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Wisbech I.T expert on spotting internet fraud and dealing with it

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Here's the fortnightly I.T Crowd article by Philip Brooks, of Diamond Byte Solutions...

Unsurprisingly, there has recently been an explosion in fraudulent activity since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Thus far, we have witnessed fake charity sites, dubious phone calls, fake news stories, toxic adverts, fake fundraising pages on social media and the inevitable pleading emails to name just a few.

Network security (55393978)
Network security (55393978)

As usual, with everything IT security-related, fore-warned is fore-armed, therefore we have created a little guide on how to spot and deal with some potential attempts at fraud.

First and foremost, we always advise against clicking on links or opening

attachments in emails, social media, and text messages from any unknown source.

These are cyber-attacks, otherwise known as “phishing”. And if the perpetrators of these criminal activities know lots of details about you, this is called “spear phishing”.

Delete the message immediately and don’t panic if you opened the email or message – it won’t do any damage unless you actually click on a link within the message.

We also advise being vigilant around “malvertising”. This is clicking on what looks like a news story or advert that then takes you to a page informing you that your computer is infected, or that you need to install some software and that Microsoft or BT will help you solve your problem (which, incidentally, you didn’t have before you clicked on the link!).

These will look like legitimate current news stories and therefore might be hard to spot on certain websites or social media platforms.

Almost all of these will have the word “AD” written on them.

Another type of attack that is much harder to spot, is the fake website.

These can look exactly like the genuine one, since stealing text and images off a real website is actually very easy.

These could be for charities or payment sites such as PayPal. So always check if it is a genuine website address (URL).

One way in which to do this is to check if there is a padlock to the left of the website address (you can click on the padlock, which brings up the certificate telling you who the site was secured by and secured for).

Secondly, a website that has an “https” tag is usually more secure – and therefore more trustworthy – than a site using the more common “http” designation.

Lastly, if there is a warning triangle with an explanation mark inside, don’t ignore it.

To the best of our knowledge, charities never phone for donations, so if anyone phones asking for money, politely decline and put the phone down. You could always say, just in case you are unsure, that you will donate via their website.

Unicef: https://www.unicef.org/

The British Red Cross: https://www.redcross.org.uk/

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