Four common Internet security issues and how to avoid them
The internet is an amazing tool for both your work and home life, but unfortunately, using the internet comes with a number of pitfalls. No matter how well informed you are about cybersecurity issues, it’s easy to find yourself the victim of a scam, data breach or other common issue.
Here’s what to do if you fall foul of a hacker or scammer online.
Ransomware can be lurking on a number of different websites. It is essentially a type of virus that completely blocks your device, meaning that you can’t use any of the functions or access files until you pay a ‘ransom’. It can be extremely hard to remove this kind of virus from your device, so prevention is the most important thing, sticking to reputable sites wherever possible.
However, if you still have a locked device, be sure to seek help from ransomware removal experts so that you don’t end up paying a cent to any scammers.
Spyware is another type of virus that can be picked up simply from browsing the internet, and it can be difficult to get rid of. Spyware, as the name suggests, spies on your computer, allowing hackers to gain access to personal information, emails, passwords, bank details and more.
- Avoid downloading free games or apps from unknown sources
- Avoid clicking links in emails if you’re unsure of the sender
- Ensure you have up to date antivirus software installed
- Run regular system scans to check for spyware and viruses
- If you get a pop-up saying you have a virus, ignore it. It’s likely to take you to a page that’ll install dodgy spyware. Press CTRL, Alt and Del, then use the task manager to close down the window
Spyware can be extremely worrying, but in most cases it’s easy to remove by using legitimate anti-spyware tools.
Data breaches are sadly quite common. They can happen when a business doesn’t properly secure their database, meaning it can be accessed by hackers. You can find out whether you are a victim of a data breach by using one of the many free tools online, so you at least know whether your details are out there.
Unfortunately, once your data has been gathered, it’s often sold in places such as the dark web, and there are many databases of people’s old and new information that can be found in various places on the web. Therefore, you can’t delete your details from these hacks. You can, however, take measures to prevent people misusing this data. Firstly, change your passwords, making sure you use a strong, unique password for each site you use. Also, if a site offers two-factor authentication, where they send you a code via text to log-in, then make sure this is switched on.
You should also be aware that information found in data breaches can be used in identity theft. Be sure to regularly check your bank account and credit report for anything suspicious.
Phishing is a way of getting hold of your information that doesn’t involve hacking or spying on your computer. It’s basically a way of getting you to hand over your personal information.
Phishing can take many forms:
- Email phishing – this is usually in the form of a fake email from your bank, a government organization or a big business, i.e. Apple or Amazon. They usually claim your account is about to be suspended or that they need you to update the details, so you click the link and it takes you to a spammer’s site
- Spear phishing – this is a much more sophisticated version of the above where individuals are targeted. The scammer usually knows basic details of the victim, which they use to manipulate them. If the target is a well-known personality or has a high net worth, it can be known as whaling
- Smishing – this is a form of phishing done via text message
- Vishing – often targeting the elderly, with scams such as claiming their computer has a virus, this type of phishing is done over the phone
- Angler phishing – this type of attack uses the information that people freely post on social media, and allows people to compromise their accounts and steal data
So, in conclusion: how can you avoid phishing attacks? By being vigilant. Just because an email appears to be from a certain organization, don’t assume that it is legitimate. If you hover your mouse over the link, you can see whether it takes you to the correct URL.
Remember that it’s best to never follow a link from an e-mail or message, instead, type the company’s name into Google and visit their official site, so you can log in and see any notifications.