3 min read.

It’s Valentine’s Day and you’re feeling warm and fuzzy with the love you’re receiving and giving.  Your screen time will probably be higher than normal today as you get emails, messages, ecards and social media shout outs from people who may not normally contact you.

Everyone is wishing you Happy Valentine’s or Happy Palentine’s.  Or you may be one of the inner circle who received Michelle Obama’s “Happy Galentine’s”.

Such an awesome day of giving and receiving love!

Love is in the Cloud!

As you relish the love, lets cycle back to that increase in your screen time.  Today is the day that the cyber lurkers will be out trawling to cash in on love in the cloud.                                                                                                                                          So give yourself some love, and put up your guard!

Here are 4 smart things you want to be doing to avoid being a Valentine’s Day cyber victim:

  1. Beware of links and attachments.
  2. Avoid the temptation to open e-cards.
  3. Practice safe text.
  4. Resist calling back unknown numbers.

Do these and improve the chances that you will be safer online.  

1.   Beware of links and attachments!

You will probably be receiving Valentine’s Day messages today by email.  Watch out for the seemingly harmless links and file attachments in those messages and “Think before you Click”!

A popular form of spreading malware is via links and attachments to emails.  Phishing emails are designed to trick you into clicking links or downloading attachments that will spread harmful malware onto your computer.   And 90% of cyber attacks are deployed by phishing scams.  So here’s what to do instead:

Links:   If you hover over the link, you will see the actual destination domain.  Unless you can truly identify the authenticity of the site, it’s best not to click.  Instead you can type the url of the website (not the extended link) directly to your browser and head on over to the page to search for the intended content.

Attachments:  If you receive an email that was not expected, it’s best to independently check with the source to verify that they sent you the mail and ask if you can trust the attachment.   Even then, consider whether you really need to download the attachment which may present itself as a harmless video, pdf file or text file.

If you happen to inadvertently click on one of those links, or download a suspicious attachment you can get guidance from our post entitled:  Clicked a Phishing Link? What next? 

2.  Avoid the temptation to open unexpected ecards!

Some of your friends will no doubt want to celebrate you with an ecard that’s intended to be a treat for you on Valentine’s Day.  However, here’s the thing!  The mail you receive with the ecard may not be from your friend.

At holiday periods, like Valentine’s Day, hackers delight in launching email campaigns to distribute malware to infect your system.  If you open the mail and follow the instructions, you may inadvertently initiate a process that can steal your passwords or install ransomware, inter-alia.

It’s best therefore to check with the sender to confirm that they sent the ecard from a legitimate site that offers that service.

3.  Practice Safe Text

As mentioned before, you will probably spend more time than usual online today.   When you’re on the go, you may get tempted to log on to public wifi so that you can keep abreast of who is sending you new messages or who is responding to you.  Don’t give in to the temptation unless you have a VPN (virtual private network) installed on your mobile device.

A VPN will allow you to browse safely without compromising your privacy or anonymity.   It’s best to do some research to make sure that you are signing on to a service that will not collect your data and has a track record of keeping its customers safe.  Learn more about VPNs here:  https://whatismyipaddress.com/vpn

4.   Resist calling back unknown numbers

It should be no news to you that phone scamming is a popular way of defrauding consumers. And there’s no day like Valentine’s Day for scammers to target you with the “one call and cut scam”.

Here’s how it works.  The call comes in.  It rings once and then cuts off.  You see the missed call and, although you don’t recognize the number, you are tempted to call back.  After all it could be someone that you would hate to miss on a day like Valentine’s Day.  If, however, you return that call, you will connect to an international toll line and charges will immediately start to rack up on your phone account.

If you’re not expecting the call, or if you don’t recognize the number, it’s best not to call back.  If it’s really important, and it’s a call from a legitimate source, they will certainly call again.

There you have it!  Four things you will want to bear in mind to be safe online on Valentine’s Day.   Have a good one!  We’re sending you some love. 

A Cecile Watson (CDP)* is a former regional Caribbean banker, a senior business leader and an experienced director in the private & public sector. Email us at [email protected] | *CDP – certified in data protection

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