"Microsoft, BT, TalkTalk and any other reputable company will not ring you about your allegedly faulty computer - they just want your MONEY"
The internet is a great way to stay in touch with friends and relatives, shop and pay bills online and do all sorts of research and planning such as booking holidays.
However, with Internet related crime growing annually it’s important to be aware of the methods
that hackers and fraudsters use to trick people into parting with information that they can then exploit.
Malware, or computer viruses as they are sometimes called, are rogue programs which can spread from one computer to another or silently burrow into a computer and steal personal information such as banking details and passwords.
They are often delivered as an attachment via an email or a website link in an email. If you click on
the link or open the attachment the malware downloads.
One of the most common and most dangerous pieces of malware is something called ransomware. This locks all the files on a computer, including photos and documents, and a payment is demanded to
release the files.
Another common scam is to receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from a well-known software company like Microsoft. They say there’s a problem with your computer and need to get access to your computer to fix it.
They will ask for personal details. But even a big company like Microsoft isn’t this omnipotent and it certainly wouldn’t know if there is a problem with your computer.
If you receive a call like this, hang up straight away.
Be cautious when entering your credit card
details and personal information on a shopping
website. Check that the company name appears in the address bar, if not it could be a fake or cloned site.
Always look for the padlock symbol in the
browser bar. This tells you if the website is
Be careful following links on social media, links forwarded to from people you don't normally hear from, or emails as these sometimes lead to fake sites
Scammers also create fake websites
which look official requesting you to
provide personal or financial
information. For example, a fake
bank or Government website may
be set up asking you to update your
account or security information.
Fraudsters are getting good at
copying websites, often they will
look very similar,
and only a few small details may
Fraudsters also send bogus phishing
emails in the hope that people will enter
their personal details.
They may direct you to a fake website or
trick you into thinking you’ve won a lottery
If you receive a suspicious email don’t
reply with your details or open any links or
documents. Delete the email. If the email
claims to be from an organisation, phone
them directly using the phone number on
their official website and ask them.
Fraudsters often use
social networks such as
Facebook to contact you
and gain your trust. If
something feels wrong, it
probably is. These tricks
can sometimes be hard to
spot especially if things
seem to be moving fast.
Never send the person
money or give them your
Some basic steps to protect you
1. How to protect yourself
Good security software will look for and remove malware before it can infect your computer. It will also block unwanted adverts from popping up that can track your activities or scan your computer for personal information. It will also flag up phishing mails and warn you about websites that contain malware.
2. Use security software
Every computer has an operating system that controls the hardware and programs. Operating system manufacturers release updates when they discover flaws. These updates are designed to protect the operating
system and stop hackers from exploiting vulnerabilities.
As such it’s important to apply these updates as soon as you receive notification that they are available. Sometimes the updates are applied automatically and sometimes you need to apply them manually.
3. Keep your router updated
Your router should have come with instructions on how to change your password. If not simply search online for the name of your router and the key phrase ‘how to change router password.’
If you have a wireless router, check that your wireless network is secure so that people living nearby can’t access it.
The best way to do this is change the password. Wireless routers come with default passwords and it can be relatively easy for a determined hacker to crack these passwords. Use a strong password.
4. Social media
On any social networking site, you must guard against people who want to steal your personal information. Use the privacy features on the site to choose who can see your prole and your posts.
At the same time don’t publish personal identifying information such as your telephone number, address or date
of birth. This type of information can be exploited by hackers.