When your parents asked you to not accept anything from strangers, they were foreshadowing the same threats that you might face in the digital world. Much like in the real world, here too, you should follow that advice. The reason is simple — online scams.
Scams can be very dangerous in the digital world, more so because some can be untraceable. Here are some of the most common scams that you should be aware of, and thereby, try to avoid altogether.
One of the most convincing ways in which hackers get into your systems, or take away your credentials, is phishing. Essentially, the hacker uses a very convincing email to elicit your credentials—sometimes even after hacking the sender’s email accounts.
We have seen this everywhere— homes, electoral offices, business offices—phishing behaves like a sinister superbug. While most hackers are after your credentials, there might be some who are exclusively after any kind of sensitive information. This is why the most important response here, ironically, is no response.
Please be absolutely sure before you check out associated hyperlinks or any sketchy material.
2. Shopping Scams
With the advancement of social media, shopping scams have become a prevalent affair. Looking to exploit your shopaholic nature, they might present as benign ads in your social media feed. Sure, you might even go ahead and visit their website, maybe get a product or two.
Here’s the catch though—more often than not, the course of action that it takes is either to falsely claim they will deliver your product, or riddle your system with malware altogether. In the latter case, malware essentially eats away at your system like slow-growing cancer. In the former—you pay, but your product does not arrive.
3. Fake Security Solutions
If there is anything as excruciatingly asinine as downloading RAM, it is downloading premium versions of security software for ‘free’. Not only are these unreliable, but often simply serve as an entry point for huge systemic viruses.
Making use of an online privacy service is quintessential. Sure, it may come at a price, but the long-term benefits of having your online identity protected cannot be understated. By using reputable software, you save yourself the hassle of having to deal with either vulnerabilities or security scams.
4. Bitcoins and Crypto
Elon Musk might be a whimsical individual, but the effect that he might have on your personal crypto-wallet is nowhere near as detrimental as crypto scams. Hackers will reach out to you, promising the fruits of ICOs in exchange for your hard-earned money. This is how you can be scammed and scarred for life.
Depending on the degree of hacking, you might even end up paying the major price of getting your pockets emptied in cyclical stages. This is why you should always do your research and use valid apps for such transactions, and not rely on sketchy promises received via email.
5. Account Failures
This is by far the trickiest of the lot. Ironically, this is also the most intricately designed scam of them all. Account failure scams will present to you as the most appealing, and aesthetically believable email or message. Not only will they be designed accurately to the core, but they will be virtually indistinguishable from the emails actually sent by the reputable company your hacker decided to impersonate.
What must you do in these cases? Simple. Use the said service or app to check whether you have actually met with a real error in your account. Only after doing so should you manually make any changes using the official app or website. Be wary of fake emails claiming to be real companies, and serving you up with fake hyperlinks.
The internet has provided a massive amount of power to the user. This means that you have to be ever-so responsible about the malicious elements too. Not only are you expected to always be on your toes and scrutinize said scams well, but ensure that you report them too. After all, the goal is to minimize potential damage and keep your identity protected.