We’ve been hearing a lot lately about scammers hacking into business email accounts, sending updated invoices to customers with new bank details, and duping customers into paying into the new account which is actually a scam account. Customers see the email and believe it is from the company they have used and make the payment not realising anything is amiss. The customer believes the payment has been made and the company doesn’t realise until the invoice is well overdue that anything has gone wrong. Often by that time, the scammer is long gone, along with the money, and the fake account is closed.

Here are some things you can do to minimise the risk of email hacking:

  1. Turn two-factor authentication on for your email. Two-factor authentication means anytime someone tries to log in to your email account you will get a text to your mobile phone and you will need to input a code in order to gain access.
  2. Don’t click on any links in emails unless you know they are legitimate. Often this is how hackers gain access to your computer. Verify any link by going directly to the website of the company and if you can’t find how to get to the area mentioned in the email, contact the company directly.
  3.  If a company you have used sends you an email with new bank account details, call them to confirm. Don’t pay into a ‘new account’ unless you have spoken to someone directly from the company to make sure they have actually changed accounts. Again, don’t use the phone number from the potential scam email, look the number up.

How to protect your computer from hacking attempts:

Use a firewall – For sole traders and small businesses, Windows and Mac have inbuilt firewalls. Make sure they are enabled before you go online. For larger businesses on a network, you can purchase additional networking firewall software.

Install antivirus software – Some good options are Kaspersky, Bitdefender, and Avast but do your own research to find what works for you and your business.

Install an anti-spyware package – spyware secretly monitors all keystrokes and activity on a computer, potentially giving away passwords or other sensitive information to the hacker. Anti-spyware is often included in the big anti-virus software packages like McAfee and Norton.

Use complex passwords – You know the ones that have what seems like 500 characters with upper case, lower case, numbers, symbols – the works. There are programs like LastPass which are fantastic to use to remember all these passwords. You just need to remember the one password to get into LastPass and the rest are in there ready to use.

Keep up to date – Keep your operating system, browser, and apps up to date. The creators of software are constantly updating their programs and systems to thwart attacks by hackers.

Shut down regularly – Often we leave our computers on for weeks at a time making it more visible to hackers. Shut your computer down regularly when not in use (such as overnight) – hackers can’t get in if it’s turned off.

This list is by no means exhaustive and we are definitely NOT cybersecurity experts. We highly recommend getting in touch with a cybersecurity expert for more detailed information on protecting your computer and business from hacking attempts.