Cyber scam attacks are on the rise and pose a significant threat to businesses of all sizes. In fact, phishing attacks had increased by 61% at the end of 2022. 

Since its creation in 2020, National Slam the Scam Day has been an annual event that highlights the importance of protecting against these types of scams, particularly in the context of businesses and personal IT security. Pittsburgh business owners and employees should be vigilant and take proactive steps to protect against these types of attacks.

As Ceeva Vice President Rick Topping warned at our launch of Ceeva Shield, "The old ways of protecting data and infrastructure – antivirus, annual cybersecurity training for employees, reactive fixes – aren't cutting it for a lot of organizations now. And those organizations that continue with this approach will see increasing risk going forward." 

With that in mind, let's explore some simple but effective strategies for safeguarding your business against cybercrime.

How to Spot Phone Scammers

A recent report estimated that about 70 million Americans were victims of phone scams in 2022. This study highlights the importance of IT security in Pittsburgh and throughout the country. These scammers use phone calls to trick employees or individuals into giving up sensitive information or downloading malware. Common tactics include:

  • Posing as a reputable company or authority figure
  • Using urgent or threatening language
  • Trying to build rapport with the person on the other end of the line

The results of a successful phone scam can be especially costly. An estimated $39.5 billion was lost in phone scams last year alone. To avoid falling for these scams, it's important to learn to identify scammers over the phone.

Some of the Pittsburgh cybersecurity tips we recommend to help identify phone scams include:

  • Being skeptical, even if it’s a local 412 or 724 area code, as scammers have gotten better at spoofing real numbers
  • Being wary of unsolicited calls
  • Never giving out personal or sensitive information over the phone
  • Verifying the caller's identity before providing any information

Watch Out for Pop-up Warnings

Pop-up warnings are another common way for scammers to trick users into downloading malware or giving up sensitive information. In 2021, the FBI reported that 23,903 people reported losing more than $347 million due to these types of scams. These pop-up alerts may look like legitimate tech support or error messages, but can actually be a gateway for cybercriminals to access your device or network. 

To avoid falling for these scams, it's important to be cautious of any unexpected pop-up warnings. Helpful ways to boost your IT security and avoid falling for pop-up warnings are:

  • Never clicking on pop-ups or links in unsolicited emails or messages
  • Using a reputable antivirus software
  • Regularly updating your operating system and cybersecurity software
  • Learn more about the origin of cybersecurity and how it has evolved

Create Unique Passwords for Accounts & Devices

When it comes to IT security, Pittsburgh businesses must take extra precautions to ensure their sensitive data is protected. Using strong, unique passwords for each account and device is essential for protecting against phishing attacks and other cyber threats. 51% of people reuse the same passwords across their personal and professional accounts, and almost 20% of all passwords are compromised!

Reusing passwords makes it much easier for scammers to gain access to multiple systems or accounts. To boost your IT security, create strong passwords, consider using a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

Additionally, using a password manager can help you generate and store unique passwords for each account and device.

Open Bluetooth Connections are a Target

When considering how to improve your cybersecurity, it’s important not to overlook the one device you likely always have with you – your smartphone. Most users leave their Bluetooth turned on at all times, but Bluetooth connections can be a vulnerable point of entry for cyber attackers, especially if they are left open or unsecured. Researchers recently identified a new vulnerability that would allow hackers to infiltrate a device from up to 800 feet away.

You can protect yourself, or your business, against Bluetooth-based attacks by being cautious when pairing devices and to only connect to trusted devices. Additional IT security tips to secure Bluetooth connections include:

  • Disabling Bluetooth when it's not in use
  • Setting a strong passcode for your Bluetooth device
  • Keeping your Bluetooth software up-to-date

Smart Devices are Basically Unsecure Computers

The first step to boosting IT security is to survey the technology within your own home or business. Smart devices, such as smart TVs or baby monitors, are essentially small computers that can be infiltrated by cyber attackers. These devices, otherwise known as Internet of Things (IoT), often lack the same level of security as traditional computers, making them more vulnerable to attacks. IoT is a term used to describe any device which can connect and exchange data over the internet. 

Several horror stories of baby monitors being hacked to allow criminals to harass families or survey their homes have surfaced over the past few years. Virtually any device that is connected to Wi-Fi has the potential to be compromised.

To increase your IT security and secure smart devices, it's important to take steps such as keeping software and firmware up-to-date, using strong and unique passwords, and disabling features that are not needed. Securing your Wi-Fi router and disabling any remote-access features is an effective way to prevent attacks.

What Do You Do If You Were Scammed?

Even businesses that are knowledgeable on IT security can fall victim to phishing attacks and other scams. If you suspect that you or your business has been scammed, the first step you should take is to disconnect from the internet. This will help prevent further damage and limit the scammer's ability to access your accounts and data. 

You should also change your passwords and account information immediately to prevent the scammer from accessing your accounts in the future. You can also contact Pittsburgh IT security providers to help manage the immediate breach, and offer cybersecurity training unique to your specific business in the future.

Reporting the incident to the appropriate authorities is also important. Depending on the nature of the scam, you may need to contact your bank or credit card company, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), or local law enforcement. They may be able to help you recover any funds that were lost and take action against the scammer to prevent them from scamming others.

Educate Your Friends and Family About These Tips

Educating your friends and family on IT security is an important step in spreading awareness about phishing attacks and other scams locally. Recently, Ceeva spoke at an IT security event in Pittsburgh to offer advice on reducing the risk of cyber attacks.

The more that people know about the common tactics used by cybercriminals, and how they can protect themselves, the less likely they are to fall victim to these attacks. Here are some ways to educate your friends and family:

  • Share this article: You can share this article with your friends and family via email, social media, or other messaging platforms. Encourage them to read it and share it with their own networks.
  • Discuss the tips: Start a conversation with your coworkers, friends, and family about the tips outlined in this article. Ask if they have experienced any phishing attacks or other scams and share your own experiences as well. This can help raise awareness and encourage others to take proactive steps to protect themselves.

By working together and staying proactive about IT security in Pittsburgh, we can help protect ourselves and our local community against cyber threats and scams. Remember, the more people who are aware of these tips and take steps to protect themselves, the less successful scammers will be in their attempts to steal your sensitive information.

The Importance of IT Security in Pittsburgh

National Slam the Scam Day serves as a reminder of the importance of protecting against phishing attacks and other scams in the digital age. As local providers of IT security, we understand the risks that businesses face and the steps that can be taken to mitigate them. By following these tips on IT security, Pittsburgh businesses can help ensure that their sensitive data remains secure.

However, it's not just up to individuals or businesses to protect themselves. It's important to spread awareness and educate others about cybersecurity. 

Remember, scammers are always coming up with new ways to exploit vulnerabilities, so staying vigilant and proactive is key to maintaining strong device and proactive computer security. By working together, we can protect our local businesses and communities from cyber threats.

At Ceeva, we know that cybersecurity is critical for any organization, regardless of its size or industry. That's why we're passionate about providing you with the most advanced and effective cybersecurity technologies and processes available. As a trusted provider of IT security in Pittsburgh and beyond, we're committed to staying ahead of the latest threats and keeping your valuable data and network secure.

Don't let cybercriminals put your organization at risk. Discover how our Pittsburgh cybersecurity services can help you safeguard your sensitive data and protect your network from even the most sophisticated attacks.

Free Cybersecurity Essentials Handbook for Small Organizations