Our first blog regarding crime during the holiday season focused on thieves, but it is also important to talk about hackers. Computer fraud happens every day, but especially over the holiday season when more and more people are using the internet to make purchases.

One of the techniques used by hackers is sending you an email that contains a link. This email will be sent by your bank, containing information that may look legit. If you don’t recognize the information from your bank you should never click on the link within the email. The hackers are waiting for you to click the link, subsequently obtaining your password and important information. This can lead them to your financial information including your bank account. Always best to play it safe and verify with bank officials directly.

Hackers also target cell phones through popular apps. One of the largest communication apps today is WhatsApp, but even this app is not safe from hackers who use it to gain data from its users. So how do you keep yourself relatively protected?

First, make sure your applications are always updated. Software updates and new versions for apps come out every so often and a lot of the times include new security updates that are important for your phone. If you continue to use an old version of an app it could leave you vulnerable to a hacker.

Second, stay cognizant of what the apps are requesting. When you download a new app it may ask for your permission to access files, photos, contacts, etc. While some of this is necessary, think hard about what an app needs access to versus just what it wants to have access to.

Finally, a great tip that’s easy to remember is being wary of free wi-fi. While it may seem safe to connect to any free wi-fi from a coffee shop or a hotel, keep in mind that hackers can easily tap into that wi-fi to gain access to everyone’s smartphones who have opted into using it.

Always use passwords on your phone for an extra bonus of security, and be wary of downloading random applications that request a multitude of file access permissions they may not really need. Think about what apps you are putting on your smartphone and use your judgement wisely.

If you need further assistance, contact FCIS.