As our society shifts toward becoming more digital and technology driven, cyber criminals are also becoming more sophisticated in their phishing schemes. The real estate industry has seen a steady increase in cyber-attacks as criminals attempt to gain access to company data. In this week’s blog we will be discussing the precautions outlined by the FBI and U.S. Department of Treasury’s FinCEN to prevent a cyber-attack within your organization.

 

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What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a malicious software also known as malware that is designed to block access to a computer system or data. The information is often encrypted on the system so that the attacker can then extort the victim for ransom payments in exchange for decrypting the stolen information and restoring access to their computer systems and data. In some instances, in addition to the attack, the perpetrators will threaten to publish sensitive files and data belonging to the victim or the company. Ransomware can result in loss of sensitive and proprietary information which could have a devastating effect on your business or your clients if not handled properly.

 

What are Common Signs of Cyber Fraud?

Cyber fraud is the use of internet services such as email to gain access to information. Here are some signs of cyber fraud to be aware of:

  • Requests via email asking for last-minute changes to the wiring information.
  • Wire-transfer requests late in the day or after business hours.
  • Several grammar or typographical errors or using language such as “Urgent”, “Secret” or “Confidential”
  • If the customer’s instructions contain a different language, timing, amount or other information that differs from the previously verified transaction instructions.

 

Cyber Security

When it comes to protecting your business from cyberattacks the details matter. 

 

How to Protect Yourself and Your Business.

Prevention against cyber-attacks is relatively simple but it also requires you to be aware of small details and think carefully about preventative measures. Being overly cautious may sound time-consuming but all it takes it a simple mistake to lead to a very complex issue.

Here are some simple measures to take to ensure you and your business are kept safe:

  • Do not share your online banking credentials with outside sources.
  • Consider using a proprietary email account to conduct business. Compared to free services like Gmail or Yahoo, proprietary email accounts are more difficult to hack.
  • If you need to send an email containing sensitive information, make sure to encrypt the email before doing so. It is recommended to not send messages containing your social security number, banking information or anything that could compromise your identity.
  • When receiving wire and other disbursement instructions via email, be sure to confirm by telephone using a known or independently confirmed number. Do not use the phone number in the email as this could be a scam.
  • Do not click on links or open attachments from email addresses that you do not recognize. Opening an attachment or clicking on a link could upload a virus onto your computer or the entire network.
  • Communicate with your bank to determine how they will assist you or your company in the event of fraud. You should also monitor your accounts regularly for unauthorized transactions.

These tips are just a few of many precautions that you and your business should take to remain safe. As the world becomes more technologically driven, it is crucial that each member of your organization has the appropriate training, tools and resources to remain safe in the digital world. For more information on ransomware and cyber fraud, please refer to the U.S. Department of Treasury FinCEN Advisory.