The Role of Vigilance in Protecting Against Online Threats


The Role of Vigilance in Protecting Against Online Threats

Janine Ordman | Nov, 3 2017

The online world can be as dangerous as it is marvelous. Aside from the various ways in which it offers convenience, widespread internet adoption and innovation has led to new, and dare we say, inventive forms of criminality.


According to Forbes, the FBI found that phishing scams alone cost American businesses more than half a billion dollars each year. Alarmingly, their findings suggest that no business is invulnerable to business email compromise scams (BECs), a form of phishing, although those involved in real estate transactions tend to receive more significant attention from online scammers. The FBI defines a BEC as “a sophisticated scam targeting businesses working with foreign suppliers and/or businesses that regularly perform wire transfer payments.” The common denominator in many data breaches is social engineering, where online criminals implement deception to manipulate their targets into divulging sensitive information that could be used to commit fraud.

3 tips to avoid becoming a victim:

Among phishing, vishing, smishing, and impersonation – yes, those first three are real terms – it is difficult to know where to begin to protect yourself, let alone a business. In May 2017, the FBI made a Public Service Announcement with advice on ways to avoid becoming a victim of online threats; among these are the following tips:

1) Exercise caution when a request for urgency or secrecy is expressed in an email;

2) Scrutinize electronic communication pertaining to personal or financial details (e.g., paying attention to the sender’s email address, writing style, etc.);

3) Implement two-factor authentication to minimize the potential for account breaches.

The following measures are further encouraged:

Don’t click on suspicious links sent via email or instant messaging systems such as Skype. Clicking on such a link may download malicious software/a virus to your computer which could compromise your personal and financial information, especially if sent from an unlikely source. Many banks refrain from asking their clients to click on links sent via email for precisely this reason.

Install reputable antivirus software and ensure that it stays up to date. Although it cannot protect against every form of online malice, it serves as the first line of defense.

Educate yourself (and employees) on online safety, especially where finances or confidential information are concerned.


Coggno offers a Social Engineering Course – only $6.49 per license, and discounts provided for the purchase of multiple licenses – that aims to equip learners with the necessary knowledge to identify social engineering red flags and safeguard privileged information which could be used to commit fraud.


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