As business travelers, we rely so heavily on electronic devices to keep us on task and updated. So much so, that it can be easy to forget that others can hack these devices and prey on our need for accessibility. It seems like there are always new high-tech scams being created.
Common hacking techniques
“Spoofing” is when a replica is created to make you think you are safe. An example of this is when your friend’s Facebook profile has been hacked and they begin constantly posting Rayban sunglasses specials with prices listed in yen. Websites themselves can also be spoofed, ultimately tricking you into downloading harmful data. Even caller ID and GPS coordinates can be hacked using this technique!
“Spamming” is unsolicited or junk e-mail. For example, I apparently have a rich uncle in Jakarta who wants to deposit money in my account, I just need to send him my bank number! These emails are sent to thousands of unsuspecting recipients at one time. It is often used in combination with spoofing, to make the originating address difficult to pinpoint.
“Phishing” is the act of using spoofing and spamming to lure unsuspecting victims, hoping to deceive you into disclosing your credit card number, bank accounts, passwords, Social Security number, or other sensitive information. An example of this is a hacker calling you, pretending to be someone of authority. They then ask for your social security number or access to your computer. Or, when the credit card information of Target’s customers was hacked and stolen in 2013.
Tips to avoid being scammed
So, what can you do to avoid being a victim? The Federal Trade Commission recommends a few tips to avoid getting “hooked.”
- Don’t email personal or financial information.
- Use trusted security software and set it to automatically update.
- Be cautious about opening attachments and downloading files from emails (especially emails with subject lines like “Hi” or “Open Immediately”).
- Type in an organization’s website first, rather than automatically replying, and look for a URL that begins with https (the “s” stands for secure).
- Review credit card and bank statements as soon as you receive them to check for unauthorized charges. If your statement is late, call your provider.
- When using wireless hotspots, send information only to sites that are fully encrypted, and avoid using mobile apps that require personal or financial information.
- Last but not least, as much as it may be a pain to update or change your passwords, keep your passwords strong, secret, and safe.