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Phishing

Nowadays you may hear people are talking about “phishing”, safe to say they’re not talking about what comes with chips and mushy peas.

In the online era, phishing is the equivalent of the Artful Dodger wandering the streets trying to relieve you of your hard-earned possessions or money – of course, nowadays this isn’t physical theft but theft of your online information, and this can prove just as costly.

If you do anything online, you should be aware of the importance of online security.  This isn’t simply about not using an obvious password or being careful about what sites we visit, but online phishing comes in many subtle forms and is designed to catch you out, no matter how vigilant the user!

What is Phishing?

It is an attempt to acquire information by appearing to be a trustworthy source or entity in electronic form.  That information could be anything from personal details, passwords or card details to other information such as websites visited.  The information gained from these phishing expeditions will then be used to commit some form of fraud or criminal activity, or be used in unsolicited targeting of marketing or other activity.

Different types of Phishing

Fake websites & email spoofs

We’ve probably all at some point in our lives won the Nigerian lottery, and I would imagine nobody has been paid out on these yet.  But there are many less obvious emails looking to catch people out – a financial institution, auction site or social networking site will send you an email asking you for your pin or password.  Nor will your email provider expire your account if you don’t ‘click on a link’ to update your personal or security information.  Yet these types of emails are common and often extremely realistic (incorporated with the company’s branding and logo) and it is easy to see why people believe these emails.

As a rule of thumb, when you receive anything via email, try to instantly think what could be “wrong” with it and don’t follow links in emails that you are unsure about.  Go directly to the main website, and contact them this way to verify the legitimacy of the communication.

Pop up’s

We all get these…we’re looking at one thing, next thing a separate box pops up and we accidentally click on it, and are taken off to a faraway place where we’re offered “special deals”.  Avoid these at all costs – close them down immediately, and do not give your email address or personal information if asked.  One should also There are also avoid installing “add-ons” that you are unsure about when you try to visit a site – just because it recommends you download an add-on, it doesn’t mean you should.  These can also slow your machine down, making everyday tasks slower to do.

Passwords

Nowadays we all login details to a million different places and sites and whilst it would be great to just have one common password, this is a recipe for disaster.  Try to have different passwords for different sites and accounts and try not to make that password obvious.  If you really must use similar passwords, then try to mix that up by using a combination of upper case and lower case characters, substitute some letters for numbers and even try to use some non-character symbols in there as well.  It may be annoying to keep track of all these different passwords but it could be there difference between secure, stress-free surfing and being the victim of a “cyber-attack”

If you really must use 1 password, you could also consider using LastPass (ww.lastpass.com) – this allows you to have one secure password, and all your accounts are linked to this one secure account.

Prevention is better than cure!

In modern times, prevention is most certainly the best course of action!  Aside from being vigilant whilst you’re online– having good virus and internet security software is a must in the online world.  There are many products out there but using reputable products and vendors such as Norton, McAfee and AVG will help to minimise the risk to you and your systems.

At JFLS, we are committed to online security, and keeping you and your systems safe.  To discuss any of the above matters in more detail, get in touch.  www.jfls.com

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