Advanced Phishing Poses New Threats

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    Protecting yourself from an increasingly sophisticated threat

    Your credit card information is probably already for sale on the black market, sad to say. But odds are you’ll be hacked in a more insidious way in 2016, sadder to say. Your identity has by now been logged into some vast spy database in a foreign country (probably China), where an intelligence agency is building up a profile around your persona—sourced from personal information available on social media and through breached health insurers, airlines, government offices, and the like. That means these state-sponsored attackers have everything they need to target you with crafty phishing schemes to help them compromise your networks, your data, your contacts. So think twice before opening that next email attachment.

    This ominous prediction, from The 2016 Fortune Crystal Ball, should give everyone pause. As the quote explains, it’s not tough for hackers to put together a fairly accurate profile purely from your public presence on the web. Heck, most teenagers could do the same. The widespread availability of of information creates the ideal scenario for attacks in which hackers fool users into submitting personal data via increasingly realistic emails, IMs, and even text messages. In other words, phishing is being taken to a whole new level, and we will be the targets.

    As with many other forms of digital attack, education is the best tool to prevent problems. If you (and your employees, family members who share a network, etc.) know how to identify a potential phishing attack and how to react/who to contact when you see something suspcious you’ll avoid all but the most sleek and intelligent attempts.

    That said, there will always be those you can’t or fail to steer clear of, and that’s why you also need a plan for when precautions fail. Have messaging in place, stay on top of your backups, and learn how to rapidly regain control of your accounts before you’re attempting to do it while sweating bullets.

    As long as they continue to be profitable digital attacks are here to stay. Don’t make yourself an easy target.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is vice president for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]

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