We’ve all been targeted in phishing attacks — fake messages from a seemingly trusted or reputable source designed to convince you to click on a malicious link, reveal information, give unauthorized access to a system or execute a financial transaction.
It may come as at text message, a phone call, or an email.
Someone may warn you that an account is in arrears, your Social Security Number is being “suspended,” or that you may be arrested for “fraud.” They may even have a portion of your SSN as “proof,” and claim they are going to increase your benefit.
They may claim that your SSN is being used to commit fraud in another state and that you need to call “them” back as soon as possible, or warn of pending legal action. They may say that your “account” is being renewed on your pre-arranged credit card for some service you never subscribed to.
These are all examples of “phishing” attacks that are seeking your personal information in order to cheat or steal from you.
Fraud has become a multi-billion dollar industry, and despite warnings, hundreds of thousands of Americans fall victim to these attacks every year. Don’t be one of them.
It’s important to understand that the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration, and other government organizations will never call you on the phone. They will mail you needed information. If you log onto their sites online, be sure that the web address, or URL, clearly shows that you are connected to a .gov website.
You will never get a legitimate call from a “private investigator” who is working on a bank fraud case and asking for your help, another common scam. They may simply try to sell you an auto warranty. Just hang up.
If someone asks you for secrecy, it’s they who are trying to hide. Never give a credit or debit card number, or any other personal information to a caller, or anyone who says they need to “confirm your identity.” Never listen to anyone who tries to gain your trust by providing fake “documentation,” false “evidence,” or the name of a real government official
Many phishing attempts are easily recognizable, like Mark Zuckerberg contacting you personally about a prize you’ve won. If you’re ever in need of a laugh, this guy spent two years replying to phishing emails and then wrote an entire book on his hilarious exchanges with fraudsters.
At this point, phishing is widely accepted as a “given” — part of daily online life. However, attackers keep innovating, finding new ways to social engineer their victims by preying on their natural curiosity, trust and compassion for others. And today, there are plenty of phishing schemes that aren’t so obvious and can potentially dupe even the most cautious online user. For example, highly convincing COVID-19 scams, from Facebook messages from “friends” who’ve fallen on hard financial times to emails requesting proof of vaccination status, are rampant right now.
According to US-CERT, some of the most common — and seemingly legitimate — phishing emails include fake communications from online payment or internet service providers (claiming there is a “problem” with your account); false accusations from the FDIC on violating the Patriot Act (requesting that you to “verify” your identity); and phony communications from your employer’s IT department (seeking passwords or other sensitive information that somebody can use to gain access to corporate systems and data)
In today’s digital age, keeping your personal information personal is vital to ensuring that your assets are not put at risk. If your information is compromised, you’re vulnerable to fraud, hacking, and identity theft which can cost countless hours and significant amounts of money to correct or repair.
With online shopping trumping in-store retail this holiday season, cybercriminals will have no shortage of potential victims to target. And they’ve only gotten smarter and more nefarious over the past year.
Bad Actors Are Taking Advantage Of Pandemic-Related Shortages
“The pandemic has caused significant shortages in many items, especially electronics,” said Erich Kron, security awareness advocate at cybersecurity firm KnowBe4. “This season is already known for the stress related to finding that must-have gift, however, the continued emotional stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic combined with the even more significant shortages is causing people to take bigger risks to get that perfect gift. This means turning to unknown online vendors or social media marketplaces as a desperate last resort. Unfortunately, these risky moves often result in disappointment as scammers take the money and run.”
Phishing attacks are on the rise.
In 2020, 93% of UK organisations were targeted by Covid-19-related malware. 88% of security professionals reported an increase in phishing attacks.
Typically, criminals behind phishing attacks aren’t attempting to steal money. They’re attempting to steal something potentially much more valuable: data.
When phishing attacks trigger data breaches, the consequences for businesses can be severe.
Following the announcement of a data breach, a company’s reputation immediately takes a hit.
Headlines like “British Airways data breach: Russian hackers sell 245,000 credit card details” and “EasyJet admits data of nine million hacked” become mainstream news stories. It doesn’t matter how formidable a company’s PR department might be.
Such reports can take years to fade from memory. As long as they linger, they influence public opinion of a brand.
Loss of custom
Reputational damage is just the beginning of the backlash.
News of a data breach tends to make customers nervous. A 2019 survey revealed 44% of UK consumers will stop spending with a business for several months in the immediate aftermath of a data breach. 41% of consumers reported they would never return to a business that had experienced a breach.
After 157,000 TalkTalk customers had their data compromised in 2015, customers left in their thousands. The costs of the breach reached £60m in 2016 alone. In 2019, it was reported that the company failed to notify 4,545 customers affected by the breach at the time. The ramifications, it seems, will continue for years.
Phishing scams are the most commonly reported type of cybercrime, and hackers frequently target business emails to increase profit potential. Companies can help employees protect themselves from these common types of attacks by offering training and education on what to look out for when it comes to phishing schemes. Individuals need also be diligent when it comes to unexpected emails or communications.The same cautions should be applied to voice calls, text messages, and other digital interactions.
In general, businesses are at a high risk of fraud due to a variety of factors, including large amounts of operating cash, multiple online users, and regular patterns of electronic and check payments. These payments can be targeted by account takeover or business email compromise scams.
See how Soffid can help you stay ahead of the curve in a rapidly evolving digital world avoiding phishing or any attack to your company, shall we talk?
(2) Dark Reading
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