European Cybersecurity Month 2020: How to avoid cyber scams

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COVID-19 has transformed our world in countless ways, and just one of the consequences that deserves particular attention is the new surge in online shopping, as consumers’ ability to visit stores remains limited. According to data from IBM, the current COVIDian crisis has accelerated the shift away from physical stores to digital shopping by roughly five years, with e-commerce predicted to grow by nearly 20% in 2020.

Although this trend is positive in some respects, it has triggered concerns about the security of consumers’ data and online payments. Increased online traffic provides greater opportunity for scammers to impersonate brands and trick users into revealing their personal information or opening malicious email attachments, unknowingly downloading malware to their computers. When banking and payment details are involved, this is all the more dangerous.

It is for these reasons that cyber scams are one of the two central themes of European Cybersecurity Month 2020, running throughout October. European Cybersecurity Month (ECSM) is an annual campaign run by the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity and the European Commission, which is dedicated to promoting cybersecurity among citizens and organizations throughout Europe.

The aim of ECSM is to provide insights on current and potential cyber threats and highlight the simple steps that can be taken to protect personal, financial and professional data. Activities will be taking place across Europe, including workshops, training sessions, webinars, presentations and more.  

Activities within the cyber scams theme will focus on phishing, online shopping fraud and business email compromise. The aim is to help businesses and consumers heighten their awareness of cyber scams when conducting transactions online and minimize the risk of being scammed.  

In order to do so, there are a series of simple steps that users can take. The first is making sure to verify the provenance of every email you receive, regardless of how legitimate it may seem. Avoid clicking on links and attachments in any message that appears suspicious, and instead go directly to the website of the company that supposedly sent you the email.  

It is also extremely important to add two-factor authentication (2FA) to your accounts where possible, adding a crucial additional layer of protection. By doing so you ensure that, even if scammers manage to steal your password, they are prevented from gaining easy access to your accounts without also stealing your 2FA code.

For more information on the steps you can take to avoid cyber scams, check out the European Cybersecurity Month website, where you can find a whole host of resources and activities taking place across Europe, and join in the campaign to promote cybersecurity awareness.