One of the areas we watch with interest and concern is fraud and the increasing rates of it we are seeing right the way across the country.
While we haven’t done any of our unofficial studies of its rise, it’s fair to say that it has marched in step with the rise of internet usage in general. That’s because of the sheer number of people that now have access to the internet that can now perpetrate crime remotely.
Thinking back to when we here at Schneider first got on the web, there were probably
50 million people around the world participating. Today, there are close to five billion with access.
That’s a 100-fold increase. So, common sense would tell us that there are 100 fold the number of crooks who would like to get after your money than there were 20 years ago.
We’ve been fortunate here to never have had any type of significant incident internally, but that’s partially because we’ve got a focus on proactive cybersecurity. We’re regularly looking for ways to minimize our attack surface – that is the different ways that people can get at us.
The approach has worked well for us over the years. A few years back we even put together our thoughts on ways you can help protect yourself. Interestingly enough they are still all valid today – years after we published them.
Think of Security Like Insurance
Keeping yourself safe is similar to insurance. With insurance, we pay premiums to help protect us and the ones we love in the future.
In the case of security, instead of paying monthly premiums to an insurance company, we need to be spending our time and a very small amount of money today, to ensure our future is safe.
Yes, there are all kinds of safeguards which are in place to help consumers at financial institutions across the country but ultimately, nothing is perfect.
So it makes eminent sense to minimize your risks proactively – with the help of professionals, if necessary.
5 Simple Steps
Here are some of our best ideas for today (in addition to those we recommend a few years back).
- Do all private business, especially banking exclusively on an up-to-date iPhone or iPad while on a reputable VPN that you pay for.
- Do NOT trust your desktop. Assume it is infected with spyware unless you have significant security experience. Even then, understand that you are dramatically safer on Apple products with the latest patches than you are on any Windows machine, Android phone or even a Mac.
- Get and run a VPN persistently from the startup of the computer. This will help protect the privacy of your data in transit between whatever machine or phone you’re using and the institution through industry-standard encryption
- Use Gmail for your email with two-factor authentication such as text or a Fido-supported key. Even the largest companies do not have the security chops to match the 20,000 programmers at Google. When threats get through it is almost exclusively through 2nd rate email services which then infect your devices. Google’s Gmail is free and can aggregate your other email services which can help strip out the attacks that make it through the others.
- Don’t use the same passwords for multiple accounts. Once they find one password, they will try it across all bank accounts and services.
These few moves will make your computing dramatically safer. Use them in combination with red flag rules when someone calls you.
Red Flag Rules
There are certain red flags to watch out for whenever anyone contacts you which is a typical way to try and trick you into a scam.
- They’ll ask for your cc or banking information which you should NEVER give out. Eg. Someone wants your banking information. They profess to be calling from visa, your bank, or someone trying to supposedly credit you money but they all have one thing in common. They all want your banking or credit card information.
- You get a call and someone says that there has been something that’s happened and you need to send some money somewhere. Often it includes something like “There’s been a police order and there is a gag order around talking to anybody about this.”
Assume it’s a scam. Instead, call your institution directly (not the number they may give you) or call us. Obviously, we’re not security professionals but we may be able to help spot a scam.
Yes, We’re Concerned
We’re very concerned about ensuring our clients are as safe as they can be and we’re here to help. So our number one rule is if you have someone contacting you for funds don’t hesitate to call us.
Mark, Sean, Cass, Nancy & Simone