It’s Not a Nigerian Prince! How to Tell if You’re Being Scammed in 4 Simple Steps

An alarming number of Americans are scammed each year. According to the United States Senate, seniors lose nearly $3 billion per year due to scams.

Many people have heard of the Nigerian prince scam. Here, a (fake) “member of the Nigerian royal family” promises to share their fortune with you.

To get your cash, you simply need to pay a small transfer fee and provide your bank account information. Next thing you know, the scammers are emptying your bank account.

The Nigerian scam is one of many common email, online, and phone scams.

Read on to learn how to tell if you’re being scammed in four easy steps.

1. Maintain Awareness

The first step in identifying scams is being aware that they exist. You should be naturally skeptical of any attempt to give you money or other amenities.

If a proposal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This is especially true if the source of the offer is unexpected or unknown.

2. Exercise Caution

It is important that you exercise caution when opening e-mails or accepting phone calls from unknown sources. You should not click on hyperlinks included in e-mails from unrecognized sources. This is likely a spear-phishing attempt to hack your e-mail account and extract personal information.

In addition, you should not provide any personal information. This includes banking information, social security, and your date of birth.

3. Do Some Research

One advantage of the digital era is the amount of information available on the web. Most scams can be identified by performing a simple Google search.

Conduct a search of the company’s name and see what comes up. Also, check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see if the company is legitimate.

You can also perform an online search of what the company or person is offering. In many cases, you will find countless examples of victims warning you to avoid this scam.

4. Look for Warning Signs

For many scams, there are little details that are off. These are warning signs that the communication is illegitimate.

One common scam is an e-mail or phone call from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) stating that you owe back taxes. For starters, the IRS does not operate this way and would not communicate with you via phone or e-mail.

Furthermore, scammers try to make e-mails look as authentic and official as possible. Scammers may use a fake e-mail address that resembles an IRS account.

These fake accounts can be identified by subtle spelling or grammatical errors. Also, all official correspondence from a government account will come from a .gov e-mail address. Any e-mail from a .com or .org address purporting to be a government agency is likely fraudulent.

How to Tell If You’re Being Scammed: A Recap

In the digital era, scammers are everywhere and constantly seeking to acquire your personal information. The goal is to steal money from you or possibly your identity.

The best advice is to remain vigilant and protect your personal information at all costs. If you enjoyed this article about how to tell if you’re being scammed, check out our blog for more great content.

How to Protect Business Data Security and Privacy

Nearly half of all cybercrime targets small businesses. In fact, approximately 60 percent of all businesses will experience a cyberattack during their lifetime.

And, these attacks have the potential to cripple business operations. In some cases, an attack can cost millions of dollars in lost revenue.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to protect yourself.

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we got you covered.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about protecting your company’s data security and privacy.

Keep a Backup of Everything

This is one of the most important practices you can implement when it comes to protecting your data.

Unfortunately, you can’t ever have full protection against cyber threats since they are constantly evolving. By having a proper backup of your data, though, you can get limit the amount of downtime your company experiences from an attack.

For example, let’s say your company is struck by a ransomware attack.

Rather than comply with the hacker’s demands in order to get access to your data, you can simply ignore them and restore everything from a recent backup.

Sure, you may lose a bit of progress, but it’s better than losing everything. It’s also better than paying the ransom and facilitating future attacks.

Keep Your Software Updated

Old software exploits are a common reason why small businesses are primary targets for hackers. Whether it’s due to the price or lack of education, many entrepreneurs don’t prioritize using modern software.

But, foregoing the extra money and time spent on secure software could cost you everything.

So, get in the habit of scheduling updates for all the software your company uses. It’s best to do it overnight so that your daily operations aren’t interrupted.

Properly Train Your Employees

While most of us know not to open suspicious emails or click shady links, it’s not impossible for your employees to unknowingly cause a security breach.

Many hackers use tactics that appear completely legitimate, which can result in compromised information that you potentially won’t be aware of for days.

For example, an experienced cybercriminal could send an employee an email that (at a brief glance) appears as if it came directly from you asking for updates on sensitive data.

Then, the employee would unknowingly give the data directly to the hacker. As you can expect, the results could be catastrophic.

