How to stop identity thieves and cyber criminals

Cyber security word cloudNew figures released by Cifas (the country’s leading fraud prevention service) show that fraud is at the highest level since records began. Identity theft accounted for just over half of all fraud cases and nearly 80% of it took place online. Take the following steps to make sure that you’re not a target:

Keep Updated There’s no point in investing in internet security if you don’t keep it up-to-date. Security specialists play an ongoing game of cat and mouse with cyber criminals as new threats evolve and are remedied. Regular software updates ensure that your antivirus and antispyware are fighting fit and research shows that’s enough to defeat 80% of all cyber threats.

Passwords & PINs The first rule of cyber security is to use unique passwords and keep them private. Theoretically hackers can crack any password with ‘brute force’ (using high-speed software that endlessly recombines characters) and it pays to make their job more difficult. Longer passwords are more difficult to decipher and ‘dictionary attacks’ can be beaten by using a mixture of letters, numbers and punctuation marks. Naturally unique also means that you should never use the same password to access multiple accounts.

Don’t Overshare Research carried out by Equifax has revealed that one in three Brits give away far too much information online and risk having their identity stolen. A third of social media profiles include the user’s full name and date of birth; providing rich pickings for online fraudsters.

Ditch the Junk Unsolicited emails are best ignored, even if they appear to be from a trusted source. Cyber criminals are smart and can mock-up convincingly clickable emails containing malicious links or the beginnings of an elaborate scam. If you are concerned that you may be missing a vital email from HMRC or your ISP; contact them by phone.

Wi-Fi Hotspots It’s often said that there’s no such thing as a free lunch and public hotspots should be approached with suspicion. It’s easy for a hacker to set up a credible looking hotspot to harvest your data and it’s not worth taking the risk.

Loaded Images Hackers have found a way of hiding malevolent code deep within image files; which means that cuddly cat JPG someone sent you might not be as harmless as it seems. To make matters worse all they need is a single pixel which most people wouldn’t even notice on an email. To safeguard against infection; disable automatic image loading in your email account.

Privacy Settings Check your social media privacy settings and be careful about what you tell the world. By signing-in overseas and sharing holiday snaps you’re telling online criminals that you’re away from home.

 Credit Alerts All the big credit reference agencies offer alert services which will send you a notification every time your credit report is accessed. It’s a great way to stay one step ahead of the fraudsters; especially if you think your identity has been compromised. It’s worth noting that you can also freeze your credit history to prevent anyone accessing your personal information.

Business Matters As commercial life moves increasingly online Cyber Risk Insurance is fast becoming a business basic. It’s a bespoke product designed to protect you, your business and your customers from the financial fallout of a cyber breach. To find out more visit our Cyber Risk Insurance page or Tel: 0161 874 7979 to speak with a member of our team.



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