Internet threats are all around us every day, whether we are aware of it or not. In this piece, we’ll have a look at the five online scams that threaten you the most—and which, unfortunately, are most likely to ensnare you at some point during your virtual life.
Scams, of course, are not relegated to the online sphere. Nevertheless, when they appear on the Internet, they take on numerous forms—whether a hacked Facebook account imploring you for money, a very sketchy offer for an “all-expenses-paid” trip to Jamaica, or a strange e-mail in which a Nigerian prince asks you for money. Word to the wise: if an e-mail message, or offer sounds amazingly good and you haven’t done anything to qualify for it, it’s probably not legit.
In this practice, users on a legitimate website are encouraged to head over to fraudulent ones instead; this is done by imitating the legit site’s interface (such as a bank or a social network). To account for this, be wary of websites that have “.com” as their top-level domain when it should be “.org” or “.gov.”
According to this technique, hackers send you an e-mail that contains malware or a virus. To mask their attacks, they make their e-mails look like they come from well-known companies (like Apple and Microsoft) and even governments. You can fight against this by not opening e-mails from organizations you’re not signed up with. Also, don’t open the e-mails in your spam folder; they’re there for a reason.
The next example of a threat is baiting. In this method, you will receive a piece of electronic media, such as a USB drive or memory stick, from someone—and, lo and behold, the drive contains malware that is destined to infect your computer. To ward against this, don’t accept media from people you don’t know. Simple as that.
This is the process of hiding URLs and links in clickable content; when a user hits the link, they download malware or viruses. One example of this is apps for Facebook that say they’ll show you who’s visited your profile page. You can avoid this by not going onto websites you’re not familiar with, and heeding your browser’s warnings.
Some friendly advice
Keep a careful eye on your banking receipts, and avoid responding to strangers who message you out of nowhere. Don’t put protected information on devices that can be connected to the Internet. Don’t access your personal accounts when you’re using public WiFi, such as at the library or at the airport. Don’t put valuable information—like social security numbers, banking details, your home address, and even your birthday—where anyone can find it. Don’t give it to a website or social network unless you’re sure it’s legit. Remember, services like Facebook will never ask you for your SSN or banking details. Finally, please know that most viruses come from the Internet; you can get them simply from visiting websites, even if you don’t download anything. Another thing you can do is secure your password by making it complex, with numbers and symbols in addition to letters. Change your password often for additional security.
So, now that all’s been said and done, we know the many kinds of scams we desperately need to avoid if we’d like to preserve our online presence, our money—and yes, even our dignity. Use these tips to protect yourself; your life will be improved.