The holidays are around the corner. Whether you are religious or not, is a time of year where our sensory experiences are heightened through social media holiday ads, through outside decorations and visual artefacts who remind us of that time of year. The end of 2021 marks another unusual holiday as the ripple effects of the pandemic continue to be visible. Change, uncertainty and even disruption fatigue continue to mark the reality for many.
The emotion of cheer and jolly that many associate with Christmas may make many oblivious to the danger of letting our guards down to criminals and scammers alike. Unfortunately, it is also a time of year where people with little to no ethical values and standards will try to scam others. Neuroscience shows that many people have learned to associate specific emotions during the holiday season which are likely to make us more trustworthy and less critical.
Oscar and I recorded a special bonus episode to share their reminders with the Cyber Eagles Podcast community and reduce the risk of getting fooled during the holiday season.
Check out part one on how to secure your digital footprint with our top five cyber hygiene reminders!
Reminder Number #1 – Recognize smishing
Smishing is a phishing cybersecurity attack carried out over mobile text messaging, also known as SMS phishing. Victims are deceived into clicking on links based on a perceived sense of urgency. Perhaps you ordered your christmas presents and you are asked for complementary information to ensure quick and smooth delivery. Other forms of smishing are when the criminals are pretending to be official institutions asking you to wire funds for your outstanding payments by clicking on the SMS link. So a rule of thumb, never ever click. Go to your official dashboard, user account or verify through other non-digital means.
Reminder Number #2 – Expand the email arrow
Always make sure you expand the arrow button next to the sender’s name to view the entire email address. Scammers send sophisticated emails triggering the perception that it is a valid one using the names of your colleagues, friends or family. But when you see the sender’s email, you will notice a dodgy gmail address with random numbers. And when in doubt, verify. Most countries have a national fraud line you can call and report your scam. Then proceed to block, delete and move on with your life. No need for fear or panic, just plain old practical common sense.
Reminder Number #3 – Cloned Influencer’s accounts
Be careful with social media use, especially with apps like Instagram or Snapchat. Many scammers clone profiles of influencers you follow and engage with their content. They message you with carefully crafted words to evoke emotions of excitement, privilege and recognition. Who does not like to be recognised by someone with thousands or millions of followers? Unfortunately, nine times out of ten, influencers have either professional marketing teams doing the social media and engagement with fans for them or it is someone who is trying to trick and scam you. So make sure your teens and anyone else are aware so that they can block and prevent.
Reminder Number #4 – Check at the source
You are likely to receive emails from big companies with whom you have ongoing subscriptions to your cloud based networks, such as Microsoft. Never click on any emails asking you to click on links to access your accounts, provide your login details for a customer agent to verify your information or to fill in a customer satisfaction survey. Always go to your account dashboard where you can log in securely through multi factor authentication
Reminder Number #5 – See beyond the fear
A common technique criminals and scammers alike use is the fear trigger or pressure technique. Most of them have done their research through open source information gathering and use information which will create a sense of urgency. Red flags should become visible and alarm bells should be ringing when someone is asking you to make an urgent payment immediately. And if you refuse and they persist, that’s a sign. Always take a few deep breaths so you move out of the fear state and into your rational state.
Check out part two on the next top five emotional intelligence resilience strategies to keep you secure against the criminals and scammers during the holidays.
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