Keep Yourself Safe Online
The global cost of cyber-crime is around $600 billion annually and increases year on year. This type of crime affects everyone, though the specifics can vary according to various factors. Big businesses and institutions are affected in different ways and fall prey to different methods than individual consumers. Young people tend to be affected in different ways to adults or seniors and to fall for different scams. The fact is though that whoever you are, wherever you are, you are a potential victim to cybercriminals. There were 15.4 million victims of internet fraud and identity theft in 2016 alone. The personal cost of this can be enormous. In monetary terms the average reported loss to cyber-related fraud is well over $1000.
To keep yourself safe online you need to be aware of the types of cyber-crime that are out there so you know what to watch out for. Some types of internet crimes and scams include:
- Hacking – the general term for when someone accesses your computer remotely and can, therefore, access your personal data.
- Fake websites – can install viruses or malware onto your computer enabling cybercriminals to access your personal data or may take payments for purchases that will never arrive.
- Phishing – is when criminals pretend to be legitimate companies or institutions, they can be so similar to the official emails they are difficult to spot.
- Lottery scams – an email informing you of a lottery win and asking for your bank details to pay in your winnings.
- Romance scams – these scams are often long-game scams, someone, usually from a distant country, will feign romantic interest and begin a relationship with you which may seem completely genuine. Once you are romantically involved your ‘beloved’ may start asking for money to fix – legal or health difficulties or so they can come and visit you.
- Heartstring scams – this type of crime as the name suggests tugs at your heartstrings to persuade you to hand over money. They might come in the form of a call from someone pretending to be a family member in trouble and who needs money wired quickly to get them out of a travel, medical or legal emergency. The urgent nature of such a call takes people off guard. Although the contact may be made via the phone the research has usually been done via social media, the cybercriminal will know names, dates, and other personal information that they use to sound believable.
- Nigerian scams – emails from a person who says they need help with legal difficulties so they can access a large sum of money of which they say they will give you a share of.
There are myriads of other, different ways these cyber criminals access your hard-earned cash. The best way to keep yourself safe is to educate yourself on internet safety and follow some basic rules:
- Password Hygiene – make passwords memorable, don’t write them down especially in files on your devices, use a mixture of upper and lower case, symbols and numbers, don’t use things others could guess or obtain from your social media.
- Be Social Media savvy – check your privacy settings and don’t befriend people you don’t know.
- Shop safely – check for the padlock symbol on the top left of your browser, don’t follow links for offers that sound too good to be true, they probably are.
- Install updates and patches when prompted to.
- Ensure your anti-virus software comes well recommended, follow prompts it gives you and update regularly.
- Don’t open any links in emails unless you are sure they are safe.