In our blog this month, we are focusing on how we can stay aware and prepared for any cyber phishing attacks. While these types of fraudulent schemes are not new, they remain relevant as they continue to be pervasive in our daily lives and have evolved since their inception. We asked Brittany Tacquard, Insurance Communications Manager at Stewart Insurance, to give us some insights into these schemes and how to avoid them.

Q. How do you define cyber phishing?

A. There are numerous methods cyber criminals use to breach a device, or break into an organization’s network. “Phishing” is one of those ways and the most common. It is when you receive an email that contains a link or attachment that typically leads to malware being installed on your device, allowing the criminals access to your information.

Q. What are some tactics used by the criminals behind these emails?

A. Phishing emails are not always easily spotted. They can be very specific and appear to be from someone you know. Many times, they use urgency as a way to get you to act fast.

Fast Fact:
75% of organizations around the world experienced
some kind of phishing attack in 2020

Q. What risks do phishing emails pose?

A. Infiltration of your device or various systems you use, breach of non-public information you have access to, gathering of information such as current client transactions to use to their advantage at a later time, and work stoppages [are all risks posed by phishing emails].

Q. What (specifically) should real estate professionals be cautious and aware of?

A. Know that you work in an industry that is rich with data and monetary transactions. You, your business partners, and your clients are being targeted daily.

Fast Fact:
$150 is the average cost per compromised record;
$3.92 million is the average cost of a data breach!

Q. What can we do to safeguard our information and our clients’ information?

A. Be mindful of emails with links and attachments. Increase email security. Speak with an IT professional with secure email gateways and multifactor authentication on your email accounts.

Verify with the email sender via phone using trusted contact information before opening attachments or acting on instructions.

Your Next Step

Acknowledge that phishing and other cybercrime tactics are ongoing threats that require your awareness daily and that they are not going away. Slowing down to assess what you have received or been asked to do in a communication, is critical. In addition, these fraudsters can gather your data or infiltrate your connections not just in their phishing attempts, but over the phone or over social connections, as well. A few other key ideas: Avoid access to open Wi-Fi. Be aware of what you share over the phone or on social media sites, as these cyber criminals can be listening, watching and waiting to learn something about you that makes you a target.

Let us know what ways you will protect yourself and others, as you maneuver through the cyber threat landscape and protect yourself from those cyber schemes?

*fast facts via Must-Know Phishing Statistics: Updated 2021