Phishing scams present fertile ground to scammers looking to take advantage of the latest crisis or opportunity. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, these types of scams are successful in nabbing nearly 250,000 victims per year.

In the following article, we look at the five biggest scams out there. Get on guard against these before they victimize your company!

1. Large Companies

Large Companies

One popular phishing attack that continues to fool users is when a scammer poses as a major company. The types of companies you use every day or week, we mean.

These are companies like Paypal, Amazon, and Facebook. They target people en masse because they know a lot of people shop at these locations or have an active account.

Once the user clicks a link in the email, it might take them to a dummy site that looks like the real thing. From there, they might enter their username and address, giving it directly to the scammer.

2. Government Agencies

Every year around tax time, you have to worry about the old tax relief cyber attack. Again, these are designed to steal information or retrieve payments intended for the IRS. They succeed due to the victim’s fear of the government.

Now that we’re all dealing with COVID-19, scammers are out to steal personal information as well. They do this by pretending to be the CDC in an effort to scare someone into clicking through.

3. Charitable Organizations

cyber attack prevention plan

Another core part of cybercrime in 2022 is the phishing scam where the scammer pretends to represent a charitable organization. These often pick up around the holidays when consumers are feeling more generous toward those less fortunate.

However, executors of a phishing scam use goodwill and generosity to their advantage. Their goal is to get you to click on a link where you leave a generous donation (to them).

4. Phony Small Business Loans

One of the cybercrime stats on the rise is that of the phony small business loan. Under the CARES Act, the federal government has made funds available to small businesses in need. Scammers know this, and they are using the situation to their advantage.

5. COVID-19 Relief

Cybercrime risks surrounding COVID-19 are not only targeted at businesses. Individuals are also in the line of fire with many drawing unemployment benefits they can’t afford to lose.

That fear has given way to opportunities that scammers can take advantage of to steal personal financial data. You can avoid many of the COVID-19 scams by following this guide from the FCC.

What to Do About It

With so many ways to be scammed currently out there, you have to do an external attack surface reduction protocol as soon as possible. That means knowing all the areas where you’re vulnerable, not just within your organization but within the organizations of your third-party vendors and all the vendors they’re connected to as well.

A phishing scam in one body can affect every node that touches that body along the way. One of those nodes could be you, so watch how and who you do business with.

Phishing Scams Prey on Our Vulnerabilities

Phishing scams continue to be a threat to small, medium, and large businesses because they’re effective. They’re effective because they adapt to the times and easily wear the air of legitimacy.

Be on your best defense, particularly when it comes to email. For more cybersecurity tips and tricks, check out some of our additional posts!

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Getting started in the cloud
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5 Simple Steps to Getting Started in The Cloud

All start-ups and small businesses have heard that the cloud is everywhere and can transform your business. But what is it and what can it do? Cloud-IT specialists Principal have the answers.

Confusingly, the cloud is used by providers, software sellers and businesses who want your money as a catch-all term for a variety of things. It can become quite complicated, but it doesn’t need to be.

The cloud is basically an on-demand storage or software resource that you can access immediately through the internet.

Tech giant IBM offers a handy definition of the various different types of cloud applications which is a good place to start. It’s likely that after reading that you’ll have more questions than you started with. To help, here are 5 simple steps to getting started in the cloud.

1. Pick your cloud

The first thing to clarify is, like the sky above, there isn’t one cloud – there are infinite numbers of potential clouds. As a business, you need to configure one that works for you.

As a small business you will want to focus on how the cloud can benefit you. For most, that’s likely to be moving certain data and applications to the cloud.

The first step is to analyse your data centre usage. This audit can identify your current software and storage requirements, enabling you to identify areas that could be better served in the cloud.

It’s important to recognise that to work any proposed move needs to improve efficiency and be cost-effective.

The bottom line is, if it won’t save you time or money, then think again.

2. Solid security

The cloud is as secure – if not more secure – than your own proprietary network, but you still need to be cautious.

Once you’ve identified the information and software you’d like to be hosted by the cloud then take the time to assess what this means for security.

The Data Protection Act and European Data Protection Regulation all have implications for how you manage and store data, and how you select your partners too – more on that below.

3. Simple strategy

Once you’ve done the groundwork, you can begin straight away. Microsoft, Adobe, SAP are just a couple of the huge names who have moved to providing software via the cloud. Dropbox is a leading name in cloud storage, but isn’t the only one.  All you need to do to get started in the cloud is get your credit card out and sign up.

If you do though, you could be making a mistake. According to tech bible ZDNet, what most cloud projects miss is a strategy – and we agree.

A solid cloud computing solution needs structure. This will help create a system that works for the organisation and your customer. It is also built with the future in mind, growing and developing as your business does.

4. Cloud culture

Your implementation strategy is important. Equally important is how your organisation embraces the cloud. It’s all about culture.

The cloud offers freedom to access information, work collaboratively, remotely and at all times of the day. But it comes with some new risks. These are particularly important to recognise as employees increasingly use their own devices for work.

Businesses need to develop working practices and approaches that are fit for the new world of the cloud. You’ll need to introduce new staff guidelines for document sharing and storage to help you and your employees work in a new way.

5. Provider or partner

If you’re tech minded it’s relatively easy to set-up a personal cloud, but you need to explore whether it’s the right approach for you.

Focusing solely on individual providers can leave you with a fragmented cloud system, with complex and inefficient interdependencies between different pieces of software from different providers.

In the end, you could end up paying for a system that far more complicated than the one it replaced.

One way of avoiding this is working with a partner who can help you configure a cloud solution that works for you. They can also take care of some of the security and access issues, helping you devise a strategy for success.

A successful transition to the cloud needs some thought and some planning, but genuinely does have the power to transform the way you work – increasing productivity, efficiency and profit.

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