Article by Richard Churchill – First Published December 2009
Security on the internet is about more than just the programs installed on your computer, there are other more subtle threats. There are thousands of fake websites and millions of fake emails which are all designed to get your personal details, simply by looking official and asking you for them.
These fake websites and emails are known as phishing scams, and rely on you believing that the email or website is real. These attempts are getting more a more sophisticated, even computer security experts have been caught out.
So how can you stay safe? Firstly, remember a few key facts, most companies have ways of asking you to update your information AFTER you have logged in in the normal way. It is normally a bad idea to use links in emails unless you are 100% sure the email is real.
A bank will never ask existing customers to supply their full details online, if there are any major changes to the way you have to log in to your account always phone and ask (using a trusted number).
You can check a website is genuine by entering the wrong password first, if it is accepted you know something bad is happening and can leave immediately.
Scammers can be very persistent, a friend received 5 emails from ‘yahoo’ warning of increasingly dire consequences if he didn’t complete the account update form, they were all bogus.
What to do if you get caught out? Contact the website/bank immediately, most will have a page about fraud on their website (a quick google/yahoo/MSN search will find you the real website). They will then help you reset your password and check for damage. Your email could be very handy for an identity thief so if you think your email has been read, it is always worth signing up to an identity protection service.
Software to help you detect phishing scams is starting to appear. These however are still a work in progress, so the best advice is still to treat everything you see on the internet with suspicion and if in doubt contact companies directly using trusted email addresses or phone numbers.
If you are fortunate enought to live in Bristol or South Gloucestershire and wold like help with your computer why not give us a call? You can call us on 01454 616365 or use our contact form and we will call you back.