Jake, a curious teen happens upon a perfectly intact jump drive (a small thumb-sized data storage device, thus they are also sometimes called thumb drives) on the ground in front of his house after school. Out of curiosity, he picks it up, heads inside with it to the family’s home office, and plugs it into the laptop to see what’s on it.
Then there’s Jane, from the school’s payroll department. She receives an email from the principal marked as “Urgent” asking that his direct deposit info be immediately changed because his checking account has been compromised.
Then John, a young professional that’s on the rise in his company is standing in the coffee line in the cafeteria waiting his turn, swiping through his cellphone, when he’s approached by a friendly well-groomed guy that strikes up a conversation with him about baseball because they both have on baseball themed ties.
What do these three situations have in common? They are all ways that cybercriminals use to gain access to your personal info and your company’s secure info. Criminals are becoming very creative in the different strategies that they use to gain access to the info that they need to commit their crimes these days.
By simply being curious, Jake has managed to load eyes for the criminal directly onto the family laptop that contains all the family’s banking info and social security numbers. Then Jane, thinking she’s helping out the principal, immediately changes the direct deposit info so that the principal’s next paycheck is rerouted directly to the criminal’s account. Then John after being “friends” with the friendly well-groomed stranger for a while, begins sharing top-secret company info with his new friend because he feels he can trust him since they’re “friends”. Along with sharing top-secret company info, John has also inadvertently left his work phone and laptop unsecured while his new friend was around allowing the criminal to gain access to the info he’s looking for about John’s company.
So, who let the criminals in this time? Jake, Jane, and John did it themselves. Criminals understand that things must look and sound legitimate before the doors leading to your personal and confidential info will open. And cybercriminals have gotten very crafty at finding ways to get access to the secure information they seek.
Sure, some of these may sound familiar but I assure you that these and many other scams are used every day by cybercriminals.
Take the ‘Chase Bank Scam’ for instance where a gentleman had saved nearly twelve thousand dollars to buy a new house and a Chase Customer Service Representative called him and told him his account had been compromised but “not to worry that she would walk him through all the steps to get his account secured”. After spending some time on the phone with the CSR thinking that he was receiving assistance to stop fraudulent payments from coming out of his account, his entire savings has been transferred into her account. The entire phone call had been a scam all along. Frightening.
As sad as it may seem, we must be extra careful when speaking to strangers in person and over the phone these days. If you think a representative from your bank is calling you, then hang up with them and call the 1-800 number on the back of your debit or credit card to confirm first. Most banks do not conduct business that requires secure or sensitive information via phone. But just make sure you’re actually speaking with your bank if you absolutely must conduct any financial business over the phone.
Also, be leery of any device you find that can be plugged into your phone or computer. You never know if the device contains a virus or malware designed to gain unauthorized access to your computer and secure information. So, stay alert and keep your cyber eyes open to keep cyber criminals away from your confidential personal and work info in this new sophisticated world of cyber criminals.