The Foxy Deer

Life in the Chilterns & Thames Valley

How to stay safe online

We are living in an almost-completely digital age. You can do everything online from banking to your weekly shop. Almost every service or shop has an app, web store or at very least a basic web presence, and often you have to input your details. Here, Miss AM Investigations looks at cybersecurity and how you can be safe online.

Last year, Gov.uk published a report on cyber security which detailed some rather scary findings. In 2016, a little under half of all businesses identified a security breach – 46% to be exact. 72% were due to a fraudulent email, 33% was due to a virus or malware, 27% was due to impersonation, and 17% was ransomware. [https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/609187/Cyber_Security_Breaches_Survey_2017_infographic_general_business_findings.pdf]

With that in mind, cybersafety has never been more important. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the UK, in 2017 alone there were 1,579 data breaches exposing nearly 179 million records.

That’s a 44% increase in the number of data breaches and a shocking 389% increase in exposed records. The number of credit card details exposed last year totalled 14.2 million, which is 88% more than in the previous year.

[https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/identity-theft-statistics/].

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulations come into effect on 25th May 2017 and are designed to enable individuals to better control their personal data. While new GDPR rules give the end user more control over how their data is used and stored, there’s still a lot each individual can do to ensure the safety of their accounts and identity.

Phishing emails

One of the most popular entries for fraudulent activity is through phishing emails. Most email hosts have very tight spam filters so a lot of phishing attempts will get blocked, but some so get through. Email scammers are becoming more sophisticated and are finding more ways to look completely genuine.

A popular trick is using an email address that is so remarkably similar to the real one that you might not even notice. For example, using rn instead of m. They look so similar that you can easily mistake them.

Remember, banks, HMRC and other financial institutions will not contact you via email. Their primary contact method is by post, so if you receive emails from any companies like this, question it right away by calling them (not from the number on the email).

Furthermore, these companies will not ask you to provide any information over the internet unless you contact them first.

 

Type direct into the address bar

When connecting to your online banking, or visiting a site with other confidential information, type the address directly into the address bar rather than using a search engine.

Search engines, while mostly secure, can bring up some fraudulent sites in the results which can use your information for identity theft.

Protection software

Of course, the most obvious way to stay safe online is by using protection software and keeping it up to date. Spyware is similar to a virus but its intention is to capture your information. New spyware is being created often, so it’s important to keep your protection software up to date to ensure full protection.

 

Check your credit file

Understanding your credit file is the best way to know if something is wrong. Checking your credit is completely free using sites like Experian or Noddle. Any suspicious applications on searches on your credit file will be flagged and reported.

 

Safely destroy post

Identity thieves are ruthless and will do almost anything to get information; including rifling through your rubbish. Make sure you safely destroy all post that contains any identifiable information. A small shredder will cost less than £10 – a lot less than fraud recovery.

How can a private investigator help?  

If you’ve been a victim of identity theft or fraud, there are ways to resolve it. The first step will be to inform the police. However, with increasing workloads and other higher-priority cases, a fraud or ID theft investigation can take a long time.

A private investigator can assist in locating your assets and trace those responsible, therefore limiting losses and limiting damage, in a speedy fashion.

A private investigator will be able to find any weaknesses in your cyber security for future protection and provide evidence to be used in court.

 

Becoming a victim of fraud or identity theft can be devastating. While recovery is completely possible, this is an occasion where protection is far more beneficial than cure. This isn’t to say that the internet is completely insecure – just make sure you’re protected.

 

To find out more contact Alison at Miss A M Investigations.

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