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NOT HIP TO HACKERS? THREE RISKS FOR ADVISORS
The growing sophistication of technology is accompanied by the danger that tech poses when it's in the hands of sophisticated and unscrupulous people. What are the kinds of cybersecurity risks advisors might face when operating in the social media world?
Warrene says that attacks break down into three basic groupings, from obvious to subtle:
1. The Malware Link – You've probably gotten a direct message from a friend on Twitter. It says: “Check this out!” And you're wondering: “What is this?” This is a malware link – a link that, if you follow it, is tied to something malicious such as a virus that can surreptitiously load onto your device. Often the goal is meant to remain undiscovered, instead of destroying something on your device. Other times it's more sinister: Innocent people have these bots running in the background of their computers, either to collect information or access other computers.
2. The Alluring Follower – Let's say you discover a follower who appears to have huge influence through the follower's own sizable number of followers, millions. The follower offers a catchy message and link. You think, “Oh my gosh, I've arrived on Twitter!” Yet common sense dictates that only a fraction of people have that kind of following on Twitter. These followers' links are efforts to infect your devices.
3. Direct Hacks – An effort to directly hack your system is usually done by what is called a brute force attack. This is where the hacker uses software to try many variations of logins to eventually guess the right way in. The attacks often employ stolen credentials of the victims.
Common sense will keep attackers at bay in the first two cases. In the third case, direct hacks of your social accounts can be defended against through two-factor authentication and using a unique password on each account – a hard habit to develop, but one that provides peace of mind. The two-factor authentication – available in the settings function of nearly all social media platforms – adds an additional step to logging in and hampers remote hacks. Generally, once you've entered your username and password, a text message is sent to a mobile device of your choice and that code is required to finish the login. Take note that, in order for this effort to be effective, your mobile phone also needs to be secured (password to unlock); if you lose your phone, this defense is defeated.
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