What is the easiest way to find yourself on the wrong end of a cyber security scam? Statistics show that roughly 90% of the time, we are the ones who allow criminals to hack in and take our information! This happens so often in fact, that last year the Internet Crime Report stated that:
…in 2020: 791,790 cases, reported losses exceeding $4.1 billion. This represents a 69% increase in total complaints from 2019. Business E-mail Compromise (BEC) schemes continued to be the costliest: 19,369 complaints with an adjusted loss of approximately $1.8 billion. Phishing scams were also prominent: 241,342 complaints, with adjusted losses of over $54 million.2020 Internet Crime Report
There are many ways that a hacker or identity thief can “trick” you into giving up valuable information and data in everyday, ordinary emails (one of the primary culprits). Sometimes it’s hard to know what to look for when identifying “Phishing” attempts for your private data.
Read the information below for info on which ‘red flags” to look out for, in each of the major components of an email, in order to be protected!
Cyber Security Starts With You
Most of the complaints and reports of stolen data, hacking, and other criminal activities come from personal and small business email interactions! We’re assuming that you and your portable sanitation company use email pretty much every day, and that means a big window of opportunity for criminals.
First, we need to identify each aspect of an email to look out for, when trying to determine if you’re experiencing a cyber-attack.
Do you know the sender? This is the best place to start, but it’s not as simple as a from address.
Here’s a list of things to look out for:
- I don’t recognize the sender’s email address as someone I ordinarily communicate with
- This email is from someone outside my organization and it’s not related to my job responsibilities
- Is the sender’s email address from a suspicious domain (see above example)?
- I don’t have a business relationship nor any past communications with the sender.
- This is an unexpected or unusual email with an embedded hyperlink or an attachment from someone I haven’t communicated with recently.
Never Click Unknown Hyperlinks
This is the number one way that criminals hack into your computer or device in email scams. When you click on a hyperlink, you’re taking the risk of downloading malware, ransomware, any number of viruses, or even allowing someone to remote into your computer!
Here’s how to check hyperlinks for validity, to make sure your cyber security is on point!
- Hover your mouse over a hyperlink that’s displayed in the email message, this will show if the link-to address is for a different website.
- If you receive an email that only has long hyperlinks with no further information, and the rest of the email is completely blank.
- You received an email with a hyperlink that is a misspelling of a known website. For instance, in the URL, www.bankofarnerica.com — the “m” is really two characters — “r” and “n.”
- Is the sender asking me to click on a link or open an attachment to avoid a negative consequence or to gain something of value?
- Is the sender asking you to click a link or open up an attachment that seems odd or illogical?
- The email is asking me to look at a compromising or embarrassing picture of myself or someone I know?
Don’t Get Cyber “Attached”!
Ask yourself, we’re you expecting this file? Companies do not just send you things to open and click for no reason. If you see an attachment with a possibly dangerous file type, don’t open it.
Many times, a hacker will send an email to your private or business email, asking you to download a document (or any type of attachment file) in order to, “correct a mistake on your account”, to “make sure your banking information is up to date”, or worse – threaten you by saying they have compromising photos of you, and to click the attachment to see.
The short and simple answer is this – don’t open attachments unless you requested them from a trusted sender.
You’ve made it this far in business and in life by trusting your instincts – at least to some degree! Those same “gut feelings” go a long way in managing your personal and business’s cyber security.
If you get a funny feeling, or something looks off, pay attention! You’ll be safe and sound in no time.
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Always make sure that you and your staff are doing all you can to keep yourselves and your business safe!