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Protect Yourself from Cybercrime


Cybercrime is a global concern, and it is on the rise. FBI reports show a 400% increase in cybercrime since the start of the pandemic. While many people worked from home, security measures suffered. Corporate security did not account for work-at-home risks. Shared computers, lack of personal firewalls, and questionable antivirus protection were just a few of the perils that created security risks during the pandemic.

What is cybercrime? Cybercrime includes the destruction of data, fraud, embezzlement, phishing, productivity losses, lost or stolen personal or financial data, and more. Cybercrime starts or takes place entirely online.

A recent account demonstrates the lengths to which cyber criminals will go. A recent Retiree closed his business and shut down his website. Once the website was gone, the Retiree did what most of us would have done and let the domain name lapse. A year later, the Retiree received a call regarding the non-delivery of a product. The Retiree informed the Caller that he had retired a year ago. The Caller stated he had purchased an expensive product from his website one week ago.

The Retiree's former domain name now directed visitors to a fake website.  A large sum of money had been wired to the fake account by the Caller, who now waited for delivery. Police were notified and tried to track the funds. Later, the FBI became involved in the investigation.

How can we fight cybercrime? 

1. Keep security patches and software up-to-date. Outdated software often has vulnerabilities current software has corrected. Operating system updates patch system vulnerabilities that may otherwise impair the entire system. 

2. Maintain a secure password strategy. Avoid writing down passwords and sharing them with others. Employ a password manager. Never use the same password in more than one place. Use upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters to create strong passwords. Remove credentials if an employee leaves for any reason. Use multifactor authentication whenever possible.

3. Create a system for processing email. Opening the wrong email or attachment can have severe consequences. Malware can be uploaded to the user's system through a corrupt email. Clicking the wrong link or attachment may expose your network to viruses, ransomware, and more. Train your staff to be cautious of emails that ask for personal or private corporate data or emails with suspicious email addresses. 

4. Establish a recovery plan. A recovery plan should outline the steps necessary to recover lost or corrupted data. The plan should be in writing and offer step-by-step instructions. Data and system backups comprise an integral part of any recovery plan.

5. Manage social media. Limit the information you share on social media outlets. Cyber Criminals use social media to collect data to defeat security measures. Items such as your mother's maiden name, a pet's name, and the town you were born in, are all common security questions.

 6. If you work from home, strengthen your home network. Initiate a firewall and use a VPN to encrypt your activities.

7. Stay informed. Educate yourself regarding the latest cybercrime exploits. Knowing what to look for and avoid is half the battle.

Unfortunately, the rise in cybercrime will cost $9.22 trillion globally in 2024 and rise to $13.82 trillion by 2028. Educating yourself and taking common-sense steps to protect against cybercrime can help ensure you are not a cybercrime victim.

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