The phrase “It's too good to be true” is a great starting point for online security.
Richard Voigt, owner of Kansas Data, said many of the security problems people experience online can be solved with a little common sense.
“Most problems are people who know better but can’t resist because they’re intrigued,” Voigt said. “Don't fall for it, and use common sense.”
Voigt said scammers have an easier time stealing people’s money or identities through the Internet because emails are free, as opposed to post mail, which costs the price of stamps. Phishers, or people that try to steal personal information, can send out mass emails, and even if only a few recipients respond, the dividends can be big.
Voigt said people should be wary of emails and other contact from people they don’t recognize and deals that seem too good to be true. He said people should also be wary when people they know send them things that seem unusual for that person to send.
In these cases, Voigt said it’s best to check if that person sent the item in question before opening it. Verification should be done by phone or in person, not as a reply to the email in question.
“If you get a package from your uncle and it’s ticking, you don’t open it,” Voigt said. “You call up you uncle and say, ‘Thanks for the package,’ and if he doesn’t know what you’re talking about, you get help.”
Voigt said scammers have found clever ways to get people to fall for their scams. Common methods include asking for personal information, such as user names and passwords, as a service provider or claiming that a bill is overdue.
Users should always be wary of such messages, as service providers should have personal information on file and shouldn’t need to ask for it.
“If a stranger comes up to you and asks for the keys to your house and car, would you give them the keys?” Voigt said. “That’s basically what you’re doing when you give out your user names and passwords.”
Security on mobile devices, such as cell phones, is also important, said Jamar Krable, sales manager at U.S. Cellular in Hutchinson. Krable said people should make sure their phones’ security information is set up and to put a lock on their phones to keep others out.
He also said there are apps that can be downloaded to improve security as well as back up or erase phone data in case the phone is lost, stolen or destroyed. He also said to be wary of apps from sources other than official app stores, as these apps may not be as secure.
Voigt said the best protection is to be wary and avoid anything that seems off.
“People just have to resist,” Voigt said.