The recent fall of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) could open the door for cybercriminals. SVB’s demise presents a feeding frenzy opportunity for hungry hackers and groups looking to prey on panic.

Opportunistic hackers looking for easy targets worried about withdrawing their funds from the bank will attempt to phish the account holders. Phishing is a cyberattack centered on duping people to believe a fraudulent email is real. These phishing attacks typically drive urgency, in this case a potential withdrawal of funds.

It’s easy to see why the fall of a bank would garner attention from cybercriminals. Any company or individual looking to get funds out or locate information about options to recover their money could be desperate. Desperate times can often lead to desperate measures.

By attempting to impersonate the bank itself or a service or provider, a hacker could even disguise malicious intentions under the promise of recovered funds and a return of all monies in an account on a first-come, first-serve basis. Such an appealing offer sounds too good to be true and as is often stated, if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

Using the bank’s logo, names of previously high-ranking officials, even the bank’s actual email templates now readily available online by those sharing screenshots of previous communications all enhance the phishing attack’s appearance.

The more realistic the phishing email is, the more believable it is. The potential impact of a successful phishing attack can be devastating. Once attackers gain access to sensitive information, in this instance an account owner’s login information or sensitive information like social security number or other private data, they can use it to steal funds or even commit identity theft.

So how can you protect yourself if you are a former account holder at SVB or any company or organization in a similar situation?

To help mitigate the risk phishing attacks present, there are a few simple things to remember.

Be wary of unsolicited messages. If you receive an email or message claiming to be from SVB, be cautious. Look for signs of phishing, like poor grammatical structure and egregious spelling errors. But in today’s world of ChatGPT, bad grammar and poor spelling can be relatively easy fixes for cybercriminals, so there are additional things to look for.

Verify the source. Clicking links and downloading attachments are bad. Don’t do either one! Check to see what domain the email was sent from. Check to see where links may lead by hovering over them and inspecting their destination before taking any action.

Enable two-factor or multi-factor authentication on your accounts. By creating a more difficult barrier for hackers and cybercriminals to crack, you remain better protected from phishing attacks and phishing attempts looking to crack your account.

Always update your antivirus and anti-malware programs. This can help to prevent a hacker or cybercriminal gaining access via gaps in your technical defenses.

The SVB situation will bring about phishing attempts on account holders and the increased attempts will be stark reminders people need to protect themselves, Proactive risk mitigation measures to abate the coming wave of phishing attacks is paramount in the coming weeks. Remembering these simple steps will help keep you safe. Stay vigilant, look for telltale phishing signs, remain skeptical and verify everything before acting, keep security programs updated, and safeguard against SVB-based phishing attempts.