Cybercrime has become a very real problem nowadays. With the advent of the Internet and the phenomenal rise of the smartphone, fraudsters and cybercriminals are finding more and more inventive ways of scamming unsuspecting victims out of their hard-earned money.
From phishing scams to online identity theft, there are various ways that cybercrime can affect and even devastate the lives of ordinary, unwitting technology users, such as yourself.
Below we take a look at some of the best ways to protect yourself from becoming just another cybercrime statistic:
Secure your devices
When trying to avoid cybercrime, it’s a good idea to follow the old adage that prevention is better than cure.
It’s better to attend to something before it becomes a problem than to try and resolve a problem after it’s happened.
You should therefore make sure that you activate firewalls and use anti-virus/malware software on your devices.
This will go a long way in preventing viruses and hackers infecting your computers.
Passwords are an essential aspect of our online activity. From Internet banking to email, we use passwords practically on a daily basis.
This is why it’s essential that you use passwords that aren’t easy to guess. A strong password would typically be 8 characters or more and contain letters, numbers and symbols (! @ # *).
It’s also recommended not to use the same password across all your online accounts and also do your best to commit your passwords to memory.
If you write them down it provides hard evidence of your passwords that fraudster could use to gain access to your confidential accounts and profiles.[tip title=”moneysmart tip”]It’s also a good idea to change your passwords on a regular basis (roughly every 90 days). This can help prevent any further damage if the security of any of your online accounts has been jeopardised.[/tip]
Nurture your inner skeptic
Have you ever received an email announcing that you’ve won some grand competition that you didn’t even enter?
Or have you been approached online (via email, chat, even Facebook) with a get-rich-quick offer that simply sounds too good to be?
Don’t believe everything you see and/or read online, particularly if it comes from an unsolicited and/or unknown source.
When it comes to cybercrime prevention tactics, being skeptical can play a large role in helping you stay secured.
Don’t lag behind
With technology it’s vital that you stay up to date with the latest versions of all your operating systems and applications.
Making sure your computer is regularly updated with all the latest fixes and software updates will help prevent cybercriminals from taking advantages of any vulnerabilities they might otherwise have been able to use to gain access to your private and confidential information.[tip title=”moneysmart tip”]It can be helpful to make use of your computer’s auto-update functionalities that remind you whenever an update becomes available. This way you’ll always know you’re not lagging behind the technological curve.[/tip]
What goes online stays online (forever)
It may seem logical to many but it’s worthwhile emphasising that one should never publicly post online any sensitive or personally identifiable information (such as credit card numbers, account numbers or PIN codes), especially on a site that’s not secure.
Remember that once something has been posted online it has the potential to stay online forever (even if you’ve deleted it yourself).
Check every site’s security
Whenever making an online purchase make sure you check the security systems used by that particular site, which should be readily available and very visible.
If something on a site seems dodgy, investigate further and make sure that it’s legit before actually entering your payment details.
If you feel uncomfortable for whatever reason listen to your intuition and move to a more reputable site.[tip title=”moneysmart tip”]A good rule of thumb would be not to give out any confidential information (personal info, credit card details, ID numbers, etc.) anywhere other than trusted, reliable and well-known sites and online shopping platforms.[/tip]
Monitor your kids’ online activities
If you have young kids who use your devices it might be a good idea to install parental control software.
At its very basic this software can help you monitor your kids’ online activity as well as prevent them from accessing certain inappropriate and potentially unsecured and damaging sites.
There is a wide range of these types of software available so do your homework before installing anything on your computer.
It’s also a good idea to have an open and honest discussion with your kids about the potential dangers associated with online activity.
Get cybercrime help when needed
If you do fall prey to cybercrime, don’t panic. Act quickly and make sure you contact the appropriate parties to minimise the effects of the cybercrime, resolve the situation and to prevent it from happening again.
If the security of your banking information has been compromised stop the relevant cards, change all your PIN codes and Internet banking login details and contact your bank’s fraud department.[tip title=”moneysmart tip”]You should also call the South African Fraud Prevention Service, or SAFPS, for assistance with any issues regarding fraud and identity theft. Visit their website, email them or call their helpline (0860 101 248).[/tip]