Mobile Computer Services, Inc. of Raleigh, NC, offers dental practices, veterinary clinics, and small businesses IT management solutions. The team of IT professionals serving the Raleigh and greater Triangle area of North Carolina specializes in computer repair, IT Support, network security, and managed IT services for small to medium businesses with computing needs.
Worldwide events have caused internet usage in the US to skyrocket. Some estimates are that nearly half of the workforce is remote. As the dust settles from COVID-19, many employees will continue to work from home. This paradigm shift continues to fuel phishing expeditions by cybercriminals seeking to harvest essential information from businesses and individuals and use it for illegal purposes that hurt innocent victims.
Around for more than two decades, these online internet fraud schemes are designed with the intention of deceiving unsuspecting victims into clicking on a fraudulent text link or email or opening a bogus file attachment. Once the email, link, or attachment is clicked on, the victim is often then redirected to a phony website that appears to belong to a legitimate or possibly even a well-known business. From there, the scam encourages unwary victims to enter their access credentials or other sensitive information. Once the victim enters and confirms his or her information, the scammers have captured the victim’s login information. The cybercriminals can then access the authentic site to steal more personal or business information. The next step is to make purchases or drain financial accounts.
Beware of email attachments. The attachment can be embedded with malicious malware that infects the user’s computer, tablet, or smartphone. The viruses are capable of capturing login credentials when accessing accounts and may even assume control of the devices.
Sensitive information that can be stolen includes:
- bank account numbers
- credit card account numbers
- Social Security number (SSN)
- personal data, such as date of birth, that is stored and visible in the accounts
The consequences are chilling. Scammers in possession of a victim’s personally identifiable information can assume their identity and commit identity theft, fraud, or other crimes.
Types of phishing attacks
Some types of phishing attacks have people click on a link in an email in order to prevent a credit card account or bank account from being closed. Clicking on the link leads to a website requesting personal financial information. Users who provide the information could become the victims of identity theft.
Other phishing emails request users to click on a link to verify that a credit card or bank account belongs to them. The fraudulent website to which the link takes the unsuspecting account holder will ask for personal or financial information. The fraudsters, having captured the information, will leverage it to their advantage.
Some people may receive a phishing email that warns them that their email account is full and may be shut down until the matter is resolved. For a small business, dental practice, or veterinary clinic, not having access to a company email account could be devastating. The user must click on the link in the email, or they will lose access to their email messages. Links of this nature sometimes request and capture personal information or install malware or adware onto the computer.
Basic phishing emails may impersonate real companies, such as credit card companies or banks. These emails seek to cleverly deceive the unsuspecting person or employee into providing login information or sensitive financial information. A credit card number or a FEIN number could financially wreck a small business struggling in the recent economic turmoil.
Other phishing emails might attempt to convince an email recipient to click on a link that takes them to a fake website that has been carefully designed to mimic eBay, Amazon, or a personal or company bank. IT service management solutions providers caution that once the faux website is accessed, these fake websites can then install malware. Other viruses can be directly downloaded onto the computer, allowing hackers to steal personal or company information or take control of the computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Sometimes cybercriminals will send an official-looking email from PayPal. The email might instruct the recipient to click on a link to verify a personal or company PayPal account. The consequences of failing to follow the instructions would be that the PayPal account would be shut down. Shutting down a company PayPal account could directly impact sales. The temptation to act quickly without doing the proper investigation is understandable. However, if an authentic password and username are entered on the deceptive PayPal website, the scammers will capture this information and use it to the detriment of the person or company.
Important clues to help identify a phishing email
Spotting a fake Amazon, PayPal, or eBay website may require close examination. Features such as bad grammar, spelling errors, and general greetings such as “Dear user” or “Dear client” should signal trouble. The links in the fishy email land on websites with strange URLs. The spelling may be minutely different from the institution’s legitimate website URL. It takes a close look to spot these subtle nuances.
Credit card companies, PayPal, mortgage lenders, and banks will NEVER contact a customer by email to request any personal or company information. When an email requests sensitive information that, if placed in the wrong hands, could ruin a small business, do not click on the link in the questionable email. Instead, the authorized person should log into the personal or company account. Any legitimate issues or concerns will be identified at the login.
Cybercrimes are at a pandemic level. Staying safe involves utilizing IT managed services for dentists and managed IT services for veterinarians. Small businesses are vulnerable. Having an outsourced IT management solution is an affordable way to put up a sure defense against a formidable enemy. For more information about protecting against harmful phishing attacks, contact Mobile Computer Services, Inc. of Raleigh at (919) 830-9448.