Friday, March 14, 2014

Cyber fraud affects us all

Cyber fraud — all online users are at risk of falling victim to Internet fraud.

The issue of protecting oneself against cyber criminals has received additional attention as a focus of Fraud Prevention Month (March).

Cyber fraud comes in many forms, including email fraud, advance fee fraud and online shopping scams that at their core are meant to collect personal information or trick the general public out of their hard earned money.

Kathy Macdonald, founder of Global Cyber Security Courses and retired Calgary police officer says cyber criminals often use social engineering techniques to deceive the average online user.

Under the guise of legitimate businesses, such as banks, retailers or charitable organizations, cyber criminals send out out millions of fraudulent emails every day with the aim of collecting financial or sensitive information from the recipients.

At first glance these emails may appear to be from an honest sender, often include official looking logos and require the recipient to take some sort of action: clicking a link, confirming username and password information, or sending money for a charitable cause.

“However, if you provide that information, of course they can go in and change your password and then you can’t get into that site,” Macdonald explained. Also, associated links can be infected with malware and pose dangers to those who arbitrarily click on them.

“Malware is malicious code that gets into your computer and siphons your personal information. Your computer starts working for the (hacker). It can also send out more spam emails.”