Online Security: Top 5 tips to stay safe

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By Thomas Weekley

Did you know?

In 2018, Australia was the 8th most targeted country for electronic phishing and scams?

Phishing scams most commonly involve extorting money and information from users by tricking them into disclosing personal and financial information. These scams are a large problem which both individuals, companies and event IT providers must deal with on a constant basis. Whilst it may seen scary when reading about it, there are a few simple tips you should always follow to help stay safe online.

Phishing Scam Danger Sign

Top 5 Tips:

#1 Watch out for links

Many phishing emails will include links to fake websites which the scammers try to pass off as legitimate. Often, it’s a site that the victim knows and uses often such as document sharing sites including OneDrive, SharePoint or DocuSign. In reality, a quick look at the link and you should be able to see that it goes to a completely different website and domain. Without clicking the link, hover over the link with your cursor to view the small popup box showing you the real link destination.

#2 Be wary of threats and urgent deadlines

Often scammers will try to prompt you into making a hasty response or reply to their emails. They do this by outlining a fake imminent threat to your security which needs urgent action to remedy. These often come in the form of unsolicited password reset requests.

Even if the email has come from a legitimate source, unless you have personally requested a password reset, always be wary and confirm before proceeding. These scammers have been known to send fake password reset emails from legitimate sources by taking advantage of unpatched exploits in the sender’s environment.

#3 Keep your systems up to date

One of the best ways to keep your IT environment safe and secure is to keep all your software and computers up to date with all security patches. This helps to ensure any exploits which could allow unauthorized access to your computer and email etc. remain closed. Many scammers take advantage of compromised computers to do their dirty work. They utilize the security exploits which have yet to be patched or have fallen to the wayside. 

#4 Browse securely with HTTPS

Website security has come a long way in recent years and many web browsers are beginning to enforce the use of secure browsing. HTTPS is a secure method of browsing the web which encrypts your web traffic so that only you and the website you’re using can read it. This helps prevent people impersonating you and can prevent multiple kinds of cyber-attacks. It is always recommended that you always use HTTPS and this is especially true when accessing services such as online banking where you are submitting sensitive personal information online.

#5 Follow your commonsense

One of the best ways to stay safe online is to follow your common sense and trust your instincts. Always be mindful of emails which ask for confidential information or give you a sense that it’s not quite right as there is a good chance these aren’t legitimate. 

Most legitimate organisations won’t be emailing you asking for confidential information. A good thing to look for is spelling or grammatical abnormalities or impersonal greetings such as ‘Dear Customer‘ or ‘Dear Sir/Madam‘. This is often used as an attempt to bypass spam filters.

What now?

With the rise of phishing attacks and online scams, their complexity is increasing dramatically to counteract technologies that are used to help prevent or mitigate attacks. It’s equally as important to make sure that yourself and your staff are educated about these threats, and what they should and shouldn’t be doing online. This will make them alert and help them identify an attempted attack which can be stopped before anything happens. It’s essential to stay safe online.

Looking to secure your business from phishing attacks? Find out about our security solutions here.

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