We’re monitoring the rapidly changing data and news associated with COVID – 19. At the same time, cybercriminals may begin using a COVID headline to trick you and your clients into clicking on malicious files or links containing viruses or ransomware. FINRA warns “The risk of cyber events may be increased due to use of remote offices or telework arrangements, heightened anxiety among associated persons, and confusion about the virus.”

In times like these, it’s critical to know the signs of cyberattacks. Below are some common signs of a phishing email.

  1. Coming from senders you do not recognize. If you don’t recognize the name or the organization the individual claims to represent, it’s best to ignore the email.
  2. Suspicious files and other attachments. Files and attachments are where malware is often contained. By clicking on and opening a file, it allows the malicious code on your device. Don’t click on suspicious files.
  3. Generic greetings. Often, the hacker doesn’t know your name. To get around this, they keep the greetings vague (sir, madam, customer, etc.).
  4. Requesting personal information. Hackers will ask for passwords and usernames to log directly into accounts themselves. Never give passwords or usernames to anybody.
  5. Spoofed hyperlinks. Another tactic hackers love is placing an underlined blue hyperlink imitating a popular website. This link really takes the user to the hacker’s own, malicious website to steal data. Remain vigilant by hovering over these links to ensure the websites are authentic.
  6. Requesting an urgent response. Hackers capitalize on emotional responses in order to steal information before clients and financial professionals realize it’s a scam.

If you receive a suspicious email, take some time to remember these red flags and how to respond.