Five Common Cyberattacks & How to Avoid Them

Posted By: Sarah Prellwitz Dealer Education,

Written by Dealer Spike 

A cyberattack occurs every 11 seconds these days, making 2021 a record year for cybercriminal activity. Our intention here is not to alarm you, but to ensure that you and your team are well-prepared to mitigate risks to your cybersecurity and protect your business from falling victim to a costly scam.

A particularly popular strategy is to target busy organizations and take advantage of distracted employees. That’s why we encourage you and your team to practice the three steps of identifying and avoiding any cyberattack: Stop. Look. Think.

Below are five examples of common cyberattack emails, along with the strategies you can follow to detect fraudulence before falling into the trap:

Membership & Contest Winner Emails

Anytime you receive an unexpected email claiming to involve your membership or a contest prize, proceed with caution. Even if at first glance the email appears to be legitimate and innocent, it may be a fraudulent correspondence containing malicious links or deceiving you into sharing private information.

Consider the following questions: Is the email from an organization that you’re a member of (for example, Amazon or your online bank)? Did you sign up to receive this organization’s emails or newsletter? Have you recently entered an auction or contest? If none of these situations apply, there’s a good chance the email is a cyberattack.

To be sure, try verifying the email’s legitimacy in a roundabout way, such as Googling the company’s website (do NOT click on the website link from the email itself). If you have an account, log in and verify whether any activity has occurred.

Team Member Emails

Cybercriminals can impersonate just about anyone, including someone in your dealership. For example, you may receive a credible-looking email from a coworker or manager asking you to send them bank information or a password or to make a purchase off the company card.

If an email strikes you as strange (eg, that person has no need for the information they’re requesting), use a different platform to reach out to them. Contact their personal number or ask in person about the email request.

Business Email Compromise (BEC)

BEC attacks occur when a cybercriminal impersonates another business, such as a vendor or bank, to access your dealership’s sensitive information. The targets are usually financial or sales employees, but anyone at your shop could receive such an email.

Always look twice at any emails sent from outside organizations, even if they seem legitimate. Before clicking on any links in the email, verify their identity by contacting the company directly and asking for proof of identity and employment. If you suspect the email is fake, follow your dealership’s protocol to report it as a cyberattack.

“Free” Streaming Services

While we would all love to stream online content free of charge, any organization claiming to offer a free service should be treated with caution. A popular cyberattack that cropped up this year is an invitation to stream TV shows and movies for free. The link takes recipients to a fake viewing platform, where they then must provide payment and personal contact information in order to watch the whole film.

To avoid giving away your information to cybercriminals, beware emails, social ads and website popups offering a free deal on a service that typically requires a paid subscription. Instead of clicking on the email or ad, visit the official website instead, and only use credible sites to stream your entertainment.

Establish a Protocol to Avoid Scams

I highly encourage you to create a company-wide protocol that guides employees on identifying and reporting suspicious emails. Official guidelines help everyone work together as a team and prevent costly mistakes.

The foundation of a good strategy is awareness. Always ask yourself these basic questions: Was this email expected? Is it relevant to your job title? Can you verify the email using the official website, customer service or your membership account? If the answer to any of these is “no,” report the email immediately.

No matter how busy you are, please take an extra minute to double-check any emails, texts or phone calls that come your way, and practice the three steps of cybersecurity: Stop. Look. Think. You just might be saving your dealership from real trouble.

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