Following on from the article about avoiding online scams in our November Tekeez Times newsletter, we thought we'd go into a bit more depth about how to spot and avoid online scams.
One of the most common type of scam at the moment is spam emails claiming to be from a popular service provider, this might be Apple, Google, Microsoft or even your bank. These usually claim that your account has been compromised or will be closed if you don't log in and carry out some action. Below is an example of one of these emails.
The link in the email goes to a site that's designed to look like Apple's actual website and they're hoping that you'll enter your login details so they can then access your account. There are various reasons why they want access to your account, you may have a payment card set up that the scammers can then access, you may have files in cloud storage that they can use against you or sell on to other people or it might be to get your username and password combination to try against other websites.
The recent news about National Lottery accounts being accessed appears to be down to attempts to log in using passwords gained from other sites, this is one of the reasons why it's so important to use a secure, unique password for each website that you have a login with. We have more information on how you can use a password manager to help you with this here - 1Password
Some spam emails that come in take a different approach and will claim to be from a courier or a company you've never heard of and will include an attachment that states it's an invoice or tracking number, an example of this is below:
Most emails like this should already go into your spam folder but they can sometimes look real if you are actually waiting for something similar. The effects of opening the attachments vary depending on the email, it can be a link that takes you off to a website designed to make you think that you have a virus and offering a number to call. If this does ever happen to you, you can usually resolve it by simply restarting your PC and then resetting your web browser.
In the worst case scenario, the attachment could be a virus. If this is the case then your anti virus software should catch it and stop it.
A different type of scam that's also very widespread at the moment is when you receive a call from "Microsoft" or "Windows" telling you that your PC is infected with viruses and they need to remote in to fix the problem for you.
This is always a scam and if this happens to you, just hang up on them. The general outcome of these calls is that the scammer spends 30 minutes looking through your PC for anything that might be of interest to them and then they try to charge you around £100 for their "work".
If you get to the end of the call and refuse to pay, the scammers will often lock your PC or disable your internet connection, requiring a callout from an IT support company to fix.
One of the most important things you can do to try to mitigate these threats are to keep all your computers and devices up to date. Each update contains security fixes and will help guard you against viruses and web browser redirections that might be attached to spam emails.
It's equally important to ensure that you have effective anti virus on your PC, we recommend paid anti virus solutions over free editions as the free ones are usually quite cut down and don't offer the full range of protection.
As always, if you would like to get more information on anything in Tekee Tim's Tips or would like to make sure your computers are secure, please do get in touch.