinese citizens are under attack thanks to a few bad apples. A recent string of cyberattacks in China utilized stolen Apple IDs to break into customers’ accounts and steal an undisclosed amount of money, according to a Bloomberg report. Almost immediately, Chinese e-transaction giants Tencent Holdings and Alipay warned their customers to monitor their accounts carefully, especially those who have linked their Apple IDs to Alipay accounts, WeChat Pay or their digital wallets and credit cards.
While Alipay works with Apple to figure out how this rare security breach happened and how hackers were able to hijack Apple IDs, they’re urging customers to lower their transaction limits to prevent any further losses while this investigation remains ongoing. Because Apple has yet to resolve this issue, any users who have linked their Apple IDs to payment methods including WeChat Pay — the popular digital wallet of WeChat which boasts over a billion users worldwide and can be used to pay for almost anything in China — remain vulnerable to theft. Apple also advises users to change their passwords immediately.
This security breach represents a large-scale example of a trend that continues to rise: the targeting of digital payment services by cybercriminals, who are capitalizing on the growing popularity of these services. Apple IDs represent an easy entry point of attack considering they connect Apple users to all the information, devices and products they care about. That interconnectivity of personal data is a veritable goldmine for cybercriminals if they get their hands on something like an Apple ID. With so much at stake for something as seemingly small as an Apple ID, it’s important for consumers to know how to safeguard their digital identifiers against potential financial theft. Here are some ways they can go about doing so:
- Make a strong password. Your password is your first line of defense against attack, so you should make it as hard as possible for any potential cybercriminals to penetrate it. Including a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols will help you craft a stronger, more complex password that’s difficult for cybercriminals to crack. Avoid easy to guess passwords like “1234” or “password” at all costs.
- Change login information for different accounts. An easy trap is using the same email and password across a wide variety of accounts, including Apple IDs. To better protect your Apple ID, especially if it’s linked to your financial accounts, it’s best to create a wholly original and complex password for it.
- Enable two-factor authentication. While Apple works on identifying how these hackers hijacked Apple IDs, do yourself a favor and add an extra layer of security to your account by enabling two-factor authentication. By having to provide two or more pieces of information to verify your identity before you can log into your account, you place yourself in a better position to avoid attacks.
- Monitor your financial accounts. When linking credentials like Apple IDs to your financial accounts, it’s important to regularly check your online bank statements and credit card accounts for any suspicious activity or transactions. Most banks and credit cards offer free credit monitoring as well. You could also invest in an identity protection service, which will reimburse you in the case of identity fraud or financial theft.