Sadly, the rapid progression of technology doesn’t always bring about positive things. Along with the technological progress that benefits everyone, new threats are developed in the cyber world. There are many bad actors out there from a multitude of different countries attempting to use technology and the internet to defraud and steal from innocent victims. If you want to avoid these scams, you need to become educated on exactly how they work. Below are five of the most common cyber scams you should be aware of.
You may have heard of the term phishing. However, not everyone knows exactly what this term refers to. It has nothing to do with the similarly spelled psychedelic rock band. Instead, phishing is the act of using e-mail, social media, or some other internet communication tool to track an internet user into clicking on a malicious link that will either directly attack their computer or entice them into supplying personal and financial information that could be used for fraud.
Quite often, these e-mails or other messages are designed to appear as legitimate requests from companies and other entities you may already have a relationship with. This may include online stores you shop at or even your bank. To avoid such scams, you need to implement a good e-mail spam filter and examine each e-mail you receive carefully. Look for inconsistencies in regards to the e-mail address, e-mail content, link address, and more that are telltale signs that entity is not who they purport to be.
The second kind of scam that has harmed many people in recent years is ransomware. Ransomware is a form of malware. Malware can be defined as software that was coded with the express purpose of damaging a computer or computer network.
In the case of ransomware, an actual ransom is used as a means of stealing from the computer owner. The strategy implemented most often involves the encryption of a person’s hard drive without their permission. The software then tells the user that they must pay a ransom, often in untraceable cryptocurrency, to have their files decrypted. Avoiding ransomware can be difficult on your own. Consider investing in a vulnerability scanner that can alert of you incoming threats before they are actually downloaded onto your computer.
Phony Antivirus Software
Another form of malware you must be sure to avoid is fake antivirus malware. As the name suggests, this is software that pretends to be a legitimate application that alerts you of viruses, malware, and other threats on your hard drive. However, the truth is the only real threat is the fake antivirus software itself.
This is often used as a means of stealing from computer owners by getting them to pay for a fraudulent antivirus software subscription to remove an identified “threat” on their computer. However, it’s a form of fraud. The threat identified does not exist, and the actual threat, the malware program itself, will remain after the payment is made. Instead, only use professional antivirus software you trust and scan for malware on your computer on a regular basis.
Social Media Hijacking
In certain cases, the fraudsters don’t actually need to create their own accounts to attack you. Instead, they can hack into the accounts of your friends and family members to perpetrate their fraud. This is a common scam executed on social media networks like Facebook. You may suddenly get a message from a Facebook contact telling you to click on a link. Clicking the link in question would result in your computer downloading viruses or some other kind of malicious software.
This kind of scam can be hard to prepare for. However, just be careful about any link you are sent by anyone online. Scan the link for threats before you ever attempt to click on it. Also, be careful if your social media contacts are acting or typing differently than they usually do.
Fake Online Stores
E-commerce provides everyone with a great deal of convenience when shopping for things they want. However, the online marketplace also presents new opportunities for fraud to occur. One thing you should be wary of is online stores you are not familiar with. Online purchases account for 38 percent of complaints to the Better Business Bureau.
Such stores may claim to sell the products you want for prices that are so low you couldn’t possibly pass them up. However, these sites are only aiming to obtain your personal and financial information so you can be scammed out of every penny in your bank accounts. Only deal with well established online stores that have multiple legitimate reviews from real customers.
Technology has provided us all with a very convenient lifestyle. Sadly, sometimes technology also creates problems that didn’t exist before. This is true in regards to online scams. Avoiding such scams can be difficult. However, if you pay closer attention and use the right cyber threat detection tools, you can avoid becoming another victim of cybercriminals