Cybersecurity Month (III) – Recognize cyber scams
In our previous blog post, we already mentioned phishing scams. Here, an e-mail is sent out containing a hyperlink. Should you click the hyperlink, it subsequently leads you to a website where others can gain access to your computer and even install software. Phishing scams are only one of the ways that cybercriminals can trick internet-users, however. The past few years, an increasing amount of dangerous and cunning tactics have emerged. Therefore, it has become increasingly important for everyone to be able to recognize these swindler’s practices. In this article, we will go more deeply into this topic, discuss the latest types of cyber scams and we’ll provide a number of tips to better protect yourself from cybercriminals.
How cyber scams work
Everyone has probably encountered a cyber scam or something similar. The most famous example is probably still the e-mail from the Nigerian prince asking you to send him money (this scam is also known as ‘Nigerian 419’, after the Nigerian law that forbade this practice). This kind of spam is a typical example of a cyber scam and it demonstrates exactly how most of these scams work. Like most scams, it tries to entrap the well-intentioned user, relying on their naïveté. It may seem unlikely, but many people have lost thousands of euros because of these kinds of practices. These days, however, cybercriminals have become far more clever and inventive. For example, more and more often, you may encounter emails or pop-ups on websites that warn you that your computer has been infected with a virus and you must click this link immediately to have your computer scanned.
Advanced cyber scams
It gets worse. Cybercriminals are getting increasingly skilled at copying official messages of known services. You can receive an e-mail, for example, in which it may appear that Facebook is warning you that someone has gained access to your account without permission, which includes a link (seemingly to Facebook) to check this. If you click the link, it’s usually too late. The only way to protect yourself against this is by paying very close attention, comparing the e-mail address to other messages from Facebook and checking the URL without clicking the link to see whether it really does lead towards Facebook. Other examples are fake offers, a hacked social media account where a criminal pretends to be someone familiar, phone calls from someone supposedly from Microsoft to fix a problem on your computer, as well as fake profiles on dating sites.
Tips to protect yourself from cyber scams
The most important tip you need to keep in mind when protecting yourself from cyber scams is to never simply trust strangers on the internet and certainly never to consider deals that are offered to you as if from nowhere. To counter cyber scams, the golden rule to remember is that if something appears too good to be true, it probably is. Never provide any banking details online, not even to people you know and trust, even if you’re 100% certain that it’s them (hackers are also becoming increasingly proficient in intercepting e-mails and other forms of online communication). Other tips you should consider are to create unique passwords for all your devices and accounts, exercising caution with all the data you post on social media and shredding any important documents before tossing them out. Watch out while buying products online, to make sure that you’re shopping at a legitimate company and be careful when they only make use of alternative forms of payment (such as BitCoin). To be absolutely certain that you are browsing safely online, you can use a Virtual Private Network to encrypt all of your internet traffic. If you’re looking for a user-friendly VPN, with strong encryption, at an affordable price, then GOOSE VPN is all you need.
It might never be possible to be completely secure on the internet, but by following these tips and paying close attention, you can reduce the odds that you’ll fall victim to a scam. Cyber scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated, but a cautious user, is a safe user. By remaining aware of the risks, scammers will have no chance with you.