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Phishing and email scams to watch out for in 2020

We’re entering a new decade of technological advancements, literacy and expertise with more people than ever working online. However, as society becomes more knowledgeable about technology and computers, scammers are becoming more sophisticated.

Online scams and phishing are inherent threats to internet users, but if you know the warning signs, you can protect yourself and your information. Your best defense from scams is to be aware of malicious tactics so you don’t fall for their tricks. Stay vigilant and cautious in 2020 by understanding the latest strategies of phishers and scammers.

CEO Fraud/Business Email Compromise

A common type of phishing—tough to spot if you aren’t trained to look for it—is CEO fraud. Scammers send an email to a lower-level employee that appears to be sent from the CEO of their organization. In the email, the scammer disguised as the CEO will ask for contact or personal information with the goal of getting the employee to transfer funds to a fraudulent account.

Sometimes, it is easy to spot these fake emails. They may come from a completely incorrect email address or contain several grammatical and spelling errors. However, some phishers are capable of creating extremely convincing emails—they may mimic your CEO’s characteristics or have replicated their exact email signature. Regardless of how authentic an email may look, trust your gut. Report anything that seems unusual, and never click on any part of a suspicious-looking email.

Wi-Fi Evil Twins

Unlike phishing through emails and messages, Wi-Fi evil twins take advantage of our constant need for an internet connection. This attack appears in the form of an open Wi-Fi connection appearing as a network you would be comfortable connecting to your computer, but it’s actually fake. Hackers can then access the personal information on your computer through their disguised Wi-Fi network.

This scam is sometimes referred to as the “Starbucks scam” because it often occurs in coffee shops. When people have a business meeting or land at a coffee shop to get some work done outside of the office, they often open company documents and use sensitive passwords outside of their protected work internet system. This makes it easy for fake Wi-Fi connections to access private company data. Ensure data safety when working in public spaces by using a VPN, which will keep your information safe even if you use an evil twin network.

Spear Phishing

Most phishing attacks target a broad swath of people with the same messaging, but spear phishing can be particularly dangerous because it is specially designed for each of its recipients. In fact, 91 percent of successful cyberattacks start with a spear phishing email. Spear phishers tailor their email traps to the interests and expectations of their targets to make the emails look as legitimate as possible.

Once you click on or respond to a spear phishing email, hackers can gain access to your network and accounts or install malware on your device. Spear phishing is usually well-disguised, so spam filters have trouble identifying them. The best way to protect from this kind of targeted attack is to be wary of the potential threat and report any unusual messages.

We take data security very seriously at DataShield, and we’re here to help your organization protect itself as new threats emerge. To learn more about our secure data destruction services and other ways to protect yourself and your organization from unauthorized access, contact us today.


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