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If someone told you there is a new, rapidly growing, billion-dollar industry that has a target market bigger than that of Apple and Microsoft combined, you might be tempted to get in on the action. Here’s the catch, you’re the target market, and the business is cyber fraud.  

Cyber fraud is a form of fraud committed over the internet that targets your data and covers a wide range of criminal activity. There are several things you want to know about cyber fraud and need to consider the types of cyber fraud, what criminals are trying to accomplish, and what you can do to prevent these attacks.

Types of cyber fraud:

Cyber fraud is most commonly committed three ways. There is hacking, malware, and phishing.

  • Hacking: This a type of cyber fraud where “hackers” gain unauthorized access to a computer, phone, or other technological device. Once access into the operating system is gained, the criminal is then free to do as they wish, often without victims aware of what is happening.
  • Malware: This is software that is intended to harm your computer and data. Hackers often install malware after gaining access to your system to hijack control of the computer allowing freedom to do as they please.
  • Phishing: Phishing, like fishing, is a baited hook that is trying to gain unauthorized access to your computer through fraudulent links that inconspicuously appear in your email inbox as a normal email would appear. Once engaged, the link often downloads malware and gives the creator of the link access to your data.

What cyber criminals are trying to accomplish:

  • Steal: Cyber-criminals are often trying to steal sensitive data once they have access to your operating system. For individuals, your personal information is at risk including social security, credit card numbers, routing numbers, and other information that could be of use to a criminal. For businesses, criminals may try to steal trade secrets, algorithms, client data, and whatever else would be useful to thieves or your competition.
  • Destroy: Hackers have been known to destroy data when given the chance. This may be done out of spite, attempts to ruin your business, and desire to use your computer for their own purposes.
  • Ransom: It is not uncommon to hear about cyber fraud criminals gaining control over your computer and then charging you a fee (generally paid with cryptocurrencies) before giving you back control…if they’re honest.

Though the threat of cyber fraud is intimidating, you can reduce the risk of being a victim to attacks.

What you can do to prevent cyber fraud:

  • Make yourself aware: Think through vulnerabilities you may have. Are you running old software? Is all your information stored in one location? Do you have backups of your data? Constantly be learning about cyber fraud and what actions you can take to build up your cyber defense as the nature of the crime changes alongside technology.
  • Create internal controls to prevent/detect: It is a good idea to install software that is designed to protect your operating systems from cyber-attacks. If you’re a business with an IT team, check in with them to see what they are doing to combat this issue and always bee alert to the possibility. Make sure to exercise professional skepticism when dealing with websites and emails that you’re not familiar with.

Cyber fraud is a billion-dollar business and has grown to the point where certain malwares have tech support that you can call to get help breaking into someone’s computer. As a growing concern, it’s important to make yourself aware of the issue to lower your risk of falling victim to an attack.

The most common victims are those who lack prevention systems. For assistance in fraud prevention or detection, please contact your L&B professional at (858) 558-9200.

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