Protecting Yourself From Cybercrime

written by Jeffrey A. Muddell, CFP, Wealth Services

Jeff Muddell

Recently we visited with Network Security Engineer, Evan Lutz of Blueshift Technologies to discuss some of the most frequent and trending issues among cyber hackers and how to deal with them. Too often we hear of friends and family who have been the victim of cybercrime.

Evan explained that a few tactics are among the most common scams to which victims fall prey:

• Phishing emails are designed to compromise a person’s email, whereby if you “take the bait” by responding, opening an attachment, or clicking on a link, they will pursue you further.
• Smishing is the same as phishing – except by text. The scammer’s goal in both cases is to gain more and more access to your identity and your money.
• Credential Phishing is where the user clicks on a fraudulent link that looks legitimate, such as a message from Microsoft. The email address will not be precisely correct, and the home page looks close to what you would expect, so the scammer hopes you won’t notice. If you enter your login and password to the fake Microsoft home page, hackers now have your “login credentials” and can manipulate your computer and gain sensitive information.
• Gift Cards are popular among con artists. They ask the user to purchase a gift card to pay a bill, fee, some other debt or obligation or even claim a prize. The request comes from a scammer impersonating someone you know or an organization you consider a credible source. Don’t believe it! You will never be contacted and asked to pay for anything with gift cards. Whether you are contacted by text, email or a phone call – end the connection and don’t click on any links! Then BLOCK the sender.
• Social Media give scammers a plethora of your personal information. Much of what you put on social media can be used against you by a scammer. For instance, they are watching for hints to your security questions which may include the name of a pet, children or grandchildren, hobby, name of school, etc. They also use social media simply to gather information like this to impersonate you in order to trick someone you know – as explained above in the “Gift Card” scam.

What Top 3 Steps can you take to prevent criminals from gaining access to your data?

1) Use a reliable password management tool. There are several available such as, LastPass, NordPass, Keeper and others. So many people use the same or similar passwords for all their online access, which is easy for hackers to break. “Using a password management tool significantly reduces risk and is much more convenient. It is cloud-based (not on your hard drive) and houses all of your passwords in one place, and you should enable the two-factor authentication, so only you can access it,” Evan said. He also cautions his clients against keeping a physical list that can be lost, which could be catastrophic.
2) Have good protection: Keep your antivirus and malware up to date.
3) Limit and be particular about your exposure and activity on social media, as mentioned above.

Is one type of device more susceptible to cybercrime than another?

The issue is the age of your device rather than the type. Tablets and cell phones that are 10 years old or more are considered at “end of life.” They may still work but are vulnerable to viruses and hacking because their developers will “sunset” an outdated device and no longer create fixes for it.

What are the first steps to take to mitigate damage if you have been the victim of a cybercrime?

Change your passwords and logins immediately. Contact your local law enforcement’s fraud division. Contact your financial institutions and credit card companies and inquire about freezing your credit through the major credit bureaus of TransUnion, Experian and Equifax, so no one can open accounts or credit cards in your name.

Additionally, it can be reassuring to have a trusted Information Technology (IT) manager among your contacts to assist you as needed for situations like this. He or she will help bring your computer or device back to normal status.

For more information on Blueshift Cybersecurity and their solutions visit

The Sanibel Captiva Trust Company is an independent trust company with more than $3.5 billion in assets under management that provides family office and wealth management services, including investment management, trust administration and financial counsel to high-net-worth individuals, families, businesses, foundations and endowments. Founded in 2001 as a state-chartered independent trust company, the firm is focused on wealth management services that are absolute-return oriented and performance driven. Each portfolio is separately managed and customized specifically to the client’s yield and cash-flow requirements. The Naples Trust Company and The Tampa Bay Trust Company are divisions of The Sanibel Captiva Trust Company. Offices in Sanibel-Captiva, Naples, Marco Island, Tampa, Belleair Bluffs-Clearwater and Tarpon Springs.

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