Cybersecurity – Why it Matters at Home and Work

  • Robinhood became the latest company in a long line of household names to have their data compromised this year.
  • Think twice before you open and respond to a text or email asking for your information.
  • Cybersecurity is affecting more than global companies; local organizations are being hit too.
This November, Robinhood, the investment app was the latest in a long line of major institutions to be compromised in a data breach that effected millions of customers. Consistently consumers are getting exposed to headlines of another name brand that has had their security compromised. At Brown and Company, we make it an emphasis in our daily lives to prioritize security and ensure we stay up to date with ongoing cybersecurity threats. Clients come to us for our expertise on wealth management, we believe in doing the same for our security, we work with a consultant on all of our IT and cybersecurity measures and recommend you do the same. Below we will cover some of the top cybersecurity threats:
  • Phishing
  • Malware
  • Ransomware
  • Spyware
These are very real threats to you and your business and can be quite sophisticated, we hope that the below can serve as a reminder to keep you and yours protected. Phishing is one of the most popular and known threats today; scammers will email or text you impersonating as your bank, a store, friend or something or someone similar and ask for your personal information to gain access to your accounts. There are reportedly thousands of phishing attacks launched on a daily basis. A couple of easy things to look out for are unsolicited claims from an organization asking you to confirm your personal information, stating there’s a problem with your account or credit card that they need updated, or even a fake invoice that you don’t recognize. The best thing you can do is work with an IT consultant and avoid opening emails or texts you aren’t expecting or from someone you don’t recognize, delete them and if you do happen to open them do not click on any links. Malicious software, known as malware, refers to intrusive software that has been developed by hackers or cybercriminals designed to steal data and damage or destroy your computer. The typical motivation of hackers for deploying malware is to gain leverage over their victims for financial gain by getting access to healthcare records, personal emails, passwords, and financial data. Malware can attack through text messages, email attachments, USB drives, and more. The easiest way to know if you are infected with malware is browser redirects, frequent pop-up ads, problems shutting down your computer and slow computer performance. How can you defend malware? Protect your devices, perform regular checks by running a scan using your security software, pay attention to downloads and other software purchases you make. Ransomware is a form of malware but with different intent, ransomware is designed to encrypt files on a device making them unusable. Cybercriminals will then hold these files or programs hostage in exchange for payment. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland recently spoke on Ransomware and had this to say, “The United States, together with our allies, will do everything in our power to identify the perpetrators of ransomware attacks, to bring them to justice, and to recover the funds they have stolen from their victims.” A local Colorado company recently made national headlines when it came under attack and had to temporarily shut down because of a ransomware attack. There are several ways that you can defend from ransomware, back up your data, secure those backups, use a security software, keep that software up to date and only use secure networks. Do you ever feel like you are being watched? Turns out that can really happen, this is exactly what Spyware does. It’s another form of Malware that installs on your computer or phone and begins to covertly monitor your online behavior, gathering information about you or an organization and sends that data back to another person without your knowledge or permission. Interestingly enough, this is one of the oldest and most widespread threats on the internet dating back to the mid-90s. The solution to protecting yourself, surprise, surprise avoid opening emails from unknown senders, don’t download files unless they are from a trusted source, and use a reputable cybersecurity program that can counter spyware. Most of us are not technology or cybersecurity experts, that is why it is so important to work with an expert and invest in and ensure that your security measures are up to date. If you own a business; conduct regular audits of your IT policies, establish requirements for software installation, implement a password manager so employees are required to use unique and secure passwords. For personal matters, invest in a good antivirus software, ensure that you keep it up to date, avoid opening emails or texts from people you do not recognize, and back up your data.  
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