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Increased Online Shopping Means Increased Cyber Crimes

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Beware the threat of Phishing attempts and cyber crimes

Posted on 04/16/2020 at 09:00 AM

The Rise of E-Commerce

With social distancing becoming the (temporary?) norm, many people are finding comfort in ordering their supplies, food, and other items required to meet their needs through virtual shopping centers. E-commerce has been on the rise for years, but the ability to not have to leave your house has never been more appealing.

7 Most Common Causes of Data Breach (according to

  • Weak and Stolen Credentials, a.k.a. Passwords

  • Back Doors, Application Vulnerabilities

  • Malware

  • Social Engineering

  • Too Many Permissions

  • Insider Threats

  • Improper Configuration and User Error

An example of a phishing attempt from a company that looks legitimate The Looming Threat of Phishing Scams

Unfortunately, the benefit of having items delivered to you opens opportunities for fraudsters and thieves to gain your personal information. One of the most successful methods of collecting your personal data comes in the form of phishing.

To protect yourself from these threats, our IT Support team has compiled a list of helpful tips and strategies to help you know what to look for so you can spot the red flags early and avoid the nightmare of identity theft!

Knowing the Red Flags

Phishing attempts often play on emotion. The sender will entice you to click something you shouldn’t by promising early access to funds you “are entitled to”, information about a package you supposedly ordered, they may threaten you, or otherwise, make you think you need to take major action to avoid a catastrophe or legal action. Taking the suggested actions may end up forcing you to dive headfirst into the scammers' trap.

To Identify a Phishing Attempt, Keep an Eye Out for the Following Red Flags:

  • Misspellings and grammatical errors
  • Creating a sense of urgency
  • Requesting personally identifiable information (PII)
  • Requesting User IDs and Passwords
  • Threatening with consequences
  • Vague and general messages

Example of a fake email from Bank of America that is actually a phishing attempt

Tips in Identifying a Phishing Attempt

Staying safe while identifying a phishing attempt requires you to slow down and notice small (but obvious if you look for them) details.

Examples of Tell-Tale Phishing Identifiers:

  • The Display Name is spoofed (view the email address and compare it to the displayed name)
  • The hyperlink text does not match the link (hover over the hyperlink to see where it would actually send you if you were to click on it)
  • Suspicious attachment (DO NOT open this file NOR preview it in the Reading Pane)

Phishing Hooks: BE CAREFUL!!!

Some scammers take their time and make their emails look incredibly convincing. Avoiding their emails is not as easy if you suspect it may be authentic or from someone you know or have done business with. More sophisticated attempts may look authentic and may impersonate a person or contact you may know.

Remember, most phishing attempts ideally include a link or an attachment. For safest practices, DO NOT input credentials by clicking a link in an email. Instead of clicking the link, you should go to the website yourself.

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Stay Safe While Shopping Online

Another tip is to make it a practice to only shop on secure websites (have an SSL Certificate). In other words, look for the little green lock by the website address and instead of http:// look for https://. It also is important to know a website’s privacy policy so that you understand who you are giving permission for your personal information to be shared with by doing business with them.

How to identify a bad link in a fake email that is actually a phishing scam

Scary Times, Strict Measures

With COVID-19, economic struggles, and social distancing, the world is a scary place right now. Your online shopping and email interactions don’t have to be. Be cautious, be vigilant, and stay on guard.

It's always a good idea to make sure your staff and loved ones know what to look out for to keep everyone’s personal information as safe as possible.

Remember, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is!

One Final Tip

If you are not sure if the request is legitimate or not, it never hurts to reach out to the company in question via one of their official channels. Go to their website directly (not following a provided link), and look for information related to the issue in question. If you can't find any, contact them directly through whatever means are provided (calling customer service, chat support over their website, email, or an on-website contact form).

If you would like more information about how to keep yourself and your company safe, reach out to our IT support team for a free consultation today! Call (515)996-0996

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