Internet scams have become more sophisticated and complex, making distinguishing between legitimate and fraudulent sites online increasingly tricky. Cybercriminals are continually looking for new ways to deceive people and trick them into revealing sensitive information or giving away their money. Let’s take a look at some tips to help you avoid even the sneakiest internet scams:
1. Be wary of unexpected emails or messages:
Be cautious of emails or messages from people or companies you have never interacted with. Cybercriminals often send unsolicited emails that contain malicious links or attachments. These links and attachments are often designed to look highly legitimate, mirroring the real thing. Unfortunately, they can cause severe damage to your computer or steal sensitive information. Always check the sender’s identity before opening any email, and avoid clicking attachments.
2. Watch out for phishing scams:
Phishing scams typically involve fraudulent emails, messages, or phone calls that trick people into giving away sensitive information, such as passwords or bank account details. Be wary of out-of-the-blue requests for personal information, and only provide sensitive information to people over the internet or phone if you’re sure of their identity.
Verify the sender’s identity:
If you get an email from a sender you know, but the message seems suspicious, ask the person about it in another way before clicking on any links or downloading attachments. Cybercriminals often impersonate legitimate people or companies to trick users into giving them personal information. By verifying the sender’s identity, you can ensure that you’re not falling for a scam.
3. Use strong passwords:
Passwords are one of the best ways to protect yourself against internet scams. Ensure your passwords are complex and challenging to guess or crack. Never use the same password for multiple accounts – though we all do it! Instead, consider using password manager software and apps to keep track of your unique passwords.
4. Keep your software updated:
Keep your software and operating system up to date to ensure any security vulnerabilities are patched. Cybercriminals often exploit security flaws in outdated software to gain access to systems or steal information. Just look at the NHS ransomware attack, courtesy of a vulnerability in the outdated Windows 7 operating system! Unfortunately, when you use your computer system 24/7, finding the time for an update and reboot takes a lot of work. Nonetheless, this disruption is preferable to the trouble of an attack! So, ensure your online security with regular system updates.
5. Check the website’s security
Before entering sensitive personal or financial information into a website, ensure it is secure. Look for that trusty padlock icon in the address bar, and make sure the website’s URL begins with “https://”. Websites that use encryption to protect data are more secure and less likely to get compromised by cybercriminals. This is especially important when shopping online or using other sensitive details.
6. Be cautious of public wi-fi networks
Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks to transmit sensitive information, like using online banking or credit card accounts. Public Wi-Fi networks are often unsecured and can be easily intercepted by hackers. It’s better to use your own secure, private internet connection or a VPN to keep your online activity as safe as can be.
7. Get the right broadband provider
We all know that comparing broadband can help you save money, find a plan offering faster speeds and better performance, and improve customer service and support. But did you know that the right broadband can also help you stay secure online?
Comparing broadband can indirectly contribute to your online security by helping you select a provider that prioritizes security, has a good reputation, and offers better plans with improved performance and customer support.
And what could be faster and more secure than the NBN plan? With speeds of up to 100 Mbps, the National Broadband Network is one of the fastest options. By comparing broadband, you can decide which provider and plan is right for you.
8. Be skeptical of too-good-to-be-true offers:
If something seems too good to be true, it is. Be skeptical of emails or messages promising huge sums of money or other rewards for little or no effort. These are often scams designed to lure people into giving away personal information or money. Always check the source of the offer and verify its authenticity before responding.
9. Beware of social media scams:
Be wary of scams on social media, such as fraudulent ads or offers that ask for personal information. Never click on links or download attachments from unknown sites and sources. Be especially cautious of requests from people you don’t know or trust. Always verify the authenticity of the request before responding or sharing any personal information.
10. Trust your instincts
Trust your instincts and proceed with caution if something feels off or suspicious. It’s better to be safe than sorry. If you receive a suspicious email or message, don’t hesitate to delete it or report it to the relevant authorities. Always err on the side of caution, and be bold and look for help or advice if you need clarification on something online.
How to keep yourself secure
What happens if, despite all your protective measures and best intentions, your data still ends up leaked? What if you don’t yet know you’ve been hacked, but suspicious messages still make it to your inbox, or your password gets out? How do you spot suspicious goings-on, and what measures do you take should the worst happen? Hacking will most likely occur at some point. So, you must know how to protect yourself when some of your data has been hacked.
Use Two-Factor Authentication:
Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts. This means that you’ll need to provide two forms of identification to access your account, such as a password and a code sent to your phone. So, two-factor authentication makes it much more difficult for cybercriminals to access your accounts even if they have your password.
Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN):
A VPN can help protect your online privacy by encrypting your internet connection and routing your traffic through a secure server. This can help prevent cybercriminals from intercepting your sensitive information, such as passwords and financial details.
Don’t touch strange links:
Be wary of email links or messages from people you don’t know or trust. Cybercriminals can use these links to install malware on your computer or steal your personal information. Hover over the link to see where it leads before clicking; if you need clarification, don’t click.
Use Have I Been Pwned:
This strange-sounding site is an absolute lifesaver when it comes to online security!
“Have I Been Pwned” (HIBP) is an online website that helps individuals and organizations check if their email addresses and other personal information have been compromised in known data breaches.
HIBP collects and aggregates data from various sources, including all publicly available data breaches, and allows you to search and see if your email addresses have been involved in any of those breaches.
HIBP now lets you check whether your password is out there, too! On top of this, you can also sign up to get email alerts about future data breaches. This lets you know to take action as soon as anything happens.
Keep your software updated:
Yes, as we mentioned, it can be annoying when manufacturers give you new features you don’t want or even introduce further glitches and problems. But keeping your software updated is still an essential part of online security. Software updates include security patches that can fix vulnerabilities that cybercriminals could exploit. So set your software to update automatically or check for updates regularly.
Use a password manager:
It’s so important to have unique passwords for every site you visit. After all, when you get hacked on one site, you wouldn’t want a hacker to be able to access all your accounts with that password, right? So it’s easy to see the merits of using one-of-a-kind passwords across the web. But how are you supposed to think of a unique word, with a capital letter and punctuation, on the spot and remember them all?
This is where your password manager comes in. Simply install the software across your devices, and any time you need to make a new account, your password manager will chime in with a string of super-secure, uncrackable gibberish. So now all you need to remember is one password again!
Be cautious on social media:
Cybercriminals often use social media to gather personal information about their targets. Consider carefully what you share on social media, especially personal details such as your full name, birthdate, and location. Review your privacy settings and ensure that only people you know and trust can see your posts and profile.
Internet scams can be incredibly sneaky and difficult to detect, but there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself. Being vigilant, cautious, and informed can reduce your risk of falling victim to online scams. Always use strong passwords, keep your software updated, and be wary of surprising offers or requests. Use common sense. Stay safe online and protect your sensitive information from cybercriminals!