I am going increase your awareness and let you in on four (4) ‘known secrets’. Technically speaking, this means scammers and cybercriminals considers these known facts. When you learn more about these facts, I hope you will be inspired to make simple life adjustments for Protecting Your Digitalized Life (PYDL).I’ll also share helpful tips for PYDL and stopping voice+phishing (vishing) in 15 seconds or less.
Fact #1: Earthlings “Fit the Profile”
Yep! That’s right…we, human beings on Earth, are the cybercriminals and scammers’#1 targets. As Earthlings, we are accessible due to our decisions to be connected to the Internet. We randomly read the fine print before visiting a website, downloading software (app) or installing equipment.
Some of us haven’t change the default password for their Internet of Thing (IoT) like our Wi-Fi routers, security cameras, smart TV, Alexa, and other smart home devices. Most of us believe we’ve mastered the art of multitasking. And, at times, we are reminded otherwise. We hold a lot of stuff in our brains ranging from our personal confidential information, employer’s business secrets, to our login credentials to various systems, apps, and websites.
Some of us enjoy being connected and interacting with other people through telephones, webcams, apps and websites. We enjoy using our currency to enhance our lives. Majority of us are emotional creatures and will react when we witness or learn about a:
- Loved one
- Family Member
- Financial opportunity or situation
Political decision that disturbs our livelihood
- COVID-19 vaccination
Besides the above, many of us are searching for peace Earth, ways to support our personal social cause, options to live our best life despite what’s happening in the world today, working towards improving ourselves, building for the future, etc. This is why Earthlings ‘fit the profile’ and become targets for cybercriminals and scammers (aka cyber thugs).
To increase awareness our profile,let’s complete this personal assessment.
|1. Do you have a bank account?||Yes/No|
|2. Have you performed a financial transaction using your|
mobile device or website?
|3. Did you donate to your favorite charity or to a special cause last year?||Yes/No|
|4. Do you have a social networking or online profile?||Yes/No|
|5. Did you recall doing anything risqué or questionable?||Yes/No|
|6. Did you make a resolution or commit to doing something different this year (e.g., finances, job opportunity, business venture, or fitness)?||Yes/No|
|7. Are you receiving or expecting to receive a 1-time payment or consistent payments?||Yes/No|
|8. Have you filed taxes in the last two years?||Yes/No|
|9. Are you expecting a tax refund this year?||Yes/No|
|10. Have you searched for information about COVID-vaccine?||Yes/No|
Responding “Yes” to any of these questions make you cyberly (cyber+virtually) a target.
Fact #2: Connected & Accessible
The coronavirus pandemic highlighted the importance staying connected to fulfill our daily needs. Many of us are dependent on our lifelines that are connected via Wi-Fi or wireless enabled-technologies and devices. These lifelines keep us connected and accessible while we practice physical distancing.
As Earthlings, we fit the cyber thugs’ “profile”. The cyber thugs will use our dependency for connectivity and accessibility for their benefit. Remember our profile evolves based upon three key elements:
- How effective we are in PYDL.
- Our software (app), hardware, gadget, toy, technology, or wearable we welcome into our lives.
- Companies, businesses, and organizations we are associated or affiliated with.
In addition, we also have to factor in any external compromise that involves our personal information. Any compromise enables cyber thugs to update our virtual profiles. Similar to us testing out or performing a ‘dry run’ with our newly acquired item or welcome a new entity into our life, the cyber thugs play target practice with us.
The target practices are strategic and purposeful for a gain using social engineering tactics. The social engineering tactics can be in a form of a suspicious or phishing with a link to a credential theft or malicious website or has an attachment. Another tactic may involve a cyber thug sending you a text message via your mobile device (i.e., Smishing).
Beside Smishing, we also are bombarded with a vishing, robocalls, and telemarking calls. Note, voice phishing is also known as vishing or telephone fraud.
The cyber thugs are banking (pun intended!) on at least one of us to fail at PYDL. Failing at PYDL could help the cyber thugs ‘score’ the following:
- Financing for other attacks using your funds.
- Your identity as a disguise for other fraudulent activities.
- Access to your friends/family’s contact information.
- Access to your employer’s infrastructure and coworkers.
- Your social media identity as a façade for online scams.
And I can go on and on… <smile> Let’s continue to the third fact.
Fact #3: 24x7x365 Worklife
Cyber thugs observe and collect information from our online personas, behaviors, responses, interests, and purchases to continue to enhance their profiles on us (see Fact #1). Today, our work+life is invisible. Hence, our worklife is blended and the line between the two is invisible.
As we welcomed in the New Year, the coronavirus pandemic continues. Please be advised that this is the cyber thugs’ perfect storm (i.e., their utopia).
Now, think about your answers to the personal assessment in the Fact #1 section. As we know, every Earthling, business, school, and governing body have been affected by this pandemic. We are flooded with information via our lifeline of choice; working harder to make ends meet; creatively making use of our new worklife; and searching for information about catching your dreams.
Due to the pandemic, Earthlings became bewildered due to the unknowns surrounding the coronavirus. Now we are transitioning to live an enjoyable worklife, stay safe, and remain healthy to start the process over again.
Fact #4: Sharers of Information
Sometimes, we share too much information (TMI). The more we share with our friends, family members, colleagues, classmates, virtual strangers and potential cyber thugs; the more insider information becomes available. Therefore, I suggest using my PACK TMI® approach:
- Protect your valuable information.
- Always limit how the entity or person can use and share your information.
- Control who has access to your information.
- Know how the entity or person will handle and dispose of your information.
Let’s refer back to your responses to the personal assessment questions under Fact #1. Responding “Yes” to any of the question, you are potentially moving target with valuable information that needs protection. Therefore, I encourage you to following the PYDL Tips:
- Text #menu to 240-222-5835 to gain more insight on PYDL.
- Follow the tips to stop vishing in 15-seconds or less.
Stop Vishing in 15 Seconds or Less
I hope I didn’t spook you too much; however, I want to increase your awareness so you can make simple adjustments to your life to PYDL.
Whenever you receive a call, remember the three Ls to PYDL:
1. Look/Listen for the caller ID:
If a blocked, strange number, or unknown number appears or is announced, allow those calls to go to voicemail.
2. Listen to voicemails:
- If the caller doesn’t leave a voicemail; don’t call the number back.
- If the caller left a voicemail that baits you (a phishing pun!) to callback; ignore it.
- If the caller leaves an intriguing voicemail; proceed with caution and validate the request for information with an authentic source. Do not return the call using the caller’s provided information.
3. Limit Your Reaction to Known Callers or Stored Numbers:
- Government and financial institutions will not call to say threatening things to trick you into divulging private or insider information.
- If your friend/family member/familiar caller acts strange, requests for abnormal information, wants you to make a rash decision or is making threats/demands to obtain secretive information. Listen, pause, and then follow your gut to PYDL.
Remember, if it doesn’t feel right or it sounds too good to be true, you are correct! Don’t forget, a cyber thug can compromise your dear friend, a classmate, a family member or an organization. Starting today, let’s commit to #BeCyberAware and #BeCyberSmart to PYDL and potentially stop vishing in 15 seconds of less.
Please enjoy download and print BoKnowsBEST’s virtual gift to incentive you to PYDL: Vishing Infographic. You can also obtain PYDL tips by texting #menu to 240-222-5835.