Analytics  |  Expertise  |  Technology   |   30.01.2024

5 Cybersecurity Red Flags You Need to Know: Smart Steps to Avoid Scams in 2024

Nowadays, cyber crime is a dynamic threat. Given this, criminals are always changing the ways in which they exploit individuals and organisations. No matter how you use the internet, either for personal use or for work. It’s crucial to stay vigilant and be aware of the cybersecurity red flags to look out for. Knowing how to identify scams is key to preventing yourself or your company from cyberattacks. So, cybersecurity training should be mandatory in all businesses.

In this article, we look at three of the most prevalent cybersecurity red flags that could indicate cyberthreats.

Fraudulent senders

One of the biggest cybersecurity red flags of a potential cyber attack is receiving a message, email or phone call. They might be from someone you either don’t recognise or aren’t expecting to hear from. These cyber criminals will pose as someone you know or even a large corporation. It coulld look like friends, family, coworkers, online shopping platforms or your bank in order to gain your trust. They will typically insist on the urgency of their situation. To achieve their criminal goals, they force victims to make split-second decisions. This tactic puzzles users before they have long enough to figure out the underlying intentions.

Cyber criminals use these tactics to obtain sensitive information. As a rule, it’s your privacy data such as passwords for online accounts, credit card numbers or other personal information. While you may instinctively want to help a friend or provide a company with the information it’s requesting. Which is why, it’s important to keep a wary eye on any unexpected requests for help. Particularly, the case when you receive a request to move funds or make changes to your banking account. It’s key to keep in mind that banks will never ask you for your password or PIN number. This information is sensitive and you should keep it confidential at all times.

To identify fraudulent senders, pay attention to the phone number, email address or account that you’ve received the message from. Remember, tech-savvy criminals can easily spoof your business phone numbers. In other words, even if the number on your screen matches what you’re expecting, it’s always best to hang up. Just call the person or institution directly to ensure the request is legitimate. On the other hand, the bright side is that spoofing email addresses is nearly impossible. So rest assured, the address you receive the message from can provide insight into its authenticity.

Said this, we’ll go into in more detail in the next section. So, watch out for slight alterations of names or business names. This trick cyber intruders can often use to catch you off guard. The fact is, that it’s very important to pay close attention to detail.

Misspellings or typos

Oftentimes, they’re in the URL of a website, in the email address, or simply throughout content online. Given this, it’s important to be wary if you see misspellings or typos. A lot of fraudsters will rely on the reader simply scanning the information. The sad fact is, that users often neglectto notice a difference in the URL, such as “amaazon” rather than “amazon”. Failing to notice this small detail can lead victims to believe that the message is authentic. Eventually, it results in them opening attachments or clicking on links within the message.

Similarly, large companies are unlikely to send out emails or have content on their website that contains multiple misspelt words. With all of the resources available to them, they’ll have checked the content for accuracy before sending it out. Scammers, on the other hand, will have very limited resources. So, they may lack the foresight to correct spelling errors – making this a reliable way to identify illegitimate sources.

New or missing files on your device

If you notice that some of your files are missing or new ones are appearing, it could indicate that an unauthorised party has accessed your device. This is one of the most frequent cybersecurity red flags. It means that your old files missing or new ones suddenly appeared could be a real danger. These new files should be of particular concern, as these could contain malicious spyware – even if they appear to be inconspicuous. Known as a Trojan Horse, cyber criminals might disguise this malware as images or documents, giving victims a false sense of security that could cause them to open it.

To mitigate this risk, make sure to download an antivirus program and ensure to keep it up to date. This way, if you spot a new file that you don’t recognise, you can perform a quick scan on it to ensure that it doesn’t contain anything concerning. Similarly, you should run regular antivirus scans on all contents of your device. It helps you look out for anything suspicious so that you can address any issue of concern as soon as possible.

As for missing files, cybercriminals might remove and keep them to furtherdemand a ransom to restore your data. So if you notice that an important file is missing, this could be an early indication of a cyber attack and you should take all necessary precautions.

Beware of bogus job offers

Watch out for bogus job offers that sound too good to be true, because it’s a common scam used by cybercriminals seeking to gather personal information. The scam usually starts with an unsolicited email offering incredible job opportunities with high salaries and flexible benefits. Excited recipients provide their resumes or fill out seemingly legitimate application forms that request personal data, bank account details, and sometimes even fees for background checks or pre-employment costs.

However, those contacted for “interviews” never get any follow-up other than scammers using their data for identity theft or false withdrawals from their accounts. If a job offer seems suspicious, it’s always wise to thoroughly research a company’s reputation online and confirm domains or application forms are legitimate.

Never provide private financial or identity information to those you don’t fully trust. And know that no legitimate job requires you to pay fees upfront or provide extensive personal data early on before proving your capabilities. 

Act quickly if you’re targeted

Being a victim of cyber crime is scary, but the faster you act, the better your chances of securing your data. If you notice signs of suspicious activity whilst at work, immediately raise the issue with your lead or manager. They can notify the IT department and should have a plan in place to help reduce the damage and get your devices up and running as soon as possible. If sensitive data has been compromised or leaked, you will have to let the associated clients or people know. As an organisation, you will also need to inform the police.

For your personal protection, immediately let your bank know and freeze your credit and debit cards to prevent the scammer from accessing your money. Although it can be time consuming, changing your passwords across all your important accounts should be a top priority as well – make sure to use a password authenticator app or two-factor authentication for extra security. Always contact the police and report any incidents of fraud or cyber attacks, as they will track cyber criminal activity.

Final thought: Stay vigilant

Unfortunately, cyber crime is a growing threat in today’s FinTech-focused world. As a result, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential cybersecurity red flags that could indicate that your device has been compromised to keep your information safe. By taking your time whenever using your devices and avoiding the temptation to quickly respond to any texts or emails, you can help to prevent the chances of falling victim to these scams.

WF Team
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