Tag Archives: phishing

internet security phishing

7 Measures to Protect Yourself from an Internet Scammer

According to the FBI’s Internet Crimes Report, US consumers lost nearly $5 billion to the Internet scammer with over 1.5 million people affected in 5 years.

Before the crime occurred, many thought — what are the chances? It will never happen to me. But with internet scams this common, your chances are much greater than you think.

Let’s explore how to beat scammers at their own game by getting informed and taking measures to prevent cybercrime.

1) Realize How the Scammer Operates

Scammers are skilled at connecting with people when their guards are down.

You might meet them on a website you trust. They may say all the right things to show that they understand your business or personal challenges.

They’ve got the solution.

When someone commits a crime in the “real world” how often do you hear people say things like:

  • We never suspected her
  • He’s such a nice boy
  • But she’s committed her life to working with children

It’s because people who commit crimes for a living hone their skills and they know how to cover their tracks. They place themselves where you’d least expect them.

What they do is well thought out, researched and scripted. This can make it seem like a losing proposition for you. But there are ways not get pulled in.

2) Manage Your Empathy

Being an empathic person is not a character flaw. It means you have high emotional intelligence. But cybercriminals count on the good nature of their victims.

They target people who seem very kind and compassionate. That’s because they know that it will be difficult for someone with this empathy to:

  • Say “no”
  • Cut off the conversation
  • Hurt someone’s feelings

Living in fear and not caring isn’t the answer. But keep your radar up.

If someone starts telling you sob stories or subtly trying to make you feel bad or convince you to do something, they may be a scammer.

3) Get Informed about Phishing

You get an email from Paypal or your bank. They tell you that they think your account’s been hacked. They need you to log in and verify it’s you.

Or you get an email from your web host. They have a new offer for you that they want you to check out.

The email looks very formal — exactly like an email from the company.

Do you click that link to sign in? Don’t do it.

The message may be slightly different. But their goals are the same. They’re trying to get your username and password so they can gain access to your account.

When you click the link, you’ll go to a site that looks just like the website you know.

These are hard to detect. They could actually be real emails from a company you trust.

Your best thing you can do is go to the website through your browser — not the link. Check it out to see if there was any truth to the email.

4) Resist the Irresistible

You receive an email a guy named Steve. The subject reads something like:

I forgot to send you this file OR

I really liked the site. You should check it out

The name sounds familiar. Maybe it’s someone you forgot about meeting on social or through work.

The email sounds very personable. This person seems to know you and they share just a little about how great this attachment is.

You’re really curious now. But don’t click.

These are tell-tale signs of a scammer. Clicking on the link could give the scammer access to your passwords, your website, personal information, and computer.

It could also be ransomware, which we’ll talk about next.

They’re counting on making that file irresistible to click. But they’re not using hard sales tactics. Instead, they act like your best friend.

5) Learn About Ransomware

You’re browsing along. You click a link. And suddenly your screen freezes. You can’t do anything. Shutting down doesn’t work.

You get a message to send them $300 to unlock your computer. If you don’t, they assure you, you’ll lose everything on your device.

We store our entire lives on our devices; this can be devastating.

Here’s what to do to protect yourself

    1. Back your computer up on a separate secure drive
    2. Keep your virus protector up to date
    3. Don’t click on questionable links
    4. Don’t pay the money. Help stop making this profitable for scammers

6) Update Your Passwords Now

If you don’t create strong passwords or use password best practices, you’re not alone. This makes you a target.

If you’ve been using weak passwords, update them today.

Here’s how to create a super strong password you can actually remember.

  1. Think of an 8-12 word phrase from a movie you know by heart
  2. Pull up a notepad on your device
  3. Jot down the first letter of each word in the phrase
  4. Change out any letters that look like numbers for numbers (e.g. 5 for S)
  5. Change out at least 1 letter that looks like a symbol (e.g # for H)
  6. Capitalize 1 letter in the middle that has emphasis
  7. Memorize it while saying the phrase in your head
  8. Trash the note you created

Create a password for high-security sites like banking and retirement. Use a different phrase to create another high-security for social accounts. Never use the same high-security PW on low-security sites.

For best results, have a different password for every high-security site.

7) Buy Sister Domain Names

If you have a website for your .edu site or .org site, it’s a good idea to also buy the .com version to prevent someone from funneling traffic away from your site.

DMV.com and DMV.org, for example, are not associated with the government agency DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). But they benefit from traffic when people are looking for the “real” DMV. And if they wanted to, they could use this to scam people.

If you have a brand to protect, then buying sister domains is a smart idea.

Services like Revision Legal specialize in helping businesses reclaim their names.

The Scammer Doesn’t Have to Make the Internet a Scary Place

When you understand what to look for and take measures, you can prevent cybercrime. Manage your empathy. Learn about Phishing. Don’t click suspicious links. Update your passwords.

To learn more about staying safe online, follow our blog today!

online safety tips security keyboard

6 Online Safety Tips to Outsmart Hackers

Last year, hackers and other cybercriminals raked in an astounding $445 billion dollars. From DDoS attacks to phishing and selling passwords, it appears that, unfortunately, crime does pay.

Though avoiding the internet is pretty much not possible, there’s no need to be a victim.

Here are six online safety tips anyone can use to outsmart hackers and keep their data safe and secure.

1. Be Smarter About Password Choices

It’s important to be smarter about how we construct passwords. Believe it or not, the most popular passwords still include ‘12345’ and ‘password’.

