Police have shared advice to help keep the public safe online after the national Action Fraud and Cyber Crime reporting centre received more than 65,000 calls throughout January, February and March 2020.
With more people taking to the web on an array of electronic devices to do their shopping, to work and keep in touch with loved ones during the current Covid-19 pandemic, sadly the chance of falling victim to online fraudsters is increasing.
Nigel Sutton, Cyber Protect Officer at Cambridgeshire Constabulary, has years of experience in helping people avoid online scams and knows all too well how adaptive and clever criminals can be in order to catch people out.
He said: “Cyber criminals are looking to steal your private information and ultimately, money. In the physical world, people are familiar with the concept of protecting their property from burglars and physical thieves, such as by locking doors and windows, maybe installing a camera, a security light or an alarm, but they may not be as aware of how to protect themselves from virtual thieves.
“While online you need to ensure your devices are also locked and secure from criminals, and here’s how…
Create a separate password for your email account
Make sure your password is as secure as possible. Forget your favourite pet’s name, I recommend using three random words with a mixture of upper and lower case letters, and some numbers and characters for example: @AppletOadBicycle81
If your email account is hacked all your other passwords can be reset, so use a strong password that is different to all your others.
Save your passwords in your browser
It’s good practice to use different passwords for all accounts, but remembering them can be difficult. If you save them in your browser, you don’t need to remember them so store passwords in your browser when prompted; it’s quick, convenient and safer than re-using the same password.
Turn on two-factor (2FA) authentication
2FA is a free security feature that adds an extra layer of protection online and prevents cyber criminals getting into your accounts, even if they have your password. 2FA reduces the risk of being hacked by asking you to provide a second factor of information such as a code sent to a mobile phone.
Update your devices
Cyber criminals exploit weaknesses in software and apps to access your sensitive personal data, but providers are continually working to keep you secure. Keep your operating system, browser, software and apps updated.
Be alert to phishing
Do not click on links or open attachments in any text, email or instant message unless you are satisfied the sender is genuine. This common form of cyber attack is called phishing and by clicking on a link you may be allowing malware to be installed on your device, this could activate the camera and mic, or it could encrypt all our data and demand a payment. Or, it could just trick you into believing you were logging into an online account such as Netflix but actually it was a fake webpage created by criminals to steal your login credentials.
Turn on backup
If any of your devices are hacked, your sensitive personal data could be lost, damaged or stolen. You can choose what data is automatically backed and to where, such as the cloud or a USB memory stick.
For additional cyber security advice including; anti-virus and firewalls, visit www.ncsc.gov.uk/cyberaware/home
To contact Nigel with any questions or for any additional advice, you can email him direct at: CyberProtectCambs@cambs.pnn.police.uk