When we think of pirates, the first images that come to mind are probably the likes of Captain Hook from Peter Pan or Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean in giant wooden ships full of men, with eye patches and wooden legs, drinking rum.

On the internet, pirates are everywhere.  But they are not the those pirates seen in movies with cool hats and parrots on their shoulders.

The pirates of the dark web don’t have any of those distinguishing characteristics.  These pirates are looting bank accounts, stealing medical research and business secrets and taking over computers for malicious uses. They look like anyone you may meet. There are infinite means in which these cyber-buccaneers are able to get you and your company’s sensitive information.

Dark Web Pirates vs Real Pirates These internet pirates using phishing attacks to target their victims. They are “fishing” for your personal information, such as account numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers or any other confidential information that they can use to loot your checking account or run up bills on your credit cards.  The most common and typical way this is done Is through email spoofing.  Victims receive and email or text message spoofing a trusted individual or organization, such as a coworker, bank, or government agency, expressing a matter requiring immediate action.  This likely includes a link directing you to a website.  In this scam, you could be redirected to a phony web site that may look like the real thing, and asking for confidential information, such as your Social Security number or bank account information.  If you provide this

information, you may fall victim to these identity thieves.  There are many red flags to identify these attacks.

The email makes an offer that sounds too good to be true.  You know the saying.

You recognize the sender, but it isn’t somebody with whom you communicate.  Even if you know the sender’s name, this should be cause for suspicion, especially if the content is not connected to your regular job responsibilities.  This also applies if you are cc’d in an email to people you do not know

The messages are meant to cause alarm in the victim. They create a sense of urgency, such as threatening to cancel your account or that they are seeking legal action against you.  It’s important to remember that legitimate organizations do not ask for personal details online.

The message typically contains unusual or unexpected attachments.  They may contain malware or another online threat.

Messages may also contain links that seem a little off.  Before clicking on any links, hover over the link to see the actual URL.  Beware of any subtle misspellings on an otherwise familiar website.  To play it safe, always type in the URLs you’re familiar with rather than clicking directly on the link. This is a simple way to protect yourself from the pirates of the web.

Never provide your personal information when responding to an unsolicited request.  This applies to requests over the phone as well as the Internet.  Many of these websites or emails may look legitimate.  You should not provide any information if you did not initiate the communication.

If you believe the contact may be authentic, contact your financial institution yourself.  Look up the bank’s website and find their phone number and contact a representative to confirm the authenticity of the request.

NEVER provide your password over the phone or in response to an unsolicited request.  A bank will never ask you to verify your account information online. Be sure to review your account statements regularly to ensure all charges are correct.

If you fall victim, contact your bank or other financial institution immediately.  If sensitive information was disclosed in the phishing attack, contact one of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion) and discuss placing a fraud alert on your credit file, which helps prevent thieves from opening new accounts in your name.

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