BOOK AN APPOINTMENT WITH AN IT SPECIALIST TODAY

What You Can Do to Prevent Cyber Attacks Targeting Employee Data

What You Can Do to Prevent Cyber Attacks Targeting Employee Data

Threat actors are targeting companies to obtain personal information about employees to use for tax fraud and filing false returns.  

Cyber Security

Your company stores all sorts of personally-identifiable data about your employees. Birth dates, social security numbers, health information, and bank account numbers are all on the shopping lists for hackers who can sell the information they steal or use it for malicious acts. One of the most sought-after documents by bad guys is tax records and tax forms.

These threat actors use that information to steal identities and file fake tax returns. Tax identity theft is the biggest type of ID theft reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) each year. The FTC estimates the fraud at more than $5 billion annually.

Often, the victims aren’t aware anything has happened until they go to file their personal tax returns. They may try to file electronically, and have it rejected as a duplicate, or get a notice from the IRS saying there’s a problem. By then, the fraudsters are long gone.

How Do Hackers Steal Employee Data?

The most common way your employee data is breached is via phishing emails. Nearly a third of all data breaches and 78% of cyber-attacks started with a phishing email.

Hackers use email as a weapon to gain access to your systems. It may be as simple as sending an email asking employees to update their payroll information. Clicking on a malicious link can send that info to the wrong people. That’s exactly what happened to employees at the University of Kansas who soon found the direct deposit of their paychecks had been re-routed.

Other phishing emails may be targeted at individual employees using a variety of schemes to trick employees into giving up login credentials allowing cybercriminals to have access to company records. Other schemes may install malicious code when clicked and set up backdoors for hackers to access company computer networks. HR employees are also being targeted. A forged email may appear to come from a company executive or a third-party payroll processor asking for verification of information.

In an increasingly mobile society, hackers are gaining access to sensitive data when employees are connecting remotely to company servers without using proper security practices. When employees use public Wi-Fi, for example, they are vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks where threat actors intercept data as it’s being transmitted back and forth.

How To Prevent Becoming A Victim

Educating your employees about the dangers of phishing emails is a good place to start. One trillion phishing emails are being sent every year. While your company’s spam filters catch many of them, a significant number can slip through. Employees need to recognize the warning signs and everybody within your organization needs to take precautions to safeguard your data:

  • Install anti-virus and anti-malware software on all devices
  • Use strong passwords of 8 or more characters, numbers, and alphanumeric characters. Force changes regularly.
  • Encrypt all sensitive information
  • Back up sensitive information to a secure external source
  • Limit access to employee data with escalating security procedures
  • Require employees to install security software on all devices that access company data, including personal devices
  • Use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to encrypt data accessed remotely

It’s also important to keep all your software up-to-date. Hackers exploit what’s known as zero-day vulnerabilities in outdated software. These are known security problems that have been patched by the company. If the patches haven’t been applied by those using the software, hackers can exploit this known problem. That’s what happened to credit reporting agency Equifax, which saw hundreds of millions of records stolen when the company had failed to apply patches to known security issues.

Consider A Managed Service Provider

Even the best IT teams can be overwhelmed by managing all the various devices and entry points to their networks. They may not have the expertise needed to stay on top of constantly evolving threats and security practices.

A Managed Service Provider (MSP) can actively monitor a company’s servers, exchange servers, active directory servers, firewalls, routers, switches, and platforms remotely. This ensures software is always up-to-date and breaches are identified immediately.

An MSP will monitor your network traffic and incursion points 24/7 in a cost-effective way. In case there is a cyber-attack, an MSP can be your best weapon in identifying the threat, shutting it down, and building additional security walls to prevent future breaches.

More Like This

AA22-216A: 2021 Top Malware Strains

Original release date: August 4, 2022 Summary Immediate Actions You Can Take Now to Protect Against Malware: • Patch all systems and prioritize patching known exploited vulnerabilities. • Enforce multifactor authentication (MFA). • Secure Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and other risky services. • Make offline backups of your data. • Provide end-user awareness and training …

AA22-216A: 2021 Top Malware Strains Read More »

Read More

Small Business Guide To Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop

Small Business Guide To Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop The business world is becoming increasingly digital. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, many companies have moved into work-from-home situations, which has made remote and hybrid working environments more desirable and commonplace for workers across the country. The modern workforce is more flexible and mobile than ever, and …

Small Business Guide To Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop Read More »

Read More

AA22-187A: North Korean State-Sponsored Cyber Actors Use Maui Ransomware to Target the Healthcare and Public Health Sector

Original release date: July 6, 2022 Summary The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) are releasing this joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) to provide information on Maui ransomware, which has been used by North Korean state-sponsored cyber actors since at least May 2021 to …

AA22-187A: North Korean State-Sponsored Cyber Actors Use Maui Ransomware to Target the Healthcare and Public Health Sector Read More »

Read More

AA22-181A: #StopRansomware: MedusaLocker

Original release date: June 30, 2022 Summary Actions to take today to mitigate cyber threats from ransomware: • Prioritize remediating known exploited vulnerabilities. • Train users to recognize and report phishing attempts. • Enable and enforce multifactor authentication. Note: this joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) is part of an ongoing #StopRansomware effort to publish advisories for …

AA22-181A: #StopRansomware: MedusaLocker Read More »

Read More

AA22-174A: Malicious Cyber Actors Continue to Exploit Log4Shell in VMware Horizon Systems

Original release date: June 23, 2022 Summary Actions to take today: • Install fixed builds, updating all affected VMware Horizon and UAG systems to the latest versions. If updates or workarounds were not promptly applied following VMware’s release of updates for Log4Shell in December 2021, treat all affected VMware systems as compromised. • Minimize the …

AA22-174A: Malicious Cyber Actors Continue to Exploit Log4Shell in VMware Horizon Systems Read More »

Read More

AA22-158A: People’s Republic of China State-Sponsored Cyber Actors Exploit Network Providers and Devices

Original release date: June 7, 2022 Summary Best Practices • Apply patches as soon as possible • Disable unnecessary ports and protocols • Replace end-of-life infrastructure • Implement a centralized patch management system This joint Cybersecurity Advisory describes the ways in which People’s Republic of China (PRC) state-sponsored cyber actors continue to exploit publicly known …

AA22-158A: People’s Republic of China State-Sponsored Cyber Actors Exploit Network Providers and Devices Read More »

Read More