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Wire Fraud Losses Topped $1.5 Billion in 2019

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The risk that you may fall prey to an email phishing scam is summed up by the following shocking statistic.

In 2015, a total of $220 million was lost in the US to wire fraud. Last year, that figure skyrocketed to $1.5 billion – most of it done via email, according to WFG National Title Insurance Co.

The reason for this alarming rise: cyber criminals are getting more sophisticated by the day.

“The emails have gotten well-crafted and quite detailed,” says said FBI special agent Gabriel Gundersen in this NBC News story by Andrew Selsky. They’re highly tailored to that particular victim,” “It’s a social engineering piece, where they’re coercing a victim to do something based on an artificial agenda or an artificial timeline.”

Recent headlines illustrate the magnitude of the problem. In August 2019, federal authorities in Los Angeles charged 80 people with stealing $6 million in one of the largest email scams of its kind. And through the first three quarters of 2019, Oregon said its citizens lost $24 million to computer-related crimes, up from $23.5 million in losses in all of 2018.

If you have professional liability coverage through Alta Pro Insurance, you’re invited to attend a free CLE webinar on social engineering and phishing scams in March. Stay tuned for more details. This is just one of the many benefits of being a part of the Alta Pro family. Here’s how to join.

Data Breach Deluge Continues

Hackers broke into a record number of computer networks in 2019. In the process, billions of private records – including birth dates, account passwords, Social Security numbers and banking information – were exposed. In the month of January 2019 alone, more than 1.76 billion records were exposed.

Phishing emails are responsible for about 91 percent of cyber attacks, says cybersecurity expert Rob Mardisalu.

“Nine out of 10 successful cyber attacks can be traced to a phishing attempt,” he writes here. “This is according to research conducted by PhishMe. After sending 40 million simulated phishing emails to about 1,000 organizations, PhishMe found that 91 percent of cyber attacks start with a spear phishing email. Worse, these attacks are on the rise.”

Email is also the delivery vehicle for a staggering 92 percent of malware, says Marisalu.

“Email is a top contender when it comes to cyber attacks, and in line with PhishMe’s study above, according to Verizon’s 2018 Breach Investigations Report, email is responsible for 92 percent of malware,” he writes here. “The 2018 Verizon study that analyzed 53,308 security incidents and 2,216 data breaches in 65 countries found that email is responsible for 92.4 percent of malware while the web is responsible for a measly 6.3 percent.”

Three Takeaways

  • Stay vigilant, train your employees, and make sure all your software has been updated and security patches installed.
  • If you are instructed by email to transfer money, call the individual or business who purportedly sent the email and confirm that the request is legitimate.
  • Obtain your professional liability coverage through Alta Pro Insurance, where you get state-of-the art tools and resources to improve your cybersecurity.

If you practice in Wisconsin, Texas, Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana or Michigan, you can stay a step ahead of the competition by being a member of Alta Pro Lawyers RPG. You’ll get access to free webinars, the Pro Practice Playbook, Reminger ProLink, Ask the Risk Pro and more. Here’s how to join.


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