Lifestyle + Wellness Spectrum in the Know

4 Common Financial Cyberthreats And How To Avoid Them

BY Spectrum Wealth Management | Feb 15, 2024

In celebration of Safer Internet Day, it’s crucial to spotlight the ever-evolving landscape of financial cyberthreats that pose significant risks to individuals and organizations worldwide. Delve into the most common financial cyberthreats and learn actionable strategies to bolster your defenses so you can navigate the digital world with confidence and security.


Common Financial Cyberthreats
Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks are deceptive techniques cybercriminals use to trick you into revealing personal, financial, or security information. These attacks often take the form of emails, messages, or websites that appear to be from legitimate organizations, such as banks, social media platforms, or government agencies.

Attackers craft convincing messages that mimic the look and feel of communications from trusted entities. They exploit human psychology, using tactics such as urgency, fear, or the promise of rewards to prompt immediate action.

By clicking on links or attachments in these messages, you inadvertently provide access to your personal and financial information or install malware that further compromises your security.

For example, a typical phishing email might impersonate a bank, alerting you to an unauthorized login attempt and urging you to click a link to verify your identity. A click to leads to a fraudulent website designed to steal your credentials.

Critical indicators of phishing attempts include unexpected requests for personal information, messages containing typos or grammatical errors, mismatched or suspicious URLs (when hovering over links), and sender addresses that don’t match the organization’s legitimate domain.

Additionally, generic greetings rather than personalized ones can be a red flag.

Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when someone unlawfully obtains another individual’s personal information to commit fraud or theft. It can include opening new credit accounts, making unauthorized purchases, or receiving government benefits in the victim’s name.

An example of identity theft is when a cybercriminal uses stolen Social Security numbers to file for tax refunds fraudulently.

Cybercriminals employ various methods to steal personal information, including phishing scams, data breaches of companies holding customer information, malware attacks that harvest data from infected computers, and physical theft of documents or devices containing personal details.

Signs that you may have fallen victim to identity theft include unexplained withdrawals from your bank accounts, bills or invoices for services never received, collection calls for debts unknown to the individual, and anomalies on credit reports, such as accounts or charges you do not recognize.

Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware is malicious software that encrypts files on a victim’s computer or network, demanding payment for their release. High-profile examples include the WannaCry attack, which affected hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide, encrypting data and demanding Bitcoin payments for decryption keys.

Ransomware is primarily delivered through emails containing malicious attachments, compromised websites, and exploiting vulnerabilities in software.

Ransomware impact can be devastating, ranging from the loss of critical personal and business data to significant financial losses and disruption of operations. In severe cases, it can lead to the shutdown of entire organizations.

Online Fraud

Online fraud can take many forms, including investment scams promising unrealistically high returns, counterfeit product sales through fake websites, lottery scams requiring payment to claim a prize, and impersonation frauds where attackers pose as trusted contacts or authorities. Each type exploits trust and greed to deceive victims into parting with their money.

Red flags for online fraud include offers that seem too good to be true, requests for payment or personal information upfront, lack of secure payment methods, poor website design, spelling and grammar mistakes, and pressure to act quickly.

Additionally, unsolicited contacts or offers, particularly from unknown sources, should always be approached with caution.

How To Avoid Financial Cyberthreats
Use Strong and Unique Passwords

Creating strong, unique passwords for each online account is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to enhance your cybersecurity posture. Complex combinations that use a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters are much more challenging for attackers to crack through brute force methods.

Moreover, using a unique password for each account ensures that even if one password is compromised, other accounts remain secure.

Tools and apps have become indispensable due to the difficulty of remembering multiple complex passwords. These tools securely store all your passwords in an encrypted format and only require you to remember one master password.

They can also generate strong passwords for you, ensuring they are always robust and unique. Techniques such as using phrases or sentences that are meaningful to you, substituting letters with numbers and symbols, and incorporating randomness can also help create strong passwords that are easier to remember.

Practice Secure Online Behavior

The foundation of secure online behavior is exercising caution with the websites you visit and the links you click. Malicious websites often mimic legitimate ones but can be identified by checking for HTTPS in the URL, looking for a padlock symbol in the browser, and verifying the domain name for subtle misspellings.

As previously mentioned, avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails or messages, especially if they promise unbelievable offers or create a sense of urgency.

Attachments and downloads from unknown or untrusted sources are common vectors for malware and viruses. Always verify the sender’s identity and the email’s legitimacy before opening attachments.

Use antivirus software to scan attachments and download files. Be particularly wary of files with extensions like .exe, .scr, or .zip, as these can more easily contain malicious software.

You should also regularly update software and operating systems. Enable automatic updates where possible, and make it a habit to check for and install updates regularly.

Two-Factor Authentication

2FA requires two different forms of identification to access an account, significantly enhancing security.

The first factor is something you know (like a password), and the second is something you have (like a smartphone app that generates a one-time code) or something you are (like a fingerprint). 2FA protects against unauthorized access, even if your password is compromised.

Many online services now offer 2FA. Enabling it involves going into the account settings and selecting the 2FA option. You might receive codes via SMS, a dedicated authentication app, or a hardware token. While it may add an extra step to your login process, the added security is invaluable in protecting sensitive information.

Educate Yourself And Stay Informed

The landscape of cyber threats constantly evolves, with new threats emerging regularly. You can subscribe to cybersecurity newsletters, follow reputable security experts on social media, and participate in forums or webinars.

Numerous online resources can help you stay informed about cybersecurity. Government websites, such as those belonging to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency , offer alerts and guidance on current threats and vulnerabilities.

Cybersecurity firms often publish research and reports on their websites. Additionally, educational platforms offer courses on cybersecurity basics and advanced topics, enabling individuals and organizations to understand better and mitigate cyber risks.


The digital age brings a host of financial cyberthreats, from phishing attacks and identity theft to ransomware and online fraud.

However, you can significantly bolster your defenses against these threats by adopting strong, unique passwords, practicing secure online behavior, enabling two-factor authentication, and educating yourself about the latest cyberthreats.

The key to cybersecurity is vigilance and a proactive approach to adopting best practices and technologies to protect financial and personal information.

Spectrum Wealth Management, LLC is an investment adviser registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. Additional information about Spectrum’s investment advisory services is found in Form ADV Part 2, which is available upon request. The information presented is for educational and illustrative purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal, or investment advice. Tax and legal counsel should be engaged before taking any action. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information and should not be considered a solicitation for purchasing or selling any security.