Here come fake emails. With a new year, cyber crooks are sending urgent COVID alerts, instructions about stimulus payments, tax audits, and refunds. 

Fake messages like these are designed to steal your money and personal information.

Stimulus payment instructions: speed up delivery of your government check by 30 days.

Limited schedule of COVID shots now available at local pharmacies. Click here immediately to register.

USPS: You can claim compensation for lost package 1z7292996 that should have arrived by Christmas. 

Official IRS audit notification. Do not disregard.

(Message from a relative or friend:) The power company is going to cut me off if I don’t pay by midnight. I’m locked out of my bank account. Can you click here and pay it for me? I’ll pay you back by the end of the week.

We've put together a four-question quiz to help you avoid online scammers this winter. 

The great Apple vs. Facebook privacy showdown begins

Sample of Apple's new privacy options screen

Courtesy FORTUNE

Apple is about to give users the ability to choose how much personal information companies collect. The Washington Post says most consumers don't realize how much of their online behaviors are tracked.

 

Facebook and many other social media companies make their money showing you ads based on your searches, your emails, and the websites you visit. Facebook claims Apple's decision to allow consumers to opt-out of tracking will mean the "end of the free internet."

4 out of 5 of us think we’re too smart to be scammed

Yet, every 15 seconds, a consumer gets ripped off by a cyber crook. While seniors are often the targets of fraudsters, the group conned out of money most often is millennials — those born between 1981 and 1995.

 

Last year, the most common online scams involve someone who claims to be from the government, tech support, or a relative. It’s a big problem. Nextgov.com says one in three Americans will be victims of identity theft at some point, and one in five will be victims more than once!

Cyber bytes: The latest on that massive cyber hack of US government agencies and companies discovered in December shows at least 18,000 organizations using SolarWinds software were breached. USA Today says, as far as we know, the Russian-originated hack has not exposed Americans’ personal information. … About half of all parents are teaching their young children how to create long complex passwords. But 1Password says many adults are still using the same passwords their parents first created for them years ago. … This month, check your bank and credit card statements for accuracy of e-commerce purchases and make sure each gift was delivered. The New York Times says a majority of Americans did more than half their holiday shopping online.

Netflix's documentary "The Social Dilemma" features inventors of today's popular social media platforms. They offer warnings about how Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tik-Tok, and others track our every move and provide insights into ways we can be wiser online consumers. 

Take a minute, watch this video, and see if you agree with their thoughts. 

We view Aware Force from Xtreme Solutions as an extension of our commitment to keeping our clients informed and empowered.

 

Xtreme Solutions is powered by certified and highly experienced professionals in information technology, cybersecurity, and telecommunications services and solutions.

 

XSI's Cyber Range — I.C.E. (Integrated Cyber Environment) solution offers a virtual cyber defense environment designed to train cybersecurity professionals and decision-makers in securing national military and civilian networks against all forms of cyberattacks. The range is an integral component of Xtreme Solutions’ comprehensive cyber defense solutions.

 

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Hervia Ingram

Xtreme Solutions

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Aware Force Cybersecurity News • January 2021 a • Edition #111

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