Don’t let cyber Grinches ruin your holidays

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cyber Grinches
BPI provides more cybersecurity tips for the holidays. Photo from BPI.

Here are more Cybersecurity tip from the Bank of the Philippines Islands:

A 2018 global report revealed that incidents of phishing and fraud spiked by over 50% during the holiday months from the annual average. Cybercriminals, it would appear, are not much different from your pickpockets on the street. They too, take advantage of people’s extra income and distractions during the holidays and double their efforts at defrauding them.

According to Jonathan John Paz, Enterprise Information Security Officer and Data Privacy Officer of Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), we now live in a world where 85% of attachments in emails sent around the world contain a harmful attachment.

“Now that the Christmas holidays are near, we’ll be seeing more of these harmful attachments in our emails—whether it’s a virus, malicious software (malware), or a phishing link intended to trick you into revealing confidential information,” he said.

Over a third of those malicious attachments come in the form of files that would be familiar to most computer users—often masked as file types of popular office software brands. As a result, around 30 percent of phishing emails are opened by the targeted recipients and 12 percent of those actually click on the link or attachment, thus falling into the cybercriminal’s trap.

“Nobody wants to be responsible for opening up their accounts to hackers. Nobody wants to admit to having been played for a fool, but a surprising number of highly-educated individuals do get victimized,” said Paz.

As society becomes more reliant on digital technology, and as companies set up sophisticated cybersecurity systems to protect their organizations and customers, cybercriminals have also stepped up their game and continue to find ways to disrupt systems and defraud people.

“Most major corporations around the world would have invested in high-tech systems to protect themselves from hackers. The trend right now for these bad actors is to look for the weakest link and the most common one they can find is human error. They play their odds by sending out these phishing emails to hundreds of people, with the expectation that there will be a few who take the bait,” Paz said.

And despite multiple reports in the news and on social media of scams, people still fall victim to fraudsters and their schemes. In 2018, cybercrime victims around the world lost a total of $126 billion, in addition to the mental and emotional damage wrought on individuals and their families.

Paz said that for its part, BPI works to protect its clients and the public by giving talks on radio and TV about the importance of cybersecurity and through regular “cybersecuritips” on its official Facebook page.

“One of the ways we can build a better Philippines is by helping people be equipped with the knowledge and skills to keep them from falling for fraud. Social media is where a lot of fraud originates, so we’ve taken our battle there. We want our tips to reach as many people as possible, regardless of whether they’re BPI clients or not.”

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