Really. We can’t believe it either.

Passwords so simple are practically begging to be stolen. Make sure to take extra measures to create smarter, more secure passwords.

Get more creative and implement letters, numbers, and even special characters. The more diverse the password, the more difficult it’ll be for a hacker to crack.

2. Know When (And When Not) To Change Passwords

It isn’t enough to just be smart about choosing the right password. Time is of the essence, as they say.

However, this is where things take a turn for the weird. It’d make sense that someone would want to change their password at least a few times a year. Originally, this was thought to be the best practice.

But it’s actually recommended that users create stronger passwords and change them infrequently.

While it’s still a good idea to change passwords once every 8 or 9 months, anything more isn’t necessary.

3. Do Research On Common Threats

Online safety tips aren’t all about netiquette. Sometimes a little reading can go a long way. Be smart and proactive in understanding common threats, and it’ll be far easier to stay safe.

Most people don’t know much about the various threats out there. For instance, what’s the difference between phishing and a DDoS attack?

Knowing the difference may just save a user’s information from hackers.

For the technologically clueless, it’s time to research. Take an interest in cybersecurity.

Learn about famous attacks and how they were executed. Examine the definitions of common terms like phishing, malware, and eavesdropping.

A smart computer user is a hacker’s worst nightmare.

4. Be Extra Careful On Public WiFi Networks

More restaurants, coffee shops, and public locations are starting to implement free WiFi for customers. While this is a great idea for consumers, it’s also a goldmine for hackers as these networks are often unregulated and entirely unsecured.

We’re not saying don’t enjoy that latte and Instagram binge, just be smart about it and use a VPN.

5. Don’t Use Auto-Fill

It can be tempting to use auto-fill to enter data fields such as a name, address, and credit card info. But doing so makes it so much easier for hackers with a keylogger to gain access to that information.

Therefore, it’s never recommended that users take advantage of auto-fill. It’s convenient, yes, but it just takes one auto-fill for a hacker to gain access to critical info.

6. Avoid Phishy Links

Pardon the pun, but the point still stands.

Unfortunately, hackers understand that the average computer user is smarter than they were a decade ago. As a result, they’ve started implementing more devious methods.

These include posing as trusted sources of authority, such as Apple or the IRS.

In these instances, it’s important to pay attention to the sender’s address or website structure. It rarely, if ever, looks close to a genuine address.

Final Thoughts On Online Safety Tips

Staying safe and secure on the net isn’t as difficult as previously believed. With these tips in tow, it’s possible to keep private information out of the hands of the wrong people.

Be sure to check back often for more great ways to stay safer on the net. And don’t forget to check out our great list of discounts to help you stay safer for less!

worst data leak cases

Hacked Companies: Inside the Largest Data Leak Cases of 2017

From popular dating sites to major retailers, threats to your cybersecurity and sensitive data are everywhere.

If you think you’re immune just because you’re a larger company, think again. Read on to learn more about the biggest data leak incidents of 2017.


Saks Fifth Avenue

This March, popular department store Saks Fifth Avenue experienced a massive data leak that posted the email addresses and telephone numbers of over 10,000 shoppers online.

The personal information was posted on an internal page of Saks’ website, where customers could sign up to get placed on a waiting list for products.

On the bright side, it was confirmed that no credit card information had been stolen and posted online — a rare thing for the cyber hacks of today.


Gmail

In May of 2017, hackers broke into the personal email accounts of over 1 billion Gmail users.

How did they get in?

By using what’s commonly known as a “phishing” scam. Essentially, the hackers sent an email that was disguised as a note from someone on their contacts list. Of course, many users didn’t think twice before opening it, as the sender was familiar to them.

Then, the victims were told that they needed to grant access to a third-party app in order to view an attachment their so-called “friends” had sent them.

Once the virus had the personal information it needed, it could then send itself to all of the initial victim’s contacts. This meant the scam was able to grow incredibly rapidly.

The lesson of this data breach? Always think twice before giving out your personal information to a third-party app.

*The IRS has even recently launched a campaign called, “don’t take the bait” to combat phishing scams that target tax professionals.


Chipotle

Yes, even everyone’s favorite fast food chain isn’t immune from a hack. Sadly, those who frequent the popular restaurant got a little bit more than just extra guacamole in April of this year.

By installing malware in Chipotle’s Point of Sale devices, hackers were able to steal the credit card information of countless customers. Essentially, the hackers were able to read the magnetic strip on the back of credits cards and get their numbers.

Hacking incidents like this are why inserting the chip is now so popular.

The hack was especially frightening as it affected multiple restaurant locations in a variety of cities.

Fortunately, Chipotle was able to quickly get a handle on the hack.


How Can You Prevent A Data Leak?

As you can see from the incidents above, data leaks can be costly, a huge blow to your brand’s reputation, and an enormous threat to customer service.

It’s always a good idea to invest in professional virus protection — especially if you use cloud-based software. Frequently run back-ups of your work, and always conduct rigorous testing to make sure there are no cracks in your security.

Additionally, if you have been hacked, you need to act as quickly as possible to prevent the situation from spiraling out of control. Start by using free data recovery software to ensure that you won’t lose all of your customer’s information or your company’s data.


Protect Your Customers — And Your Brand

Don’t end up like the companies on this list. Instead, start getting proactive about your data protection and recovery services.

Remember that new threats happen every day. Always stay on top of the latest hacking and malware news so you can continue to protect yourself and your customers.