Online threats to consumers

Online threats to consumers come in many forms, such as viruses, malware, phishing scams, and ransomware. These threats can compromise the security of a person’s personal information, such as their login credentials and credit card numbers, and can lead to identity theft, financial loss, and other issues. It’s important for consumers to be aware of these threats and take steps to protect themselves, such as using strong unique passwords and password manager, using 2FA where offered, avoiding suspicious emails and websites, and keeping their computers, devices and antivirus software up to date.

Clicking on links

Clicking on links can be dangerous because they can lead to websites that contain malicious software, such as viruses or malware, that can harm your computer or steal your personal information. It is important to be cautious when clicking on links, especially if they come from unknown or untrustworthy sources. You can protect yourself by keeping your operating system and antivirus software up to date, and by being careful about which websites you visit and what you download.

Harmful links can be found on trusted websites, emails and cell phone text messages.

Good and updated antivirus software will often help you here.

When I say harmful links can be found on trusted websites, a very common infections can be caught on Facebook, coming in private messages from friends who had previously been infected. Easily removed following these instruction.

Why strong unique passwords

Using unique passwords on different websites is important because it helps to prevent unauthorized access to your accounts. If you use the same password on multiple sites, and one of those sites gets hacked, then the hackers would have access to all of your accounts that use the same password. By using unique passwords on each site, you reduce the risk of this happening. It is also important to use strong and difficult-to-guess passwords to further protect your accounts.

And to manage all these strong unique passwords, unless you have a fabulous memory, you need a password manager such as LastPass, EnPass.

haveibeenpwned is an excellent resource, that allows users to check if their personal data has been involved in a data breach. The website maintains a database of known data breaches, and allows users to enter their email address to see if it has been included in any of the breaches. If a match is found, the website will provide information about the breach and what data was exposed.

You should of course change any instance of where that password was used.

What is 2FA

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is an additional layer of security used to make sure that the person attempting to access an account is who they say they are. With 2FA, a user must provide two different authentication factors to verify their identity. These factors could be something that the user knows, such as a password or PIN, and something that the user has, such as a smartphone or security token. By requiring two different factors, 2FA makes it much more difficult for someone to gain unauthorized access to an account.

Using a password and a smartphone, and using a fingerprint or facial recognition along with a PIN. In each of these examples, the user is required to provide two different authentication factors in order to access their account. For example, they might enter their password and then use their smartphone to receive a security code, or they might scan their fingerprint and then enter their PIN. By requiring two different factors, 2FA provides an additional layer of security that makes it much more difficult for someone to gain unauthorized access to an account.

Financial institutions normally enforce some form of 2FA, but they are optional in many other cases, social media accounts, email services such as Microsoft or GMail, utilities etc.

The backup plan

Well, there are backups, all devices can be backed up, and it’s very simple and cost effective compared to times past. And not only would that help if you got some infection, but it protects you in the event of device loss/theft or some hardware failure.

Personally my laptop backs up to iCloud for $1.49 per month, and my Android goes to Google for free, Microsoft Windows machines can use OneDrive. If you have lots of files, maybe a photographer, you would want to use a local backup drive, these can be found in Costco for $150 these days.

And if all else fails, especially when it comes to having your identity stolen, there is insurance, most home insurance plans have an identity theft add on available for a small fee. I have recently seen this payout well for a victim, the bank would not have backed down without the assistance of the insurance companies lawyer, and the sum was over $20k.

And this has happened to me, 15 years ago when coming to Canada someone took advantage of the move and ordered credit cards and iPhones to my old address in my name. Mastercard were great and it only took one call, but took a good year of back and forth with Virgin UK to resolve the iPhones.

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