Jun 05, 2019

Cyberattacks Are All around Us

Torpey White, CPA, CITP, CISABy Torpey White, CPA, CITP, CISA

“Hi, can you do me a favor?”

MoneyLife100Have you received one of these fake messages on your phone or in your email inbox yet? If not, you will. Cyberattacks can come in many forms, and they are targeting more and more individuals with the hope of gaining access to that individual’s larger network.

The growth of our digital world and the easy electronic transfer of our critical data makes each of us a doorway to a tremendous amount of information. Much of this information is valuable to cyberthieves. “They don’t care about me. I’m just a small fry,” you may say. Not true. Cyberthieves don’t care whether or not you’re big fish; you are merely a means to an end. With the proliferation of electronic devices, the number of ways a cyberthief can gain access to valuable information has increased exponentially.

Secure from WithinWhether it is a message like the one I provided in the opening paragraph, a phone call from a number you don’t recognize, or an email allegedly from your financial institution asking you to check your account, cybercrime has come to the masses. It is no longer just something your technology department at work has to deal with. You need to be aware and cautious.

Start by guarding the information you use online carefully. Social media sites, for example, are fertile ground for cybercriminals because users voluntarily provide patterns of behavior: telling the world what you are doing and when. Using public Wi-Fi connections while accessing sites that contain your personal information is not a wise move. Instead, before logging into a website that has lots of your personal information, connect through your work or personal virtual private network connection. This includes your smartphone. These devices, along with tablets, hold more information about you than you might realize, and that info can be exposed without you knowing it.

Finally, read the emails you receive carefully. A growing number of cyberattacks are occurring through emails that look like legitimate communications but instead link to malicious sites. Telltale signs are bad grammar, requests for confirmation of information that does not align with your daily activities, and communication coming from vendors that are associated with your job but not your personal life.

Be smart, be safe, and be careful. Use the tools you have at your disposal as they are intended, but remember that they do open a door to your network that you don’t want a cybercriminal to walk through.

Torpey White, CPA, CITP, CISA, is a partner, risk advisory and forensic services, with Wipfli LLP in Media, Pa. He can be reached at twhite@wipfli.com.

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Statements of fact and opinion are the authors’ responsibility alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of PICPA officers or members. The information contained in herein does not constitute accounting, legal, or professional advice. For professional advice, please engage or consult a qualified professional.