Christmas should be a joyful time, full of goodwill and peace to all people. But sadly, it’s also a time when the scammers, fraudsters and hackers around the world ramp up their efforts to fleece people out of their hard-earned money.
And coupled with the way these criminals have used the COVID-19 pandemic as a cover for their illegal activities, now is the time to be doubly sure the communications you receive are genuine, and that your online accounts and activities are as secure as they can possibly be.
So, to help you keep your accounts safe as you shop for gifts and prepare for the post-Christmas sales, we’re sharing tips from the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, which launched an advertising campaign earlier this month to help members of the public fight un-festive fraud.
Preventing cyber attacks
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more people than ever before are doing their festive shopping online this year, which means hackers have even more opportunity to carry out cyber attacks using email and website scams, and ‘malware’ – software that can let a hacker in or damage your device.
Once a hacker has gained entry into your device or accounts, they might access your money and personal or business information.
The Cyber Aware campaign urges people to adopt six behaviours to protect your online accounts and devices:
Improve your password security
Hackers can use software to crack your passwords, so creating strong, separate passwords and storing them safely is a good way to protect yourself.
If a hacker gets into your email, they could reset your other account passwords and also access information you have saved about yourself or your business. Your email password should be strong and different to all your other passwords, to make it harder to crack or guess.
Using three random words is a good way to create a strong, unique password that you will remember. It’s a good idea to use this for other important accounts too, such as banking or social media.
Using three random words is a good way to create strong passwords. Try to avoid words that might easily be guessed and include numbers and symbols if you need to, for example, RedPantsTree4!
We know it can be hard to remember different passwords, but saving them in your browser will make it much easier.
This means letting your web browser remember your password for you and it can help make sure you don’t forget your passwords, and can protect you against cyber crime such as fake websites.
It’s still a good idea to protect your saved passwords in case your device is lost or stolen.
Two-factor authentication (2FA) helps stop hackers getting into your accounts, even if they have your password. Some online banking uses 2FA automatically, by asking for more information to prove your identity, such as a PIN, a password or code, or biometrics like a fingerprint or Face ID.
Out-of-date software, apps, and operating systems contain weaknesses, which unfortunately make them easier to hack. Companies that own the software and systems solve this by releasing updates so when you update your computer and devices and software, you’re preventing the hackers getting in.
Some devices and software need to be updated manually and some provide automatic updates. Either way, keep everything up-to-date and this will help to keep you safe online.
This means creating a copy of all your information and saving it to a different device or to online ‘Cloud’ storage. Regular back-ups mean your information will always be saved and so can be recovered should your data be lost or stolen.
You can do this manually, or your device may have an automatic back-up feature.
Stay safe and secure this festive season
Karl Elliott, Chief Executive of Beverley Building Society, said: “Our advice is to beware anyone claiming to represent an official organisation like your building society, bank or the police and asking you to pay money or provide your personal details.
“If something seems wrong or out of the ordinary, it probably is, and genuine individuals and organisations will not ask you to do anything that feels uncomfortable.”
At the Beverley, we will never:
· Ask you to disclose your account security details
· Encourage you to move funds from your own account to a different one in a different name
· Charge you upfront fees for taking a mortgage payment holiday
· Visit you at home to carry out transactions on your account or collect outstanding mortgage payments
· Demand that you make any outstanding mortgage payments over the phone
· Send you an email or SMS text message with a link for you to make mortgage payments or money transfers.
Anyone who approaches you claiming to be employed by the Society and tries to get you to do any of the things outlined above, is a criminal and you do not have to do what they say.
Please stay safe and if you are in any doubt at all about a communication you have received claiming to be from the Society, please call us on (01482) 881510 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org