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SALT LAKE CITY — As technology becomes a mainstay in the world of business, so does our reliance on computers. With so much information being sent digitally via emails, social media, e-docs and more, it is incredibly important to ensure that systems and networks are kept secure.
Unfortunately, scammers are constantly coming up with new ways to gain access to financial and other data and to crash systems and otherwise wreak havoc. Phishing scams, in particular, have become popular in recent years. Here are three tips to protect your business and your income.
Understand the common types of scams
It's important to be aware of some of the most common types of scams going around so you can spot them when they’re in front of you. Hackers use all different types of phishing scams, but they typically revolve around the same kind of formats.
One of the most popular scams is the email that's designed to look legitimate. Cybercriminals try to fool people into thinking that a message is actually from their bank or other provider, with copied logos and design and even the same type of wording and tone.
Within the email is usually a link to the supposed company website. It'll lead you to a login page or form and ask you to provide information or complete some other action that could put your sensitive data at risk.
In reality, banks and other legitimate businesses won’t include forms to be filled in, links to click or a tone of desperation saying that action must be taken straight away. They also won't usually have a sloppy design, pop-up windows or misspelled words (particularly the URL of a website), so look out for these red flags.
Check the email's header, footer and address, since this can give you clues about its authenticity. Always log in to a website by directly typing the URL, instead of clicking it, to find out if the information is real.
Phishing scams also often come in the form of a congratulatory email or text claiming you or your business have won something like a lottery, car, cash or holiday. They will ask you to provide details to prove your identity, but you'll most likely just be giving your private information to a scammer.
If something seems too good to be true, and if no one in your office has any recollection of buying the related ticket or entering a certain draw, delete the message immediately. If you do wonder if it is real, then phone up the company involved using a legitimate contact, not one mentioned in the message you received.
Another phishing attack that has cropped up recently is one where scammers send supposed documents via group uploading sites like Dropbox or Google Drive. You may think you are clicking on a spreadsheet sent to you by an employee or a report uploaded by a co-worker, but in actuality, you’re about to download some dangerous malware or be redirected to a fake website. If you use these types of systems, it is wise to implement a two-step security verification process to keep your folders safe.
Use protective security software
Look at buying some professional security software to protect all of the devices you and your team use within the business. Security software is designed to protect your computers from malware and viruses and hopefully ensure your systems do not crash and information is not stolen.
The best types of software are those which provide comprehensive protection from viruses, ransomware, spyware, spam, malware and the like. They will work to keep information safe when users are browsing or buying online, and block suspicious-looking emails from coming in.
It is also a good idea to install firewalls on your gadgets. Firewalls are another line of defense against hackers, particularly when it comes to people who may try to get into your systems via the internet.
Many computers actually come with firewalls already installed on them, so before you worry about buying a specific firewall product, look at the settings on your device. Check to make sure any pre-installed firewall has actually been activated.
Train your team
It's also important to make sure everyone on your team understands the risks involved with phishing attacks, their pervasiveness and what needs to be done to stay safe. Put strict technological policies in place that regulate how staff members use email, social media and banking accounts, as well as computers. Teach workers about the common scams.
Insist that employees put comprehensive passwords in place as another form of protection. Passwords should be at least eight characters long and made up of a mixture of letters, numbers and symbols.
Ask all employees to keep security software, browsers and plug-ins updated at all times. That way, the most secure versions of each are running, and hackers are more likely to be kept at bay as a result.