How To Stay Safe Online

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Cyber-attacks and data theft are real threats to organizations and individuals. Cybercriminals have become quite savvy in their attempts to steal personal information. The most common cyber-attacks include ransomware, account hacking, and phishing scams.

In this article, we will discuss three common scams and offer tips on how to safeguard your personal information and digital devices.


Ransomware Scams

Ransomware attacks can target individuals and organizations. The main premise is that a cybercriminal gains access to your computer files and locks them unless a ransom is paid. This type of malware has quickly become one of the most prominent cyber-attacks. The COVID-19 pandemic caused many organizations to pivot to remote work, which created gaps in their cyber defences. This led cybercriminals to easily exploit the vulnerabilities created.


Account Hacking Scams

Most hacking schemes aim to corrupt systems, gather information on users, and steal or disrupt data from digital devices. Devices such as webcams, routers, smart devices, and emails are most vulnerable to hacking. When hackers gain access to your personal information, they can either sell it or steal that person’s identity.


Phishing Scams

Phishing is a method to gather personal information by using malicious links or attachments. This method has become increasingly sophisticated; cybercriminals use seemingly legitimate emails to breakthrough all defences. Just like hacking, phishing scams aim to steal personal information for the purpose of selling or stealing that person’s identity.


5 tips to safeguard your information online

1.      Use strong passwords:

A strong password has a combination of letters, numbers and symbols, and is at least 12 characters long. Refrain from using your personal information such as birthdates, children’s names, or addresses as passwords because these can be easily compromised by a cybercriminal.

Another best practice is to change your password often and have different passwords for each account.


2.      Keep your digital devices up to date:

We recommend turning on automatic updates for all your devices. The more recent your devices’ software, the more secure your information. The latest updates come with the latest security and better defences against malware.


3.      Avoid public internet connections:

We all love free Wi-Fi access when we are out and about. However, if your device is not properly secured, cybercriminals can easily establish a connection to your device and access your personal information. Using a virtual private network (VPN) can be a good solution to this issue. With a VPN, your data is strongly encrypted and is less likely to be compromised.


4.      Do not click on unknown links:

If an email does not seem right to you, it probably is not safe. Instead of clicking on the link in the email, it is best to go to the website yourself and log in. If the email seems to be coming from a friend, try contacting that friend directly to ensure its validity.

Check all your online bank accounts often. If you see a suspicious charge, immediately get in touch with your financial institution, change your account password and arrange for any other security measures. Staying safe online is no longer an option, taking the simple steps above can make all the difference in reducing the possibility of cybercrime.

5.     Sign up for Two-Factor Authentication

Two-Authentication (2FA) provides additional security to ensure that it is in fact you logging into your account. When you sign up for 2FA with Online or Mobile banking, you will need to enter your password plus a one-time code that will be sent to your mobile phone or to your email address. 

For additional security, you can choose to enable 2FA every time you log in, meaning you would need to enter the one-time code at each login. If 2FA is not enabled for each login, the one-time code will only need to entered when:

  • Logging in using a new device
  • Logging in from a new location and there is no matching travel advisory setup on your account
  • When completing certain transactions like accepting an Interac e-Transfer.