6 don'ts, 1 do to staying cyber secure and protecting yourself from phishing attacks this Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is upon us … and so is the threat of nefarious, malicious, ill-intended, criminal and just generally up-to-no-good cyber activity.

With all the sending and receiving of e-cards, e-mails offering deals on chocolate, roses and jewelry or e-mails announcing deliveries, it’s easy to click on a link and the next thing you know, you’re in trouble. You find your files locked up, your identity stolen, and rather than feeling love struck — a victim of Cupid — you feel you’ve been duped and a little bit stupid.

So how do you prevent yourself from becoming a victim? Here’s some help:

  • Don’t trust emails or advertising from online florists or other gift retailers until you have vetted them — that is, ensured they are real and senders are who they say they are. Responding to a spam email will confirm your email address as active and you’ll only end up getting more spam.
  • Don’t trust online greeting cards. Sure, it’s fun to have a secret admirer, but drop the “ad.” That individual may actually only be a secret mire-er — ready to bog your life down with the hassles of reclaiming your identity, personal files or client data. If you don’t know who sent it, don’t touch it. If you know who sent it, verify it was truly that person who sent it before you click that link.
  • Don’t open any attachments as they may contain malware or possibly ransomware, basically a kind of virus that once released encrypts the files on your computer or network, leaving them inaccessible. Such a virus can be devastating to a business’s network, the downtime potentially costing the victimized business as much as $42,000 an hour, according to a Gartner study. If you're a business, you might want to consider looking into a back-up and disaster recovery (BDR) system to protect your network and cut down on downtime.
  • Don’t click on any web links. If you want to visit the webpage to which the email is directing you, don’t be lazy. Type the URL into the address field of the browser. It’s very easy for bad guys to hyperlink email content, indicating it’ll bring you to one place, but in fact directing you to a malicious website or releasing a virus into your system.
  • Don’t trust anyone suspicious on a dating site claiming some kind of attraction to you but then immediately wanting to communicate offsite, perhaps through email, asking for your address or personal information or maybe even requesting you wire them money for a plane ticket, claiming to be working internationally. The anonymity of these dating sites makes it easy for these scammers to make victims of love-seeking individuals.
  • Don’t trust package email delivery notification. These days you can order Valentine’s Day flowers, boxes of chocolate or what not and have them shipped to your loved one. Scammers know that and send fake package delivery notices, asking you to click on a link or download an attachment, hoping you’ll take the bait. If you get an email notice about a package delivery and you didn’t expect a package or notification, look at it carefully to verify whether it is legitimate or not.

Just remember, this Valentine’s Day and, well, everyday with every email, think before you click. You are the weakest link in all of your computer’s and network’s protection. Be carefull what you open and what you click.

Do go with your gut. If something seems phishy and makes you doubt, stay away from it.

To learn more about network security or other managed IT services by R.K Black, click here or click the button below to have one of our reps contact you.

R.K. Black, Inc. is an Oklahoma City-based leading provider of office technology solutions to small and medium-sized businesses in and around central Oklahoma. We specialize in everything business technology from copier, fax, printer and  scanner technology to document management, onsite paper shredding services, VoIP phone systems and managed IT support to video surveillance solutions.

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