Knowing this, being safe on the internet is more important than ever to be aware of the potential dangers that have arisen as part of this lockdown. We have compiled a list of 5 things to know to stay safe online.
1. Keep video conference details private.
We are all taking advantage of modern technology to stay connected through the use of video conferencing apps such as Zoom or Google Hangouts.
Make sure that those meeting details stay private and secure to stop the random friends you have on Facebook crashing your family bingo night. Most importantly, however; prevent scammers from infiltrating your conversations and gathering sensitive information.
Securing your meetings are quickly done on most apps by simply adding a password and making sure you are sending meeting details over an encrypted messenger.
2. Think about what you're showing your audience.
You should make reviewing your surroundings part of your checks before going live to the world on a video call. This tip is mostly to save you from embarrassing yourself in front of your work colleagues. Make sure there is nothing that can appear in the scene that is personal or sensitive that leaves you vulnerable to those on the call. Including your underwear!
If for whatever reason you are limited on where you can start your video call, use apps such as ChromaCam
to remove/blur your background altogether.
3. Beware of fishing... I mean phishing!
Phishing is when a scammer uses email or text messaging to try and trick you into giving away personal information such as passwords or account numbers. Scammers use a variety of tactics to try and catch you out, from pretending to be a company you trust or offering vouchers and discounts on items to might want.
Don't fret though, there are a few ways to quickly spot a fake!
- The email was sent from a common email domain such as "@gmail.com" that you don't recognise, or from a junk domain such as "@zxyfofls.com".
- The email contains a suspicious attachment or dodgy links. Almost all trusted companies will avoid sending you files in emails, so don't be fooled if it seems that Netflix sent you an invoice PDF. Secondly, if an email contains links, depending on your email client, you can hover over them to reveal the URL it is pointing to. Most scammer URL will look very odd and almost unreadable.
- They are poorly written. Some people believe that poorly written phishing emails exist so that the scammers can filter out more gullible users. However, this is unlikely true. It is far more likely that the scammers themselves have used spell checkers or translators to write the email. Therefore, be on the lookout for grammatical errors too. You may notice that they have used the right words, but not necessarily in the correct order.
- Almost all scam emails will try to create a sense of urgency. You are far more likely to respond to instructions and miss details that could give them away when you are worried about what's happened to your Paypal account. Remember, try not to panic and be astute when reading messages.
4. Be careful of what you are buying online.
In the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak, we have seen a substantial increase in the amount of fake news and dishonesty spreading online; this includes the sale of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). It may be hard to spot what is real or not; however, it almost always starts with an email.
The British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) has created a guide on what to look out for to make sure the anything you do buy is legal and safe. You can find that guide here.
5. Social media
While the country has been fantastic in banding together to provide assistance and support to one another, not everyone is as helpful. At a time where there has been an increase of misinformation, a small number of scammers are posing as volunteers to try and spread fake news, or try and scam people.
An example of the false information being spread comes in the disguise of online maps used for telling people where they can go to get tested for Covid-19. However, these maps can deliver malware such as AZORult Trojan, which is an information-stealing program used to infiltrate a variety of sensitive data.
The best option is to avoid using third-party links and services and stick to using trusted sources. For example, if you search "Coronavirus Stats UK" into Google, you will be presented with Google's regularly updated charts and figures.
Do not let the scammers and hackers take advantage of you during these already challenging times. Discover the National Cyber Security Centre's #CyberAware
campaign for more information on staying safe and alert during coronavirus. And now that you're clued up on protecting yourself online check out our 7 ways to defeat boredom and loneliness
to keep yourself motivated and engaged during lockdown too.