Forget cyberbullying, cybercriminals are beating up your finances – right under your nose. Posing as legitimate companies, cybercriminals send out phishing emails to compromise your accounts. Knowing that we are a generation of compulsive clickers, spammers count on 10% of recipients to click on malicious links sent to them in super sophisticated, convincing looking emails. Since we are going at blazing speed on a daily basis, and are glued to our smartphones or other mobile computing systems, we are bombarded with messages from more sources and across more devices than ever before. Autopilot clicking and downloading is a huge fault in our society today and can lead to some serious repercussions. Don’t be that guy who gets his bank account cleared out because you opened an email advertising a “risk-free trial membership” to trashtalktramps.com.
So, what exactly is phishing? Pretty much a bunch of creepy, faceless schmucks victimizing any normal, income earning good guy or business by defrauding their online accounts of financial information by posing as legit companies. This can range anywhere from those fake emails I mentioned earlier to sites that only look like real commercial websites. Not cool, but everybody’s gotta make a living somehow. Let’s talk about protecting yourself from sacrificing your retirement by practicing some online common sense.
So you have a facebook, twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and whatever other social media account that makes you look better than you are in real life. Great, now since you, psychologically speaking, want social interaction so bad, you will subconsciously go to extreme measures to belong. You see an invite for LinkedIn to some great business venture that will allow you to earn 5000k a month doing nothing but sitting at your computer eating Cheetos. You click, enter God knows what information that seemed “like a good idea at the time”, and you are now negative 5000k and sitting at your computer with no Cheetos, because your card was denied at the grocery store. Moral of the story: Don’t get trigger happy at a too-good-to-be-true offer. These scams are not limited to social media but come in different variations like Financial Account Warnings, Order Confirmations, and Breaking News Stories.
Some emails contain messages that are personally relevant to the recipient. 1 in 10 people are likely to click on a link in that kind of email, just for it to be a malicious website that looks harmless. Before the super-clicker knows it, in less than 5 seconds, total control over their PC is in a cybercriminals hands.
- Businesses aren’t immune either. Remember Target’s breach in 2013? An employee’s computer was infected at one of Target’s supplier companies, allowing cyber-criminals to attack Target through that company’s network, stealing the details of 110 million individuals including 40 million credit cards that Target had on file. The result? The CEO and CIO resigned and profits fell by 46% as a result of the breach. This isn’t Office Space nickel and diming someone. This is true money draining thievery that you can protect yourself from. Here is a laundry list of tips on how not to be that guy who bankrupts your own account or the whole company.
- At home, you should upgrade your computer from Windows XP. Microsoft no longer provides security updates to the OS – Good to know, right?
Instead of using a dating site to find love, go out and meet someone the old fashioned way. Why? A dating website was hacked as a study and approximately 10% of the passwords were “love1234”.
Businesses should run awareness campaigns with staff telling them not to click on links within social networking emails like LinkedIn. Instead, open the browser or app, and manage invites/messages from there.
Establish new technologies that combine big data security analytics with advanced malware analysis.
Be careful about your online comings and goings. A little foreknowledge and common sense will go a long way to protecting yourself, your computer, and your finances. If you need any assistance, as always we are happy to help you.