I’m a realistic optimist. One should hope for the best and plan for the worst (which can both be done while having some fun!). We are all stuck in the weird realm of stay-at-home-twilight-zone fog. My little ones are going to work with me everyday now: sitting on the bed, doing their schoolwork, and trying to be very quiet when I’m on the phone. Honestly, it’s been a pleasant challenge, figuring all of this out. But while we reconnect with our families and get projects accomplished, we also must consider the dark side of humanity and work to protect our homes and businesses from those “nasty” criminal hackers in the world.
So, here are a few things that will help you be on your guard, and not just during this pandemic, but going forward in life.
1. Only go to trusted web sites to make purchases.
Have you been looking for face masks or scouring the internet trying to find some hand sanitizer? If you’re not tech savvy and have a burner credit card, then stick to places you know and trust. Foreign state-sponsored hacking that have little to no consequences if caught has emboldened groups of people to take as much as they can from others. Web sites with “covid” or “corona” in the domain name are popping up everywhere, and over 50% are state-sponsored phishing sites.
Imagine: you find a webstore that has only two boxes of N95 masks in stock. You have never heard of this seller, but you really feel that your need outweighs the risk, so you give your: name, address, phone number, credit card (with security code). BAM – you have just been had.
2. Be cautious of voice mails sent to email.
Maybe you have never had a voice mail drop in your inbox, but this new email you just received looks like it’s from Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, etc. Those are safe web sites, right? You click on it. BAM – you’ve been had, but this time you don’t even know it. Nothing seemed to have happened when you clicked on it, but underneath, where all the snakes crawl, is a keylogger sending data back to an anonymous hacker who will use it for their gain.
3. Stay alert when it comes to coupons.
Need a coupon for that extra 10% off? You comb the internet looking for a coupon code and find one, clicking on it. BAM – you’ve been had.
4. Gain awareness of social media games
Who doesn’t enjoy seeing other peoples’ answers to questionnaires? Facebook and Instagram are full of games like this: “Post a picture of your first 5 cars!”, “Who’s proud of their birth city?”, “Give a shout out to your five best friends.” You type in your answers, and BAM – you’ve been had. These games are all created to data mine your personal information. When choosing a password you’re often asked to select a security code in case you ever need to reset it. Does “What’s you first car?” sound familiar?
Recently our company was helping a customer with their phone system in order to save them over $300 a month on phone services. We had all of their regular account information, because we deal with phone companies and other vendors for our customers all the time. The customer was ready to be conferenced in if additional security questions needed to be answered. The rep with the phone company asked this: “What was your favorite childhood hero?”. We ended up not having to conference them in. We figured out the answer without their help, because there are only so many superheroes, and Superman is usually at the top of the list. A hacker could potentially do damage to a business by getting into a business’ phone system and messing around with the lines.
5. Pay attention to your gut.
I know we are all making a lot more trips to the fridge and pantry during this pandemic, and you might not hear your gut over the gurgling, but try to listen. If you feel funny about clicking on something…don’t click on it. If it gives you a weird feeling to give out your personal or business information… then don’t. If the person you are talking to on the phone seems creepy or pushy…hang up. If what you are trying to accomplish is regarding something important, ask the professionals, like Robintree. There are many ways to protect yourself – so be careful out there.
If you need additional help or advice. please feel free to drop me a line with your info: name, address, last four digits of your social security number, home town, and a significant current event on the day of your birth. No, not really. All it takes is a phone call: 1-844-my-robin (844-697-6246) or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Jeremy – President Robintree, LLC