MCA is regularly fighting to keep our network and system tools safe but, in a world of "creative bad people" who make viruses, spam, and scams it is a never-ending work.
Nothing makes a user safer than being informed in their habits and recognizing the danger signs.
Here are three things that will help you avoid viruses, spam and scams:
- First, to properly protect oneself from potentially unwanted programs, etc. every user, on all of their devices should be in the habit of keeping their software up-to-date. It cannot be emphasized enough! Often users choose not to update because they do not like the new features in a new software or operating system but bundled in these updates is always security updates. By forgoing updates, users can open themselves up to "creative bad people." If you must wait to update, do not wait too long.
- The second most important way to be sure your habits include protecting yourself is to keep a virus scanner installed and updated on your computer. Be sure it has the ability to run scans and that the computer is on when the scan is scheduled! Many a person has installed and updated their virus program but have not set up their computer to scan regularly. This is a habit that invites a problem. Remember, it is easier to stop a potentially unwanted program from installing than it is to get off your computer!
- Finally, be aware of what a scam looks like! Microsoft has a helpful article that has been sampled below. Remember that "creative bad people" are inventing new ways to disrupt our digital lives all the time but hey do tend to have similar goals. Being aware of these goals can help you avoid scams and more. The avenue of delivering a virus or more to your computer can change from emails and attachments to pop-ups and hyperlinks so knowing what they are trying to do is often more helpful that identifying how they are doing it. (For instance, if they are threatening you with the need to pay money right away, or to give you money from an African Prince you should be suspicious! Notice the common thread? Money!)
Read below for more guidance from Microsoft:
How to recognize scams
...you can learn to recognize a scam by familiarizing yourself with some of the telltale signs.
Scams can contain the following:
Alarmist messages and threats of account closures.
Promises of money for little or no effort.
Deals that sound too good to be true.
Requests to donate to a charitable organization after a disaster that has been in the news.
Bad grammar and misspellings.
For more information, see How to recognize phishing emails and links.
Here are some popular scams that you should be aware of:
Scams that use the Microsoft name or names of other well-known companies. These scams include fake email messages or websites that use the Microsoft name. The email message might claim that you have won a Microsoft contest, that Microsoft needs your logon information or password, or that a Microsoft representative is contacting you to help you with your computer. (These fake tech-support scams are often delivered by phone.) For more information, see Avoid scams that use the Microsoft name fraudulently.
Lottery scams. You might receive messages that claim that you have won the Microsoft lottery or sweepstakes. These messages might even look like they come from a Microsoft executive. There is no Microsoft Lottery. Delete the message. For more information, see What is the Microsoft Lottery Scam?
Rogue security software scams. Rogue security software, also known as "scareware," is software that appears to be beneficial from a security perspective but provides limited or no security, generates erroneous or misleading alerts, or attempts to lure you into participating in fraudulent transactions. These scams can appear in email, online advertisements, your social networking site, search engine results, or even in pop-up windows on your computer that might appear to be part of your operating system, but are not. For more information, see Watch out for fake virus alerts.
What to do if you think you have been a victim of a scam
If you suspect that you've responded to a phishing scam with personal or financial information, take these steps to minimize any damage and protect your identity.
Change the passwords or PINs on all your online accounts that you think might be compromised.
Place a fraud alert on your credit reports. Check with your bank or financial advisor if you're not sure how to do this.
Contact the bank or the online merchant directly. Do not follow the link in the fraudulent email message.
If you know of any accounts that were accessed or opened fraudulently, close those accounts.
Routinely review your bank and credit card statements monthly for unexplained charges or inquiries that you didn't initiate.
Want to read more? Head to the full article on Microsoft's web page or find out more on MCA's HelpDesk by searching for "safety."