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Protect Your Business From Internet Scams

10 easy steps

You’ve heard the stories. A business owner gets an email from a “Nigerian prince” asking for help transferring money out of the country. Or, an employee’s computer gets infected with ransomware, and all their files are held hostage until a ransom is paid. These days, it seems like there’s a new internet scam every day. So, how can you protect your business?

Cybersecurity and Internet Scams

In 2021, Americans lost $6.9 billion to online scams. They lost twice as much compared to the prior year, which was $3.5 billion.  A study by Social Catfish takes a look at the state of these scams, how they work and how to avoid them.

A recap of the study’s findings will support your business to stay on top of internet scams.

The methodology of Social Catfish’s study involves bringing together: the analysis of the recent annual reports released in 2022 by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and the Federal Trade Commission on online scams; a poll of romance scam victims conducted from May to August 2022 by email; and a reformed Nigerian romance scammer’s insights on everything scammers do to conduct scams.

  • Money lost to online scams have doubled since COVID-19.
  • Money lost by state according to the FBI IC3, puts California, Texas and New York as the states that have lost the most money to online scams.
  • The majority of romance scams victims are college educated. Also, romance scams are found to be the number one type of fraud.
  • Socio-economic factors increased the likelihood of being a romance scam victim. 84% of victims earn less than $100,000 per year.
  • Romance scams lead to financial ruin and furthermore, leads victims who were retired to have to reenter the workforce.
  • Tech-savvy teens and children – under 20 years – lose the most money to online scams.
  • Scams have surged on social media platforms having the public lose confidence in them.
  • Two of the largest scams are investment and cryptocurrency scams. Cryptocurrency is found to be at a record of $1.6 billion.
  • Corporations have reported losing $2.4 billion to business e-mail compromise (BEC) scams in 2021.
  • The elderly – 60 years or older) have lost a record of $1.7 billion to online scams. The most common scams for the elderly are tech support scams, non-payment or non-delivery scams, identity theft, confidence fraud or romance, and personal data breach.

One important tip that Social Catfish makes in their report is to make sure you report any scam that you have been a part of as soon as possible to the FTC, IC3, and FBI, and your financial institution.

Now, let’s look at 10 easy cybersecurity steps you can take to protect your business from internet scams.

Keep Software Up To Date

  1. Keep your software up to date. Whether it’s your operating system, web browser, or security software, it’s important to keep everything up to date. New updates often include security fixes for newly discovered vulnerabilities.

Strong Passwords

  1. Use strong passwords and don’t reuse them. Using strong passwords is one of the most important things you can do to protect your accounts. Also, even though it may be tempting to reuse passwords across multiple accounts, resist the urge! If one of your accounts is compromised, the attacker will then have access to all of your other accounts.

Think Twice Before Clicking Links or Attachments

  1. Be cautious about clicking on links and attachments. Attackers often use phishing emails to trick people into clicking on malicious links or attachments. If you’re not expecting an email with a link or attachment, be cautious before clicking.

Protect Personal Information (PI)

  1. Don’t provide personal information unless you’re sure about who you’re dealing with. There are many scammers who pose as legitimate businesses in order to get your personal information. Unless you’re absolutely sure that you’re dealing with a legitimate company, don’t provide any personal information.

Notice Red Flags

  1. Keep an eye out for red flags. Does the design of an email or website look amateurish? Are there grammar or spelling mistakes? These can all be red flags that you’re dealing with a scammer. Trust your gut! If something feels off, it probably is.

Understand Ransomware

  1. Understand how ransomware works and how to protect yourself against it. Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts your files and holds them hostage until you pay a ransom – usually in cryptocurrency like Bitcoin – to the attacker. In order to protect yourself against ransomware attacks, you need to have backup copies of all important files and keep them stored offline (not on your computer). That way, if your computer does get infected with ransomware, you’ll still have access to your files and won’t have to pay the ransom.

Employee Cybersecurity Training

  1. Educate yourself and your employees about social engineering attacks. Social engineering attacks are attacks that exploit human weaknesses rather than technical vulnerabilities. They can take many different forms, but they all rely on tricking people into giving attackers what they want. The best way to defend against social engineering attacks is by educating yourself and your employees about how they work and what red flags to look out for.

Credit Card Reports

  1. Keep an eye on your credit report. Identity thieves can use your personal information to open new accounts in your name and run up debt. One way to catch identity theft early is to keep an eye on your credit report for any unusual activity.

Two-Factor Authentication (TFA)

  1. Use two-factor authentication whenever possible. Two-factor authentication is an additional layer of security that requires users to enter not only a password, but also a second piece of information – usually a code sent to their phone. This makes it much harder for attackers to gain access to your accounts, even if they manage to steal your password.

Stay-Up-To-Date On Scams

  1. Stay up-to-date on current scams. Attackers are always coming up with new ways to scam people out of their money, so it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest scams. A good way to do this is to follow @haveibeenpwned on Twitter; they regularly tweet about new data breaches and scams.

Internet scams are becoming more and more common, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a victim! By following these 10 easy cybersecurity steps, you can help protect your business from internet scams. And, if you ever think you or your employees might have been scammed, be sure to report it to the proper authorities so they can investigate and help prevent others from becoming victims as well.

For additional cybersecurity help, schedule your free consultation here: https://calendly.com/ncxgroup



Photo courtesy of alphaspirit