New Decade – New Cyber Threats
Protect You Financial Accounts
A new decade also means new cyber security threats. 2019 saw 184 million ransomware attacks compared to only 2,000 in 2017. We anticipate that technology will continue to advance at a record pace, which brings threats along with convenience.
In this new decade vigilance will be a way of life. Here are some items to consider.
- Don’t click on links unless you are sure of the sender
- Don’t open suspicious emails
- Delete unused apps on your phone and computer
- Update apps and software ASAP. Don’t leave your computer/tablet/phone exposed because you delayed installing updates often with security patches.
An 8-year scam was brought down recently in New York state due to alert investors. The thief tricked day traders and financial advisors into liquidating securities, wiring cash from brokerages, and establishing new fraudulent accounts under the victim’s names.
How did this happen? Email accounts were compromised. The thief accessed the emails of the victims and began data mining; looking for account information, who their advisors were, and requests for wire transfers. The thief stole personal details and opened up new fraudulent accounts transferring assets from other established accounts.
Unfortunately, when a wire transfer is made fraudulently, the bank is generally not required to make the customer whole. The money is likely gone for good. However, today many financial institutions require a confirmation by phone with the customer before making the wire transfer.
What is an investor to do?!
Best offense is a good defense. Here are some suggestions to help prevent fraud.
- Be careful what information you share by email.
- Set up a separate email account that is only for financial and other sensitive information. DO NOT use your name in the email address.
- Set up 2 factor authentication for your financial email. Your email sends you a code that needs to be entered after your password is entered. A thief may have your password but unlikely to intercept the code.
- Know your financial advisor. Work with someone you know and trust. Work with them face to face or over the phone. Communication all by email leaves you vulnerable.
It was average investors being vigilant with their investment accounts that brought down the thief. They reported suspicious activity. A financial institution tried to confirm a fraudulent wire transfer. These findings were turned into authorities. They unwound all the scams with years of stealing from innocent victims. The thieves were sitting behind computers in Ukraine. They had set up fictitious social media accounts; used a false IP address in New York. After 8 years of stealing, the thieves are now being prosecuted.
Be vigilant. Be careful with sensitive information. Make it difficult for thieves – they will find easier targets.
If you do get scammed – act quickly.
Reach out to your financial institution or financial adviser as soon as possible. Catching it early enough may give you time to stop fraudulent financial activity.
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