Learning to Avoid Online Scams
March 28, 2019
Contrary to popular belief, the overwhelming number of hacks that happen online daily don’t involve any fancy or complicated software to get into people’s computers or bank accounts. Hackers and other such cybercriminals use far simpler but equally as effective tactics. And what’s more, they don’t exploit the network, per se, but the users, themselves.
Known as social engineering, this is a technique of psychological manipulation of people into divulging sensitive or confidential information. It’s a way that influences others into acting against their best interests. These techniques, often called phishing attacks, work by exploiting people’s cognitive biases, also known as bugs in the human hardware. That said, there are several ways to recognize and prevent these attacks from happening to you.
Aside from contacting you directly over the phone or text messages, hackers also prefer to use their evil tactics via email. In most cases, they will try to imitate a trusted entity, such as a bank, a physician’s office, school, or even the government and present you with a seemingly legitimate scenario so that you will hand them sensitive information.
In some cases, that legitimate source can also be a friend, boss, or coworker. Keep in mind that, once a hacker gets their hands on someone’s password, they also gain access to their email and contact list. If they come from a friend, these emails will sometimes ask you to send them some money urgently because they were robbed, beaten, or stranded in a foreign country, etc. At other times, these emails could have a link or a downloadable document attached, which will install malicious software, if accessed.
If the email originates from a seemingly legitimate institution, they will usually ask you to verify your information (passwords, user names, social security numbers, etc.). They may also pretend to respond to a question you never asked. The email – and the site these emails will redirect you – may look legitimate, but they aren’t.
You can come across all sorts of baiting scenarios when browsing the internet. They can take on numerous shapes and sizes, and you can stumble on them where you least expect it. But what most have in common is usually an offer that’s too good to be true. Free movie or music downloads, lottery wins, you name it. But once you click on these offers, your computer will get infected.
How To Avoid Them
The number one rule that you need to remember is that no institution or legitimate source will ever ask you to provide financial or security information over the internet. Whenever you’re asked to do so, it’s a scam. Similarly, if you haven’t specifically requested help from an organization, they will not contact you with an answer. If you are in doubt over the sender’s legitimacy, it’s always better to pick up the phone and contact them directly to see whether they sent an email or not.
Aside from that, you should always set your email spam filters to high. You shouldn’t neglect your updates, either. Install anti-virus and firewalls and make sure that they’re up to date. The same goes for your operating system’s automatic update.
We hope that this information will serve you well as you safely browse the internet and check your emails. And if you ever require a loan, Illinois Lending Corp is at your service. Apply online today or call us at 1.877.LOAN.195