Use SCAM to avoid being caught out online!

All we’re hearing about lately is Google’s push to move every website on the internet to HTTPS – not only is this classed as a ranking factor, but it’s also going to be part of Google’s move to Mobile First over the course of 2018. Now we totally understand why people want websites they visit to be secure, but has this push to move really done a lot to increase online security?

The answer is, there’s no clear answer. Whilst it’s always encouraging to see the little padlock appear in the browser, this doesn’t stop scammers and malware makers also doing the same thing. With everyone doing it, it soon becomes the norm, so seeing a website that is using HTTPS now doesn’t give the same feeling of trust that it did even 1 or 2 years ago, as nefarious websites are now using it too. The job of HTTPS is not to protect internet users from crooks, but rather supply a secure connection from user to website, so you still must use common sense when visiting websites to make sure you’re not being hoodwinked. HTTPS does not know who the end user is or anything about the website it is being used on, so it’s your job to take care when browsing online.

A recent report from the Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW) has shown that online fraud in the UK has dropped by 15% over the past year; this is encouraging, and shows that as a nation we are moving in the right direction for making online fraud a thing of the past as more of us wise up to browsing safely. As technology becomes more sophisticated, however, so will scammers – it’s always been the way, so it’s important to stay on guard and prepared!

Spotting a Scam Website

Use the SCAM technique to spot a potentially dangerous website;

  • SUSPICIOUS LINKS – If you’re received an email that wants you to go to an unknown website, don’t click on the link. Even if the email is from a trusted sender, check with them first to make sure they’ve meant to send you it. Dangerous websites are often masked by innocent looking emails, and these websites can use HTTPS too!
  • CARE & ATTENTION – Pay close care and attention to the website you’re on. Does it have HTTPS? You can check this either by looking for a padlock symbol in your browser, or if you’re not sure, copy and paste the main website address into notepad or Word. This will give the full address and show you whether it’s HTTP or HTTPS. Also, is it asking for details you don’t think are necessary, such as bank details even if you’re not trying to buy anything. Some scam websites take anything they can get, including name and address details, so be wary when giving these out!
  • ACT FAST – if you have been caught out, act fast to try and prevent long-lasting damage. Call your bank and give them the details to freeze your accounts and cards until new details can be provided. If you were led to a scam site by an email from a trusted sender, let them know their account has likely been hacked.
  • MAKE SAFE – as well as acting fast, make your own device safe. Run an antivirus program to check for any malware that may have been installed, and clear anything out that is found. Set up a firewall to prevent against future attacks, and ideally keep an antivirus running at all times!