It’s a new year but cyber criminals are up to the same old tricks… or are they? Well, yes and no.
Sure, many cyber scams stay the same every year. But like a classic rock band at a concert, cyber criminals don’t just play the hits — they’re finding new ways to attack your data and devices. Here are some scams we’ve seen trending lately that you should look out for.
Phishing is as common as ever
We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again, and we’ll never get tired of saying it: phishing can be found just about anywhere. Whether it’s a direct message on a social media platform, an email or smishing text from your bank, or a comment linking to a too-good-to-be-true offer on a video, you need to keep an eye out for phishing wherever you are online.
If you know what to look for, you’re less likely to be a victim. Urgent or threatening language, strange links or email addresses that don’t match the sender are all easy-to-spot signs of a phishing scam. But they’re just the tip of the phishing scam iceberg.
To protect your data and devices this year, make sure you know how to spot a phishing scam. We’ve got phishing-related resources to help you get started.
Automated attacks are still around
Automated cyber attacks, like the ones that make endless attempts to guess your password, are still out there. And if your account security isn’t strong, these bots may be able to hack you.
To prevent a bot hack, consider using a strong passphrase for your password. Passphrases are made of four or more random words and are at least 15 characters long. Passphrases are harder for a bot or cyber criminal to guess and they’re generally easier for you to remember.
Another way to prevent bot attacks is by enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever it’s available. MFA adds an extra layer of protection to your accounts by using an additional authenticator, like your fingerprint, along with your password to lock your account. It’s one extra step that can save you hours of hassle if anyone ever tries to hack your accounts.
Ransomware hasn’t gone anywhere
Ransomware was one of our top focuses for 2021, and it looks like it will be top-of-mind this year, too. Ransomware is a type of malware that locks access to your files until you pay a ransom to a cyber criminal — or at least, that’s what the popup will tell you. But if you pay once, there’s a risk you could end up on a list of people who are likely to pay again. Plus, cyber criminals might permanently delete your files even if you do pay the ransom.
Make sure you back up your files in advance and keep them in a secure location, like a portable hard drive or the cloud. That way, you’re taking away cyber criminals’ bargaining chip in the event of a ransomware attack. This means you can save your money and access to your files.
Cryptocurrency scams enter the arena
If you’re active online, really into finance or are a fan of a particular electric-car-making billionaire, you may be familiar with cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin or Ethereum, is a type of currency that uses digital files as money.
A common misconception about cryptocurrency is that it’s safer than regular money. As the popularity of cryptocurrencies increases, the scams with them do, too. Cryptocurrency scams were on the rise in 2021and we expect that trend to continue through 2022.
Like other online scams, most cryptocurrency scams trick you into giving out your personal information, like the key to your digital wallet. If you own cryptocurrency or any other digital assets, make sure to watch out for the red flags of phishing if someone reaches out to you about expanding your investment.
Cyber threats are always changing, but you can use some tried-and-true strategies to stay cyber safe. Stay skeptical online. Keep an eye out for suspicious messages, sketchy links or anything that feels out of the ordinary. Ensure that your accounts are set up to be as secure as possible. That way, your data will stay safe no matter how the trends change.