Spam, scams and online fraud, identity theft and the problems associated with online purchases have become very worrying issues in cybersecurity. Browse the web while preventing these threats can be a challenge.
“With online crime on a constant and unrelenting rise, the chance of your online endeavors coming into contact with a problem is becoming increasingly likely every day.” (Cassie Phillips)
What are the main issues in cyberspace?
The spam is unsolicited messages sent massively via email, instant messaging and other digital communication tools. This method is usually used by advertisers because it does not lead to operating costs, except the management of their mailing lists. Spam can also circulate in chat rooms, blogs, and more recently, during a telephone conversation in real time via Internet (like Skype). Besides being annoying, spam can also be used to extract sensitive information to users and to spread viruses and other malware.
The identity theft online is to steal personal information in order to commit fraud via your email account as a result of shopping online or sending sensitive information such as your credit card numbers.
The identity theft is a related problem in which someone pretends to be the victim of social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. Identity theft can also involve spoofing the IP address of someone (the unique number assigned to your computer whenever you surf the Internet). The purpose of identity theft on social networks can range from a simple joke to more serious attacks to humiliate or hurt the social networking friends of the victim. Hackers use the IP address spoofing to cover their tracks or to have access to places that they are normally forbidden.
The risks associated with shopping online are notably overspending or received items that do not match their description once paid (or did not receive anything at all). Because of the distance between the buyer and seller online, shop on the Internet makes them vulnerable consumers receive poor quality goods.
How to stay safe?
The best defense against these scams and online fraud are generally based on the caution and skepticism using Internet:
- You should open emails only from safe senders and use filters or antispam software (there are free anti-spam software online, as Spamfence).
- Verify any requests for personal information online before responding. For example, a reputable financial institution will never ask you very personal information by e-mail to see if a request is legitimate, call your bank or visit their website (click does not the links of an email claiming to be from a issuing bank or credit card company).
- Do not disclose information that could personally identify you (full name, age, address, social insurance number, etc.) without a good reason.
- Set in standalone mode any device with an Internet connection when not in use (most mobile devices have a “flight mode” which disables their Internet functions).
- You can also help to minimize risk by not visiting as trusted sites.
Following are a list of three major cybersecurity issues and the safety tips.
Spam received by email often hides an attempt to thwart any anti-spam software you have installed. To achieve this, spammers are trying to find ways to change or hide their messages by placing, for example, spaces between letters or replacing key letters with numbers or special characters to prevent anti-spam filters from activate. Even if your anti-spam software is not always able to detect it, you should get to do it yourself quite easily. Spam can be used to bombard you with unsolicited messages that may include inappropriate or offensive adult content. They may also contain malicious software or be part of a “phishing scam”
Spam over IM
Spam by instant messaging (IM) is similar to those received by email. The main difference is that rather than concentrate on the bombing of your email inbox, spammers try to fool you via an IM service like Blackberry messaging or iMessage to Apple. Less common than spam by e-mail, spam by IM is more difficult to block because there is no software designed specifically for spam received using instant messaging services. An effective way to avoid much of the problem is to create a limited list of friends whose instant messages are allowed. Despite this, it is always possible that a computer belonging to someone on your “safe” list can be infected; That is why any strange link you receive via IM should be checked before clicking it.
Spam in blogs or forums
Spam is often found in online forums and bulletin boards as well as in blog sections of newspaper articles or online magazines. Spammers can tackle them by posting spam messages in the form of comments ranging from simple advertisements to links to malicious websites.
Spam by cell phone
It is possible to receive spam on your cellphone by e-mail, text messages or phone calls. The most common problems caused by this spam is you may be charged for these unsolicited text messages or have to pay precious minutes for these annoying calls.
The voice spam, or by VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), take the form of telephone calls over IP. Although this is still not very common, the biggest problem with this spam is that voice messages are on average 10 times bigger than the emails and they therefore consume a lot of bandwidth, which can bring clarity and drastically reduced call quality. The frequency of telephone spam is expected to increase as sources that are already sending large amounts of spam via e-mail can easily convert their messages into spam over IP.
Never respond to spam. If you do, you tell the sender that your phone, e-mail, or IM account is active and you’re making sure you’re receiving other unwanted messages. The most effective way to protect yourself against spam by e-mail is to use a filtering system: you can buy some anti-spam filters, but you can also download them free of charge online. When you’re processing content that does not offer filters, such as forums and comment sections, you basically have to rely on your own judgment: anything that looks like marketing, advertising, or inappropriate content generally does not deserve your attention.
2. Online Scams
Fraudulent online auctions today are among the most common issues covered by the largest number of complaints in cyberspace. You may encounter many types of scams when shopping online. By shopping on auction sites like eBay, for example, you may end up paying for stolen or counterfeit goods, or for goods that are never delivered. In addition, sellers can make false put on their own property in order to raise prices or include hidden or disproportionate shipping and handling charges. There must be a fair amount of skepticism and caution in shopping online, as some vendors unfortunately benefit from the scarcity of popular products like iPad or Nintendo 3DS to defraud buyers.
Phishing email / IM
The main purpose of this scam is to obtain personal information or to have access to credit cards or bank accounts. Phishing is a trick to persuade you to compromise your password information via e-mails (usually from a bank) and web pages that look legitimate but are not.
Keep in mind that banks and other financial institutions never communicate with their customers in the first place by e-mail. If you think there might be a problem with your bank account or credit card, call your bank or credit card company, or go to their legitimate site (make sure that the address Web starts with https).
There are a number of clues that can serve as warnings about the legitimacy of e-mails claiming to come from a financial institution:
- We ask for your password or your account number. Banks will never ask you to “confirm” this information.
