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The Cyber Advisor

IRS tax refund fraud, ransomware virus set to surge, and what really counts in 2016.

Hi there,

The information in this week's newsletter can vastly improve your 2016. I swear.

But, seriously - it is predictable that current trends and cycles in technology and the emergence of low-risk/high-reward crime will drive risk, potentially significant risk, directly to our personal devices and every day lives.

Three Things to Know for 2016

  1. How to avoid the scourge of IRS tax-refund fraud.
  2. Ransomware; what is it and what can you do about it?
  3. The #1 factor to reduce cyber-risk and the chance of being hacked.


IRS Tax-Refund Fraud is expected to spike in the first quarter.

It's true. Either believe me, or Google it to your heart's content; it is a fact that the tax-refund scam is overwhelming the IRS and is expected to impact millions of taxpayers.

Besides the potential financial loss, you can expect enormous inconvenience, more expenses, and a high probability of additional attempts to use your ID for fraud. 

There are simple steps you can take to increase the level of security on your records from the IRS.

Here's how:

IRS_tax_1040-378169-rx-edited.jpgYour #1 Defense from Tax-Refund Fraud

How to use the IRS's extra levels of protection for your records and tax returns. 


 Next, #2;

The Ransomware virus "CryptoWall" is set to trigger a tsunami of cybercrime in 2016.

I am on record predicting tens of millions of victims in the U.S. alone. Evidently CEO of KnowB4, Stu Sjouwerman, has a similar view. A summary of #9 on his 2016 Top 10 Predictions list says:

  • A ransomware crime wave will surge across America. At TDS we call it a storm; the waves will keep coming in surges for some time to come.

  • The use of Cryptowall 4.0 will explode, and Cryptowall V5.0 will include the capacity to publish private personal or business files on the Internet. This is a really big deal in terms of motivation to pay an "affordable" ransom to make a potential disaster go away.

  • Cryptowall will be the first strain of ransomware to hit a billion dollars in damages.

  • Ransomware infections will take place in new methods of attacks adding to its threat against everyday users of the internet.

  • Ransomware attacks doubled in 2015 and will double again in 2016. If you know theWTF_graph_of_life.jpgmath"Managing Change - Succeeding in The Digital Age."
     of exponential progress, I know I have your attention, and if you don't you should read 

  • Ransomware-as-a-service hosted on the TOR network and using Bitcoin for ransom payment enables a new generation of cybercriminals to get in the action. Seriously profitable crime has been democratized to the masses in every corner of the world.

  • The average ransom demand will increase well beyond the current $500.

I highly recommend reading Stu's full list for yourself, found here.

And, for our own take on ransomware for 2016 and ahead:

ransomware_cryptolocker-screenshot1.jpgRansomware - the Four Things You Must Know

Our report on ransomware predicts tens of millions of victims and includes practical advice that can significantly reduce the risk. 

"Ransomware is the evolution of extortion. It's one of the fastest growing crimes of 2015 and is trending higher with a capacity to become the #1 cybercrime of the next 2-3 years. We predict ransomware will victimize ten's of millions of individuals before it's over and the easy money is exhausted."

TDS, Dec.4th, 2105


#1 Topic for Cybersecurity in 2016 - The Human Element

screenshot_2.pngCybersecurity's Human Factor

If you play any leadership role that has you thinking about cyber security, whether for a large organization or a small family, our favorite article of 2015 from the Harvard Business Review is a must-read for you. 

Cybersecurity at the intersection of people and their technology is where it counts most today. The technology is there and getting better, faster, easier, and cheaper on an exponential basis, and this is a huge advantage if levered properly and dynamically. 

Thanks for reading,


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Learn More



How to avoid the 2016 tax-refund fraud scourge.
Ransomware - the evolution of extortion.
One is the only number you will ever need. 
WTF_graph_of_life.jpgCrucial concepts for survival in The Digital Age.