You turned in your taxes. You wait for your refund check, but instead get a letter from the IRS. It states a refund check was already issued in your name. Your heart sinks. You’ve become a victim of identity theft. How could this happen?

You are not alone. Thousands of people fall victim to tax fraud every year. In 2016, 787,000 fraudulent tax returns were filed, according to the IRS.

Director of Cybersecurity Programs at the University of Tampa, Kenneth Knapp, spoke to a packed room on cybersecurity. Twenty-five percent of all hacks originate from the U.S. Tax fraud is the biggest scam. Hackers will file a victim’s taxes before they do.

The number one threat to businesses is social engineering. The use of deception to exploit individuals into sharing confidential or personal information that may be used for scamming.

Stay Protected

Knapp, a victim of identity theft, says the best thing a company can do is to train their staff on how to spot fraudulent emails. Opening and clicking on the wrong email can lead to data breaches.

Before a hacker tries to gain access to a system they will spend time collecting data on the business and the employees. Public websites such as stalkscan, familytreenow and exploitd-db can show users what information is currently available about them.
Ensuring employees aren’t revealing too much on social media is one way to cut data breaches.

When asked, CEO’s listed data breaches as the biggest threat to their businesses.

To prevent hacking, businesses must stay up to date on their program updates and operating systems.

One of the simplest ways an IT department can cut data breaches in their company is to restrict access to the software used on a company computer. With Microsoft Office, switching users from administrative mode to standard user mode cut data breaches by 90 percent.

In 2016 there were 528 breaches, compromising over 10,000,000 user accounts and information. The closest data breach occurred at the Florida Medical Clinic.
Since Target’s data breach in 2013, the company has lost $300 million in litigation.

As more devices and household items have access to the internet, they need to be secure. Your entire network can go down if the encryption is compromised.

The best way to stay protected online is a having multi-factor authentication system in place for accessing sensitive accounts. Multi-factor authentication requires users to have username and password, as well as confirm a second step that can only accessed by the user. Using a password manager where you need a physical key and program is used to access your accounts is also recommended. Never use old passwords on new accounts, as you risk immediately compromising them.