Scam Bucket: How common courtesy makes you vulnerable

Office phishing is a scam that uses common courtesy to make you vulnerable to digital criminals. This edition of Scam Bucket breaks it down for you.

Compromised business email is a serious threat. Small companies to technology giants have fallen under this kind of attack. Between June 2016 and December 2021, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reported that between July 2019 and December 2021, there was a 65 percent increase in global losses to BEC scams, translating to a potential $43 billion loss. And one of the easiest ways of breaking in is by telling people you are out of the office for a significant amount of time.

Most people know that you shouldn’t broadcast when you go on vacation. Holding your mail and newspaper subscriptions, and not sharing vacation pictures until you get back are basic good practices.

However, many people going on vacation or away from work will often use automated messages on email, work phone, and cell phone to let customers and others know they can’t respond immediately. That practice provides criminals with a lot of helpful information and grants them a luxurious amount of time to work their skulduggery. That information isn’t limited to the fact that you are gone, but who they can contact and impersonate you.

We talked with founder Adam Levine about this common but often overlooked security flaw and his basic advice he calls the “three M’s”: Minimize, Monitor, and Manage.

Lou Covey is the Chief Editor for Cyber Protection Magazine. In 50 years as a journalist he covered American politics, education, religious history, women’s fashion, music, marketing technology, renewable energy, semiconductors, avionics. He is currently focused on cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. He published a book on renewable energy policy in 2020 and is writing a second one on technology aptitude. He hosts the Crucial Tech podcast.

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