How to get more safe online
In times of social media and constantly being under the spell of our smartphones, a lot of danger lurks around the corner. Cyber criminals use smart technology that allows scams to penetrate even into our living rooms.
This and many other stories, it is daily news. Just recently thousands of Belgian citizens received a message from Bpost saying that they first had to pay shipping costs for a package that was on its way. Many ignored the message, others unknowingly agreed to pay the false demand and lost their money.
This kind of scam is called phishing, or Internet fraud. The idea is simple: the scammers try to lure you to a fake website, which looks identical to the real one, in order to get you to log in with your password or make a payment with credit card details.
Fortunately (in most cases), phishing can be recognised if you are attentive:
It's unexpected. You get a message from the sender for no reason. You bought nothing and had no contact, then it's definitely a scam.
It sounds very urgent. It looks like you forgot to pay once before, so be sure to check it.
The e-mail address is unknown or strange. Always check if you know the e-mail address. A legitimate e-mail address is not yet a guarantee.
An official institution will never ask you to share personal data, bank details or passwords by mail or by phone.
The link will lead you to a foreign domain. Before you click on a link, hover your mouse over it. Is the domain name (the word for .be, .com, .org, ... and for the first slash /) really the domain name of the organisation?
You are not addressed personally or with a vague title.
The message contains language errors or strange sentence structures.
The message is in the spam/junk folder. You can also mark e-mails and e-mail addresses as spam yourself and thus warn others.
Smishing stands for 'SMS phishing'. As with phishing, the user receives a message that asks for action in a rather urgent way. Or the message makes some kind of interesting promise, mostly quick wins on how to get cash fast.
What to do when you receive such SMS?
Don't click on the link in the text message.
If you did click, don't fill in any further fields and break off any interaction.
If you have made a payment during the telephone contact, we advise you to contact your bank and report this to the police.
Digital Health Index
There is an online test that gives you insight into your digital health and tests your cyber safety. The test contains questions about updates, backups, phishing, anti-virus software and passwords. Afterwards, you can immediately compare your results with the Digital Health Index! When you have completed the test you will gain a better understanding as to what you still need to do in order improve the protection of your mobile phone, iPad or computer.
Editor's note: I got an overall score of 68 %, which is below the Belgian average. The DHI tool allows me to see in which areas I scored well and in which areas I scored badly. As you can see most room for improvement are with updates and password security.
This post was made in collaboration with safeonweb.be, an initiative from the Center Cyber Security Belgium. Safeonweb wants to inform and advise Belgian citizens quickly and correctly about cyber security, major current digital threats and online safety.