Staying safe online
Cybercrime is any kind of crime involving a computer or the internet. Personal cybercrime is crime affecting the individual, such as when criminals try to steal your personal data in order to take money or to harm your reputation.
With more of us now connected to the Internet via laptops, smartphones and other devices, the threat from cybercrime has never been greater. Yet there are straightforward ways that we can protect ourselves online.
• Share passwords
• Repeat passwords on different sites because once a cybercriminal cracks one they’ll have access to more information
• Click links embedded in emails or texts, especially unsolicited ones. Go to the website directly to login
• Download anything from unknown sources
• Share too much publicly on social media. For instance, if you post your pet’s name or reveal your mother’s maiden name, you have potentially handed cybercriminals the answers to two common security questions
• Give out your personal data to anyone. This includes: password, PIN, card details, bank account details, three-digit security numbers, online banking username and passwords or telephone banking security passwords.
• Create strong passwords by combining letters, numbers and symbols and making it a meaningful phrase to help you remember it. For example: Ilove$aving2018!
• Keep your passwords safe and change them regularly
• Ensure your computer security is up to date and install patches and updates regularly. Cybercriminals frequently use known flaws in software to gain access to systems.
• Check you are on a secure website. URLs (website addresses) always start with HTTP, but where there is an ‘s’ at the end, as in ‘https://’, the S stands for ‘secure’ and it is safe to type in information like your name, and address. For example, Al Rayan Bank: /home/
• Talk to your kids about cybercrime – not only when it comes to criminal activity as discussed here, but also make sure they know they can come to you if they’re experiencing any kind of online harassment, stalking, or bullying.
Types of personal cybercrime
The threat from cybercriminals is continually evolving. Here we provide five examples of the most common types of personal cybercrime:
1. Phishing. You are sent an email that pretends to be from colleagues or an authority, such as a bank, and asked to give out your passwords or personal information such as your address, telephone number, or other data.
Action: Never provide sensitive or personal information online, especially in response to an email you weren’t expecting. Delete the email immediately. If you received it on your work email, inform your IT department immediately.
2. Vishing (or Voice Phishing). The same as above but this takes place over the phone. You get a call asking for information such as bank account details, card details, three-digit security numbers, PINs, online banking username and passwords or telephone banking security passwords. You may receive several calls so that the cybercriminal can gather all the information they need (different calls asking for different numbers in your PIN, for example).
Action: Never give sensitive or personal or financial information over the phone, especially during a call you weren’t expecting. If you feel you are a victim of vishing, hang up. Remember, you don’t need to give a reason before you hang up; cybercriminals often rely on the fact that we don’t want to appear ‘rude’ to make us divulge sensitive information.
3. Smishing (or SMS Phishing). You are sent a text message with a link asking you to click a link or call a number. It is a trick to get you to provide your personal details or download a malicious software to your mobile device via a text message.
Action: Never open a text message that you weren’t expecting or click on link or call a number before verifying the sender. Delete the text message if you're suspicious. If you received it on a work phone, inform your IT department, if it is on your personal phone, call your network provider.
4. Malware (or malicious software). You notice that you are getting pop-up screens on your device that you don’t recognise, and they may ask you to make payments, you may have been infected by ‘malware’ designed to record your password and memorable information and use it to gain access to your bank account.
Action: Avoid being infected by malware in the first place by being extremely careful when downloading free online content, as it may be hidden within. Pop-up advertisements that appear on your screen often carry malware. Social networking sites are a common cause of infection. Ensure your computer security is up to date, and if a work computer gets infected, inform your IT department straight away. There are free tools to help you remove malware from your personal laptop and device. Here’s a list of the top 5 in 2019, from a reputable technology publication.
5. Online shopping scams. You want to buy some goods from a retailer and they have sent you pictures and links to a website, which seems genuine but now the seller wants you to send money directly to their bank account and not via a secure payment method, such as PayPal.
Action: Never follow a link in an unexpected email and always check the spellings in the URL. Always research the seller and insist on a secure payment method – reputable sellers will want you to do this too. If paying by card, look out for a small padlock symbol in the address bar (or elsewhere in your browser window) and a web address beginning with https://. If you’re buying a high value item, like something for a car or a piece of jewellery, insist on seeing the item first.
If you are a victim of cybercrime, report it immediately to Action Fraud, the National Fraud & Cybercrime Reporting Centre. Visit their website to report a crime with their online tool or speak to one their advisors via webchat. You can also call them on 0300 123 2040.
We have lots more information on how to bank securely on our website. The guidance provided in this article is intended to assist customers to stay safe online. For more detailed information there are a number of resources to check.
• Bank Safe Online
• Get Safe Online
• Financial Fraud Action