Digital fraud, scams, and spam have become more and more common as the digital world continues to grow in size and importance. Many people never realize they’ve been the victim of digital fraud, scam, or spam because the damage done to them can be so subtle or widespread that it’s not initially apparent to them or even those around them. We talked to Faisal Abidi and Raghib Khan, Co-founders of RNF Technologies, and brings ten essential steps you can take to protect yourself from all forms of digital fraud, scams, and spam so you can continue living your life on your terms without worrying about whether you’re being taken advantage of online.
Understand the digital fraud threat
Don’t be surprised if you never get a notification that your personal information was used to commit digital fraud. In fact, it’s more likely that you won’t see such a notification—because digital fraud is designed not only to steal your money but also to go unnoticed. Understanding just how widespread online scams are (and understanding what can happen if they go unnoticed) is a good place to start protecting yourself against digital scams, too.
Stop email spam
Here are ten key things you can do to avoid digital fraud and increase your personal cybersecurity: 1. Create strong passwords 2. Use two-factor authentication 3. Back up your computer 4. Scan for malware 5. Update software 6. Ensure privacy settings 7. Delete sensitive information 8. Beware of phishing 9. Monitor computers for viruses 10. Get a security audit by a third-party service.
Secure your online accounts
We all know that it’s necessary to lock our doors at night (whether or not we actually do so), but we don’t always see cybersecurity in such straightforward terms. You should think of online security like locking your front door: it may be a pain, but you won’t feel safe if you don’t take some basic precautions.
Enable multi-factor authentication
If you can’t remember your password for a specific service (say, eBay), you can often reset it by simply answering a security question. This is why it’s critical that you enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) for services that support it.
Practice safe web browsing habits
There are tons of ways for hackers to get into your computer. In fact, a Pew Research study found that 91 percent of US adults use some form of social media. Because you likely connect with family members, friends, and colleagues via social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, your personal information can be vulnerable if you don’t practice safe browsing habits. Luckily, there are several things you can do to make sure that no one steals your identity or takes advantage of your account for their own purposes.
Watch out for phishing attacks
In a phishing attack (also known as pharming or spear-phishing), criminals send legitimate-looking emails to target victims. These messages usually contain a link that directs users toward a fake website designed to look exactly like their bank’s website. But don’t let your guard down just because you know what a phishing email looks like— criminals are getting better at making these messages appear legitimate.
Use stronger passwords
Don’t fall for phishing emails; make your passwords as strong as possible. Eight letters or longer with a mix of letters (both upper- and lowercase), numbers, and special characters is ideal. And be sure you’re using two-factor authentication whenever possible.
Beware of malware threats
One of the biggest risks in using a PC is that you might be exposed to malicious software—software that can steal personal information or damage your computer. There are many ways malware can find its way onto your computer, but one of the most common is through phishing e-mails or links.
Know how to report cybercrime
First, you should know that reporting cybercrime is different than reporting a physical crime. If you’ve been a victim of cybercrime, contact your local authorities (in person or over the phone) to report it. Although reporting cybercrimes is a bit more complicated than regular crimes, we want to help you understand how to do it properly.
Stay updated on security measures
It’s important to be aware of security updates in your web browser (as a big target for hackers), as well as any plugins you use. It’s also a good idea to check your account settings (not just on Facebook) so that if an app wants more information than it should—it won’t be able to. If you want extra protection, look into setting up two-factor authentication through Google or Dropbox.