The world of online scammers has a lot of tricks, but not many treats. Photo: BBB

The world of online scammers has a lot of tricks, but not many treats. Photo: BBB

Don’t let scary cyber security risks haunt you

The world of online scammers has a lot of tricks, but not many treats

  • Oct. 30, 2019 12:00 a.m.

With Halloween here again, Better Business Bureau (BBB) is sharing the latest on scary cyber security risks and ways to avoid them. Watch out for these spooky dangers lurking in the corners of our everyday digital lives.

All in your hands: Scary scammers can get to you through that small screen in your hand: your smartphone. Consumers tend to be less wary on social media channels, and scammers are taking shocking advantage of that fact.

A new scam report (“Exposed to Scams: What Separates Victims from Non-Victims” at http://bit.ly/32IJolE) based on data from BBB Scam Tracker shows that from the group of consumers who said they were exposed to a scam on social media, a whopping 91 per cent engaged with the scammer, and 53 per cent of them lost money. Security analysts have reported that more than half of all social media logins are fraudulent, and a quarter of new account applications are fake.

“Social media platforms are full of both alluring and suspicious ways to engage and interact, whether for business or pleasure,” says Karla Davis, Manager for Community and Public Relations at BBB serving Mainland BC. “Be especially careful if you spot offers in your social channels that look too good to be true: scammers often lure victims that way.”

Hacked “smart” devices could haunt your house: The “Internet of Things” is on the rise. A wide array of inventive devices can now interconnect your home and your world: your car, your fridge, your baby monitor, your doorbell, your air conditioner, even your window blinds. In exchange for convenience, consumers are putting trust in all kinds of online smart devices, opening up new threats to security and privacy and creating points of entry for sinister hackers to exploit. Did you hear a strange voice in your house? It could be the voice of a hacker who has taken over one of your internet-connected devices.

Evildoers in disguise are on the prowl: Sneaky phishers can gather information about you and make convincing fake email accounts to pose as your boss, lawyer, realtor, or someone else you trust. Typically, they target people and organizations that may be involved in high-dollar transactions, so the risk of major monetary loss is very high. It is more important than ever to double-check the identity of your online contact before you transmit payments or provide personal information.

Crypto keepers may ghost you: Highly unregulated and rapidly growing, cryptocurrency markets are rich in treats for tricksters. Cryptocurrency, or “crypto”, is an online form of payment that can fluctuate in value. Crypto trading platforms can be high-ticket playgrounds for hackers and “pump and dump” schemers who vanish into the night after they take your money.

Crypto scams can also spread through social media. Between Halloween 2018 and today, BBB Scam Tracker received 263 reports from cryptocurrency scam victims. Of these, nearly half reported losing $1,000 or more, and 15 per cent lost $10,000 or more.

So what can you do to protect yourself from such ghoulish tricks? BBB offers these tips:

• In social media, do not be too quick to click on ads that offer improbably good deals. Research companies at www.bbb.org and check other online sources before you buy.

• Secure your smart devices and consider installing anti-malware on your smartphone. Configure and monitor your app settings for privacy, encrypt your WiFi, name your router, and keep your software up to date. • Get the facts before you consider investing in cryptocurrency. Read our BBB tips at https://www.bbb.org/crypto.

• Use multi-factor authentication to secure your logins on every platform. However, using your private phone number for that purpose could expose you to some risks. Consider creating an internet phone number for online authentication instead.

• Change passwords often, and keep them long and strong. Pass phrases are more complex than passwords and may be more secure.

• Never download or install files from unverified sources.


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