The opportunities and resources offered by the World Wide Web seem at times to be limitless. It is hard to think of an area of human experience or interest that has not benefited from some kind of connection to the Internet. The very comprehensiveness of the web, however, also leaves it open to the relentless exploits of online scammers. According to a recent report, some $12.7 billion was lost worldwide in 2013 alone to the so-called ‘Nigerian’ scam, which is discussed in more detail below.
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Among today’s millions of online frauds currently doing the rounds, six common types are particularly vexing:
1. Email phishing
Phishing is defined by the online tech dictionary Webopedia as:
“The act of sending an email to a user falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft.”
An example of this would be an email purporting to be from Citibank that asks users to submit their online banking credentials into a form on a bogus website.
2. Nigerian 419 Scam
Known as an ‘Advanced Fee’ fraud that is perpetrated over email, this scam’s details are relatively familiar to all. The sender claims to come from Nigeria and asks the recipient to help extract a large fortune from his/her home country. The catch is that the funds are required in advance. The number 419 references the Nigerian criminal code dealing with fraud.
3. Fake job listings
Tempting employment opportunities are listed online, and any individuals who apply are sucked in to submitting increasing amounts of personal information, eventually leading to identity theft.
4. Online dating scams
These types of scams use legitimate dating websites to create fictitious profiles. Once the bogus users have established relationships of trust with actual profiles, they can then exploit their victims in numerous ways, often via wiring money to another country.
5. Miracle cures
These cruel frauds seek to exploit the sick by persuading them through email or internet advertising to part with their money for products of dubious provenance and which could cause them harm.
6. Computer ‘fixing’
These are website pop-ups that claim your computer is riddled with viruses or that your registry needs de-cluttering. Once installed, the programme relentlessly demands payment and is hard to remove.
How to steer clear of the fraudsters
While email is sometimes considered old-fashioned compared to social media messaging, it is still heavily exploited by fraudsters. Consequently, making sure you have powerful anti-spam software in place is one effective means of combating these ne’er-do-wells. Most big-name internet security software packages now include anti-spam modules, which you should enable. Make full use of these to weed out the trash before you even get to see it.
In terms of software, internet security programmes will also monitor websites you visit and warn you if they are nefarious. Make sure you activate this invaluable built-in web-surfing protection. It could save you from being exploited by phishing.
Finally, especially if you are a running a small or medium sized business and are having trouble sorting the wheat from the chaff, then don’t be afraid to speak to an expert. There are plenty of highly qualified, supportive professionals performing invaluable service in IT security jobs, and they will be eager to assist in you fending off the fraudsters.
Acumin is an international Information Security and Information Risk Management recruitment specialist. The company works with a variety of markets comprising of End Users, IT Security Vendors, Systems Integrators and Consultancies.
Acumin provides a range of specialist services which include contingency Permanent Recruitment, Contract Recruitment and retained Executive Search. For SMB and Enterprise End User clients, Acumin facilitates the development of internal Information Security and Risk Management teams across the UK, Europe and United States.