This story began as a Father’s Day post. As I researched, it made me realize that cybersecurity should be on everyone’s task list. Mine, yours, and our parents and grandparents.
Every day there is a cybersecurity incident. Not once in a while, every day.
These occurrences we see and read about in the news affect everyone. from businesses and their workers to everyday people like you and me, everywhere in the world. The effects can be direct or indirect, trickled down from the original incident.
What are you doing to keep your information safe?
1. Email Security
Email is universal, and over a billion people everywhere use it. Besides, it has become a significant vulnerability to organizations and their workers. Cybersecurity criminals rely on email as an entry point to access other larger payloads.
These hackers have a singular goal; they want to steal your passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers. These things can provide access to your email, bank, or other accounts.
These scammers execute many phishing attacks every day — and are frequently successful.
Key things to watch out for in your email include:
- Emails that appear to come from a business you know
Look for slight differences in the email address or domain. Contact the company directly and ask if they sent out an email.
- Emails that attempt to lure you by telling a story to get you to click on a link
Here are some examples:
- These emails often appear from a financial company like a bank, credit card, or payment website such as PayPal, these emails say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts
- A claim that there’s a problem with your account or your payment information
- A request that you must confirm personal information
- An attached/linked to a fake invoice, such as one claiming to be from Norton or McAfee, and the invoice for hundreds of dollars.
- This one is very like the above, they want you to make a payment and provide a link to a site
- They say you’re entitled to a government refund and ask you to register
- Offer free stuff coupons
Want to see an IRL example?
At first look, this might look real, but it’s not. In this case, the email address is the giveaway. The email appears to be from Microsoft but isn’t. Phishing emails like this one have real consequences for victims who provide the information to the hackers. Moreover, these emails harm the reputations of the companies they impersonate.
Having secure passwords is essential for everyone.
Hackers can crack passwords under six digits in seconds using brute force (automated trial and error.)
This chart emphasizes how fast it can happen based on length and complexity. Those easy-to-remember passwords our parents love that consist of children or pet names? Trivial to crack.
A typical challenge for many people is the difficulty in remembering many different passwords needed to access email and other accounts. While this affects our parents more profoundly, it’s also a problem for everyone. Luckily, there is a solution to this.
More recently, the development of applications like password managers has helped with this problem. Although password managers began as the built-in ones we know in Chrome, Edge, and other browsers, Password Managers have evolved. I recommend using one of these secure password managers as they are more secure than the browser-based ones.
These secure cloud-based apps store complex and unique auto-generated passwords for every account until needed.
They also provide access across computers and mobile devices.
Multifactor Authentication (MFA)
You know you’ve heard/seen this term around. Many accounts offer extra security by requiring two or more credentials to log in.
Sometimes this is two-factor authentication, and other times it’s multi-factor authentication.
The extra credentials you need to log in to your account fall into two categories:
Something you have, such as a mobile number or an authentication app like one from LastPass, Microsoft, or Google.
Something you are, such as a fingerprint, face, or retina.
Multifactor authentication makes it more difficult for a hacker to break into an account. According to Infosecurity Magazine, it prevents 90% of attacks from being successful.
3. Online Shopping Scams
A new con on the scene and is dependent on the popularity of online shopping enlists bogus websites that put charges on your card but don’t complete the delivery of your order.
For consumers of all ages, it’s normal to use Google to find the lowest price on a product you want to buy. Google Shopping conveniently pulls shopping listings for all the companies who stock the product sought for purchase and can filter the options by relevance or price.
Another facet of this scam by cybercriminals involves websites propped up that include catchy names based on Web 2.0 trends. These websites will contain the product you’re looking for, claim it’s in stock, and offer free shipping – but the price will be too fantastic to be believed. An offer like this will tempt the most cautious shopper to throw caution to the wind.
Because the SEO of these sites is done well—Google picks them up next to genuine sites.
But don’t be fooled; these sites have everything needed to process a payment on your card but don’t hold your breath waiting for the delivery. They never complete the order. Some of them may be picked up by the hosting company and shut down. But others pop up in their place blazingly fast.What to look for?
There are a few signs that reveal bogus online shopping sites, including:
- domain names that are newly registered (verify on https://who.is or similar sites)
- legitimate e-commerce sites like Shopify are used
- contact information on the site owner is challenging to find
They speedily move the money they get from credit card charges to avoid bank chargebacks.
Tech Support Scams
These cybercriminals pretend they’re tech support from a well-known company, some include Microsoft, Dell, or Apple. They expect that when you see a name you know, you’ll open an email, text, or pop-up from them.
Another tactic that they use is calling you. They hope you’ll respond to computer problems that are “urgent.” Using this ploy, they get your money or personal information to “fix” it.
They will offer to connect via remote desktop to fix the problem. Later you’ll find that your computer that was working has suddenly stopped. Meanwhile, you’ve given a stranger access to your device and any personal information that was on it.
They want you to pay for tech support you don’t need, fix a problem that doesn’t exist, or create one for you.
Here’s what you should do:
- If you receive a call from someone you don’t know who says there’s a problem with your computer, disconnect the call and block the number. It’s a scam.
- Don’t click any links in an unexpected email or message. Never call phone numbers left in emails, voicemails, social media messages, or texts.
- Never give your personal or financial information in response to an unexpected request. Legitimate companies message or call asking for your Social Security, bank account number, credit card, or password.
- Update your computer’s security software. If you suspect a computer problem, run a security scan, and this will locate and remove malware or viruses. Enable automatic updates, so your security software is up to date to protect you against new security threats.
While often these fraudsters target the elderly because they aren’t as tech-savvy, others can also be their victims. Ensuring that your devices are secure, protected and up to date helps keep these criminals at bay.
We live in a continually changing world where the cybersecurity landscape is more threatening at every turn of the globe. Take every precaution to keep your data safe.
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