It has been reported that cyber crimes are hitting victims harder over the past year, with each victim losing about US$1,158. This news may seem shocking if it happened just a decade ago but given the proliferation of technology today, it is of little wonder that this is happening. For instance, we shop online, do banking transactions online and have social media accounts where we publicly share details of our lives with strangers. All of these activities provide cyber criminals with a fodder of information to take advantage of. To avoid being a victim of cyber crime, we at Computer Guys suggest that you take the following precautions:
1) Think twice before keying in your personal information.
Before you happily key in your address and credit card information, double-check the website. Is it a legitimate or reputable website? Does it carry all the necessary security logos such as Secure PayPal?
Even if it is a well-known website which you frequent regularly, just take a look at the URL again. Cyber criminals have been known to create fake websites that is identical to reputable website in order to get unsuspecting users to give out their information. However, a dead giveaway is a misspelled URL as the criminals can not get hold of the original URL, so be sure to look out for that.
Lastly, ask yourself if it is really necessary for the company or website to have that information. For example, if you are just signing up for online accounts, there is no need for them to know your address, NRIC number or birth date.
2) Be selective about what you post on social media.
“Which primary school did you attend?” or “What is the name of your first pet?” and other similar variants are the typical security questions set whenever you sign up for an online account. These security questions will help to retrieve your password or reset it should you ever forgot your password. If these answers can be easily found on your Facebook profile, then hacking into your account would be a breeze. So be wary of what you post online.
It would also be wise to not reveal your exact birth date on social media profiles. This is because banks and companies use your birth date as a form of verification for certain transactions, so if you must list your birthday publicly, at least leave out the year.
3) Lock everything.
Use a password lock on all your electronic devices to prevent unauthorised users from downloading software without your permission. For instance, if you leave your devices unattended for a while, a cybercriminal can use that time to install a programme that capture all your keystrokes. This will let him or her gain access to all your accounts and passwords.
4) Always remember that your smartphones and tablets are mini-computers.
Which means that you need to install security software such as anti-virus software.
5) Learn how to recognise phishing, and keep yourself up-to-date.
The rule of thumb is to not download any files sent to your email without verifying the source first. Likewise, be wary of emails asking for your personal details. Sometimes these emails may seem like that come from a bank or a government board, but rest assured that they will never ask you for sensitive information over email like that.
One good preventive measure against cybercrime is to simply be aware of the latest tricks that cybercriminals are up to. For instance, there is a recent ransomware going around called Cryptolocker, which is a malicious software that locks all your files. Once that happens, the only way you can unlock your files is to pay a 300USD ransom and pray that the cybercriminal might be kind enough to send you a private key to unlock your precious files.
You were not aware of that? Now you are. You are welcome.
6) Check your accounts and credit card bills regularly
Spotting unusual activities early will help to cut your losses.
7) Or you can save yourself the trouble and do what the Indian Prime Minister did.
The US National Security Agency has reportedly spied on over 35 unnamed world leaders, but the Indian Prime Minister is not bothered because he has no personal email account or mobile phone. It is a drastic measure, but hey, it works!