Online Security and Scams

Computer Fraud

Computer fraud, phishing scams, virus attacks are all on the increase as the world as the online world increase in size and complexity.  Fraudsters are finding more and more ingenious ways to compromise our data and online accounts.  But you can help to protect yourself by:

  • Avoiding bad habits with your online security.  Here are the six mistakes people always make…  Read more…  

    Topics include; sticking to the same password, ignoring software updates; opening email attachment; and using Windows XP.

  • Using strong passwords.  Rather than using a dog’s name or the name of your favourite football team, use a word or a phrase that is difficult to guess by a fraudster.  Please see the Cyber Aware advice for strong passwords here

The best passwords are a string of characters that do not form any kind of word or pattern for example ‘ztrgswujb’ but while these are very strong, they can be difficult to remember.  Instead, choose two words and corrupt them for example ‘jungle’ and ‘bungalow’ to make ‘jungalow’.  Then add some numbers to the password to make, for example ‘1071jungalow’.  You can then make this even stronger by adding special characters eg, $, £, &, and so on.

Many people use the system of replacing letters with numbers for example ‘Carol’ becomes ‘C4r0l’. But please be careful with this on sensitive accounts as it easy for a fraudster to guess.

  • Backup your data.  I cannot emphasise this enough.  If your computer or laptop gets stolen, you could lose rather more than a lump of electronics.  There are people and companies who store all their data on one machine and never think about keeping a security copy of their data.  This could include business account, emails, photos, contact lists, etc.

Please take a moment to think how your life could be affected by the loss if a machine by whatever means with no way of restoring your data.

  • Use a reputable antivirus system and make sure it is updated regularly. There are many anti-virus companies that offer free versions of their products.

Please look at this very short video… Also, you could lose all your data if your hard disk is infected with a virus.

  • Phishing Scams.  These are emails that say something like “your details have been corrupted, please use this link to log in”.  They could purport to be from your bank or credit card company, they could look as if they come from eBay or Paypal.  Other examples of phishing emails look as if they have come from Amazon, BT, M&S, as well as most mobile phone companies.

Phishing: the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers, online.

But banks, credit card companies and other financial organisations do not do this.  Nor do most reputable websites.  If you think there may be a problem, then ignore the email and simply log on the site in question as would normally, do not follow the links on the email.

Please read the eight things your bank will never ask here.

Scam Telephone Calls

These are phoney companies, often purporting to be Microsoft, who call to tell you that they have detected something wrong with your PC, possibly a virus.  They then persuade you to download a piece of software that connects to you PC which then will try to steal your data, your passwords, your login details, your financial details; and may well then infect your PC with a virus. Please be aware that NO computer companies do this; they say they have detected this and that, but they are able to detect nothing. They are ALL fraudsters. Be aware.

If you think you are a victim of this type of attack, and if it in progress, simply turn you PC off as quickly as possible. Then call a computer expert as the offending software may have been installed.

What have I missed?

I am working on this stuff regularly but I admit to getting things wrong occasionally. Please use the contact form to comment and suggest additional advice for these pages.