The Connection, Inc Blog

The Connection, Inc has been serving the New Jersey area since 1992, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Let’s Take a Look at Some Popular Internet Scams

Let’s Take a Look at Some Popular Internet Scams

The year 2020 hasn’t been kind to many people. Between the COVID-19 pandemic, the resulting economic downturn, and the people looking to take advantage of these negative circumstances, it’s hard to know what to do to keep from becoming a victim. What helps is to take a thorough examination of where your business’ weak points are. This month, we thought we would take a look at cybersecurity by examining the perpetrators and their methods. 

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Tip of the Week: Watch Out for Scammers During the Holidays

Tip of the Week: Watch Out for Scammers During the Holidays

Scammers find the holidays to be a wonderful time for stealing from unsuspecting victims. They know that the gift-giving season inspires others to spend a lot of money, which means that sensitive information, like credit card numbers, is up for grabs in bulk. As a consumer yourself, you’ll have to keep an eye out for these scams to make sure that you’re staying as safe as possible this holiday season.


Please keep in mind that what we recommend can only be seen as preventative measures. We can’t guarantee that your data will be protected adequately on the side of the business you’re purchasing from. If the retailer is known for suffering from data breaches (like Target), you might try to find other places to purchase gifts from, as you don’t want to risk your data becoming the target of hackers.

Do Some Research
Before you commit to a purchase, you should first see if the retailer has control over their security. Just go online and see if there have been any considerable data breaches for the retailer in the past few years. While it might seem a little unfair to judge a retailer based on what happened years ago, you need to look at what they have done since to improve security. If you suspect that the retailer hasn’t put in the work to keep their consumers safe, then just take your business elsewhere.

Check the Physical Area Around ATMs
While you might be hesitant to keep too much cash on you while you go shopping, sometimes it’s unavoidable. You might find yourself using an ATM, and hackers understand this need all too well. ATM scamming is nothing new, but it can be devastating under the right circumstances. ATMs can be tampered with to send credentials to a third party. ATMs can be fitted with devices on the card reader slot, or even have devices attached to the back. If the ATM has back panels missing, or devices attached to it, you should never use it. Make sure to double check for suspicious devices being fit to either the card reader or the backs of the machines, and only use ATMs that are in well-traveled areas that have security cameras in place.

Be Careful of Wireless Connections
Wireless communications are important while shopping this holiday season, but you should never use public Wi-Fi if you can help it. You’re better off using your mobile data plan, as unsecured networks that don’t require a sign-in are well-known dangers. You should set your devices so that they don’t automatically connect to these networks, as the data going into and out of your device could be watched by scammers.

Keep an Eye on Your Devices
Device theft is even more common during the holiday season, as more people are out. Pickpockets and thieves are more common, and they know how valuable your data and devices are. They could sell the information on the black market or sell the devices entirely.

For more great tips and tricks on how to stay safe and secure during the holiday season, subscribe to The Connection, Inc’s blog.

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Gift Card Scam Making Problems for Holiday Shoppers

Gift Card Scam Making Problems for Holiday Shoppers

As the modern gift certificate, the gift card has become an institution, especially around the holidays. Thousands of companies offer statically-priced and reloadable gift cards. With that much cheddar flying around it isn’t a surprise that there is big business in gift card theft. The FTC has stated that gift card scams are up a whopping 270 percent since 2015. With so much money at stake, keeping yourself out of the way of the scammers has to be priority one.


A Great Way to Give a Gift
Many of us have utilized the gift card to extend our appreciation for friends, co-workers, and loved ones, and they are typically a pretty well-received gift. The problem is that a lot of money is being diverted from the gift giver, not to the recipient, but to third-party scammers. The IRS has been forthcoming on this issue, stating that gift cards “are the currency of criminals”.

What Is the Scam?
Unfortunately, there are several. The first one we’ll go into briefly (just because you should know about it) requires hackers to go to the store, get all the information off of the card, physically scrape off the little foil sheet to expose the security code, replace the foil sheet, and wait. Eventually the card will get filled, and if the hacker hadn’t triggered the security measures by repeatedly checking the account associated with the card, they would have access to whatever funds were put on the card by the provider.

Another scam we are seeing a lot of is effectively laundering money with cards. The FTC’s website itself identifies one of the big problems: “Gift cards are for gifts, not payments.” How this works is that a scammer will call a potential victim up and give them horrible, or incredible, news to get the victim out of a pragmatic mindset and then take advantage of his/her distraction by making them pay using a loadable gift card. If anyone wants you to pay with a gift card, STOP immediately, it’s a scam. Gift cards are the number one payment method imposters demand. Much like the phishing scams that extort sensitive information from users via email, these gift card scammers take untraceable money via fraud.

The last scam, and the one we are most concerned about as faithful gift card supporters is one where a host will turn computers and Internet of things devices on the websites where consumers access their gift card balances. This botnet attack continually tests the system with millions of combinations of gift card account numbers and stolen PINs or passwords. The machines on the botnet are spread out enough, and mimic human behaviors well enough, to allow these hackers to get the money they want before they are detected. It is estimated by industry professionals that nearly 90 percent of login activity for online accounts that are set up to manage gift cards comes from botnet attackers.

Protection
There are actions you can take to protect yourself. You can buy your gift cards online. While it makes an already impersonal gift a little bit less personal, it could go a long way toward ensuring the recipient gets a gift. If you are going to buy gift cards at a store, make sure the packaging isn’t disturbed and that the foil hasn’t been removed from the security code. Finally, if you can, change the PIN on a card you have received as soon as possible after receiving it (and before using it).

The Connection, Inc’s IT professionals make a living keeping our clients from all manners of threats. If you want more information about how our managed IT services can work to keep your business safe, contact us today at (732) 291-5938.

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Hitman Email Scam Threatens Your Life, Instead of Your Data

Hitman Email Scam Threatens Your Life, Instead of Your Data

Email scams have become a sort of punchline, often featuring Nigerian princes or wealthy, unknown relatives in need of funds to get home. However, another email scam is anything but amusing, as it uses a unique possession of the target to entice them to comply: their life.

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Charity Scams Are Very Real. Here’s How To Dodge Them

Charity Scams Are Very Real. Here’s How To Dodge Them

Dealing with disasters are a part of doing business. You know how difficult it is to recover from a devastating flood or storm. While businesses tend to suffer from these situations, countless individuals suffer every time a natural disaster hits. Just take a look at the United States in recent weeks. Even though you may want to donate to people suffering from hurricanes, there are illegitimate charities out there that want to make a quick buck off of your generosity.

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Hazlet, New Jersey 07730