Protect yourself online
With cybercrime on the rise, here are some tips and advice for keeping your money and personal information safe.
Computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware and ransomware – all new phrases for the 21st century, but do you really understand what they mean?
Such terms come under the umbrella of ‘malware’ or hostile software that can attack your computer and, in turn, not only cost you money but also steal your identity. Cybercrime is on the rise as more of us use computers for our personal correspondence, shopping and managing our money. Malware also targets mobile devices, including tablets, laptops and mobile phones.
It is important to realise that just because you cannot see your data being hacked does not mean it isn’t happening. However, by understanding the dangers of cybercrime you can take the first steps to protecting yourself.
Hackers can use your emails to gain access to your personal accounts and it is important to make your passwords as strong as possible. Experts suggest using three random words, especially if you are protecting banking or payment details. Be sure to vary passwords across different accounts.
Be mindful of being hacked when dealing with emails because scams are frequent and often seem incredibly plausible.
Email addresses can be used fraudulently, so even if the message you receive is from a person or business you know, be on your guard if it appears in any way unusual.
If in doubt, contact the sender directly by another means in order to verify the email’s authenticity.
You should not respond to emails that ask for your personal or financial details. Banks, building societies and the police will never contact you this way to ask for a password, PIN or account number and they won’t instruct you to transfer money into a new account.
Should an email ask you to log-in to an online account, do not click the link in the message itself. It’s safer to type the full address into your browser or make a fresh search for the website in question. Avoid opening attachments or clicking links from any unsolicited emails and delete anything you consider suspicious.
On the move
Using mobile devices on the train, in hotels or coffee shops may be convenient, but it also puts you at risk if you connect to the internet via a public Wi-Fi service that may not be properly secured.
You should secure your personal Wi-Fi at home with a password to stop other people accessing it. If you are using a shared computer, never tick the box that says ‘remember my details’ or password.
Always install antivirus software on your devices and carry out the latest software and app updates as soon as they are available as these often contain important security upgrades.
After all these steps have been taken, if you still fear you have fallen foul of fraud, then contact your bank or building society and report any scams to the police.
Need more information?
For more tips and advice, visit our online Security Centre.
You can forward any suspicious emails or web links relating to your West Brom accounts to email@example.com and we’ll investigate them.
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