A Seattle tech worker inspired by the movie ‘Office Space’ took $300,000 from his employer in an alleged software scheme – here are the three easy ways to protect your money online
The 1999 cult hit “Office Space” paid hysterically glowing tribute to corporate culture, its mind-numbing mundanity and soulless assault on the dignity of ordinary employees.
But more recently, in a scheme that closely resembled the film’s main plotline, it appears to have inspired a Washington state man to steal $300,000 in funds from his employer.
If only our online vulnerabilities were this funny. Consumers lost nearly $6 billion to fraud in 2021, a 70% jump from the previous year, according to the Federal Trade Commission. More than a third of the losses were related to fraud, the FTC said.
Our expanding digital footprints exist across an endless web of cyber vaults, bank accounts and file storage sites. Everything—retirement savings, payroll information, and other valuable assets and resources—has been reduced to binary code. And having it all laid out so neatly can be a tempting temptation for hackers who can drain your money faster than you can figure out who stole your stapler.
Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself.
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Planning in Seattle
Seattle police allege a software engineer for online retailer Zulily used malicious code to route more than $300,000 to his personal bank account.
Investigators found a file on the worker’s laptop titled “OfficeSpace Project” that contained details of his alleged scheme to move shipping fees into his own bank account – mimicking the film’s story of engineers plotting revenge for the company’s downsizing plans by embezzling fractions of a penny into a personal bank account. He is also accused of using his access to adjust prices to buy goods at significantly discounted prices.
In an interview with the police, the engineer claimed that the orders arrived at his house by mistake after a test he had run. He claims he simply forgot to tell his employer or return the goods. And then once he was fired, according to the police report, he says he just thought, “F— ’em.”
We may chuckle at the Seattle suspect’s inspiration, but online theft has become a decidedly sinister threat to the online assets of millions of Americans and businesses.
The danger is particularly acute for consumers. Consider the growing popularity of online banks, many of which offer impressive interest rates on savings accounts—a clear advantage over brick-and-mortar banks until you remember that those funds are just a username, password, and some authentication away from a hacker. worst intentions.
If you are hacked and tapped, going to your local branch for resolution may not be an option.
It didn’t help when LastPass — a preferred password manager lauded for its secure storage of usernames and passwords — was hacked, exposing consumer data.
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There are some obvious things you can do to stay safe online. Strong passwords mix numbers, cases and special characters to prevent brute-force attacks. And scrutinizing that too-good-to-be email offer can reveal spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and other tell-tale signs of a cackling phishing attempt.
But some other less obvious means of protection are often overlooked:
Multi-factor authentication: Most of the time, username and password are just not enough. Large corporations and banks are already aggressively pursuing multi-factor authentication—which requires a user to present two or more pieces of evidence to verify identity—to add valuable layers of protection. When you get the opportunity, consider using it.
Avoid public wireless networks: Tempted to use that airport to pay some bills or move money between accounts? Save it for home. Public Wi-Fi networks can be lifesavers at the coffee shop or airport terminal, but they are notoriously leaky and vulnerable to sniffing and so-called “man-in-the-middle” attacks that intercept messages between people who assume they are communicating directly with each other.
Revise your digital footprint: It’s time to take stock of your online presence. How many accounts do you have? How many have you used lately? Consider deleting old and unused accounts and services that require passwords. You can also use privacy extensions with your browser and avoid using common single sign-on methods that use your Google or Facebook credentials to access websites and accounts. If these high-value systems are hacked, you are vulnerable.
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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is supplied without warranty of any kind.