While artificial intelligence promises to revolutionize our world, it also provides new opportunities for cybercriminals. As cybersecurity threats become more common, we strongly advise our clients to take the necessary steps to safeguard their private information. Unfortunately, it is no longer sufficient to rely solely on being tech-savvy – the scale and sophistication of today’s cyberattacks have caught even experienced IT professionals off guard.

We encourage all our clients to maintain awareness that they are a target, because we have entered the era where everyone is a target for cybercriminals. Attackers prey on victims’ trust, so don’t give it out for free – verify any request for personal information before trusting it. You do not need to be paranoid but maintain a healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to your interactions online and over the phone. By combining the below principles with a vigilant mindset, you can significantly reduce your risk of falling victim to cybercrime. Our team at Beese Fulmer is ready to assist you with any cybersecurity questions or concerns.

Password Hygiene

  • Complexity is Key: Get in the habit of creating unique passwords for each of your accounts. Avoid the temptation to use personal details such as birthdays or nicknames. Above all else, prioritize distinct passwords for your financial logins and email accounts – you wouldn’t want a compromised Netflix password to also grant access to your bank account. It is good practice to change passwords for your most sensitive accounts at least once a year, if not more often.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Activate MFA where possible. This typically involves a verification code being sent to your phone before you can log in to a website. While sometimes inconvenient, MFA can immensely enhance your defense. Keep in mind that cybercriminals may attempt to send you a fraudulent MFA code, and that an unprompted MFA notification may be a sign that someone is trying to gain access to your account.

Phishing Awareness

  • Question Everything: Cybercriminals often masquerade as legitimate entities in a technique known as “phishing.” Exercise extreme caution with emails or texts that demand urgent action, contain grammatical errors, or carry unexpected attachments. Some scams are now going so far as to create counterfeit websites mirroring legitimate services. Always scrutinize a website’s URL and appearance before divulging any sensitive information. If you’re not sure, just call!
  • Inspect Sender Credentials: Examine the sender of a strange email’s contact details meticulously before replying. A closer look can reveal if the email address was created to deceive you – for example, an attacker could attempt to impersonate @beesefulmer.com by using @beeesefulmer.com. Be particularly careful before clicking a link contained in an email or text from an unfamiliar source.

Device Security

  • Stay Updated: Regularly update your operating systems, antivirus programs, and browsers with the latest security enhancements. This can be as simple as setting your phone or computer to automatically install available updates.
  • Public Wi-Fi: Avoid accessing financial accounts via public Wi-Fi, as you do not know how secure the public network is. When unavoidable, a VPN can be used to protect your information.

In closing: never disclose sensitive information like your financial details, passwords, or social security number through email or over the phone unless you're the initiating party and fully trust the recipient. Should you suspect a cyberattack or fraudulent activity on any of your financial accounts, don’t hesitate before acting.