Whether it's for carrying out some financial fraud, asking for ransom money, or document theft, online scammers can try to access your data for multiple reasons and benefits. They can do so by various methods like phishing, unsecured WiFi connections, and even tracking software. If you don't identify and protect yourself from these scams, you may fall prey to data loss - temporary or permanent.
Speaking of which, you must be thinking about how to safeguard yourself from these scammers and protect your data. Fighting against the cybercrime of the modern world requires awareness, presence of mind, and staying away from the unknown. You should also invest in some good anti-virus software for your devices. Also on Mobile phones, don't share any information with unknowns, and don't use Public Wi-Fi(s) and charging points. In this article, we will share information about common attacks that scammers carry out along with what preventive measures you can take to secure your devices.
Different Ways by Which Online Scammers Access Your Data
Cyber scammers are smart. They know how to trap naive users in their scams. Some common ways include:
1. Phishing: Phishing is fraudulent text, images, and emails that seem to come from legitimate sources. However, in reality, these are being sent by scammers to lure you into their trap. It is the most common cybercrime worldwide, with 323,972 victims globally. Phishing can cause reputation damage, financial loss, and even identity theft if not identified accurately.
2. Social Media and Shoulder Surfing: Social Media asks for your contact number to keep your data safe and private. However, if your contact details get leaked and scammers get access to it, you may end up in huge trouble. Scammers may also overhear your personal information in public places, which is also known as Shoulder surfing. They can hack public WiFi and breach your private information from there as well.
3. Dark Web: Dark webs are where hackers steal, access, buy, and sell personal information (like login credentials and credit card info) that may have been leaked or breached from various sources. After buying the breached information, hackers use it to commit fraud/crimes. The dark web is a network of illegal websites, that can be accessed using some special browsers only like Tor. We would advise you to stay away from it.
4. Ransomware: Although Ransomware is common in organizations, it's a cybercrime where scammers steal data in exchange for a ransom (money). Victims have spent more than $144.2 million to fix these attacks. Additionally, Ransomware can cause reduced downtime, loss of customer trust, and reputational damage for the organizations.
5. Trojan Horse: This is a virus that is shared as a legitimate gift or file, that you may receive in your email. If you download it, it downloads a virus file in your mobile phone or laptop which contains scripts from scammers that can leak your browser history, your pictures from your phone, your important data from the phone, etc.
6. IP Address Spoofing: Hackers can also gain unauthorized access to PCs and infect your devices through IP address spoofing. They send IP packets from spoofed IP addresses to hide their identity and do fraudulent activities. With IP spoofing, hackers can crash servers, infect devices (with malware), or steal personal data.
How to Protect Yourself From Online Scammers?
The best way to protect yourself from online scammers is by adopting good cyber ethics. For that, you can try the following:
1. Install AntiVirus Software
If you don't have an antivirus installed on your PC/device, you may compromise significantly on your online privacy and safety. You may also be inviting malware, viruses, and spyware to your device. That's why it's recommended to install the best antiviruses software for all gadgets so it doesn't harm your system. Keep it up to date so the software can consistently scan your systems/devices for any viruses and malware.
2. Familiarise Yourself with Phishing Scams
To keep phishing attacks at bay, learn about phishing and how to identify the same. Check for common points like:
If you find these things in an email, it may be a phishing scam. While these are just the basics, invest your time in good phishing courses to be more aware of these cyber vulnerabilities.
3. Use Strong Passwords
Keeping simple and predictable passwords can make your personal details vulnerable to hackers. That's why choose strong passwords for your accounts with alphabets, upper/lower cases, numbers, and special characters.
4. Avoid Public WiFi
Public Wi-Fi(s) are a hub for hackers. If you sign in to unsecured WiFis with these cyber criminals, you may end up losing your financial or personal info. That's why you should try to avoid public WiFi. If you've no choice, use Wi-Fi under secure private connections like VPN.
5. Avoid Public Charging Points
Try to charge your phone battery while you are at your home. Avoid using Public charging points because you plug in a wire into your phone and that wire can be used to access your phone's file very easily. At least keep your own charging cable with you and start using it for starters.
Use verified and authentic apps
Be aware of catfishing and romance scams
Stay away from schemes with unrealistic claims
Update device software
Shred sensitive documents
Report any suspicious activity
These were common ways by which online scammers could access important information from your system/devices, and how you can stay safe in this world of ever-increasing cybercrime activities. Implement the above-mentioned fixes to protect your information and keep cyber vulnerabilities at bay.