Many of us might be winding down over the holiday period, but this is especially a time used by cyber criminals to target unsuspecting users. Cyber attackers and exploiters are getting smarter, attempting new malicious ways of targeting information and finances. The 5 tips below can assist as a precaution in keeping your accounts safe:
1. Use strong passwords and multi-factor authentication (MFA)
Change your password regularly by making use of passphrases, numbers and special characters, as well as using multi-factor authentication where possible. This means any application, email or website login should ideally ask you for authorisation with a One Time Pin (OTP) sent to your cellphone or an app confirmation notification, as an additional form of authentication.
2. Take care with electronic communications, links and payments
Think before you click - be cautious of unfamiliar emails, phone calls and messages and always verify them with a reliable source. Communications (including proof of banking details and payments or transaction notices) can be intercepted and altered. Verify banking details telephonically before making payment. Do not only rely on the details shared in the email, as this can be easily compromised.
A common trend is for hackers to obtain your credentials - either by means of phishing (a malicious sender pretending to be a trusted person or entity) or a breach of industry data - and subsequently infiltrate your mailbox/system/mobile device. They then look for opportunities to falsify banking details or send false requests from the mailbox owner. Carefully inspect the sender´s details. For example, PSG won´t send you a communication from a non-PSG address (like @email@example.comfirstname.lastname@example.org).
3. Use your devices securely
Avoid public wi-fi hotspots, install apps from trusted sources, and keep your devices and antivirus software updated to ensure you have the most up-to-date protection, and use secure connections and software.
4. Back up your data regularly
If you become a victim of ransomware or malware, the only way to restore your data is to erase your system and restore it with a recently performed backup (cloud backups such as Microsoft OneDrive, Apple iCloud or Google Drive are good options). Avoid using USB storage devices or only use trusted USB storage devices which have been scanned for virusses and confirmed safe.
5. Keep an eye out for suspicious activity and protect your personal information
Monitor online and bank accounts regularly to look for suspicious or unauthorised activity. Be wary of providing personal information such as email addresses or cellphone numbers and be mindful of how you use social media.
Please remain vigilant and aware
Be extra cautious - rather check one time too many than one time too little.
Pierre De Bruyn B.Com. Hons; Post Grad Dip Fin Planning PSG Wealth Northcliff Wealth Manager