By Clint Larson, 303TECH
We all have tendencies and preferences. It may be a favorite restaurant, sports team, or financial institution. Did you ever think those preferences can be used against you?
We are part of a highly connected society. From our smart phones, computers, emails, and websites, we can communicate with almost anyone, at any time, from almost anywhere.
Bad Actors use this highly connected society against us, in every way. Instead of scaring you into submission, or being the doomsday predictor, lets take a different approach. We hear on a regular basis about someone’s account being hacked or compromised. There are studies, statistics and stories that can scare even the most hardened person you know. We have fallen victim to this or know someone that has. From a simple email account compromise to business identity theft, from losing a few emails to losing millions of dollars. We all know the dangers and there is no way to stop it. So how can we recognize it before it becomes a problem? With the simple curiosity of a child.
Most of you were a child once, or have had, or know a small child and the wonder they have with the world around them. It does not matter if they are watching a caterpillar crawl up a branch or watching a campfire in the woods. These small children are amazed and fascinated by the world they are a part of.
We too need this same curiosity when dealing with the digital world we are a part of. We need to learn that the fire is hot and will burn before we burn ourselves or others. We need to be able to identify what is real and what is not.
When my children were younger, I would ask them to help with the chores around the house. If it was something that I had never asked them to do before, they would sometimes ask me “Why.” With a simple question they were getting clarification and gaining a greater understanding of what was really needed. We need to have this same curiosity and understanding, especially in the digital world of today.
Bad Actors can change the caller ID shown on your phone, they can send millions of text messages about package deliveries or charges to your bank account. They can call you about some issue that needs your immediate attention. They can create emails and websites to look like the real thing.
These bad actors know where you bank, what websites you shop at, and even what shipping companies deliver you packages. So how do you know what is real and what is not? With the simple curiosity of a child and asking one simple question, Why?
- Why is this email coming to me?
- Why does the email account not match the company that sent it?
- Why is there an attachment?
- Why do I need to verify my password?
- Why do I need me to call them?
- Why did this pop up on my computer?
- Why are the asking me for gift cards?
- Why do they want me to do a wire transfer?
- Why did this end up in SPAM or Quarantine?
- Why did I get this text?
These Bad Actors are utilizing your human response of fight or flight to get you to respond to the text, click the link, open the attachment, or call them on the phone. They have the ability to compromise legitimate business’s email accounts and then just sit and wait. You may be interacting with the real person, then the next email is from the Bad Actor. Still coming from the real person’s email account, but now they are asking to change banking information or need a copy of sensitive information. Ask yourself the all-important question, Why?
When an email comes in from anyone and they are asking you to do something, take a moment and ask yourself, “Why?”
Fear, misinformation, and timing are what the Bad Actors are attempting to exploit. The fear of punishments, fines, and even getting law enforcement involved, are all tactics used against us.
- Don’t be afraid to call the person and verify over the phone what they need.
- Don’t believe the email, website, or text, sent to you, even from your supervisor.
- Setup Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) on all accounts possible.
We can all remember 3 questions to ask about emails.
- Why are they sending me this email?
- Why does the email have poor grammar and misspelling?
- Why are they asking for immediate action?
You don’t need to get burned to know that the fire is hot. A simple “Why” can save you and those around you from being subjected to the Bad Actors wanting to hurt you.
Clint Larson, Managing Partner, 303TECH, Serving management companies, communities, and boards for more than 20 years. Clint@303tech.com www.303tech.com