As more businesses take advantage of advances in technology to leverage profits and stay competitive, cyber security threats also become more likely.
Aon's Cyber Solutions recently released a report outlining the major cyber risks that companies may face in 2019. CEO J Hogg said industries in biomedical, manufacturing, energy and agriculture are moving away from physical assets to digital, causing an entirely new set of risks for organizations to manage.
Vigilance pays off online
Here are some tips for combating phishing scams and protecting your identity from Walden:
- Change passwords every six months for online accounts.
- File tax forms on secure HTTPS sites only — If you don’t see a lock icon on the left side of the web address, then the website is not secure.
- Remember that public Wifi spots are not secure.
- Remember that the Internal Revenue Service will never call to demand payment.
- Check your credit report every year to make sure all actions are correct.
- Any emails received claiming to be from the IRS should be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Forward phishing emails to the U.S. Computer Readiness Team at email@example.com and to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Do not email personal or financial information.
- Be alert for poor spelling and grammar — the “hallmarks” of bad phishers.
- Keep anti-phishing software updated, and keep browsers secure by using encryption software that jumbles the information sent over the internet.
"Simultaneously, cyber attackers are becoming more sophisticated," Hogg says. "Organized crime now uses former intelligence members for more sophisticated attacks and state actors are both broadening the nature of their attacks and increasing their frequency. An ever-changing set of regulations from governments around the globe compounds the difficulty of managing against cyber risks."
Aon suggests cyber risks can appear in technology for operational efficiencies, like malware infections that shut down manufacturing lines or entire power grids. Employees and board members remain some of the most common causes of security breaches whether through malicious acts or negligence. Mergers and acquisition deals introduce new vulnerabilities and security threats that are also becoming harder to assess, Aon states.
Tennessee Valley Authority beefed up security with a new cybersecurity center in the utility's downtown Chattanooga Office Complex. As America's biggest government owned power utility — and the operator of 29 power-generating dams, seven nuclear reactors and multiple connections to the Oak Ridge nuclear weapons production arsenal — TVA is regarded as one of the richest targets for cyber terrorists.
Chattanooga-based Walden Security reports that tax season is also peak season for identity fraud for individuals and companies. In 2017, roughly 70 phishing reports were filed daily, accounting for $658,809 lost, and 43.5% of those attacks were done over the phone and 34.3% were done through email.
Phishing is the process by which a victim is exploited by malicious software or links embedded in emails, websites, instant messages, cell phones or social media, according to Walden. Phishers aim to steal a person's sensitive information, like passwords, credit card information and Social Security number.