It’s easy to become complacent about using the internet. It’s simple to access and everyone does so throughout the day. Yet the more you take easy internet access for granted, the better the chance that a scammer is going to find their way to you and your devices. You may never know they have found you until it is too late. For that reason we should all take the time periodically to examine how we are using the internet and where we are leaving ourselves vulnerable to crooks looking for entry into our finances and other private information.
Here are some tips from your Better Business Bureau regarding your Internet security.
There is a reason much of the following information is repeatedly warned about. A surprising number of Web users still fall into these traps. Be sure that you:
• Carefully examine the first few sites that come up when you do a search engine query. Look-alikes abound and are sophisticated enough to fool many people.
• Never reveal personal or financial information in emails. Do not respond to emails requesting such information. Ignore and resist the urge to click on links in unsolicited emails.
• Always check the security of websites. Look at the URL. Slight variations in spelling or the use of a different domain name (like .com versus .web) are indications of fake sites.
• Verify the legitimacy of the site by contacting the company directly whenever you have the slightest doubt. Contact the APWG (Anti-Phishing Working Group) to learn about current phishing attacks and to report attempts.
• Keep a clean machine. Constantly update all software on all internet-connected devices. Don’t ignore or put off those notifications of updates.
• Think before you act. Watch out for offers that sound too good to be true or that implore you to act quickly.
• Use separate passwords for each account. The more critical the account, the more complicated your password should be. (And the more frequently it should be changed.)
Malware, viruses and botnets
Viruses have been in the news enough that many are now familiar with them. They spread from device to device, causing havoc and enabling criminal to access infected machines.
Malware is getting commonly known as well and the term may include viruses, but is also used to designate spyware and adware. Both can download themselves into your computers without your permission and can make your devices do things you did not intend. In some cases they can track your online movements and steal your passwords.
Botnets may be less familiar to many internet users. The term refers to networks of computers, all infected by malware, and all controlled by criminals for financial gain. Botnets have different missions. Some harvest passwords, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and the like. Crooks can then do whatever they like with the information.
This dreaded type of malware actually accesses your files, locks them from you and demands a ransom for their return. It can be announced by a sudden screen that shows up on your device and cannot be clicked out of. Usually the ransom is demanded in the form of bit coin. Visit the National Cyber Security Alliance website, “StaySafeOnline” for tips and advice regarding ransomware and other malware forms.
Business Identity Theft
ID theft does not just effect individuals. Businesses are falling prey to it increasingly and often with disastrous results. It is not unusual for losses to be in the six figures by the time the theft is detected. That’s enough to sink many companies. Visit BusinessIDTheft.org to learn how to protect your business from this growing threat.
If you have questions or concerns about security while using the Internet, contact your Better Business Bureau at 800-856-2417, or visit our website at bbbinc.org.