Thwart Cyber Criminals and Scammers with Organizational Teamwork

It’s going to take an entire organization supporting each other, both employers and employees, to ride out these tumultuous and unparalleled times.

The past weeks have shown many positive examples of organizations and individuals rising to the occasion to selflessly help others in need during this pandemic. We’ve also been witness to the worst in human nature – the rise of opportunistic scammers quickly taking advantage of the chaos and uncertainty to prey on normally diligent, scam-savvy individuals. These thieves and scammers steal from both businesses and individuals, jeopardizing the health and stability of an organization and its people. We’re all challenged and trying to make it through these difficult times. Unfortunately, we need to be more alert than ever in protecting our organizations and employees from those who will readily attack us when and where we are most vulnerable.

Recommendations for employers

Your employees are worried, scared, stressed and anxious. Provide them with resources and knowledge to help them keep your company information, as well as their own personal information, safe from criminals eager to take advantage of our new ‘normal’.

  1. If you require employees to complete online security classes, consider offering a refresher. Uprooted from their technology-secured work space in the office, they are in a completely different work environment (home).  They are faced with a potential multitude of distractions drawing them away from their normal diligence. Required refreshers in online security can help keep the new work-at-home model from becoming an achilles heel to your organization.
  2. Most organizations had very little time to prepare for fully remote work environments. Make sure your team has followed up to ensure home workstations, including personal laptops and networks, meet your security standards. Consider elements like:
    1. Access to computers and personal devices should be password-protected with strong passwords.
    2. Access to your network should only be granted via your chosen VPN.
    3. Provide employees with information for encrypting their routers. This is an informative FTC link, Securing Your Wireless Network.
    4. Antivirus software should be provided, installed and kept up-to-date.

    Securing home workspaces may seem daunting, but it’s a critical step to keep your organization safe and functioning.

  3. Be on the lookout for examples of some of the most recent phishing scams and share them with your employees. Cyber criminals are constantly evolving their techniques and some are very convincing. They are out to take advantage of the upheaval and chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a study by Baracuda Networks, coronavirus-related attacks have spiked 667% since March 1st.
  4. If you offer a financial wellness benefit with educational courses, review your offerings for courses related to fraud and share these resources with your employees. This simple action demonstrates that even during the most challenging of times, you’ve got their back and are looking out for their well-being.

Recommendations for employees

Remember, we’re all in this together. Help protect your employer from criminal acts that could further harm the stability of your company during these especially difficult economic times. You can do this by abiding by the security protocols in place regarding network databases, computers, electronic devices and paper files and documents.

  1. Use caution (and common sense) when posting on social media. Inadvertent or intentional photos of your work-at-home environment could be used to the advantage of cyber criminals looking for passwords and information, both personal and confidential, visible on your screen or surrounding work space.
  2. Password-protect your devices and lock them when leaving the room just as you would at the office.
  3. Use care with paper documents, disposing of sensitive or confidential information according to the requirements of your organization.
  4. Only use the VPN (virtual private network) and antivirus software directed by your company. If you run into any issues or have questions, reach out to your designated support team for assistance.
  5. Review these tips for working at home, provided by the FTC.

From a personal perspective, protect yourselves and your loved ones, especially the elderly who oftentimes fall victim. They may not be as familiar with various methods of common email fraud. Show them how to verify who the sender is, ensuring it is coming from an email address they know. Let them know to be very wary of attachments or links and how to hover and confirm the destination of the link before clicking on it. Tell them it’s okay to contact the sender to confirm the attachment or link was intentional if they’re unsure. Sometimes these best practices come second-nature to those intimately familiar with technology, and we forget that not all of us have that luxury.

Pay attention and be on the lookout for criminals poised and ready to make off with your personal information, especially right now when many Americans are expecting their economic-impact payment (the official name for the IRS-issued ‘stimulus’ checks). These scams can be executed via many means, including mail, email, phone, text, fake websites and fraudulent products. They are ever-evolving so take the time to stay current with some of the most recent scams.

Humanity creates within us a desire to rise up and help out during adversity. Sometimes our greatest impacts can be made through simple acts, using our knowledge and information to help others.

Stay safe. Stay healthy.

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