Ever since the dawn of the Internet as a mass medium, people have been experiencing and experimenting with the great advantages it offers. From instant communication to the endless supply of information, marketing opportunities, online services and products, cloud storage, and entertainment – we have seen everything thanks to the Internet and the opportunities that it brought to us.
However, there is also another side of the Internet that only a few of us have seen – the one where the user privacy and security is the main target – mostly by hackers or users who want to steal our information.
The truth is, internet scams nowadays come in many forms. In order to maintain your privacy and employ top-level security, one must be cautious. Even one click on a wrong link can result in a security breach, data encryption, identity theft, viruses, or exposures of credit cards and bank account information.
In the light of October, the Cyber Security Awareness Month – we have decided to list the most common internet threats present out there.
As the saying goes, you should always know your enemy. Which is why every user needs to be cautious when dodging the variety of malicious threats along the way.
1. Phishing Scams
You may have heard the threat named ‘phishing’ but never got to an explanation of what it actually is.
The best way to explain today’s common phishing scams is as a fake page or an email informing you about a problem with your computer, bank account or Amazon account – all linking to a fake page (designed in almost identical way) where you need to submit your information and “get the problem solved”.
However, in all of the phishing cases, your information goes directly into the hands of the hackers and can be compromised very quickly after you enter it. This is why you should always check the domain and email address from which you are getting the message – and ensure that it is identical to the one you are using.
2. Spear Phishing Scam
As a more sophisticated form of phishing, spear phishing is a threat targeted towards specific individuals, organizations or businesses. Again, the main aim is to steal your data for malicious purposes (or install malware on your computer).
Spear phishing is a big problem for the business community as it targets businesses. Cybercriminals use a specific to those businesses information that was obtained elsewhere.
The best way to protect yourself from a spear phishing scam is to always check the email address and domain name when receiving incoming emails, seeing if it is slightly misspelled or contains randomized letters and numbers.
3. Fake Invoices
You may receive realistic-looking invoices via email from sites like Canada Post, iTunes, Amazon, Netflix or UPS where you might have an online account.
If you are suspicious of an invoice, do not open any attachments, click on links or input any personal information. Instead, call the organization directly to confirm if the invoice is legitimate.
4. CRA Scam
Did you receive an email claiming to be from Canada Revenue Agency requesting personal or financial information or asking to click on a link? Beware of a scam!
Read more about how to recognize other forms of CRA-related scams here.
5. Whaling Scam
Also known as CEO fraud, this security threat tricks a business director, senior executive or another high-profile target via website spoofing or an email in a form of a customer complaint or a legal subpoena. The purpose is to get access to a sensitive confidential information for fraudulent activities.
6. Greeting e-Cards
With the holiday season upon us, keep in mind the greeting card spam. You may receive an email that looks like an e-card from a colleague, a friend or a family member encouraging to click on a link. That simple click can download and install a malware on your system.
7. Online Purchase Scam
Have you ever seen a deal that seemed too good to be true? For example, a gadget at half its price? Scammers have new online avenues to steal money – fake websites and free trial traps with goods that never show up.
To protect yourself from such scams, our advice is to only shop on legitimate websites and use third-party payment systems such as PayPal, when possible.
This malware is designed to encrypt the files on a Microsoft Windows operating system making them impossible for users to access until a ransom is paid. WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017 affected more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries.
Stay alert when dealing with pop-ups and downloadable links. They can lead to spyware. Once it is installed on your computer, spyware is capable of reading and deleting your files, accessing your applications and reformatting your hard drive.
This information can be easily redirected or sent to another entity without the consumer’s consent, which is how the spyware works.
10. Cryptocurrency Scam
Cryptocurrencies are a relatively new unit in today’s market, mostly known for their growth at the end of 2017. This is what makes them attractive but also what easily lures people to potential “cryptocurrency awards” or different kinds of promotions.
Excessive promotions via social media, “guaranteed” profits, and “ticking-time-bomb” scare tactics are the warning signs of a scam method targeting newbie investors.
11. Tech Support Scam
The tech-support fraud uses malware to freeze your computer and to display a pop-up from alleged antivirus software, internet browser, or device manufacturer instructing to immediately call a number for tech support. The fraudster may try to remotely connect to your device or to take a payment for getting the device fixed.
As you can see, cyber threats appear in all shapes and sizes.
Cybercriminals are well aware of how the human nature works and of the flaws in software and apps. And they don’t hesitate to exploit any opportunity for their malicious intents.
So, if you are ready to protect yourself and your sensitive information, our advice is to take a look at Security From Inside Out blog to keep your practice management data safe.