Be Careful What You Click On
One of the most common ways that cyber criminals hack your sensitive data is by tricking you into clicking on links or attachments. Often times, these are in the form of what appear to be legitimate emails, which is called phishing. Learn how to spot a phishing email here.
Clicking on the wrong link could cost you – you could lose money, personal data, and you can even put your loved ones or your business at risk. Always read the domain with care and follow the below steps to avoid becoming a malware or ransomware victim.
First of all, there are two types of URLs:
- A standard length, starting with www. followed by the website name, ending with a .com or some other top-level domain.
- A shortened URL such as bit.ly/2qhKcPw
Both URLs can be perfectly safe to click on, but make sure you do your due diligence before moving forward.
How can you tell if the link is legitimate?
Look for https:/ in the URL. The ‘S’ stands for secure. HTTPS helps protects the integrity of the website by preventing hackers from tampering with and listening to the communications between the website and your browser. It also protects your privacy and security.
If you’re a desktop user, hover your mouse over the link and the correct URL will be displayed in the bottom left hand corner of your browser.
If you’re on a mobile device or tablet, you need to be extra careful! Your safest bet will be to wait until you are on a desktop browser to confirm it’s a valid and legitimate address.
If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can check by following these simple steps:
- In Safari, tap and hold on any link until an action screen appears with multiple options
- Look at the top of the pop-up box to see the link URL
- If it’s suspicious, you can simply click the ‘Cancel’ button
You can also check a URL’s legitimacy by using the Google Transparency Report. Google’s Safe Browsing technology examines billions of URLs each day in order to discover unsafe sites. You can search the URL here to see whether or not the website is currently dangerous to visit.
Make sure you copy the link safely by right-clicking on the link for the context menu. Click ‘copy shortcut’ or ‘copy link address’.
Remember, never give out personal information, social security numbers, bank account numbers, or even dates of birth over the internet. Legitimate businesses do not request this type of sensitive information via emails.
In order to protect yourself even further, we highly recommend that you:
- Always use different passwords for each online account.
- Never store credit card information, personal information, or passwords in your email.
- Use two-step verification for an extra layer of protection.
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month!
“Held every October, National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) is a collaborative effort between government and industry to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and to ensure that all Americans have the resources they need to be safer and more secure online,” according to Homeland Security.
“NCSAM 2019 will emphasize personal accountability and stress the importance of taking proactive steps to enhance cybersecurity at home and in the workplace. This year’s overarching message – Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT. – will focus on key areas including citizen privacy, consumer devices, and ecommerce security.” Learn more about National Cybersecurity Awareness Month here on the Homeland Security website.
Every weekday in October, we’ll help spread Cybersecurity awareness by sharing an important online safety tip.
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