Get smart this Cyber Smart Week

It’s Cyber Smart Week (8-12 October) and we’re sharing the message about “protecting your online self”.

girl using phone

It’s Cyber Smart Week (8-12 October) and we’re sharing the message about “protecting your online self”.

A recent scam highlights the sophisticated ploys attackers are using to try to access your details.

Some ANZ customers reported phone scammers calling and asking their help to “stop the hackers”. Often these scammers claim to be from Spark’s technical department. Customers are told to download software and then logon to internet banking.

The software allows scammers to remotely access computers, obtain login details, then later steal funds.

The ruse is yet another example of how far, and how low, scammers will stoop in a bid to get their hands on your cash.

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said you should never take a cold-caller at their word.

“Legitimate organisations will never contact you out of the blue and request your personal details. Never disclose your passwords, PINs or personal financial information, even if a caller says they’re from the bank, a telco or the police.

“Don’t install software you’re not familiar with. Alarm bells should be ringing if you’re asked to download a program to watch specific content or help ‘fight a hacker’,” she said.

If you’ve been scammed, speak up. “The embarrassment of having been tricked is a powerful tool these attackers use. A momentary blush is a small price to pay if you can get your money back.”

Our tips for protecting yourself against scammers:

  • Use good passwords. While a simple password – such as 123password – is easier to remember, it means your personal information is potentially at risk if a ne’er-do-well manages to crack it. You need a different one for each service you use. If you need help keeping tabs on all your passwords, invest in a password manager.

  • Use two-factor authentication (2FA), whenever possible. Entering your user name and password to log into a service is known as one-factor authentication. Whereas the 2FA method also sends a code to a nominated device (for example, your phone), which you need to enter to log in. This means even if a hacker can crack your password, they’d still need your device.

  • Update your apps. You’re not just getting the latest features when you’re updating your apps, it also fixes vulnerabilities. This makes it tougher for attackers to access your information. Also check the permissions your apps have. Since you’re cleaning up, check if you have any apps gathering digital dust. If you do, bin them – you won’t have to worry about updating them and you’ll free up space.

  • Check your privacy settings. Even a digital hermit could be surprised at how much of their personal information is available online. It’s not just social media, it can also be info you’ve shared with companies with which you have online accounts. This means it could be easy to deduce your mother’s maiden name, where you went to school and when you’re away on holiday – all prime information an attacker can use to try to get your data, steal your identity or attack your contacts. Check your privacy settings on social media. If a business asks for your information, think about why it wants it. If you’re unsure, go old school and call it up. If it still seems fishy, give it a miss.

It’s a hassle, but a bit of time making sure you’re protected online is time well spent.

If you’ve been scammed, act immediately. Contact your bank and the police. If you’ve downloaded anything, don’t use your machine. Contact NetSafe for advice on how to ensure your computer is safe to use.

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