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Be cyber-secure: Beware of these business email scams

Steps you can take to defend against phishing, smishing and other forms of cyber threats

CYBER CRIMINALS SEND OUT a staggering number of phishing emails to businesses every year. They’re trying to trick employees into revealing proprietary and confidential data or taking an action that will benefit the criminals—and harm your business. They often use a tactic called spoofing—impersonating a legitimate business or person—in an attempt to fool employees into clicking a link, opening an attachment, changing account information or conducting a financial transaction. Such phishing attempts are usually called smishing when cyber criminals use SMS or messaging apps.

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Clicking those links or opening those attachments can automatically install malware, which, depending on the type, could give the criminals access to your computer or device, install ransomware (in which malware infiltrates your system and cyber criminals hold your business hostage until a fee is paid), and even allow them to burrow further into your company's servers or the cloud. Let them in and they could steal your company’s confidential information and destroy the reputation you’ve worked hard to build with customers.

While the impact of such a business email compromise (BEC) can seem overwhelming, there are things you can consider doing to help protect your business, your customers and your employees from email scams. Consider these best practices:

  • Avoid clicking on links or attachments from untrusted sources.
  • Educate employees to be alert to emails, messaging and phone calls that may be fraudulent.
  • Use verified contact information from within the company’s internal contact management system when verifying requests to change information or transfer funds.
  • Require multiple-person approvals for account and financial change requests.
  • Encourage employees to ask questions and challenge suspicious activity before acting on requests.
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