As an added measure of security, place restrictions on employee access to data based on merit. Lower-level employees should always have the least amount of access.

Handling Your Business’s Data Security and Privacy Can Seem Difficult

But it doesn’t have to be.

With the above information about company data security and privacy in mind, you’ll be well on your way to keeping your vital info as safe as possible.

Want to learn more about the dangers your company may be facing? This article has plenty of useful information.

The Top Email Scams (And How to Avoid Them)

Most of us know not to respond to emails from a Nigerian prince looking to enter a business proposition but email scams have come a long way from when that one started surfacing.

It’s difficult to see through some of the latest attempts to swindle and trick you out of your hard-earned money.

We’ve got five email scams for you to beware of and tips on how to spot one in your inbox.

1. Phishing Sites

Phishing site emails are hard to spot because they look legit. Many of these appear to be from a bank, credit card, or e-commerce website requesting you click a link to sign-in and verify your information. Some of these will make it look like there has been a major purchase, so you feel compelled to check it out just in case it is legit.

While the email looks like it is from a company or organization, you deal with the link goes to a fake site. This site will look practically identical to the real business and will have a sign-in page that records your attempts to access your account.

This allows the criminal to go to the real company website and use your log-in information to access your account and steal your money or change your password so you are now locked out.

2. Delivery Pending

Another email scam that seems rampant right now involves packages that require delivery. The email will either ask for a small delivery fee paid by a credit card or attempt to get personal information from you to steal your identity.

Do not give out personal information, especially if you do not recognize the sender and were not expecting a delivery. It is wise to verify the information with the company and the delivery courier through other means rather than clicking on a link within the email to do so.

3. Tax Refunds or Taxes Owed

The government is not texting you about taxes. Never give out personal information through email or unsolicited phone calls claiming to be from the government. If they are contacting you regarding your taxes, they will have your personal information already.

Always contact the government agency directly to verify it is one of their agents requesting the information. These types of email scams also include a phishing site link for you to click on.

4. Downloading Unknown Files

Any email that requires you to download an unknown file from an unknown sender should be considered suspicious. In fact, even if the person is on your contact list if you aren’t expecting a file from them, or the email seems off compared to your normal communication, hold off on downloading any files.

There are viruses and other harmful malware that can harm your computer just by being opened.

5. Blackmail Email Scams

A growing trend in email scams is one where the sender attempts to blackmail the recipient by stating they have video or images from their computer or webcam that would be embarrassing if made public.

These “final warning” blackmail emails are alarming but not real and should be ignored or reported if the email actually includes stills or video proof of their hacking into your computer.

While there are malware trojan viruses that can grant remote access to turn on your webcam, it is rare that this is the case and shouldn’t be suspected if the email is generic in nature.

Think Before You Click

If an offer sounds too good to be true or something seems off about the communication it’s better to be safe than sorry. Think before you click so that you aren’t taken in by the many email scams that are out there.

Be sure to bookmark our site for easy access to all our tips and resources or contact us today to answer all your online business security questions.

5 Biggest Cyber Security Vulnerabilities Facing Your Small Business

Businesses are growing more competitive. Threats of hackers altering, stealing or destroying information systems have increased. Safety of information is the number one priority given an increased market size.

Hackers have come up with new strategies to compromise and defraud businesses. How do we prevent tomorrow’s challenges? Understanding the vulnerabilities of cyber security is one way of prevention – knowledge is power (as they say).

Here are some of the top cyber security vulnerabilities to look out for.

Phishing Attacks

Hackers use this technical trickery to gain access to your personal information. A majority of cyber-attacks start this way. Attackers send an email with an attachment or a link to an unknown website.
Emails often appear credible because attackers take time to research about their targets.

One way to reduce the risks of spear phishing is by analyzing email headers before opening. A credible IT service provider who hosts emails will help reduce these attacks.

Most providers manage the users’ domain which includes security authentication and filtering.

Attack on Passwords

Passwords are secret characters that ensure that only specific user(s) have access to their data. Nowadays, it has become simple to guess a password based on their name, job or title.

