How to prevent online fraud to protect yourself and your data
It’s become nearly impossible to imagine a life without the Internet, social media, and smartphones.
To put it into perspective, people are online for around 24 hours a week today which is two times the amount of time they used to be online a decade ago, and the average amount of time that global Internet users spend on social media today is also more than 2 hours (Statistica).
therefore it comes as no surprise that criminals are going to prey on those who are not tech-savvy and so we are all under constant threat of malware attacks, phishing emails, identity theft.
Every day I hear how someone’s identity has been compromised because they didn’t tale basic steps to prevent fraud. So I thought I would put together this quick must-have’s to reduce your risk from online attacks:
Install Antivirus Programs
It’s 2019 – you still don’t have a decent anti-virus program? HOW?
You can’t protect your devices from viruses and malware unless you install top-quality antivirus programs on them first. So, you need to find the best antivirus for iPhone or Android phone (whichever you are using) and computer/laptop. There a wide range of programs on the Internet that you can check out. However, consider the following factors when you pick one:
- Support: The program should support all the devices viz. mobiles and laptops/desktops
- Features: It should give protection against all the major online threats like malware, trojan, worm, rootkit programs, viruses, spyware, etc.
- Pricing: Antivirus programs are usually not that expensive. However, you should still compare the prices of some of the best options so that you can get a bang for your buck
Keep System Up to Date
There is a reason why mobile and computer manufacturers roll out OS and other software updates every now and then. Besides bug fixes, each update has an enhancement that closes off newly discovered vulnerabilities. These enhance also improve productivity, system performance, and ease of use of the app.
So, whenever you receive a new update, don’t hold it off, and install it as soon as possible and avoid critical security vulnerabilities.
Lookout for Phishing Email Scams
Phishing email is one of the most common online banking and PayPal scams that you should be aware of. In this, a cybercriminal sends you an email from an address that looks like the official address of a financial institution, like your bank, for instance. They try to raise an alarm by saying that someone is trying to access your online banking account and you must change the password for the same to prevent unauthorized access.
They usually share a link that they say can be used to visit the bank’s website for password updating. However, it is a malicious link that is meant to store your real password and share it with the attacker. In this way, you are made to reveal your credentials that are used by the attacker to access your bank account and transfer the money into theirs.
Avoid Important Websites When Using Public Wi-Fi
Public hotspots are open to everyone which is why hackers often target them to steal someone’s private information who uses the connection. Let’s say that you are in a café waiting for your coffee and accessing your bank account to transfer funds to your friend. A hacker who is in the same café can use advanced tools and hacking techniques to break into the connection and monitor your phone’s online activities.
It’s strongly recommended that you use public Internet networks and devices only for general web surfing. If you want to access your social media account, bank account, or some other important account, then you should turn off the connection and use your phone’s own connection instead.
It’s also a good idea to use a VPN app when you access the network as that can prevent unwanted entities from tapping into your connection.
It’s amazing that people still fall for this one. Almost every SPAM email promises lots of money either in the form of lottery or an overly generous person who wishes to donate their wealth to you due to the absence of heirs. These are scams.
People receive emails like these in different formats but the basic idea is the same- you are requested to deposit a certain amount of money in the senders account as a “legal fee” or a “transaction fee” so that you can money can be transferred to you. Of course, if you comply, then you end up losing the money and never hearing from the sender ever again.
The following are a few tell-tale signs of email scams:
- Typos/grammatical mistakes in the content: legit lottery companies will use proper English and a professional tone)
- Lack of personalization: If you are indeed the winner of a mega lottery, then the company would know at least some personal details of you.
I know its easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, so scammer tries to catch you when you are most distracted. That is when you click on the link to ensure your bank account is still active, that is when you install an update without checking it is legitimate. So as always, think before you click!