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Your inbox represents the most vulnerable access point when dealing with cyber threats. Don't let the guard down... Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: Cyber criminals are setting their sights lower these days. And that makes it even more dangerous when it comes to your data.

Instead of emails that talk about millions of dollars left for you by some government official in Africa, today’s data—seeking communications come from delivery companies or local customs or postal entities. These messages will talk about the need to pay a “surcharge” of, say, Dh10, for delivery of your latest online order.

The mails will always have a link – and made to look as “original” as is possible – for the token amount to be paid. That’s where the trouble starts…

Because of the innocuous amounts mention and because these days it’s highly likely that some package or the other has been ordered, the risk of letting cyber hackers know all critical banking info is higher.

Which is why mention of a Dh10 payment carries with it greater dangers than the promise of millions being sent to your back account…

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All too late

“Before the user understands what is going on, it is usually too late because some damage has been already done,” says Efi Dahan, Managing Director at the payment services company PayPal for Central and Eastern Europe and Israel.

The most common attack that internet users are likely to experience is phishing – about 90 per cent of all cyberattacks’ attempts are based on impersonating other entities.

These could be delivery couriers, payment methods, e-stores or traditional stores. It’s all in the timing and how receptive the recipients are to the message. According to PayPal, the cyber hacks will “state there’s an incredible opportunity which needs to be taken advantage of very quickly (i.e., a sale or a discount), or highlight that there is some sort of danger which needs to be fixed quickly (i.e., to prevent your account from being blocked).”

Or an online order that can only be delivered on payment of a small sum…

As has been clear by now, the pandemic did set off a surge in sophisticated data attacks delivered direct-to-home computers and gadgets.

“The most common attack that internet users are likely to experience is phishing – about 90 per cent of all cyberattacks’ attempts are based on impersonating other entities,” according to PayPal.

This is a known fact of digital life… and still needs repeating. Because, even with all the warnings out there, someone or the other falls victim.

Bare minimum

According to PayPal, If the user is unsure about the authenticity of an email, “they might want to avoid clicking links in the message and instead of that, log in to their account directly from their browser or check in with the customer support.

“Pay attention also to typos, punctuation, or weird grammar – usually, official messages from the company will not contain such omissions.”

To be doubly sure, just pick up the phone and make that call.

Too good to be true

More users are getting “targeted” ads in social media “showcasing unique products or highlighting discounts”.

“It is often difficult for sellers to understand whether they can trust a particular e-store, especially if it’s located abroad,” said Dahan. “In such cases, the user could look up reviews of the store to see what other buyers think about it.

“It is also helpful to take a look at the return policy and check the quality of its customer support. Payment methods that are available in the e-shop are also a good indicator of its trustworthiness. For example, if the user pays with PayPal and there is something wrong with the product or – worse – it never arrives at all, it is easy to dispute the unsuccessful purchase and receive the money back.”

The long and the short of all this – Do not make an immediate click to anything that reaches your inbox. If what you see is too good to be true, chances are they are…