by Charles Jorgensen

Millions of consumers fall victim to cybercrime every year but after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a marked increase in the levels of online fraud across the world and cyber criminals are busier than ever these days. As a result, nowadays it is as important as ever to be vigilant and protect oneself against this scourge. Here are some useful tips to avoid becoming a victim.

  1. Keep your software updated. Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defences against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Cybercriminals often use known bugs in software to gain access to your system so keep everything up to date and you will be better protected.
  2. Set strong passwords. A strong password is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Also, be sure not to use the same passwords for numerous accounts and use a password manager to maintain a list of secure passwords.
  3. Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with. If anything looks suspicious, hover over links and email addresses to see if they are what they appear.
  4. Manage your social media settings. Hackers can use social media profiles to figure out your passwords and answer your security questions in the password reset tools. Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, mother’s maiden name, etc. Be wary of requests to connect from people / companies you do not know or people / organisations who claim to have just changed their phone number or bank account.
  5. Secure your internet connection. Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, be cautious about what information you are sending over it and strongly consider using a VPN service on a shared network.
  6. Shop safely. Before shopping online, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.
  7. Think before you do anything digital. For everything digital, before doing anything – think about whether it makes sense. When you’re not sure ask someone who’ll know or search the web! A healthy scepticism for anything digital could help you avoid a nasty (and sometimes costly) encounter with a cybercriminal.
  8. Don’t share everything. While sharing is fun, its cautious to minimise where you put information related to your address, date of birth and other personal data. Also, avoid sharing pictures of things that might lead criminals to assume that you have lots of money that they could try and steal.