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The War on Cyberfraud: An Update
By Barbara Pronin
Despite the best efforts of the FBI, the lead federal agency for investigating cyberattacks, as well as the Department of Homeland Security and other public and private agencies, the threat of cyberattacks is still incredibly serious and growing.
American companies and universities are being targeted for trade secrets and other sensitive data, while private citizens are targeted by ever more inventive fraudsters and identity thieves.
Cybercriminals range from computer geeks looking for bragging rights to malicious and sophisticated hackers, spies and terrorists seeking to wreak havoc, and the collective effect is staggering as billions of dollars and untold anxiety is the cost each year to blameless and/or careless victims.

At the top of the FBI’s ‘most wanted’ subterfuges:
  • Malware – Ransomware or other malicious viruses infecting home and business computers
  • Data breaches – When sensitive information is leaked from a secure source to an untrustworthy environment
  • Phishing – A scheme in which fake email, text messages, or copycat websites try to steal your identity or personal information
  • Vishing – A combination of voice contact and phishing
  • Smishing – A combination of SMS texting and phishing that target your mobile phone instead of your computer 
The bad news is that little has changed in terms of protecting business and/or personal systems.  Consumers businesses are urged to:
  • Update antivirus software and antispyware programs - Most types of antivirus software can be set up to make automatic updates. Be careful of ads on the internet offering downloadable spyware. Only install programs from a trusted source.
  • Know your contacts – Be careful about giving out information online and research how to spot signs of internet fraud
  • Be careful what you download – Never respond with personal information to a pop-up ad or to an email link generated by someone unknown to you
  • Don’t leave your computer on all the time – A computer that’s on 24/7 is more prone to spyware and other attacks
  • Beware of cyberfraud when wiring funds - Before wiring funds, call the intended recipient at a number you know is valid to confirm the instructions. Be wary of any request to change wire instructions previously received 
The discovery that hackers have infiltrated your computer network can be a company’s or an individual’s worst nightmare. To report cyberfraud issues:
  • Contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) – The agency’s little-known Cyber Action Team (CAT) is a rapid deployment group that can have cyber experts on the scene in as little as 48 hours 
Barbara Pronin is an award-winning writer based in Orange County, Calif. A former news editor with more than 30 years of experience in journalism and corporate communications, she has specialized in real estate topics for over a decade.

This material is not intended to be relied upon as a statement of the law, and is not to be construed as legal, tax or investment advice.  You are encouraged to consult your legal, tax or investment professional for specific advice.  The material is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only.  Although the information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, no representation is made as to its accuracy. 

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