Protect yourself from scams in 11 easy steps

Australians have lost over $89 million dollarydoos so far this year in online scams – that’s $89,087,643 to be exact at the time of writing this.

We are third in the world of nations most conned via the internet, with the biggest culprit this year being investment scams, followed closely by dating & romance. False billing, hacking and unexpected prize & lottery were also high on the alarming scam category list.

Sure, you may think you're superman on the internet, impenetrable from this week’s Nigerian scam or by deleting a dodgy email from your ‘bank’ before entering account details. But what about the new host of scams looking to catfish your heart or dupe you out of your Gumtree wares.  
Technology has moved fast, and for some, the knowledge gap has widened – if you want to protect yourself from being conned, start with these easy steps.

Step 1:  Think before you post

Anything put online, is there FOREVER. Stop and think before you provide any photos or financial or personal information about yourself, your friends or family.

Step 2:  Rethink your passwords

You should use secure passwords like ‘z#JFkj03%!’*E. But let’s face it, that’s tough to remember. Try a passphrase, like ‘I really hate passwords!’ Now you have a pretty strong password, 26 characters and 3 symbols and it’s easy to remember. Passphrases are hard to guess and they can be unique for each site like, “I really hate logging into Gmail! Its crap!.” Just make sure you abide by websites that character limits on passwords.

I think we all know a bad password by now, your name, spouses name and sequential numbers and keyboard keys (ehem, qwerty), just don’t do it. Change your password regularly, use two-factor authentication and password manager and don’t use the same password for everything. To check if your accounts or details have been hacked use: https://haveibeenpwned.com/    

Step 3:  Think before you click

Fake Paypal, bank and Aus Post delivery emails are a dime a ’dozen. Don’t get caught out, treat any unexpected message with caution, consider who is emailing you and what they are asking you to do and call the business and legitimate the source. Really just pause and think before taking action, or giving out any personal details.

Step 4:  Minimize your exposure

Minimise visits to unknown websites and avoid being enticed by the promise of sensational content through ‘clickbait’. Look for the padlock symbol and ‘https’ in the browser address bar when visiting sites, especially when undertaking a transaction. Delete suspicious emails and leave websites that ask you to provide bank or personal info, promise money offer jobs where you need no experience or emails claiming to be looking for a friend.  

Step 5:  Use bank security measures & research first

Access your bank’s website by typing the address directly into your browser and always log out of the internet banking menu then close your browser when you have completed a session.

Research unknown retailers and their products and services or just Google them and look up their ratings so you deal primarily with trusted and reliable online retailers.

Step 6:  Protect your identity

Treat your personal information as you would treat your money—don't leave it lying around for others to take. With your stolen identity, a person may access your bank account, obtain credit cards or loans in your name, or claim welfare benefits, and potentially ruin your credit rating.

Set up a separate email address for shopping and newsgroups. If you need to, you can then change this address without disrupting online business activities. Only share your primary email address with people you know and keep your privacy settings on lock down.

Users who share addresses, telephone numbers, birthdays, and other personal information put themselves at a greater risk of identity theft, stalking and harassment. This includes information you post on social media.

Step 7:  Treat your phone like a computer

Turn on the security features, set a password and pin, install reputable security software and use the most up to date operating systems. And most importantly be careful about the apps you install, just because they’re in the app store doesn’t mean they aren’t scam.  

Step 8:  Avoid Free WiFi

Anything you send across the Wi-Fi on a network can be intercepted, period. Public/Open/Free Wi-Fi hotspots should not be used to access sensitive information unless you are using a VPN. If you absolutely must use one, don’t login to sensitive accounts like banking. Internet café’s also pose the same risks.

Step 9:  Practice Safe Web Browsing

Use a VPN if on dodgy networks, check URL’s, use Paypal as preferred payment choice and enable multi-factor authentication. Use temporary mailboxes like Mailinator, head browser warnings and if it looks dodgy it probably is.

Step 10: Control your social media

Consider everything you post, like the name of your dig, if it’s the same as your passwords then it will be easy for hackers to put two and two together. And don’t put up photos with your boarding pass or driver’s license, that info can be taken.

Step 11:  Use common sense

Take a deep breath and think, use logic and your instincts to stay safe online.

Bolster your cyber security with Kiandra IT
 
To learn more about security solutions for your organisation get in touch with the expert team at Kiandra IT. We can identify all the potential threats your business faces and secure your data against them. Get in touch today.