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Stay Safe Online - Protect Yourself from Fraud

Tips on how to stay safe online

By , in Privacy & Security

Stay Safe Online - Protect Yourself from Fraud

Fraudsters may try to obtain your confidential or personal information through phone calls, text messages or emails that look genuine, here are a few tips for staying protected when browsing websites online.

Phishing

Cybercriminals have become quite savvy in their attempts to lure people in and get you to click on a link or open an attachment. These malicious emails can look just they come from your bank, an online shopping site, even a government agency. Typically they will notify you that your account has been compromised and that you should act quickly or else services may be terminated. Another common scam is an overdue invoice threatening legal action if you don't act quickly. In either case, there will be a link or an attachment which, once opened, will infect your computer with a virus. These are typically phishing attacks.

Macbook Laptop Computer Coding Programming
Macbook Laptop Computer Coding Programming

If you are unsure whether an email request is legitimate, try to verify it with these steps:

  • Contact the company directly – using information provided on an account statement, on the company’s official website or on the back of a credit card.
  • Search for the company online – but not with information provided in the email.

Another form of phishing attack is the spear phishing. Instead of casting a large net and seeing who they catch, spear phishing is highly targeted at an individual or company and will mention you by name and appear to have come from your actual bank. They can do this because somebody has found out information about you and your online browsing habits, either through email or social networks. Ever vent about poor customer service at your bank on Twitter?

Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malware that accesses a victim’s files, locks and encrypts them and then demands the victim to pay a ransom to get them back. Cybercriminals use these attacks to try to get users to click on attachments or links that appear legitimate but actually contain malicious code.

Ransomware can be highly sophisticated and you can find your computer held to ransom in a matter of seconds. Even large companies and organisations can fall victim to ransomware attacks.

Key Things to Remember

  1. Requests for information - genuine companies never email you asking for usernames, passwords, date of birth or credit card details.
  2. Social Media - Do not click on links in social media posts, tweets or direct messages if anything seems out of the ordinary, or too good to be true.
  3. Use Strong Passwords - create unique passwords that can't easily be guessed. Avoid common words or people's names and remember to change your passwords regularly. Do not use the same password across multiple websites.
  4. Top Tip! Make sure your passwords are at least 8 characters long, a mixture of upper and lower case letters and include some numbers too.
  5. Data Compromises - If you have ever had data compromised with another organisation and you use the same password elsewhere, change both passwords and do not use the same password across multiple websites.
  6. Keep security software current - Having the latest security software, web browser and operating system is the best defence against viruses, malware and other online threats.
  7. Plug & scan - USB drives and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.
  8. Enable filters on your email programs - Most internet service providers and email providers offer spam filters; however, depending on the level you set, you may end up blocking emails you want. It’s a good idea to occasionally check your junk folder to ensure the filters are working properly.
  9. Think before you act - Be wary of communications that implores you to act immediately, offers something that sounds too good to be true or asks for personal information.
  10. Lock down your login - Fortify your online accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics, two-factor authentication, security keys or a unique one-time codes.

Last updated: 2017-11-09

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