If you are doing financial transactions over the Internet like online banking and stock trading, you should be aware of some internet security threats that can steal your personal information and may harm your computer. These threats are real and increasing each day so you should take necessary precautions about it.
Based on the report of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Internet Crime Complaint Center (iC3), in year 2013 alone, the IC3 received 262,813 consumer complaints with an adjusted dollar loss of $ 781,841,611, which is a 48.8
percent increase in reported losses since 2012 ($581,441,110).
Some of the Internet threats that you may encounter while online are phishing email, spams, pharming, computer virus, malwares, spywares and trojan horse. Each threat has its own goals but all of them are not good for your computer and for your personal information because it can lead to identity theft on your part.
Here are some of the Internet security threats that you should avoid and be aware of.
1. Phishing Email
A phishing email is a type of email being sent to a person with the goal of acquiring his personal financial information like bank account number, social security number, telephone number and many more. Most of phishing emails disguise as a genuine message from popular establishments like bank or credit card companies.
However, if you carefully check it, the email address the suspect use might be in error or misspelled. You may also notice that the intention of the email is to get your financial data, not really to give you information or help you.
Please keep in mind that no banks or other financial institutions will ask for your financial information through email or over the Internet. If you receive emails asking for your online banking passwords, delete it right away or put it in the spam folder.
2. Email Spams
Unsolicited emails or commonly known as spams are widely used by spammers to get the personal and financial details of their victim. Most spams come from unknown emails of individuals or companies.
Some classic example is an email like winning the lottery that you didn’t buy. To prevent spams getting to your inbox, use the spam filtering feature of your email.
GMail and Yahoo Mail automatically filters spam emails through the content in the subject. Don’t open any emails from unknown persons especially the attachment files because it can be a virus.
3. Computer Virus
I think computer virus is the most popular Internet security threats nowadays that is why there are many companies creating anti-virus software. A computer virus is a type of computer threat and similar to a biological virus in such a way that it cannot live or multiply without living in its host. It can also replicate itself fast within your computer and to the files in it.
To be able to prevent viruses from damaging your computer, you should install an effective anti-virus scanner or soft ware which you can get free from the Internet. I used Avast anti-virus software since it is free and it protects your computer from virus while online.
Avast also detects automatically any suspicious websites that might be harmful to your computer. If it detects the website you’re opening has malware or virus, it will show an alarm telling you about it and then give recommendation on what to do.
4. Malwares and Spywares
Malicious soft wares or malwares is a kind of software propagating from the Internet that self-install itself to its host computer with the goal of getting information about the user or maybe doing harm or abusive action. A spy ware is another type of malware that is secretly installed on a person’s computer to gather pieces of information without the knowledge of the user.
5. Trojan Horse
Another kind of Internet threat is the trojan horse. Unlike a virus, it does not replicate itself. At first, it performs like a normal software or program which do desirable tasks but it slowly harming your computer. If you know the story of Trojan Horse, you can easily understand what I mean.
If there’s a phishing, there’s also a pharming. What? A pharming is a kind of website that looks very similar to another authentic site. The goal of pharming site is to obtain the username, password and bank account number of the victim.
Most pharming sites are similar to the online banking website of most banks. I have seen pharming website for BPI, BDO and Metrobank but not have seen for COL Financial, Sun Life and BPI Trade stock trading account.
How can you distinguish pharming site and the authentic one? The easiest way is to look at the URL or address bar of the website. Just for example, the authentic URL of BPI: http://bpi.com.ph/ so you should carefully check the address bar of the banking site you are using.
In order to avoid these Internet threats, you should know how to prevent and combat them with the knowledge and acquired skills you have. You don’t need to be a computer programmer or savvy just to fight them.
You only need to know how to prevent them from entering your computer. One way to avoid them is to install anti-virus and firewalls for your computer.
In addition, don’t open any attachment files from unknown source and do not download software from untrusted websites. Always clean your computer regularly with Disk Cleanup and anti-virus.
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