A new report claims that over two-thirds of Brits fail to spot the signs of an online scam, putting millions of Internet users at risk – here’s our Mirror.co.uk guide to staying safe
Millions of Brits are at risk of falling prey to cybercriminals, with over two-thirds of us unable to spot the telltale signs of a phishing scam.
That’s according to a new study by NordVPN, which finds that the vast majority of Brits lack essential online safety awareness about fraud. Two in three (63%) of those surveyed were unable to correctly identify the red flags of phishing websites, with many still reliant on outdated safety information.
Phishing is one of the most common scam techniques. It’s where scammers set up convincing fake websites in order to hoodwink victims into handing over private information, including passwords and bank or card details, or spread malware and viruses.
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What’s more, four out of five UK consumers falsely believe that the presence of a padlock icon in the web browser address bar means a site is trusted. In fact, this only indicates an encrypted connection and can still be used by scam sites.
NordVPN’s National Privacy Test wasn’t all bad news, as it found most Brits have basic online safety skills such as creating strong passwords or shielding personal information on social media.
However, less than half of people realise that their email address, browser history, IP address, and time spent online can be collected by their Internet provider. On top of that, almost a quarter of Brits surveyed (23%) willingly used a public charging point, which puts you at risk of ‘juice jacking’ scams in which cybercriminals can steal information from your device.
Marijus Briedis, NordVPN’s Chief Technology Officer, said: “As technology advances, cybercriminals have adapted their tactics, making it challenging for the average user to keep up. Also, there is a common misconception that cybersecurity is solely the responsibility of service providers.
Many Brits seem off the pace when it comes to their online safety, reliant on ‘old-school knowledge’ and at risk of falling headlong into scams like phishing websites. It’s important they realise that with the use of biometric identification growing, the value of a strong password is likely to decline over the next few years, and they must up their game in other areas.”
If you want to learn more about how you can stay safe online, you can do NordVPN’s National Privacy Test for yourself.
How to spot an online phishing scam
There are a few ways to spot a phishing scam, although some are so convincing that there’s no way to be certain.
Dodgy graphic design and errors in written text on a site are a pretty decent hint, as is a suspicious or unusual web address. For example, if you’ve clicked a link about ‘Apple giveaways’ but the link takes you to a web address that differs from the official Apple.com URL, you should probably exercise a high degree of caution. This also applies to email addresses. Companies will never contact you from a @hotmail.com or @gmail.com address; instead, they’ll only reach out to you via the official domain name.
If there’s an urgent call to action, telling you that you need to send your bank details, password, or other login to a website, then you should also take a step back from the situation. It’s also worth hovering your mouse over any links before you click them just to see if the URL is going to take you to where it says it will.
Overall, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.