As much as the Internet has simplified our lives, it seems to also have complicated it – especially if we take into account the ever-increasing cyber security risks that we are exposed to with every click and installation. Let’s learn some essential online safety tips at the beginning of 2023 from Valentin Necoară, Director of Technological Development certSIGN, guest on the “Reporters of Actuality” show on Radio Romania News.
What is currently the most common method of online fraud?
“The most common fraud methods are those based on so-called unsolicited messages that try to make us to take certain actions, such as providing personal data or informations about our payment mechanisms. In principle, carrying out some actions as a result of which those who determine us to do this to obtain money from us – this is, after all, the goal”, mentioned the certSIGN specialist.
Besides spam emails like this, how “free” are free phone apps?
Such unsolicited messages whose ultimate goal is the theft of personal data and the obtaining of undue material benefits can currently reach us through a variety of channels – e-mails, SMS, notifications and more.
“As you also said, there are apps which deliver advertisements, they are installed and are free through the mechanism of monetizing the advertisements that are presented to the user. But if the applications are not sufficiently validated by the manufacturers or by the manager of the store where they are installed, they may also contain inappropriate things”, pointed out Valentin Necoară.
How can we stay safe online, given these dangers and vulnerabilities?
The smartphone has become our best friend, it accompanies us wherever and whenever, offering us access to the Internet with a single click – practically almost every action done on mobile devices has behind it an activity on the Internet. An extremely important aspect to remember here is the fact that every action performed by connecting to the online environment involves the transmission of data to third parties regarding our activities – the moment we open a browser and perform an online search or when we install an app, a series of information about what we do are sent to someone else.
“The protection in this sense comes once from the manufacturers of the operating systems of the phones, who have taken measures lately, and it is good to activate those privacy settings, security of our data, and keep them activated, because in the moment those settings are made we are warned every time an app tries for example to find out where we are or to obtain certain information about us. So it is good to rely, firstly, on the security that already comes with mobile phones/devices and secondly to use authorized websites as much as possible from where to download information or install applications”, added the certSIGN representative.
Is a complex antivirus sufficient, to get our attention or automatically block specific messages or requests from certain applications/programs ?
If we are talking about laptops or certain types of phones – yes, the existence of an antivirus program is useful. Beyond detecting viruses and blocking their execution, such programs have the ability to detect user behavior and even protect us against unintentional mistakes.
But in the case of most smartphones, the existence of an antivirus protects more against the installation of an unwanted application – the rest of the newer security features already come with the phone. In short, if we do not install applications from unknown sources that promise us significant financial gains in case of accessing a link and entering our data, then we are quite safe.
The concept of “money mules” is also found in this area of online fraud. What are they and what happens to them?
As we well know, at the present time in the online environment money can be transferred very easily from one account to another, including transfers between two different banking entities that can be made instantly. “However, apart from bank transfers that can be tracked, there are also these virtual currencies through which a form of cryptocurrency money can be capitalized from the beginning into current currency. These “money mules” act as intermediaries between the person who wants to send money and the one to whom it is intended, often without the parties knowing, by using app exactly in the category of those mentioned earlier,” Valentin Necoară emphasized.
In conclusion, for our online safety, both greater attention and a more in-depth knowledge of these app and the actions that are required of us through them are necessary.