As the world becomes more and more digitally connected, the manner in which people try to commit crimes has evolved. The days of thieves stealing the wallet out of your pocket aren’t over, but criminals of this variety have evolved into larger-scale theft of money and data through cyber-attacks and scams.
Over 90 million cyber scam messages are blocked by our email team each month, and these are a few types of spam, malware and phishing attempts of which you should be aware.
Cyber criminals try to install malware or ransomware on your computer or your company’s network via email attachments or hyperlinks. They may also gather information from your email address book to target more potential victims. They can sell this and any other data from your computer to other criminals, and that information can be used to cause problems for you, your company or even your clients.
In some of these cyber attacks, the perpetrator might send a message demanding a ransom in exchange for the return of your stolen data. In some ransomware extortion attempts, the criminal will make the data on your computer unreadable, or irrecoverable, until a ransom is paid. Two instances of this are below.
Hancock Health – In 2018, this hospital system in Indiana paid $55,000 to hackers who held its entire IT system hostage until the ransom was paid. The hospital system’s network, email and systems were offline until the hackers unlocked the files to which they had access. The hospital remained operational during this time, but everything and everyone had to resort to pen and paper to do business. Could you imagine going back to manual case sheets?
City of Atlanta – In 2018, the City of Atlanta was attacked by hackers attempting to extort money through a ransomware attack. The city had backup files hey restored to resume operations, but six days passed before any computers or printers could be turned back on. It was another month before they returned to pre-attack conditions.
Another frequent scam is the theft of credentials you use to log onto a computer, application or other system, personally or professionally. Criminals attempt to steal passwords you use to access personal information or company data, in order to access your credit card details, transfer money from your accounts, buy things using your credit cards, or even log into your email and then send wiring instructions to a bank account of theirs for pending transactions. They also might look for tax records and other financial data. You can help protect yourself by using strong passwords, as outlined in this recent Close to Home article.
Once your information is stolen, cyber criminals may use your personal information to access your social media or email accounts to commit fraud in your name.
Some cyber criminals may look to commit further crimes using your computer or network. They may use your email accounts to send spam and phishing messages to others, so they can commit more fraud. They also may use your computer to launch additional cyber-attacks against others or distribute illegal material.