Online Safety Tips

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By Wong Joon Hoong

The Year of the Tiger is expected to be filled with opportunities for those willing to take risks, as this courageous zodiac is known for its power, daring, and ability to do everything at an epic scale. 
In the cybersecurity sphere, this means that individuals that will thrive in 2022 are those who are always on guard and mindful of falling prey to cybercriminal schemes and subsequent complacency.   
To celebrate the occasion, it is no surprise that many of us are planning to send e-ang pows and turn to online sales for a last-minute holiday shopping spree. While online services have made our lives easier, the increase in web interactions serves as an opportune time for prowling cyber criminals to strike and ruin your festive mood.  Here are six tips from Sophos to stay safe online during the festive Chinese New Year season.

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Don’t open emails from senders you don’t know or click on links to deals or sales that seem suspicious. Spam emails and dubious websites often contain typos or spelling and grammatical mistakes. Another scammer tactic to watch out for is the sense of urgency in phishing mails intended to encourage or even demand immediate action to hurry the victim into moving quickly. These links will take you to a bogus site where you’ll be asked to give your personal information. Cyber criminals can then use the information to steal your identity or log into your accounts, make changes and money transfers.

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Write down the contact details of your financial providers

An old-school method but it just takes a few minutes of your time to make a written copy of the emergency contact numbers and email addresses for organisations such as your bank, card issuer or insurance company. That way you will have access to them even if you lose your payment card or your phone gets stolen. Make sure you never need to rely on contact details that arrived in a message from someone else – after all, if the message was fake, the number or email address will be fake too and will lead you straight back to the crooks.

Learn about account lock features offered by your bank or card issuer

These days, many banking apps have a “quick lock” option that allows you to freeze and unfreeze access to your account or payment card in seconds. In an emergency, such as if you think you put your card number into a phoney site or misplace your card, you can block access to it right away, even before you call up to ask the bank for advice.

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Learn how to clean up your browser’s autofill storage

Modern browsers try to help you by automatically remembering and storing details such as passwords, credit card numbers and even addresses. In many browsers, these autofill features are turned on by default, which may be dangerous. Learn how to review how much personal data your browser has kept up its sleeve in case you need it again. You may find that you want to delete some of it so that it’s no longer in what’s often called “near on-line” storage. To check how much your browser is saving for convenience when you browse, look through the settings or preferences screens from the browser’s main menu. 

Learn how to apply a credit freeze

In Malaysia credit reporting agencies let you apply a “credit freeze.” Simply put, this stops anyone from doing a credit check on you, which will hinder any attempt to take out a loan or get credit in your name. Of course, the freeze also applies to you yourself, so if you want to take out a loan you will need to unfreeze first. But that extra hassle can be well worth the peace of mind of knowing that you have made it much harder for the crooks to suck you into debt.

Use 2FA wherever you can

2FA, short for two-factor authentication, usually refers to those one-time login codes that you need to type in together with your username and password when logging in. While these can be annoying because you can’t login on your laptop if you don’t also have your phone handy, they are very good at verifying that it’s you who Is logging in. Most services rely either on a one-time text message to your phone or a special mobile app for supplying the needed codes. But that small extra hassle for you makes it very much harder for the criminals to mess with your accounts, even if they figure out your password. Cybercriminals are more sophisticated today than ever before and do not only target large organisations — anyone on the Internet can face online threats, attacks and theft. As such, it is always important to adopt safe practices and use caution when online. Learn from the “tiger” and enjoy your time online safely during this season by always being on guard. 

About the author: Wong Joon Hoong is the Country Manager for Sophos Malaysia. This is an opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this publication.

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