During times of panic and uncertainty, cyber criminals prey on anyone that they think they can profit from...yes, that means anyone! What does this mean for us? We must be extremely careful and alert when using our computers or smart devices.
Phishing (the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information such as passwords and credit card numbers) and malware (software that is specifically designed to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorized access to a computer system) attacks are on the rise.
BCI Information Analyst, Nikki Weiss, recently attended a webinar* sponsored by UHY, our accounting firm, and shares these sobering stats:
92% of malware is delivered by email
95% of attacks on business networks result from spear phishing attacks
The average cost of a phishing attack on a mid-sized company is $1.6 million
To show you how good these cyber criminals can be, here is a screen shot of a current phishing email that looks like it's from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). It instructs the user to open an attached Microsoft Office document for details on how to prevent the spread of influenza. No good! (Read more at: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2019/s0322-phishing.html)
What can we do?
WE are considered a human firewall. The human firewall is the last line of defense between cyber criminals and your home or work networks. Remaining vigilant and aware of the risks that surround us are the only ways to prevent these attacks.
Ways to check legitimacy of an email:
Check the To/From addresses. If they looks suspicious, they most likely are.
Hover over (do not click) links to see where you will be redirected.
DO NOT open attachments you weren’t expecting.
Does the email have a sense of urgency or is it requesting you to do something out of the ordinary? Don’t follow through.
Poor spelling and grammar can also be a sign of a phishing attempt.
Another way you can protect yourself is by only going to legitimate websites for information! During this pandemic, many of us are reading and learning online. Here is a list of reputable websites where you can find COVID-19 coronavirus information:
Nikki offers these words of advice to the entire BCI community, whether at home, at work, or working remotely. "In order to protect our business and personal information, everyone must be extremely careful with what links you click on, what apps you download, and where you enter your personal information. Cyber criminals use panic situations to their advantage, which means we are all at risk right now," she said.
*UHY Webinar, Suddenly Remote: Cyber Risks of a Remote Workforce"