- You say you have to act immediately. These emails often try to play on your fears by saying that your account will be closed if you do not act right away.
- The e-mail contains spelling or grammar errors.
- The link you are asked to click has a long URL that often contains many meaningless numbers and letters. The URLs of the banks are actually as short as possible to help you memorize them.
- You feel something is wrong. The phishing of URLs sometimes tries to copy the logo or other visual elements of a bank or a financial institution, but it is not always successful. Despite a good look, do not rely on an email claiming to come from a financial institution if it has already failed any other test.
Pop-up alerts (scareware)
Scareware is the term used to refer to “pop-up” alerts. They often claim to come from Internet security companies or law enforcement agencies. Clicking on one of them can lead to various negative impacts, ranging from downloading malware exposure of your personal information. In some cases clicking on a pop-up alert simply freeze your computer, after which the scammers will try to extort you for money, promising in exchange for the thaw.
One can generally avoid pop-up alerts by activating a blocker. Most browsers offer you the choice to view or not these windows:
- In Internet Explorer, select Tools, then Pop-up Blocker.
- In Firefox, select Tools, Options and Block pop-up.
- In Chrome, select Options, then Privacy. Then click Content settings (under Privacy), then Pop-ups and select Do not allow any site to show pop-ups (recommended).
- In Safari, select Preferences, then Security, and finally Block pop-up.
- AdAware and NoScript to stop receiving malicious popups.
The pre-payment scam begins with receiving an e-mail from someone claiming they need your help to get money out of another country. The catch is that you have to advance money, supposedly to cover the transfer fee, in exchange for which one promises you a small fortune once this task is accomplished. The victims of this fraud usually lose thousands of dollars.
Chains of letters
Chain scams involve sending an impressive list of contacts from an email prompting them to pass it on to their own contacts, and so on. You are asked to send a small amount of money to a number of contacts and add your name to the list, which supposedly provides you with a large sum at the end. The problem is that it is a modern version of a pyramid scheme: it is only the senders who initiated the chain who pocket money. Scams of this nature are illegal in most countries, including Canada and the United States.
Routing / forwarding mail
Through e-mail or online posting you are asked to receive and forward goods for a foreign company. Property that reaches you, however, is usually stolen or purchased through credit card fraud, thus making you an accomplice of the crimes committed by scammers.
“Congratulations, you won an Xbox …”
This scam begins with an e-mail stating that you have won a fashionable gadget, such as a new video game console, but in order to receive your prize, you must give your bank account number or credit card number to cover shipping costs. If you accept, you will not only lose the amount requested, but the security of your account or card may be compromised. If you really earn a prize, you will not be asked to disclose personal financial information or pay for shipping.
Video game consoles threatened
Since most video game consoles can now connect to the Internet, they are more vulnerable to some computer security issues. Even though viruses are not yet problematic for consoles, the intrusion into Sony’s PlayStation network – which has compromised the data of 77 million users – indicates that piracy and identity theft are potential The use of consoles.
Most scams and online fraud depend on greed or credulity of users. Being careful online is always paying off: almost all scams and fraud can be avoided by following the principle that “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” This rule applies to any sweepstakes, requests for personal information or discounted merchandise.
Phishing is an exception to the rule because it depends on people who do not know how to check the validity of a website or an email. Knowing that a web address is false will allow you to conclude that any content found there is also illegitimate. (To find the real Internet address of an institution, you can check in your Bookmarks or Favorites or use a search engine.)
Financial institutions do not send e-mails about your bank accounts. If in doubt, call the institution in the email and check whether the shipment is legitimate or not.
Computer security companies and law enforcement organizations also do not analyze your computer without your permission, just as they do not approach you either through pop-up windows.
Most online shopping websites possess tools to help you avoid fraudulent bids. If eBay, for example, provides an evaluation for each vendor (see right of any item for sale) based on the experiences of other buyers with that vendor, Amazon provides similar valuations for all independent vendors.
3. Identity Theft
Internet provides malicious people with innovative ways to steal personal information and commit fraud. Among other things, thieves can get your information by spreading viruses that install keyloggers or keyboard spyware (programs that record everything you typed on the keyboard) into your computer in order to discover your passwords, User, and credit card numbers.
Many online businesses store personal information about customers on their website so they can be used easily and quickly to serve a returning customer. Although convenient, this practice also allows access to personal information: for example, in 2011, Sony experienced an intrusion of data that caused the personal information of 77 million users of the Playstation network. A company spokeswoman admitted that it could not predict the next attack or guard against it given the nature of hackers – another reason for not allowing businesses to store credit information On their websites.
In addition to allowing criminals to use personal information to enrich themselves, identity theft can be used to obtain legal documents such as a driver’s license, health insurance card, social insurance number and a passport. This is what happened to Stancy Nesby, arrested or detained seven times between 2002 and 2004 because his identity was used in 1999 by a woman who was the subject of an arrest warrant. It was only four years later – and a lawsuit against the City of San Francisco – that the warrant was eventually corrected.
To protect yourself from identity theft, you must first avoid unnecessary information. Also:
Make sure your online accounts have strong passwords. A good password includes both lowercase and uppercase letters and a mixture of numbers and special characters (such as @ or #) and has at least 8 characters. It’s a good idea to have different passwords for different online accounts because if one of them is compromised, the others will be protected. You can do this easily by having an “unlimited” password and putting the first and last letter of each service online at the beginning and end: for example, if your unlimited password is “B! U3b3rrY”, your Facebook password would be “FB! U3b3rrYk”.
Never send personal information by e-mail because it is not safe.
Social networking sites are grounds for identity thieves. You should never accept an application to become a friend with someone you do not know and you should also be careful and selective about the type of information you post and share online.