WHAT IS ONLINE SECURITY

We live in a world of connected devices. This can be wonderful, but there are risks. Whenever you visit a website, social media or use an app, you are creating a ‘digital footprint’. The following areas are where your ‘digital footprint’ is created:

  • Email
  • Website Browsing
  • Social Media
  • Online Shopping
  • Medical Information

Businesses use your ‘digital footprint’ (data) to advertise products and services to you. Your ‘digital footprint’ and connected devices can leave you open to criminals who could steal your information. There are many different threats out there and many ways to protect yourself.


different types of threats

PHISHING – Phishing is usually a two-part scam involving email and spoof websites. Fraudsters, also known as phishers, send email to a wide audience that appears to come from a reputable company. This is known as a phish email. In the phish email are links to websites that spoof or imitate a reputable company’s websites.

Fraudsters hope to convince victims to give up their personal information by using clever and compelling language, such as an urgent need for you to update your information immediately. Once obtained, personal information can be used to steal money, or transfer stolen money into a different account.

  • Be wary of suspicious emails. Never open attachments, click on links, or respond to emails from suspicious or unknown senders.
  • If you receive a suspicious email that you think is a phish email, do not respond or provide any information. Send the email to the Anti-Phishing Working Group. Also, follow any phish email reporting procedures established by your bank.
  • If you respond to a phish email with personal information, contact your bank immediately.

SKIMMING – Skimming is a form of financial fraud where criminals copy the magnetic stripe encoding from your credit card using a hand-held device called a skimmer, which resembles an ATM keyboard. Each skimmer can hold data from hundreds of different credit cards.

Once your credit card has been swiped through the device, the thief has the information needed to make a counterfeit card. Thieves often sell the data to other people, which can be downloaded into a computer and emailed anywhere around the world and is used to make counterfeit credit cards.

HACKING – Hacking is when a person or computer program breaks into a computer or network without permission. The hacker or program then uses the access to take control of the computer or network to commit crimes.

MALWARE – Malware is short for Malicious Software. Malware is a software that is created break into a service or network and take it down or steal information. Examples of malware include:

  • Virus
  • Worm
  • Trojan
  • Spyware
  • Ransomware
  • Botnets


AREAS TO PROTECT

There are areas where you can protect yourself online. In the era of IoT (Internet of Things), there are thousands of devices that are connected to the internet. They may seem innocent, but some of them can be hacked or used as a backdoor entrance into your wifi and other devices. Below are some of the places where criminals can hack your devices and information.

COMPUTERS AND MOBILE PHONES
Computers are a common device hackers try to exploit. Criminals will use emails, text and tracking tools to break into your device. Watch out for

PASSWORDS
Criminals can access your accounts if they get your passwords. Making passwords with a mix of letters, numbers, symbols is a good way to avoid having your information stolen. Be sure to hide your passwords in a safe place if you write them down. Or if you store them electronically, make sure the document is password protected.

HOME ‘SMART’ DEVICES
From Security Cameras to Smart TVs to Home Assistants and Refrigerators, criminals and hackers can access information based on what you share with the device. Be careful with the information you share as criminals can use it to create accounts or steal your information.

life insurance protection icon

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Fortunately, there are things you can do to protect yourself.  Here are some examples of what you can do to protect yourself online.

Social media platforms and websites that allow you to have an account or offer a login entry system will more often than not, ask you to create a password in order to gain access in the future. Because of advancements in technology and the sophistication of hacking software – websites are asking for passwords to be increasingly complex. They often require a combination of at least 8 characters made up of one uppercase letter, a number and at least one special symbol such as a question mark or full stop.

Commonly, banks will ask you to set up security questions. These questions will be personal to you and you should never share your answers with anybody. Your bank may ask you to enter the answers to these questions when logging in every time or if they recognize that you are trying to log in from a different location than usual. Over recent years, some social media platforms have also started using security questions as a method of identifying users.

Antivirus software that can be purchased or freely downloaded can be very useful in providing protection to internet users. Most security products will block viruses and threats from accessing or affecting your device – good quality security products offer a scanning facility to check your device and remove any malware in the process. Always consider the strength of your firewall along with a good antivirus program to get the best results and to keep your personal information as secure as possible.

Increasingly, companies and social media platforms are offering two-factor authentication, which is considered a “second layer” of security online. Two factor authentication means that more than just a username and password are required when logging in to an account. Most companies and social media platforms do this by sending a unique code to the user via SMS. This code will expire after a certain amount of time and also lets people know if anyone is attempting to gain access to their account without permission.

Any time you connect to the Internet using a Wi-Fi network that you don’t know, you should use a virtual private network, or VPN. Say you go to a coffee shop and connect to a free Wi-Fi network. You don’t know anything about the security of that connection. It’s possible that someone else on that network, without you knowing, could start looking through or stealing the files and data sent from your laptop or mobile device. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic, routing it though a server owned by the VPN company. That means nobody, not even the owner of the free Wi-Fi network, can snoop on your data.


RESOURCES

Federal Trade Commission

Share This: