Over the past few months we have had a worrying increase in the number of people coming to us who have been targeted by online scammers. We have also been targeted ourselves! Cyber criminals have got extremely clever and professional. Their emails appear to be credible legitimate requests from known and trusted organisations such as Gmail, Yahoo, etc. The emails often highlight an urgent necessity for you to verify your account.
This practice is sometimes referred to as “phishing” – a play on the word “fishing” – because the fraudster is fishing for your private account information so that they can gain access. Once they gain access they use your personal information to commit identity theft, charge your credit cards, set up PayPal accounts, read your emails and empty your bank! They can also lock you out of your account by changing your passwords.
If one of your friends or contacts have been successfully hacked in this way, you may receive an email from them with an attached document and, in order to access the document, that to access you need to login using your email login details. Whatever you do, don’t provide any of your details!
How to protect yourself against phishing
- Be wary of emails asking for confidential information. Legitimate organisations will never request sensitive information via email. Most banks will in fact tell you they won’t as for your information unless you’re the one contacting them. If in doubt contact the organisation directly yourself.
- Don’t get pressurised into providing sensitive information. Phishers like to use scare tactics and may threaten to disable an account until you update certain information. Again, check if you are not sure.
- Closely look at the email address of any suspicious emails. Quite often cyber criminals are very clever in creating email accounts that at first glance look like they are legitimate. One example we had was from “@grnail.com” (note the spelling), which on a small screen is very deceptive.
- If you need to enter your password and username, only do so when the connection is secured. If you see the “https” prefix before the site URL, it means everything is ok. If there is no “s” (secure) – beware.
- Make sure you maintain effective software to combat phishing.
- Even if you receive a message from one of your friends, remember, they could also have been hacked. That is why you should remain cautious at all times.
You’ve been hacked – what to do
It is all very well giving tips of how to protect yourself. Sometime you may be caught off guard and become victim of a cyber scam. If you do, don’t panic.
- First thing to do is to change the password of the account(s) that has been compromised. If your email has been hacked and your email inbox contains passwords for PayPal, Bank, DropBox etc. Assume the criminals have read these emails and so itis essential you also change these passwords.
- Check the settings in your email account – look for security information about when the account was last accessed, have emails been auto forwarded and filtered? If so remove these settings.
- If in doubt or worried, give us a call on 81138682 and we can help secure your computer and ensure your data is safe.