5 Quick Tips to Avoid Scams on the Internet

5 Quick Tips to Avoid Scams on the Internet


What is the Internet and where did it come from?


Per History, “today, almost one-third of the world’s 6.8 billion people use the internet regularly”. The Internet as brought many people together, to share research, communicate, and socialize.

Although there are many positive outcomes from the Internet, there are also some negative outcomes, such as cyber crime, hacking, scams, and something called the dark web. The dark web is full of cyber criminals and terrorist organizations such as ISIS, which can remain anonymous and exchange sensitive information. Although many people use the Internet, it doesn’t always mean they know how to avoid being scammed by these criminals on the dark web, or whatever avenues they are coming from.

The average Internet user is not educated about the dangers of the Internet. He or she are normally unaware that scams even exist, or, if they do, they are unaware they could be targeting them. Often the average person may think they would never be the target of an Internet scam, but due to the recent rise in Ransomware (an Internet scam that makes hackers billions), anyone can be the target.

The key to avoiding becoming one of these victims is learning how to protect yourself.

5 ways to protect yourself from scams

  1. Passwords

Don’t use dictionary words like “password” or “football” make your passwords complex with letters, numbers, and symbols as well as upper case and lower case letters.  Consider using a passphrase like “MyP@ssW0rdis@Good1”.

  1. Don’t believe it’s Microsoft

Many people have claimed to have a pop-up from Microsoft, needing to access their computer to remove a virus and to call them at a 1-800 number.  This is not from Microsoft, so don’t fall for this. They were probably browsing the web, and came to a website that was full of malware, and then boom, their computer started beeping and telling them to call Microsoft right away so they can remove a virus. Microsoft really doesn’t want to talk to you, in fact, even businesses like Micro Doctor that are Microsoft Certified Partners, can barely reach Microsoft, so why would Microsoft call you or want you to call them to remove a virus? Simple answer, they wouldn’t.

  1. Get a DNS rerouting protection software, such as Umbrella by OpenDNS.

OpenDNS works to “eradiate malware, botnets and phishing through DNS, by routing users around it” (“About OpenDNS”). DNS is Domain Name Servers, which translate domain names (the name of a website) to Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, which is necessary because domain names are easier for people to remember but computer access websites based on IP addresses. OpenDNS makes security easy because when they go to click on a certain domain name to take them to a website, OpenDNS will pop-up with a warning about the site if that site contains malware or other malicious pop-ups, blocking them from getting there.

  1. Be cautious of emails

Email is the main way that hackers are attempting to get someone to click and download a virus to encrypt their files and get them to pay. The main things to inspect in an email is from, to, hyperlinks, date, subject, attachments, content. Check out this chart from KnowBe4 and learn what to look for in phishing or spam email attempts: https://www.knowbe4.com/what-is-social-engineering/

  1. Don’t open attachments unless you know who it’s from AND are expecting it

Attachments can also be a straight download to a virus or encryption. Did the sender attach something you were not expecting or that doesn’t make sense?  Is the sender asking you do to something to avoid a negative or gain a positive (could be trying to hook you)? Does the email have spelling mistakes or grammatical errors? If you have any doubt about the email, just don’t do it! If it’s really something important, the sender will contact you again, often through other means of communication.

Sometimes you will get an attachment from someone you know and trust, but they could have been hacked, so if you aren’t expecting anything from them, it’s always good to call to double check they are truly the person that sent that to you.

What else can you do?

Well that’s it – not really, but it will give you a good start to protecting yourself.  If you have any other questions, or want Micro Doctor IT to come and educate your employees (a FREE 45-minute education session), contact info@microdoctor.com or call us at 330-984-0154.  We are the area’s #1 Cyber Security and Prevention IT firm.

By: Michael Augustine