A habit most people have is using the same password over different sites. An attacker then logs into a site and uses an unknown internet address then deleting the victims’ password.

Eavesdropping Attack

An attacker obtains users details by intercepting network traffic. Attackers detect information by listening to a message through the network. They also send queries to transmitters by disguising as someone friendly.

An example, when a home buyer is about to close on their home, they might get an email that looks like it is from the title company requesting the down payment to be wired over. Usually, attackers using this type of scam have been monitoring someone’s email box.

Malware Attack

Have you ever experienced a crash in your Microsoft Word or Excel? It may have been a malware attack. The most common types of malware attacks are:

File Infectors

Happens when an unwanted software installs itself in your system. In most cases, it happens without your knowledge. These viruses can also install themselves when using .exe files. When loading the executable files, the code attaches itself and infects the system.

Stealth Virus

Operates by concealing itself from an anti-virus. It then reports an infected area as uninfected.

Spyware

Collects user’s information without consent and sends it to a remote user. Many users have installed it without knowing by installing an application on their system.

Internal Attacks

A company’s employees are the biggest vulnerability to security. First, the criminal disguises themselves as legal use of the system. Having gained the trust and unlimited access, they steal confidential user’s information.

Employees generally have prevalent access to digital tools at their work-spaces. They can use this to steal data and go unnoticed. Employees who are not monitored cause around 60% of cyber security vulnerabilities.

Understanding Cyber Security Vulnerabilities

Attackers have come up with many ways of gaining unauthorized access to data. You need to protect your business from these network vulnerabilities by taking preventive action.

The financial sector faces a 65% higher computer threat than any other industry. Employee training, firewall configuration, strong passwords and updating anti-viruses can help moderate them.

Contact us to keep your business safe and deal with these cyber security vulnerabilities.

FBI Warns of ATM “Jackpotting” Threat

About a week ago, some scary information started making the rounds.  The Telegraph reported that the FBI had issued warnings that there would potentially be a hacking attacking on ATMs worldwide.  There was a threat that hackers would be unleashing a “jackpotting” attack, and that millions of dollars were at risk.  The time-frame of that particular warning may have passed, but the general concern remains as such attacks will doubtlessly occur in the future.

Continue reading “FBI Warns of ATM “Jackpotting” Threat”

Malware 101

In our previous post we discussed the Russian malware known as VPNFilter.  In this post we figured we should pull back a little and give you a rundown on malware in general.  You’ve probably heard lots of terms associated with malware – viruses, rootkits, Trojans, etc, – but maybe you don’t understand how they’re related.  We’ll try to clear that up.

"<yoastmark Continue reading “Malware 101”

Russian Malware and Protecting Your Business

Hello Internet! We’re reopening our blog, and we figured a good place to start would be a discussion of a current event. In this post we’ll be discussing why the FBI has asked people to reboot their routers. The reason? A bit of Russian malware called VPNFilter.

Russian Hackers
Russian Hackers

Continue reading “Russian Malware and Protecting Your Business”

Business Security and Your Anti-Virus Software

When you’re the owner of a business, one of the most important aspects is making sure that the workplace is secure. Not only is it important that you educate your employees on the dangers of cyberspace, for example, but you need to be sure you’re doing your part as well. Don’t share you password(s) with anyone, and always make sure to keep them updated. With that said, do you have anti-virus software installed as well? It’s one of the most efficient ways to protect a business.  Here are some important tips to consider when using it. Continue reading “Business Security and Your Anti-Virus Software”

Securing Wireless Networks

Undoubtedly, Wi-Fi has made it very easy for organizations to connect to the Internet from a number of devices, such as desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. While Wi-Fi networks are certainly more convenient than wired networks, Wi-Fi networks do pose a greater security risk. Here are a few tips that will help you secure your organization’s Wi-Fi networks. Continue reading “Securing Wireless Networks”

How a VPN can add to your business security

Being able to work from home is a wonderful benefit for employees and can keep them productive while reducing their stress.  It can also be a data security risk if not handled properly. Fortunately, if you have a local network, it’s not very hard to bring telecommuters into it. A network with this capacity is called a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Continue reading “How a VPN can add to your business security”