Finance tips: Beware of the internet of thieves

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FINANCE TIPS COMPUTERCybersecurity is key for all of us
If a person rings at our front door to ask for our data or money, we slam the door and do not bother. When such things are asked online we are inclined to be more willing to say yes. Impersonators of our bank, or other trusted parties, that ask us for our confidential information are treated with far too much respect. We should hang up immediately, close the website, or delete the email. We should not even try to find out if it is a bona fide request or not, because it definitely is not a normal request. Banks and the likes will never ask us for our data because they have our data already. Thus it must be a fraud.

The big internet or digital players should fully embrace cybersecurity, because their business is dependent on it. Google and Facebook need to be trustworthy, as should your bank or credit card provider.

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The individual digital user can do a great deal to protect his or her data and money too. Changing passwords regularly is one of them. Not clicking on strange offers, not reacting to spam emails, not downloading apps we do not use, not visiting suspect websites, all go a long way too.

The actions of employees at work, even when they check their personal emails or Facebook during their pauses, may put their company at risk. This is even more so if there are exchanges between their personal and professional accounts, and also when employees use smartphones, tablets or laptops both for personal and professional use. Even Wi-Fi stations are not safe from risks related to both personal and professional use. That is why companies use employee ID cards, VPNs, and so on, to protect their data and systems. More and more internet fraudsters try to get into companies via the employees, because they are often a weaker link than the company’s own cyber-defenses. Email attachments from seemingly professional emails pose a great danger. By clicking on them spyware or straightforward viruses may be installed on the company hardware.
It is because we feel physically safe online that we are less prudent than in real life. We will have to change that attitude. In the digital world of today online risks are often more dangerous than physical ones. At home, we have an alarm system against intruders and keys to lock the doors. Online we need the same if not more because the bandits may be anywhere on earth and even use robots or Artificial Intelligence to attack us. Physically, it would be strange to have a thief that comes from more than a few tens of miles away from your home, plus we no longer keep that much cash.

We should be more prudent online than when someone calls at the door. Humans are not yet wired that way yet, but the younger generation, who have exposure to the digital world from birth, may get it faster in their DNA than the digital migrants.

Of course, digital is very useful and on the banking side a crook will copy your handwritten signature in less than half an hour, whereas breaking into your online banking transaction will cost them far too much money, at least if you do not give them all the information needed to.

Stay cyber-safe given that there are far more thieves from anywhere in the world online than regular burglars in your neighborhood. And the potential of theft is much greater online – not only money but also your identity – than the valuables you keep in your home.