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Stay Safe Online – Cyber Security Awareness Month 2021

Harry Swayne

It’s Cyber Security Awareness Month and we’re blogging about ways to stay safe online and what to avoid.

Nowadays, digital devices such as laptops, phones, and tablets are abundant. They’re used to socialise, work, and even for Netflix and chill (other streaming services are available!). And while the online world can be great, there are some negatives that we should all be aware of.

In the spirit of Cyber Security Awareness Month, we are here to prevent you from having an online disaster.

Mobile Phones:

Mobile phones are incredible – aren’t they? So much data and content in the palm of your hand, yet they also have a flaw.
One way or another, personal information ends up on your phone:

  • That text to a friend with your bank information in so they can transfer you the money for tickets to your next gig.
  • Password reminders in your notes – because there are so many passwords to remember these days.
  • Emails with your upcoming holiday booking information or flight details.

We’re pretty sure that everyone has had some or all of the above on their phone. So our next question is:

Is your phone secure?

If you don’t have a passcode or biometrics set up on your phone your data is at risk. This means there could be quick a lot of information that a stranger could access.

Even the Wi-Fi can turn on you! Public access Wi-Fi is not as secure as a private router, which makes it easier for someone to access data mid-transmission.

The best way to keep your phone safe is to treat it like other important information. Don’t put any personal details out in the open within reach of anyone. Make sure all your passwords and pin numbers are secure and secret.

Top tip – don’t check your internet banking on a public access wifi network!


Phishing for Phish:

Phishing, or scamming as it’s otherwise referred as is by all definitions an act of deception. Scammers will even use calls, texts and emails to try and gain access to your private information.

Despite, what feels like, increasing occurrences of suspicious emails, calls or text messages there are usually some tell-tale signs that you may be getting scammed.

Written text usually includes incorrect grammar and telephone scams can usually go as far as fearmongering. For example, someone could pretend to be a bank and act like your account has been breached. Of course, they are only saying this to breach your account themselves.

Top tip – Banks have been sharing messages clarifying that they will not ask you for your personal details. Spoiler – scammers will.

Take an extra moment and think:

Another thing to keep an eye out for is whether something sounds too good to be true like promising a large amount of money for doing nothing. If it seems unrealistic, it probably is, and someone is most likely trying to scam you.

You should also be wary of any suspicious links. The safest thing to do if you receive an email with a link in it is to not click it. If the email has come from a friend or family member, consider dropping them a message asking about it before clicking. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Top tip – if you receive a call from someone claiming to be from your bank, tell them that you will call them back and hang up. Then use the telephone number found on your bank card or recently received postal communications to return the call.

"Public access Wi-Fi is not as secure as a private router, which makes it easier for someone to access data mid-transmission."

Online Dating:

Even the online dating scene could be filled with scams. It’s possible that any app or network with social interaction could be littered with people pretending to be someone they aren’t. Sometimes they do that so they can try to steal money, or worse commit another type of fraudulent crime.

With online dating sites, a fake user may use the tactic of professing strong emotions rather early on. They may attempt to lure you onto alternative messaging services away from the dating site.
Fake users can also go another step further and use manipulation to try to get you to give them money because they are ‘going through a tough time.’

Top tip – Check if their bio information and additional images match their main profile picture, although the profile picture could also be fake.
Scammers will most likely have made a mistake somewhere, so be vigilant.


Business Emails:

Businesses aren’t safe from criminal groups either, but scams for businesses aren’t like scams for individuals.
It’s possible that businesses may have been tricked into giving money away through spoof emails and/or websites.

For example, John@abc246 could be your client’s actual email address. A scammer might create an email address that is slightly different, for example, John@abc24. At first glance, it looks similar to the official address so you might miss it. As a result, you might click through on a link that has a computer virus waiting for you.

There are a few other indicators as to how to identify a scam email, so watch out for:

  • Grammar (mentioned above).
  • The sender only wants to communicate via email.
  • The sender encourages you to click through on links they’ve included.
  • If your email system has flagged the message as possibly being spam – take heed.

There are ways to guard your business against potential scam emails. One way is to verify the identity of the sender through a non-email source. Another method could be to implement filters that would immediately detect phishing attempts.

Top tip – if you’re in doubt over whether an email is genuine or worse, you receive an email pretending to be your boss or another team member. Contact your IT support provider.


Final thoughts:

There is a lot of fun to be had online, but it is important to remember the potential dangers that lurk there too. Awareness days like Cyber Security month are a great reminder for this!

If you struggle to remember passwords then we recommend Last Pass. It’s a secure password management system that will help keep them safe and unforgotten.

We’ll be sharing some more tips for Cyber Security Awareness Month over on our Twitter account.


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