Article first appeared in the Knoxville News Sentinel.
Last week hundreds of people received an email purportedly from me forwarding an attachment to be opened. Only it wasn’t from me. It was spoofed. If you hovered a mouse over the email address you would see “my email” wasn’t really mine at all. And since my email appears at the bottom of this article it certainly isn’t hidden. After the hacks into Equifax and Uber most people should assume the “bad guys” have access to your Social Security number, date of birth and lots of other information.
We at The Trust Company are finding our customer service representatives (CSRs) are getting more and more phone calls purporting to be plan participants requesting distributions. These “bad actors” often have the name, Social Security number, and date of birth, but so far have always been caught because of either missing a security question, having an unusual accent and mispronouncing common words, a wrong phone number displays on Caller ID, etc.
“The internet is as dangerous as it is useful,” said Mike Mangione, vice president at Sword & Shield Enterprise Security. “Therefore, you must always use the proper amount of discretion and view everything through a skeptical lens when sharing information on a website or via email.”
So, what should we do and/or be wary about? Here are a few tips to sharpen your security awareness:
- Be cautious when clicking links in emails.
- Think critically when reading an email or responding to an email request. Spammers want you to act first and think later.
- Beware of emails from friends that typically don’t email.
- Beware of any email asking for passwords or financial information.
- Watch out for emails with misspelled words or odd phases.
- Hide your social media contact information.
- Beware of social media messages with links. Don’t open.
- Avoid using the same passwords for work that you use on a personal level or non-work websites.
- Consider using a unique phrase for passwords.
- Install anti-virus software, firewalls, email filters and keep them up to date.
- Set your spam filters to high.
- You can also freeze your credit.
Here are some Social Media tips:
- Avoid putting your phone number, mailing address or home address in your profile.
- Never post information regarding an upcoming trip.
- Be careful who you “friend.”
- Set privacy settings for friends.
- Always monitor pictures that others post of you and tag you in.
- Do not post pictures while you are under the influence of anything.
The cybercriminals are constantly getting more clever, so we will remain ever vigilant and you must too.
Now, it is time for me to freeze my credit and change all my passwords to phrases. Ugh, a hassle, but a necessity.