BE AWARE: Cybersecurity experts warn ACL attendees of spear phishing

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin’s largest music festival kicks off Friday. Austin City Limits will host over 40,000 people at Zilker Park for a two-weekend, six-day festival bringing some of music’s biggest artists to the Capital City.

But with all those festival-goers some cybersecurity and technology experts say people should stay vigilant and be mindful of their surroundings.

In 2018, Austin police reported 62 thefts at ACL weekend one with a chunk of that being smartphones.

“Keep your phone locked and have a passcode,” Tanner Vaughan, founder and CEO of Live Oak IT Partner said.

The IT and technology expert said when crooks steal your smartphones, they can’t reuse them because of the phone’s security software, but, nowadays, thieves are targeting victims a second time through spear-phishing.

“Phishing in a traditional sense would be sort of a mass campaign to try to send as many emails as you can with bad links in them that people will click on,” Vaughan said. “Spear phishing would be a little more targeted.”

Victims might get a text on a secondary device tied to their phone that Vaughan said, “might [look] legitimate at first glance but the more you dig into it the more you realize that’s not the case.”

The goal of the thief-turned-hacker is to get the smartphone’s owner to reveal their Apple ID or Google account and password so that the phone can be wiped.

“If it comes from a number that I don’t know even if it’s a 512 number which happens a lot I’m still not gonna click on the links until I’m absolutely sure where they came from,” Vaughan said.

Vaughan said there are ways to stay protected and the first thing a smartphone owner should do (if they haven’t already) is to create a passcode to make sure the phone stays locked. If the phone is stolen and the owner starts to receive odd messages, Vaughan suggests the owner check with the phone’s manufacturer to verify the message or email is authentic before clicking on anything.

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