Web Alert: Here’s how you can avoid online scams

By Mahmoud Mounir

DUBAI 3 February 2019: Malicious online criminals prey on unsuspecting victims, exploiting the convenience of our online lives.

Common email scams target unsuspecting online users anywhere and everywhere – at home, at work, in the airport, at your local coffee shop – when you’re connected, you could be putting valuable data at risk if you’re not taking proper precautions. Your online identity puts you more at risk than you realize but taking simple proactive steps can help guard against the bad guys.

Mahmoud Mounir

Own Your Online Identity

Even the experts can fall victim to common online scams. We’re online every day – shopping, socializing binge watching and working – and most of us aren’t perpetually on guard for malicious activity. But familiarizing yourself with some of the most common signs of fraud can help trigger a warning before you inadvertently click a suspicious link.

When it comes to email, watch out for the following:

  • Urgent requests to click or share personal information
  • Emails with attachments
  • Unusual emails from friends with links that seem out of character
  • Any email requesting transferring money
  • Requests from “traveling” friends or family
  • Emails from an unrecognizable email you’re not expecting
  • Subject lines with typos

If you find any of these red flags in your inbox, don’t open and don’t click the embedded links. You can also help protect yourself with these proactive steps:

  • Do not use the same usernames and passwords at work and at home. Make them unique.
  • Do not set “out of office” messages for personal emails or post pictures of your vacation to social media while you’re out of town. It can alert malicious hackers that you’re not home and that you won’t be paying attention to your accounts during that time.
  • Always use secure email protocols if possible when accessing email, particularly if using a wireless network. These tactics help prevent others from reading email while in transit between your computer and the mail server.

Keep Your Online Social Life Secure

Have your online connections ever mentioned getting a strange message on social media from you? Have you ever received an online friend request from someone you were sure you were already connected? These are two common social media scams frequently impacting users. Though social media can be a great way to keep up with family and friends, updating your privacy settings can keep your data out of the hands of strangers.

  • Pump up your privacy with passphrases. Passwords are out – create strong, unique passphrases to better protect your profiles
  • Can’t keep up with passwords? Use a password manager to keep your passwords encrypted.
  • Turn on multifactor authentication
  • Be wary of Wi-Fi. Avoid activities you don’t want someone spying on while on public Wi-Fi connections.

Following best practices and using common sense can keep you safer than most but remember that no online activity is risk-free. Practice strong security hygiene, keep your devices updated, and if something seems fishy – or rather, phishy – exercise caution and get your device checked out.

Note: The author is Regional Director, Secureworks MEA