There’s a threat out there so serious it could bring your business to utter ruin. It’s not fire, natural disaster, or even a sluggish economy. It’s you. That’s right, you. Hackers know you are vulnerable- the weakest link, in fact- and they are counting on you or someone else in your organization to make a serious mistake.
Long before there were computers there were still scammers. Typically they would call you on the phone and ask you for personal details so they could go to the bank and withdraw all your money. They did it because it worked, at least some of the time. If you got a phone call from someone at your bank saying it had been robbed and they wanted to check your account to be sure your money was still safe, how hard would you be thinking about scammers? Most folks just hand over their personal information, only to find out later it was a scam.
Today’s hackers employ many of the same techniques. In the movies you see hackers as high tech, hopped up on caffeine, and in a darkened room trying to break through thousands or even millions of lines of code. In reality, all they have to do is find the most effective way to get you to give up your passwords and personal information. And they wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work so well.
Did you see that video that went around the internet last month of the tech writer who watched a hacker gain access to his cell phone account just by playing the sound of a baby crying in the background? It doesn’t even have to be you who gives up your personal information.
Phishing is a serious but effective cybercrime. Hackers will pose as someone you should trust, either imitating a friend or pretending to work for your bank or something along those lines. They will give you a multitude of reasons why they need you to reveal your username or your password, and oftentimes they will make it seem super urgent. If you’re lucky they won’t do too much damage.
Spear-phishing is a more serious version of phishing wherein a high-value employee at a company is targeted in order to gain access to sensitive information. Last year alone, 5 out of 6 large companies with more than 2500 employees were the targets of spear-phishing, and the U.S. was the biggest host of phishing-based downloaders. Even though we know there is a threat out there, we keep handing our information over so they keep targeting us. And the threat keeps growing- there was a 26% increase last year in spear-phishing attempts on small to medium sized companies and a 40% increase in spear-phishing attempts on large companies.
Vishing, or voice phishing, occurs when fraudsters try to get you to surrender your personal information over the phone. The IRS back-taxes scam of a few years ago is a perfect example of this, affecting well over 300,000 people. Hackers have a lot of tools in their toolbox to help them pull off this type of scam. And now they are using the SMS function on their phone as well to pose as your banker or system administrator. Learn more about vishing and smishing from this infographic so you will know what to look for!