Cyberthreats Young Adults Should Know About

By Kate Hunger

Young adults tote around a tremendous amount of personal and financial account information — all on their mobile devices. Even though they may not have large bank balances yet, young people still can be targets of fraud.

“They have cellphones, which means they have at least reasonably good credit,” says Richard Davey, lead security advisor at USAA. “Someone can just as easily steal your identity and your good credit as they can your money. In fact, that may even be more lucrative for thieves.”

With account takeover on the rise industrywide, Davey discusses the major cyberthreats facing 20-somethings:


Malicious software can wreak havoc in a number of ways, from disabling a computer or device to mining it for personal information or controlling it, all without the owner’s knowledge.

Mobile devices tend to be a little chattier than your desktop when it comes to sharing personal information when vulnerability is introduced,” Davey says.

Public wireless networks

Free Wi-Fi is a siren call to teenagers and young adults, but it comes with a price that could be quite steep.

Even if there’s a password for that coffee shop wireless connection, that means it’s secure but it doesn’t necessarily make it private,” Davey says. “Whoever owns that network can see everything going over it.”

Lack of password/passcode security

Keeping so much personal information at your fingertips 24/7 presents a security challenge. Davey recommends using passcodes to access mobile devices.

“The number one control is possession of the device, and the moment that device is in someone else’s hands, if all they have to do is swipe to get into your phone, you’re in all kinds of trouble,” Davey says.

Using the same logon information and password for multiple accounts makes it easier for criminals to access your information.

USAA members can tighten their logon security with multifactor authentication, which adds an extra layer of security to your online banking profile by requiring a username, PIN and a one-time code generated by a security token. For more information, visit

Zero day attacks

Although mobile devices update operating systems more seamlessly, zero day exploits target holes in new software that the manufacturer then races to plug.

Because they are often early adopters of new technology, they are going to be the ones left vulnerable to new and emerging problems,” Davey says of younger users.

App Alert

Apps can introduce a security risk. Only download from the legitimate app store and be aware of the permissions the app seeks.

“Do you really need the app so badly that you are willing to overlook the fact that it has visibility of your contacts, your phone calls, your text messages, your emails?” Davey says.

Explore secure and fast logon options that meet your needs.

236935 – 1116  

Safety guidelines are not intended to be all inclusive, but are provided for your consideration. Please use your own judgment to determine what safety features/procedures should be used in each unique situation.