Millions of people have been falling victim to online scams all over the globe by different frauds and schemes executed wholly or partly by technology. Where this progression of technology has eased our lives in almost every aspect, it has also birthed new means to swindle people. To help the victims I have come up with a few different strategies to minimize these scams.
We can’t deny the fact and ignore the number of times we fell for people catfishing online to be real and true, despite all the verification steps social sites come up with, it’s still not uphill to dodge them.
Some facts and figures:
With 1.6 billion users on WhatsApp, 1.3 billion users on Facebook messenger app, 1.1 billion users on WeChat and 1 billion active users on Instagram, it can be really difficult to trace someone’s identity if they are planning to catfish you. Now is the time when “reverse image search” might come in handy. There are different websites that let you search the original image sources or where else the images have been used on web. Here are a few for your ease:
Facebook is the most widely used social networking site with around 2.3 billion users, increasing the chances to be used as an artifice by the scammers.
A scammer can easily xerox their victim’s account by just copying the name, profile picture and the basic information available on the account followed by adding the friends of the victim who may unknowingly add the pretender giving access to more information of the victim’s circle.
Things you can do to prevent this are:
- Do not add any duplicate accounts until you call and confirm from your friend.
- If the account is fake report it right away.
The next thing an attacker can do is access your account by breaking into it, if you receive hints about your account being accessed elsewhere right away tighten your security by changing your password or contacting your local cyber authorities, as well as Facebook.
To avoid these online scams in general you should:
- Never add people you don’t know
- Never share your password with anyone
- Switch on your two-factor authentication, email and message alerts of your logins
- Try not to connect to public and free Wi-Fi networks
- Try to keep your browser and apps updated
Phishing is an attack in which the recipients are contacted via pretentious emails, text messages or phone calls impersonating a legitimate firm to trick people into providing with their sensitive data such as banking and credit card details, and passwords to the frauds.
Via emails and text messages they con you to click on a malicious link which “seems” legit apparently but has a catch giving them access to your personal information you provide them with. They successfully do this by rushing you, using stories like you may lose access to your bank account or how your credit card is under a theft making you provide your credentials hastily fearing their pretence. Most of us have been fallen victim to phishing even if not on a large financial scale but have received bugs and viruses.
To protect ourselves from phishing attacks we can:
- Watch out for shortened and manipulated links.
- Thoroughly read before acting upon any frightening communications we receive by any means, email, text message or phone calls and urgent deadlines.
Browse securely with HTTPS.
- Avoid anything that appears suspicious or seems to be phishing.
- Not click on any links from unknown sources, or open any attachments.
- Not enter any personal information in the pop-up links.
- Try not to respond to any emails asking for your personal details to stop your bank account from being blocked or any other bank proceedings.
A few general security precautions:
These can save us all a lot of trouble from falling a prey to any fraudster:
- Don’t share your password with anyone.
- Always use strong passwords, having 10-16 characters (at least one numeric character and one special character.)
- Try to change your password every 60-90 days.
- Using two-factor authentication increases your security.
- Be sceptical about links and attachments from unknown sources. Don’t click on any links that look malicious and avoid downloading software’s from any third party.
- Don’t share your personal information publicly (e.g. your birth place, date of birth, mother’s name, and etc.)
- Don’t give unnecessary permissions to the apps.
- Don’t use default Wi-Fi password and don’t even share your personal Wi-Fi’s password.
- Don’t connect to public or free Wi-Fis, or access your official portals through them, even accessing them for your personal work is highly unrecommended.
- Set your mobile device to lock itself after certain number of failed login attempts in case it gets stolen or lost.
- Never use your primary email’s password anywhere else, and try using different passwords for different for different sites.
- Shop on secure sites (e.g. HTTPS) and ignore the pop-ups.
You can still fall prey to fraud:
We may take all the safety precautions and can still fall prey to some scam or fraud, and it’s totally FINE. At the end we all are humans. We have our limitations. But please, at least do what is in your control. Do not make it easy for the adversary to play with your cyber space.
There are a lot of things which we need to take care of. I have mentioned a few so I do not go beyond your attention span, but these are the ones which are high in frequency and you might be dealing with them daily. I do not know how much I am successful but I tried not to use technical terms so everyone can understand it without any problem.
About the advisor/ writer:
At the end let me introduce myself – I am Muhammad Asif. I did my software engineering in 2018. Currently, I am studying Information Security from National University of Science and Technology, Islamabad. My area of interests are Social Engineering and malware analysis. I am also trying to explore what would be the cybersecurity implications of quantum computing. If you guys want to ask anything or want to talk on these topics please free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org