Cases of online scams and fraud have been increasing year on year, at a fairly alarming rate. While the internet has been a source of positivity and progress over the past few decades, it’s also opened the door to exploitation of vulnerable or inexperienced users by unpleasant individuals across the world. Scammers targeting banks and valuable online accounts are a constant risk but there are ways in which you can combat this. Here’s our guide for improving your safety and awareness online to avoid these problems.
Be Reserved With Information
It’s easy to just rush through entering digital forms and clicking through permissions when visiting websites. Alongside entering personal information on your social media accounts like your full home address and telephone number, it won’t take long for a nefarious internet user to piece together a profile on your personal information. Assess what information really needs to be public and be sure that the websites you’re entering information on are trustworthy before going forward. This isn’t the sort of information you’d freely hand to a shady character on the street, so why risk giving it away online?
Choose Safer Browsing
Get clued up on what is a suspicious website or not, and start developing some safe browsing habits to ensure that you and your data is safe. Ideally, you should only be visiting websites with HTTPS before the link. This dictates that your data is secure between you and that website. This of course doesn’t account for the owners of the website misusing your data, but it stops others from hijacking that data as it’s transferred across. So even if a website appears to be safe, don’t download anything or enter any information unless you’re certain that the site is legitimate.
When buying things online, make sure you have a strong focus on the previous point. Entering card details onto a website that is not secure is probably one of the easiest ways for fraudsters to steal your data and ultimately your money. You’ll find that secure websites will be made clear to you by modern browsers with a padlock icon before the URL. An unsecure website will often be clearly pointed out to you by an up-to-date browser too, so keep your software fresh and stay vigilant.
Avoid Dodgy Downloads
The oldest trick for online hackers to get control of your personal data is to trick you into download something malicious. Malware is constantly being improved upon and made harder to trace by anti-virus software. First, your best option here is to refrain from downloading anything you may have doubts about, and to think twice about those downloads you trust too. On top of that, get yourself some good quality anti-malware and anti-virus software so you can be sure your computer is as protected as possible. It’s important to note however, that some notorious anti-virus software acts as malware itself and is often more harmful to your PC than a virus! Do your research first and find some strongly recommended software to download.
Closing Unused Accounts
Leaving a trail of unused accounts for websites you no longer visit increases the risk of details getting stolen, especially on websites that are no longer maintained. Those spaces degrade in security over time and risk letting your details falling into the wrong hands, which is especially bad if you’ve been using the same passwords for every website and rarely change it. There are some websites however that lead you towards deactivating your account as opposed to deleting it altogether. This ultimately stores the data ready for you to reactivate again. If you know for certain you’re not going to use that site again, whether it’s an old forum account or your Amazon account, then make sure you choose to delete it completely, eradicating your sensitive data from their databases. If you are trying to delete your Amazon account and are struggling to figure out how, then visit setapp.com. There you can find a step-by-step guide on this process and can be confident that your data won’t fall into the wrong hands.
Update And Create Strong Passwords
A common problem that internet users face, even the most experienced and savvy, is forgetting to regularly change their passwords. Not only should you change them often, but you should also ensure that those passwords and considered to be strong and difficult to crack. It can be tempting to create a password that is easy to remember but try to refrain from creating one that others could guess too. A good idea would be to make use of a password manager app or website that can act as a secure keychain. That way you don’t even have to remember your passwords and they can then be as complex as you like.
Be Vigilant With Others
When speaking to other people online, even if it’s someone you think you know, be wary when messaging them. Whilst it’s unlikely your friend of 10 years has had their account hacked and now someone on the other end is claiming to be them, it can happen. Be aware of any suspicious messages that don’t appear to sound like the people you know. Scammers and hackers can find ways of forcing those accounts to send links which, if you click on, can infect your device with malware. Unless you’re face to face with someone, you don’t know with a hundred percent certainty that they are who they say they are. This is more important when it comes to communicating with strangers. You don’t know someone else’s motives or capabilities.
Beware Of Phishing Emails
You’ve likely received plenty of emails from people claiming to be from trustworthy sources, but something about the message just seems a bit off. It’s likely that an email such as this will have poor grammar and spelling mistakes, so proofreading an email is actually a great way of spotting a scam email. On top of this, you should always check the email address that a message is coming from. It will rarely look official and may even not have any mention of that business in the email at all. Remember, no secure and professional website will email you asking for personal details or ask you to click through to a link. Be wary, no matter how alarming their message might sound.