The recent security attack on telecom provider TalkTalk has got everybody worried about cyber-security. But what can you do to make sure that you are safe from these criminals?
Beware of emails that might be trying to get access to your information. There are a huge amount of emails flooding people's inboxes that look convincing enough for you to believe they are from your bank, Paypal, or your telecom provider, but they are actually fake.
There are several things to look out for which can be a giveaway.
- Official emails will always begin with your real name, not "Dear Customer"
- If it asks you to click on a link, or download a file don't! Both links and downloaded files can contain malicious software, or "Malware", which can take over your computer, change your passwords, or even delete files on your machine.
- Check to see who the email is from, it may say "Paypal" but if the email address it comes from is 'firstname.lastname@example.org' then you can be sure it isn't an official correspondence.
Official emails will always ask you to go to a website and log in to your account using your username and password, never click on a link. Phishing for your personal data isn't limited to emails, there are plenty of operations that use scam telephone calls. These can vary from people claiming to be from your bank or even a governmental department, and may ask you for your username or password. Others may claim you have a virus on your computer and will attempt to take control of your computer by making you log on to a screen sharing software. Never give out passwords or allow people access to you computer if you are not 100% sure who they are.
It may be easy to use the same password for all your accounts, but this just makes it easier for hackers to gain access to your personal accounts. Use different passwords for your emails, bank accounts and online shopping. If your password is "123456" or "password" you may as well be wearing a hat with "please take my money" written on it. These have consistently been the world's two most common passwords for many years, and unfortunately will probably still be common for years to come. Don't help boost their popularity.
Check your transactions
You should check your bank and credit card statements regularly. If you spot any transactions you don't recognise, your security may have been compromised. Quite often there will only be a small amount taken, but it is sign that you need to report it to your bank and change your passwords immediately. Tens of thousands of people a year are victims of cyber-crime, but if you take the right precautions you can significantly reduce the risk that it will be you.