Technology provides us with many wonderful opportunities. You can order French macarons from Paris, watch a live stream of a college graduation ceremony and get ordained as a minister - all with a few strokes of your keyboard. But wonderful opportunities are not all that is available on the internet…there are plenty of opportunities to be taken advantage of online.
Taking smart steps to protect yourself from cybercriminals is crucial in today’s world. We are always connected and must stay vigilant in practicing good computer security habits. What are good computer security habits? Watch the video and read below for tips on how to take precautions while online to help keep you and your personal information safe.
Dos and don'ts of password security
Password security is an essential part of protecting not only your information, but your devices and accounts as well.
1. Create a Strong Password
Creating a strong password that is not easily guessed can make a huge difference in your cyber security. Strong passwords should be long and include different characters, numbers, and symbols. The more variation, the more difficult it is to guess. If you find it difficult to remember long and detailed passwords, you can try using a paraphrase to help you remember such as this: 2be0Rn0t2be_th4tISth3? (read out loud so it can be sounded out).
2. Don't Use the Same Password
You should always refrain from using the same password for multiple devices or accounts in case one account is hacked. You can also use a password manager to help manage multiple passwords for different accounts.
What exactly is phishing? And what is the difference between phishing, vishing and smishing?
When checking emails or receiving phone calls, always be aware of the sender or caller. Phishing is a common method that attackers use to send emails to you requesting your personal information. Vishing uses the same concept except over the phone. Have you ever received a mysterious text message? That’s called smishing.
Often these emails, phone calls or text messages can sound very convincing, so it is important to know what to look for.
Phishing = a financial fraud where cybercriminals use email to lure, dupe and defraud people
Vishing = phishing that takes place over a phone call
Smishing = phishing using SMS text messages
See the below screenshot of a phishing email example. This email appears to be from a bank. Many times, the scammers will even use your bank’s logo and information to make it more convincing. When you look closely at the email, however, you can see some prominent features that prove it is fake.
Here in the “from” line, we see that the email provided is “acbbank.com” rather than ABC Bank. A bank or any major institution is not going to misspell its own name in the email address. Additionally, if the link within the email is hovered over it will typically display a different URL for example “bit.ly” link which are generally not used in financial and other large institutions. Lastly, there are typically spelling or grammatical errors, for example, the sentence “We recently contacted you after noticing on your online account, which is been accessed unusually” doesn’t make sense.
Knowing what to look for in phishing emails will prevent you from sharing your information to the wrong parties. Here are 5 tips to recognize a phishing email:
How to recognize a phishing email
1. Look at the Email Address
If an institution is legit, it will not use an @gmail.com, @aol.com or the like as their sending domain. Do not just look at the sender name. Make sure the “From” email is an address that is legit and is spelled correctly.
2. It has a suspicious link or attachment
You should be on high alert before clicking any links or opening any attachments in an email you receive an email out-of-the-blue. It could be a malicious URL and your devise will likely end up with a virus.
3. It is asking for info or money
There are many types of phishing attempts, but they all are all looking for the same thing: a payout. If an email is requesting private information, often for a deal that sounds too good to be true, it is likely a cyber attack at play.
How to stay safe on Wi-Fi
Lastly, when connecting to Wi-Fi, be sure it is secure. The information shared while using public Wi-Fi, could be intercepted by hackers, it is important to make sure you are protecting yourself. Using WiFi that is password protected or a personal hotspot can help limit your exposure to hackers.
Remember, Alfa will never call, e-mail or text and ask you to provide confidential information about your account, social security number, name or password. If you’re ever contacted by Alfa Insurance and it appears to by phishing, please reach out to us at 1-800-964-2532.