Cybersecurity and the military community: What you need to know to stay safe
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Aura. All opinions are my own.
It’s a cruel reality; sometimes the men and women who keep us safe are the ones most vulnerable to certain threats. Unfortunately, our service members are more vulnerable than most to cybersecurity crime, and having a proactive digital security solution is a must for our military and their families! I can attest to this fact; as a military spouse; I’ve personally been a victim of identity theft, and it was an awful experience. Today, I’m excited to bring you some resources that will help secure what you need to do online, so you can better protect everything you care about offline.
Creating a truly safer internet for everyone goes beyond personal digital security. It’s important that we consider and support those at higher risk of cybercrime, like military service members, who are three times more likely to become victims of certain cyber attacks than other adults.
At first, it seems counterintuitive. Wouldn’t service members have a higher level of digital security? In reality, there are certain activities that make anyone more vulnerable to digital crime, like moving homes, infrequently checking accounts and traveling overseas for extended periods of time. These activities are common for active-duty service members, and can make monitoring and protecting one’s personal security and information challenging and often overwhelming.
Today, I’m bringing you some critical information on cybersecurity from Aura: a company that provides all-in-one digital security for a wide range of consumers. Aura has partnered with Blue Star Families, a fantastic organization that connects soldiers and veterans with their civilian neighbors. This dynamite pairing is helping increase awareness around this issue that disproportionately affects the people who risk their lives to protect American freedoms everyday, as well as to provide support, resources and tools to enhance cyber protection for military service members and their families.
Military Families and Cybercrime
It’s critical to understand just how dire the cybersecurity situation can be for service members. In 2020 alone, there were more than 65,000 fraud cases that cost military families $122 million. Active duty service members are 76% more likely than other adults to report that an identity thief misused an existing account and nearly three times as likely to report that someone used a debit card or some other electronic means to take money directly from their bank account. And alarmingly, one-fifth of active-duty service members report experiencing two or more types of identity theft.
Why are Military Families at Greater Risk for Digital Crime?
If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I’ve often shared about the unique challenges that service members face. We often move around a lot and spend long periods of time overseas, which makes keeping a close eye on personal information and credit reports difficult. Military members may not have the opportunity to check accounts as frequently, particularly when deployed. Creditors often accidentally send notices to old addresses, which may delay their ability to act on warning signs, or put personal information in the hands of someone who intends to misuse it.
Interestingly, nearly 14% of reports indicate that a family member or someone they know stole their identity, compared to just 7% of other adults who report. The reason for this is simple; other people may have access to important documents or financial records that were left behind during deployment, military assignment or after a move.
It’s also a matter of how our information is used. Until recently, service members’ SSNs were used to identify them on prescription bottles, dogtags, mailing labels and more. Military ID cards continue to be used to verify identities and share sensitive personal information. When deployed or at base, military members often use community computers and shared wifi to check email, browse the web and social media accounts, which opens them up to more risk. Finally, members of our armed services often have access to sensitive government and military information, which is often of special interest to foreign states and cybercriminals.
Tips to Stay Safe
As one of the foremost names in cybersecurity, Aura has compiled tips specifically for military families around how to protect themselves in the digital world:
- Set up an active duty credit alert with one of the major credit bureaus, which encourages creditors to take extra precautions before approving new lines of credit
- Use a VPN when connected to shared or public wifi networks
- Check your credit frequently and lock it when not in use
- Don’t give out personal information unless you initiate the conversation
- Don’t share your passwords; change them quarterly
- Don’t open emails, pop-ups, etc. from unknown senders
- Install antivirus, spyware blocking, etc. software on your computer and phones
- Train family members to be suspicious
- If anyone asks for money for the service member, tell the family not to provide it.
- Be wary of fake websites provided to you by people who call via phone or contact you via email and request information or money
- Consider a pre-arranged secret code, shared only with the relevant company contact and to those who handle the service member’s finances and data (parent, sibling, spouse, etc.).
- Be careful about what you post on social media
- Don’t post photos of sensitive information or your uniform
- Photos from social media can be manipulated to reveal precise date, time and location the shot was taken or other information that can be used to steal your identity
Who is Aura, and How Can They Help?
As a former victim of identity theft, I was eager to understand how Aura can help people stay safe online. Aura is a new kind of all-in-one digital security that protects consumers from digital crime and resulting financial loss. They provide a simple subscription and an easy-to-use app to alert you to potential threats, including if your SSN has been part of a breach or exposed online, antivirus protection, VPN for online privacy and security, credit monitoring and more.
Their customer service team is entirely U.S.-based and available 24/7 to help you resolve problems, and the service also includes $1 million in insurance from AIG for eligible losses to cover any losses from identity theft and fraud. That’s a pretty impressive number!
Today, we have more to lose via digital crime than we do to home burglary. Home security systems rake in more than $20 billion each year, but many Americans aren’t even taking basic precautions to protect themselves digitally. Aura is committed to changing these statistics!
Who is Blue Star Families?
I’ve shared the work that Blue Star Families is doing on this blog before, like their recent partnership with Macy’s. Blue Star Families is the nation’s largest grass-roots military family support organization, with a mission to support military families. They give military families an important voice that informs policymakers and its military family programs by providing nationally recognized surveys and analysis.
When they determine what military families need most, Blue Star Families uses the power of its collective resources and cross-sector collaborations to make a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of members of military families. For more information or to learn how you can become a member or support Blue Star Families, visit www.blustarfam.org.
Aura and Blue Star Families Partner to help Military Families
Aura’s mission is to create a safer internet for everyone, and Blue Star Families works to support military families. Together, they’ve created a truly unique partnership! Aura has committed to reduce the risk of digital crime and financial fraud within the military community. They will enable families to easily identify and resolve instances of fraud, identity theft or other cyber threats. Their goal is to reverse the disproportionate impact of digital crime and financial fraud on active-duty military, veterans and their families and help protect the people who protect our country.
I’m thrilled to share this partnership with you, and I hope you’ll check out both of these organizations and get involved. As always, I am all about supporting any mission that improves the lives of our military, veterans, and their families – and this effort does all of the above.