Cyber Awareness Month: The One Rule To Stay Safe Online

Oct 10, 2019, 1:32 PM

It’s an old cliché but it’s a good rule for the internet: If it looks too good to be true, it is.

We’ve discussed internet safety several times here on the Mutual Understanding blog (see the related videos on this page), but it’s always worth revisiting here in October, Cyber Awareness Month. One of the best ways to stay safe is to avoid scams — but when there’s a blizzard of emails and social media posts coming your way and strange images for every website you visit, it’s hard to tell what’s a scam and what’s legitimate.

What can you watch out for when you’re online? Start with the basics.

Strange emails and attachments

If you spot an email from an organization or business you’ve never interacted with before, or a PDF, picture, or written document you don’t expect, don’t open it! By clicking, you can make your computer vulnerable to downloading a program that damages your files, and maybe even spreads to others via email on a social media friends list.

Be careful when you’re downloading from a website, too. What looks like a real link to download a picture or a text file can be malware in disguise. Three links on the same page say, “Download”; only one is legitimate. How can you tell the difference? Hover over the link and look at the bottom of the screen for the page you’ll head to if you click the link. 

Pop-up perils

Pop-ups are those boxes that, as the name says, pop up in the middle of your screen or in the corner. Sometimes they ask for an email address to send you a newsletter or other item. Other times, though, they offer a “gift,” a warning that your computer is infected but can be cleared up by downloading some kind of software. 

Cyber Awareness Month

To keep your system safe, you do want a quality antivirus program, but search for it yourself. If you don’t already have a pop-up and ad blocker installed, search for those too.

Charity scam

We’ve talked about keeping your home and your business safe from natural disaster before. It’s no surprise that when there’s a tragedy, there will be calls for financial support — most people are willing to contribute what they can to a family in need. Unfortunately, that’s also a time when criminals see an opportunity. 

The best practice to avoid a charity scam is the same as for a strange attachment or a pop-up: don’t believe everything you see. If you want to contribute to a good cause, search for the organization’s name and find a secure website to donate money. Go to their site, don’t let a scammer posing as the organization come to you.

Even though you’re careful online, and know how to spot a scam, you’ll still need protection if a hacker targets your business. Hastings Mutual Cyber Liability coverage can be customized to your company’s needs. Talk to your local independent insurance agent.

The Mutual Understanding blog and Hastings Mutual videos are made available for educational purposes only. The information referred to is not an official company statement, corporate policy, or offer of coverage. Refer to your insurance policy for specific coverage. There is no representation as to the accuracy or completeness of any information found by following any link on this site. Please contact your local independent insurance agent with further questions and for more details on any insurance policy-related information you read here.

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