(June 22, 2021) – 
The Alabama Securities Commission
(ASC) warns of an uptick in cybercrimes impacting investment accounts,
particularly those involving ransomware. A ransomware attack is a type of
phishing scam that attempts to obtain sensitive information or data in exchange
for money, and recent publicized attacks involve gas and meat suppliers.


Hackers are not only targeting companies, but victimize computer and smartphone
users. Through email and social media, hackers trick users into downloading a
file, or virus, that will essentially give them control over the user’s device.
They then threaten to release embarrassing information or keep the device
locked until the ransom has been paid, and will often demand a hard-to-trace
payment, such as a cryptocurrency or a pre-paid gift card. Stolen
passwords are then used to steal money from financial and other accounts.


“We must remain vigilant in protecting our personal and financial
information. Hackers can steal money without ever stepping foot in your
house,” said ASC Director Joseph P. Borg. “Not protecting your online
accounts is equivalent to not locking your door, don’t be surprised when your
prized possessions are missing. Fraudsters can steal your life savings with
just a click of a button.”


Clean cyber hygiene is about training yourself to think proactively about
cybersecurity. Establishing a cybersecurity plan is key to safeguarding online
investment accounts and personal information. Follow these steps to improve
cyber hygiene:

  • Secure your internet network
    and change the generic password that comes with the router. 
  • Strengthen your password by
    making it at least 12 characters or longer, and add numbers.
  • Use two-factor authentication
    when logging into financial accounts.
  • Exercise extreme caution when
    using a free Wi-Fi network. Hackers can set up decoy networks that appear
    to be legitimate networks in hotels, restaurants, and coffee shops, which
    allows them to see and record your activity.
  • Update the software on all of
    your devices (tablets, smartphones, and computers).
  • If you receive an email from an
    unknown sender (even if the details appear accurate), do not respond, and
    do not click on any links or attachments found in that email. Instead,
    call to verify the information.
  • Slow down and think before you
    click. Many phishing emails attempt to create a sense of urgency, causing
    the recipient to fear their account or information is in jeopardy. 
  • Be cautious of generic
    greetings such as “Hello Investor,” as these are often signs of
    phishing attempts. If concerned about the legitimacy of an email, call the
    company directly.
  • Never give out personal
    information, account numbers, and passwords to anyone, especially in
    response to unsolicited emails, text messages, or phone calls for the

monitor investment, banking, and credit card accounts on a regular basis for
suspicious activity.   If you think your accounts have been
compromised, change your passwords, contact third parties, including your bank,
financial advisor, law enforcement authorities, and the Federal Trade
Commission- which can help you develop a recovery plan- and check credit
reports for further invasions. Consider putting a ‘freeze’ on your account
until the extent of damage has been surveyed,” said Chief Deputy Director and
Chair of the North American Securities Administrators Association Cybersecurity
Committee, Amanda Senn.


The ASC cautions citizen investors of all ages and experience to thoroughly
scrutinize and research any investment opportunity or offer. Contact the ASC at
1-800-222-1253 to check out any person or a financial professional offering an
investment opportunity or investment advice for a fee and the products they
offer for proper registration. Contact the ASC to report suspected fraud,
inappropriate securities business practices, or to obtain consumer information.
The ASC provides free investor education and fraud prevention materials in
print, on our website, and through educational presentations upon




For further information contact Dan Lord, Education and Public Affairs Manager,



Post Office Box 304700 Montgomery, Alabama 36130-4700

Telephone: (334) 242-2984 or 1-800-222-1253 Fax: (334) 242-0240

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