Online security: keeping your personal information private

Unless you’re very lucky, you’ve all received at least one of those emails. You know the kind, promising you hundreds of thousands of dollars, because apparently you’re the heir to your estranged great uncle’s fortune, or a Nigerian prince needs you to look after a few million for him. You’ve probably also received emails at some point from your “bank” to let you know that you’ve made a payment and to “click here” if you don’t remember doing this, but spotted at the last minute the fact that the email isn’t actually from your bank at all.

But sometimes, the emails are far clever than this. Even as recent as this weekend, businesses we all know and trust such as HSBC have fallen prey to attacks from hackers. While HSBC took to Twitter to assure customers that they’d successfully defended their systems, the process did mean their online banking systems were disrupted for customers:

But it’s not that fact that users couldn’t access their online banking for a couple of days that people are worried about, it’s more the fact that even huge businesses like this have weaknesses that cyber criminals are able to exploit and use against them. Even the most web savvy person can get caught out from time to time as the attacks on our systems become more and more sophisticated, whether that’s coming in through the backdoor to access our private data or the simple email attack that can look identical to correspondence from a friend.

This Infographic explains a little better how hackers and scammers can gain access to our systems and data to use them for their own personal gain:

Online Scams & How To Avoid Them

If you’ve been a victim of an online scam, the Money Advice Service can help you figure out what to do next, or you can visit Victim Support for more information.