As of today, the first day of National Cybersecurity Month, consumers have reported over 2,000 instances of COVID-19-related fraud in Oregon and over 4,800 in Washington State to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Nationwide, consumers have reported over 213,000 cases of COVID-19-related fraud.
Times of crisis creates opportunity for scammers, and cybersecurity experts warn the community to be extra cautious when contacted by unknown phone numbers or emails. To increase the community’s awareness of the growing number of threats that exist, OnPoint Community Credit Union today released new guidance for consumers and small businesses to defend themselves in its updated edition of “The OnPoint Guide to Personal Cybersecurity.” Originally published in October 2019, the free online security guide provides actionable information on the latest scams targeting the community and how to defend against them.
“As significant change continues to impact our communities and businesses, scammers lie in wait on the dark web, trying to catch us with our guards down,” said Zac Streelman, Vice President of Technology, OnPoint Community Credit Union. “Whether they contact you on social media, by text, or through email, a cybercriminal only has to be successful once to cash in at your expense. We encourage everyone to get proactive this month by understanding the many threats that exist on each personal device and what you can do to defend yourself during these heightened times, and beyond.”
The OnPoint Guide to Personal Cybersecurity offers a new set of precautionary tips based on its own expertise, as well as the cybersecurity trends that have emerged over the past year, including:
- Teaching kids about cybersecurity. Connect the importance of staying safe online to advice given in real-life interactions. For instance, taking a gift from a stranger in the street is like accepting a friend request from a stranger online. Teach kids how to create strong passwords, secure their privacy and their devices, and identify safe Wi-Fi networks using flashcards to spot the symbols that represent secure and unsecured networks.
- How small businesses can protect themselves from cyberattacks. Small businesses are common targets for cybercriminals because they often lack dedicated IT staff. Roughly 43% of cyberattacks target small businesses, resulting in an average loss of $188,000. Small business owners can protect their assets by putting policies into effect that limit their exposure to risk. For example, the decision to allow staff to access sensitive materials from their personal devices should be weighed against potential risks, such as malware infection. Basic cybersecurity protocols include:
- Keeping all software up to date
- Installing firewalls on all company devices
- Making secure backups of all business-critical data
Before working with any IT vendors, small business owners should ask for references and check online reviews. A trustworthy IT partner can audit the business’ current technology and make recommendations to reduce the risk of a costly data breach.
- Understanding social engineering and confidence schemes. When thinking about cyberattacks, one might picture hackers creating viruses to gain access into personal accounts and business networks. However, 98% of cyber-attacks rely on social engineering or confidence schemes to trick you into revealing information such as a password.
Phishing attacks are a common example of social engineering. In most cases, cybercriminals deceive their targets into thinking they are interacting with someone trustworthy. Fraudsters use emotional appeals to trick people into putting logic aside for a moment. It’s during a moment of vulnerability when the target gives up a critical piece of information that allows the attacker to access their victim’s account or network.
Click here to learn more about specific scams commonly used in our community.