How to Avoid Online Threats and Protect Your Personal Data

How to Avoid Online Threats and Protect Your Personal Data

The internet is always adapting, bringing new securities and also new scams. Our understanding of scams was once limited to not clicking pop-up ads on websites or suspicious links in emails. Now with social media and AI changing the landscape of scams, it’s harder to stay on top of all the tricks scammers have at their disposal.

Although we may imagine ourselves as more technologically literate and understand the majority of scams and threats out there, experts say that Gen Z is actually more susceptible to online scams. It was also reported last year by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that Australians lost 2.7 billion dollars due to online scams.

Scams aren’t always easy to spot, and they’re constantly developing. Thankfully, there are still some tried and true tips to help you identify online threats and increase your safety. Here’s what you should look out for when browsing online.

AI is the latest buzzword, or “boogeyman” rather, in the tech world. Due to the accessibility of software, scammers and hackers have been quick to take advantage of the advanced software now available. Some of these scams revolve around Large Language Models (LLMs), and have the potential to replicate people’s voices or faces. These have already been used for scams with immense issues.

Due to the changing landscape, it’s important to watch for these emerging trends. The best way to protect yourself from AI scammers is to establish a safe word that only you and this person know, and to not reveal any private details over the phone.

Be aware of private numbers and suspicious e-mails

Phishing is one of the biggest scams, and in 2023, it cost Australians $25.9 million. Phishing scams are a way for malicious individuals to trick you into giving them personal information. This can be your logins, credit card information or passwords to other websites and can result in a loss of files and money, or identity theft.

Some phishing scams can be very obvious, as we’ve seen countless memes of Instagram handles posing as celebrities asking for money. Others can be trickier, like a package delivery alert sending you a disguised URL from a private number to your phone.

Spotting out phishing scams relies on noticing pattern behaviours. If you’re unsure if something is actually a phishing scam is to consider these things:

  • Emails demanding urgent action (Anything demanding you to immediately pay an outstanding bill or face consequences)
  • Bad grammar and spelling mistakes
  • Emails or messages with a strange greeting
  • Inconsistencies in delivery address (email addresses with full stops, underscores or numbers added to the end)
  • Suspicious attachments

Install a dedicated anti-virus software

Browsing the internet without any anti-virus is like walking through Chornobyl without any gear to protect you from radiation. Thankfully there are plenty of anti-viruses included in other software like ad blockers or VPNs. Still, without dedicated anti-virus software, you could be leaving yourself open to different kinds of malicious software that can worm its way into your computer or mobile.

Anti-virus software has always been a must in helping protect your computer from harmful software. If you’ve been considering a solid anti-virus software, check out Norton 360 Deluxe which gives you advanced malware protection across mobile and desktop, plus more protections such as VPN to help you enjoy the web without being tracked.

Enable Two-Factor Authentication

Sometimes your password will leak out of no fault of your own. Due to a rise in data breaches happening lately, individual passwords have been obtained by cybercriminals. A good way to check if you’ve been affected is cross-checking your email address on the website to see if any websites you’ve signed up on with a specific email address have been hacked.

If you have, you should immediately change your password and enable a two-factor authentication.

Two-factor authentication is an extra precaution that helps protect your login details and accounts. When logging into your email or social media, you’ll be sent a code to log in through your mobile or email. This means that even if hackers have your password, they can’t get into your account.

Backup your important data

If a hacker gains access to your computer, they can change your passwords and hold sensitive information and files on your computer hostage for ransom.

This is one of many reasons why storing important documents and files in multiple locations and on a cloud backup is so important. While most of us passively use Google Drive or iCloud for a majority of our cloud backup, having separate cloud storage connected to a different email and password for extra security can be valuable.

A benefit of keeping backups of your important information in a separate cloud storage is that it allows you to quickly recover sensitive files if your email cloud storage is compromised. Thankfully Norton 360 Deluxe also offers 50 GB of cloud storage for Windows PCs, which you can use as an extra preventative measure against data loss due to hard drive failures, stolen devices or ransomware.

Technology moves fast, and so do online threats, meaning your online security should be vital. Be sure to stay up to date on what malware and scams are going around or have a solid cybersecurity software like Norton 360 Deluxe that helps you browse with less worry.

Image Credit: iStock / mohd izzuan

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