Beware of Phishing Attempts
Cyber attacks are often successful. How to protect your business.
In the wake of COVID-19, everything from work to social gatherings to musical events have transitioned to online operations. While some individuals may be accustomed to the digital world, others were less prepared for the shift, and scammers have taken advantage of the uncertainty. Since March, the number of reported phishing attempts has increased, posting a major threat to cybersecurity.
What is phishing?
Phishing is a cyber attack used to obtain personal information like passwords, account numbers, or social security numbers. According to the Federal Trade Commission, these attacks are often successful, and it’s reported that people have lost up to $57 million to phishing scams in just one year.
Scammers have taken advantage of favorable conditions for phishing: individuals have been anxious and eager for more information about COVID-19; new workplace procedures and up-to-date information about their businesses has been disseminated mainly online; and brands individuals may interact with are providing updates all via digital means, making them more vulnerable to these kinds of attacks.
Phishing attempts are often disguised as emails or texts and can look very convincing, which contributes to their success. They may ask for personal information in a number of ways, such as:
- Saying they have noticed suspicious activity or log-in attempts
- Claiming there are problems with your account
- Including a fake invoice or requesting you click a link to make a payment
- Saying you’re eligible for a government refund
- Offering a coupon or deal to a recognizable business or brand
Scams surrounding stimulus checks have also been common during COVID-19, as many individuals are worried about financial instability and looking for information to ease their minds or receive their payments sooner.
How to protect your business against phishing attempts
To protect yourself from phishing attempts, it’s important to receive information with a skeptical eye. Here are some tips to help you stay safe and keep personal and professional information safe:
- Avoid clicking links in unsolicited emails and be wary of email attachments. If you receive a suspicious email from someone you know, take the time to verify its authenticity with them through a different mode of communication.
- Use only trusted sources of information, like government websites, when seeking out information.
- Do not enter user IDs and passwords into any site you don’t recognize as part of your daily work.
- Do not give out personal information in an email, and do not respond to email solicitations. No one should request your user ID and password, including your workplace’s IT department.
- Take time to set up extra layers of protection for your accounts, like ensuring your security software is up to date and adding multi-factor authentication.
As we navigate an increased reliance on electronic communication among coworkers, friends, and family, it’s important to stay technologically literate and discerning. If a phishing attempt occurs at work, notify your management and team to prevent compromising personal or business information, and encourage others to err on the side of caution when an unusual message comes through. The additional attention can be integral in keeping your personal or business information secure.
Visit the West Bend Mutual Insurance Business Blog to learn more about how to keep your information safe and secure.