Protect yourself and your money from tricksters well beyond October
Credit union experts urge ongoing caution as bad actors proliferate and persist.
COLUMBIA, SC (October 26, 2022) — In a month known for a single day of trickery, experts warn that more sinister, ongoing threats can have frightening consequences.
October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, reminding us that year-round, daily attention to our personal information protects it and our property from the ill-intentioned. They want it because data is the key to finances.
“Fraud and cyberattacks that lead to fraud have become big business,” says Coastal Credit Union VP of Information Security Jon Striley. “Almost like any other business, they’ve figured out how to do it efficiently and in large volume.”
Striley and Coastal Fraud Operations Manager Jon Smith have witnessed the evolution as they defend $4 billion-plus in assets belonging to more than 314,000 North Carolinians. Since heightened consumer awareness and self-protection act as a deadbolt lock, here is what they want everyone to know well beyond October 31.
- Education is the key to self-protection. Know what to look for and think about potential vulnerabilities. Be wary of links that lead to data input forms. Learn ways to strengthen defenses, including software updates. And create unique user IDs and passwords for each online profile—then update them regularly.
- Sophistication has increased, especially since the pandemic. The basic objective is to get someone’s information and use it to defraud them. New methods include text links that will install spyware to track device activity and capture online logins. The shutdown not only sent more people online, but also incentivized fraudsters and encouraged their creativity.
- Bad actors are prevalent and persistent. They move to countries where they can conduct fraud without legal constraints. They also are more persistent than in the past and will continue to pursue a potential victim. On the “dark web”—where malicious activity is masked—more information means more money, whether given by the unsuspecting target or paid by another schemer.
- Ongoing awareness and healthy suspicion are still the answer. Validate sender’s emails and caller’s phone numbers, look closely at linked websites, and make sure the people involved are people you trust. Apply a real-world approach to the digital world, and keep at it.
“Fraudsters have moved into much longer term, sophisticated approaches, waiting for something to happen,” says Smith in urging continual caution. “The longer they are able to keep someone engaged and capture information, the more they’re able to get from that person.”
Read more from Coastal on three common scams, and visit the North Carolina Department of Information Technology for detailed guidance for online safety.
About Carolinas Credit Union League
The Carolinas Credit Union League is the not-for-profit association of credit unions throughout North and South Carolina. Established in 2014 with a commitment to the cooperative spirit, the Carolinas Credit Union League is credit unions’ primary advocate and much more, promoting their success through risk and compliance resources, professional development, product and service enhancements, and back-office support.