Cyber Crime – Get One Step Ahead


Coronavirus leaves in its wake, many forms of devastation across the world, with opportunists taking advantage of an already ‘bad’ situation.  Due to the affects of Covid-19 we have had to increase our online exposure and digital activity, living our lives through video conferencing, online shopping, and social media.

Cyber crime is a topic that we are very much aware of at Gould Financial Planning, being vigilant is ingrained in us but unfortunately, this type of criminal activity continues to be one of the world’s most common crimes and is on the increase.  Coronavirus has caught many off guard, and whilst we are at our most vulnerable, cyber criminals are using this to their advantage.

Action Fraud who are the UK’s national reporting service for fraud reported a 400% increase in Coronavirus related scams in March alone!  Dare I mention the most recent event to hit the headlines; Easy Jet on 19th May 2020 and that “highly sophisticated cyber-attack” on their database…..I am one of those customers affected by this and have taken steps to protect myself going forward.

You too can play your part in staying safe online.  But before we discuss that, what exactly is cyber crime and all the jargon?  Cyber criminals seek to exploit human or security vulnerabilities to steal passwords, data, or money directly. The most common cyber threats include:

  • Hacking – accessing personal information via online accounts like social media and email passwords
  • Phishing – sending fake emails asking for security information and personal details
  • Malicious software – including ransomware through which criminals hijack files and hold them to ransom
  • Distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks against websites – often accompanied by extortion.

But what can YOU do to protected yourself; here are some of things you should consider to health check your digital presence:

  1. Avoid clicking on links or attachments in emails and text messages: Cyber criminals do a good job of tricking people into clicking on links supposedly from their bank, HMRC, electric or gas companies…the list goes on.  Think before you click – spelling errors, email addresses that do not seem right, and out-of-the blue communications from friends should be treated with utmost caution. It is better to manually enter the URL address of the organisation in question to log into your account to verify any communications before clicking. In doubt, call the company or your friend to verify before clicking.

 

  1. Passwords are the keys to your digital kingdom: Use unique, complex passwords with a combination of lower and upper-case letters, numbers and symbols and do not use the same password across your accounts.

 

  1. Keep your identity safe. Do not share passwords or choose one that can be easily guessed. Make sure to change them often. And where possible, use two-factor or strong authentication which combines something you know (username and password) with something you have (a credential such as a mobile phone) to verify an identity or verify a transaction.

 

  1. Back-up your data and use antivirus software – If your computer is infected by ransomware, malware or it crashes, the only way to definitely ensure that you will be able to retrieve your lost data is by backing it up and doing so on a regular basis. This also means that if you mislay data or accidentally delete something, it can always be recovered.  Also make sure you have a robust and current internet security package.

 

  1. You can use various registers to check the validity of a company.  For example the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) publish a register of all regulated financial services firms in the UK https://register.fca.org.uk/.  Or if you are concerned that any company is a ‘clone firm’ and pretending to be legitimate check https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/companies-house.  Remember “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”

 

And finally, what can we do to keep you safe?

 

If you have not yet done so, I strongly urge you to register for Gould Financial Planning’s online client portal, using a robust password.  We have received very positive feedback from our clients already registered and it has been our saviour during lockdown.

 

It is relatively simple to use and most importantly, extremely secure.  Just to remind you, here are some of the benefits of using the portal:

 

  • You can access all your personal and financial data that we hold about you in one place.  You can also update your information if your circumstances change and check the accuracy of the information at the same time as your valuation review is due.

 

  • You can see current valuations for your pensions and investments, some of the valuations will be updated daily.

 

  • You can share documents with us without the need for relying on the post.  You can also view documents that we have prepared for you and keep them all in once place (reducing the amount of paper and postage!)

 

  • We can communicate using the messaging facility which is much more secure than email.  You will never have to worry about whether an email from us is legitimate (and vice vera) as once you are registered, the communication will only ever be through using the portal.

 

Please visit https://gouldfp.mypfp.co.uk/ to register today with the email address that we hold on file for you.  Please remember to save this link to your favourites/bookmarks as you cannot access the portal any other way.

As always, if you have any issues with registration please do not hesitate to contact is on 02922 525354 and we can help you.

Stay safe online and we will look forward to hearing from you soon.






Article published: 18/06/2020

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