As technology moves forward and digital platforms for individuals and businesses become the norm, it’s important to remember to protect yourself online. From dating scams to stealing corporate information, online fraud is becoming more advanced and prevalent than ever before.
Whether you are a business looking to protect your assets or an individual wanting to protect themselves from online theft, we have everything you need to know here in this blog post to help you prevent cyber-crime.
What is online fraud?
Online fraud is defined as making a false representation in order to gain assets such as information, or money on the internet. These can be wide ranging frauds or more private interactions.
The most common online frauds include the following:
- “Official” scams: These scams usually pretend to be from a government agency or authority and try to get personal information such as bank account details. These types of scams will usually say you are due a refund or you have a fine you need to pay. Often with official looking logos and data, sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between a genuine email and a fake one.
- Internet Dating fraud: This type of fraud involves using other people’s images to create fake profiles and identities in order to gain assets such as money or sensitive information, from dating site users. Fraudsters will often claim to have had an accident or need money for other expenses. Sometimes they will gain enough information to be able to impersonate you and commit identity fraud.
- Lottery Scams: You may be contacted by email saying you have won a considerable sum of money in a lottery or prize draw. To collect your “winnings,” the criminals will ask you for bank account details or personal ID or information to steal your assets.
- Spam emails: Some spam emails are simply a way to get personal information regarding who you are and where you live. Once a criminal has this information, they can use the data to steal your identity and/or money.
- Corporate Fraud: This type of fraud can range from organised criminals targeting a business online to individuals connected with or employed by the company in question. This means the purpose of the crime also varies, from financial mismanagement to supply chain fraud.
How to protect your assets online
Prevention is always better than the cure, so we have put together a list of what you can do either as an individual or as a business to reduce the chances of your online assets being compromised or stolen.
Personal fraud prevention
When it comes to protecting your online assets from a personal perspective, there are several steps you can take that can minimise your risk.
- Never give out personal information to anyone online. With social media used by so many, it’s easy to fall into the trap of trusting someone you have met online. However, this is one of the most common forms of fraud or theft, so be very careful with any personal data that could be used to commit cyber-crime. This also extends to emails. You may get an email from someone who says they are your family, friends, business, or government agency. Don’t give out any information, including your address or date of birth until you are sure they are who they say they are.
- Install two-factor authentication. This is now being offered as standard by many big businesses and online platforms to help protect your monetary assets and prevent identity fraud. We would always recommend using this as a step to protect yourself against cyber-crime.
- Create strong passwords and change them regularly. Although this seems like a relatively simple step to take, strong passwords are integral to protecting yourself and your assets online. This includes symbols, numbers and not using a word that anyone could associate with you. Always use different passwords for each platform where possible as this helps prevent an online fraudster gaining access to all of your assets and changing your passwords at LEAST every 3 months.
- Don’t respond to suspicious emails. One of the most common ways fraudsters can hack into your online assets is via email fraud. If you get an email from anyone claiming an account has been hacked, support desk or banking system, check the email address of the sender and then match it up with the company it is coming from. Also check for spelling mistakes or poor use of English as this would definitely raise suspicions. By taking the time to query whether an email is from a reputable source, you may save yourself from being a victim of fraud.
- Still worried about your security? It may be worth hiring a private investigator. Private investigators can assess your current home network security, perform online checks to look for your information and possible data breaches, and run background checks on dates, online acquaintances, and friends. With social media so prevalent, private investigators can also advise on how to protect yourself whilst using any apps or social media network, to help reduce the chance of you falling victim to fraud or ransomware.
As always, here at OpSec solutions, we would recommend never giving out your personal details, banking details or passwords to anyone online, and if you are unsure if an email or phone call is genuine, please check first.
Corporate fraud prevention
Protecting your online assets is hugely important for businesses as they often deal with sensitive information, protected data and larger amounts of money. With most businesses now operating online and using digital platforms and solutions, it is imperative that there is the correct fraud prevention and online security in place. So, what should your business be doing?
- Background checks. These are a key element of online security and can help identify if a possible new employee may have a criminal background or have been previously fired for fraud. Or even if they have an association with a competitor. You can conduct these internally or find a private investigation firm like OpSec to conduct these for you. Private investigators will often have access to databases the general public don’t, so this can be a cost-effective solution, especially for larger firms.
- Electronic Surveillance of computer activity. This can provide enhanced digital security through the monitoring of employee actions on your business network and company devices as well as providing evidence should you find wrongdoing or fraudulent activity.
- Restrict access to assets. Restricting your access to your most valuable assets is essential to prevent theft and fraud. Many management systems or digital platforms should have accessibility controls, if your current system does not support this, we would advise looking into software that does. We would also recommend putting the technology in place for monitoring and audit trails, so you know exactly who has accessed what and when.
- Protect your data. There is now legislation in place that means any data you hold on your clients or customers needs to be properly stored and protected and if your business accepts online payments you need to be compliant with PCI Data Security Standards. As a result, you must undertake risk analysis, implement security policies and we would recommend encryption technologies at a minimum. If you’re unsure whether your business meets the correct standards and principles of UK GDPR, it may be worth hiring a firm like OpSec that can do a comprehensive risk and security assessment and provide advice on what steps you need to take to protect your company.
- Ensure you have protected your intellectual property. If you have a creative business, it’s important that you have the correct documentation in place. Protecting your intellectual assets also makes it easier to take action against anyone who steals or copies your work. You can find information on how to do this here: https://www.gov.uk/intellectual-property-an-overview/protect-your-intellectual-property
Risk management and intelligence solutions from OpSec Solutions
OpSec Solutions balances a team of highly trained personnel, with years of experience in the private investigative sector, with state-of-the art equipment and technology, to help identify security risks as part of our comprehensive risk management and surveillance services, either on a personal or a corporate level. We also understand that preventing fraud is a better solution than investigating after the fact, which is why we take a proactive approach to protect your home or business network, organisation, information, and assets. Our fraud prevention strategies are hugely successful in preventing cybercrime and data breaches before they happen.
If you would like to know more about how we can help you protect your online assets from fraud, please get in touch with us today. You can use our contact us form on the website or call 0844 6641125 or email [email protected].