Staying safe online may seem like a daunting challenge at times, but you don’t need to turn off your internet entirely to stay secure. Using good tools, and common sense, and keeping these tips in mind will help you navigate your online routines without fear.
While there are sophisticated internet attacks used by hackers, such as an XXE attack, these tend to be directed toward companies and corporations rather than the average individual. For most people, the big thing to watch out for is scammers.
Online scams are getting more common as scammers work around barriers and try to steal your money and personal information. The good news is there are ways to spot Phishing Threats and other cyber attacks or scams so criminals can’t take advantage of you.
Here are ways to avoid getting your personal information or bank accounts stolen.
Check Your Web Address
When you log in to different websites, always check for the “HTTPS://” in the URL. Many reputable browsers will warn you if a site seems unsafe, if the security certificate has expired, or if the link looks suspicious. The S in HTTPS is for security, and you may also see a tiny lock icon as well. If you don’t see these, proceed with caution. Some scams involve mimicking the address of legitimate businesses, such as a bank or the Post Office, to steal your credit card information when you enter it.
Don’t Click Unknown Links
Unless you are expecting a link, or you have opted in to promotional emails from a vendor or business, don’t click embedded or pasted links in email or text messages. On a computer, you can hover your cursor over an embedded link to see the URL address. If it looks suspicious, don’t click. You can google the name of the company or the purported “deal” or sale, and see if there is actually any such thing.
If you get links via text message, check the sender’s number. Automated opt-in services, such as alerts or promotional messaging, usually have shorter digit numbers — if a text comes from a seven- or eight-digit number you don’t recognize, use caution and don’t click.
If you receive phone calls claiming to be from your bank, and the person asks you for your account number or other sensitive information, it is a scam. Your bank already has your account information and will not ask for it over the phone. Use the bank’s secured website to check for any suspicious activity on your accounts.
Even if you suspect the call is legitimate, tell the person you will call the bank back. Scammers will likely hang up at this point, or try to persuade you using emotional language or urgency, or threats. Don’t give in. Hang up and directly call your bank back to ask about suspicious activity.
Use Two-Factor Authentication
Enabling two-factor, or multi-factor authentication on your accounts is a great way to stay safe. Two-factor authentication requires an additional step — such as receiving a one-time code or using a code generator app — to log into your account. This is well worth setting up for added protection on your important accounts and data.
Remember, safety online starts with you — when in doubt, don’t click or answer.