Arm yourself with these tips for identifying and avoiding potentially harmful scams from the hackersphere
Oh, what a glorious information age we’re living in. But as convenient as communications tools like email and smartphones are, they need to be protected from things like viruses, malware, security breaches and other unwelcome intrusions. We’ve all gotten the obvious emails requesting your banking information with the promise of millions of dollars being deposited in your account from some far-away prince. The problem is, modern scams have gotten more sophisticated and aren’t always so easy to spot.
Malware can potentially infiltrate your address book or sniff out your passwords and personal data, and phishing scams are designed to lure you into divulging your information with the purpose of stealing your money. And while keeping your passwords updated and secure is always a good place to start for general protection, we’ve put together some tips to help keep you keen to possible threats.
Don’t open suspicious email
If you think you’ve received something suspicious, err on the side of caution and don’t open it. But beware: scammers are clever and will try to mimic emails from legitimate businesses, like a bank. So if you have any doubts about an email, never follow through with their request.
Never send sensitive information over email
Legit businesses will never ask for personal information like your credit-card number or social-insurance number over email. If it’s really that urgent, they’ll notify you by phone or mail. As a general rule, never share sensitive information over email, no matter who it’s to.
Signs of spam
Watch for these warning signs that you’ve received something potentially malicious:
1. Unknown senders and weird subject lines
Keep an eye out for unknown senders and questionable subject lines. A phishing scam subject line may try to convince you that some kind of urgent action is required on an account you may have. For example:
Subject: Your account has been suspended! Please login to verify your personal information now!”
What to do:
If you’re concerned that the email is actually legitimate and you really need to update your info, simply call or email the company directly. Don’t reply to the suspicious email and don’t click any links within.
2. Watch out for invalid links
Bad links are meant to bait you into clicking. Junk mail will often use these links, embedded with malware, trojans or other nasty stuff that can harm your computer. For example:
Your ID was used to log in to your account through unknown device. Your account is now blocked temporarily. Please log in to your account to verify your personal information now.
Thank you, The Company Inc. 2014
3. It looks legit but is it?
If you get a URL that looks legit but you’re unsure, Google it first to compare. Hackers will often use URLs that are very close to the real thing.
What to do:
Again, it’s best to delete and block these emails right away, but if you want to determine if a link is real or not, hover your mouse over the link, but DO NOT click it. A pop-up will appear exposing the real address the link will take you to. If it doesn’t match the written link, it’s fake.
To protect yourself, we suggest getting some anti-malware software. Rogers Online Protection is a good example. It will protect you from viruses, spyware, phishing schemes and more. Just go to rogers.com/getprotected to learn more.