Don't Be a Victim
In the news recently there has been a lot of talk about hackers locking up a company’s entire computer systems and demanding millions in ransom before they turn the systems back on. It may be good business for the hackers but it is paralyzing and costly for businesses. This malware can wreak havoc on the entire economy, just recently it was a gasoline pipeline and meat business. Who knows what is next.
Malware can come in the form of what looks to be a harmless email from a coworker or a business you work with on a regular basis. It may also look like an urgent email from your bank or charge card company, asking you to update pertinent information because they have updated their system. When you click on the link in the bogus email, hackers can access your private information and passwords and just lock you out of your system until you pay the ransom.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a big business or an individual, no one is immune to viruses or phishing scams. Thieves are especially eager to gain access to your e-mail accounts and are designed to steal your identity.
There are a few things that you can do to prevent falling victim to hackers.
- Keep your anti-virus software up-to-date.
- Use a secure VPN, especially when working in public areas.
- Think before you click on an email link. If an email looks suspicious, go directly to the business website or contact the business by phone. Some deceptive websites will even have logos that look similar to websites you might trust.
- If you do happened to click on the business webpage, look for the security lock in the address bar to be sure the site is secure. If you’re familiar with the business but the site doesn’t have the security lock, contact the business directly.
- Take a good look at the email. Are there misspelled words? What about the email address?
- Never respond to an email that asks for your personal information.
- Be leery of e-mails with demanding language, misspelled words, or incorrect grammar, all are potential signs of a bogus e-mail.
- Use a different password for every online account and change the passwords frequently. Store your passwords in a safe place (preferably not on your computer) so that if you forget what they are you can find them easily.
- Be especially vigilant during the holidays and after a significant public event, such as a natural disaster. Thieves will prey on your generosity, sympathies, or fears during these times, so be extra careful when responding to appeals for charity or notices to update your financial records.
- Have a meeting with all of your employees to ensure they are up-to-date on all the procedures to avoid being hacked. Ask your employees for suggestions to help prevent being hacked.
You should report any suspicious emails to: https://apwg.org/. If you receive a bogus tax-related e-mail, forward it to the IRS at https://www.irs.gov/privacy-disclosure/report-phishing.
At Summit CPA we offer multiple resources to assist you with all of your financial planning needs. Contact our office at 866-497-9761 to schedule an appointment with our advisors.