Hackers are innovating the way they obtain and use personal data and user credentials in their attacks. Since 2016 hacking has gone mainstream – households are getting attacked and businesses too. There are numerous ways that hackers illegally obtain personal data. This article explains a few basic checks you can perform before proceeding with an online or offline purchase.
Check the website is genuine – before buying online from a well-known or not so well known e-commerce site, just read the web address in the address bar at the top of the web browser. Check there are no double characters, or words added. For example, if you were buying from Argos, you would expect www.argos.co.uk to be the web address. Hackers might register www.argoss.co.uk or www.argos-online.co.uk domain names (web addresses). They then put a copy of the site up, and shoppers might think they are buying from Argos, but it is a cloned site. Shoppers select products, and pay using their bank card, but will never receive the goods.
Check emails from e-commerce sites or businesses suppliers – An email from someone you know, or company you have previously bought from might seem genuine, but always check their email address. Press ‘reply’ on your email tool, and double-check the email address that is being replied to. Does it match the company name? Does the person’s name match?
Telephone calls – many hackers user a telephone as we trust the phone more than email. However, is it really BT, NatWest Bank or Microsoft calling, or someone pretending to be from this organisation? If they ask you ‘security questions’, are you sure they are who they say they are? I always ask for a reference, and then look up their phone number on a bank or account statement, or from their website. Call into them, so you know you are talking with the real people from the real organisation.
My advice is to spend a few moments just double-checking before buying or handing over your valuable personal information. It could save you a lot of hassle.