Police issue advice over keeping social media secure after spike in hacks

ONLINE users are being urged to assess the strength of their social media and email log-ins following 184 hacking reports in Essex in six months.

Figures released by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) show that between April and September 2018, £405,000 was lost by victims of hacking through social media and email.

Fraudsters were able to do this by guessing passwords and passphrases in a technique known as brute force attacks.

This is where criminals will continue to guess your password using various techniques and sequences in the hope of gaining access to your accounts.

The statistics for Essex also show there were 15,180 infected IP addresses and 1,967 computers infected with malware.

This is made possible after crooks trick people into downloading viruses that are designed to steal your information.

Viruses can be hidden in links within emails that claim to be your bank or on fake websites trying to sell you a bargain online – there are a number of different methods.

Detective Chief Inspector Lee Morton, head of Essex’s cybercrime team, said: “It has never been more important in today’s world to assess and act on your online security.

“While there are cases where these criminals will go to extreme and painstaking lengths to hack your accounts, there are also many cases where they have the answers right in front of their faces and you’ve given it to them.

“People are very quick to share their personal information on their open social media accounts. If your account security is tight, you may not be aware of a relative or a friend who posted information about you that could give criminals access to your accounts.

“Fraudsters are developing new ways to steal your data for either financial or criminal gain and while we continue to investigate and bring them to justice, we need your help in making their lives as difficult as possible.”

The following could help you stay safe online:

* Use a minimum password length of eight or more characters and include lowercase, upper case letters and also numbers and symbols;
* Avoid using information that might be out there in the public or known to associates and avoid character repetition, keyboard patterns, dictionary words, number or letter sequences, usernames, relative or pet names and romantic links;
* Never use the same password twice and generate them randomly where possible;
* Personal information in passwords such birthdays, car number plates; favourite sports team, relatives names, past or current telephone numbers and addresses either current or former should be changed;
* With passphrases, make them long enough to be hard to guess, avoid famous quotation and make them easy to remember;
* Adopt a two-factor authentication system where ever possible, giving you extra security.

For more advice about cybercrime or to find partner organisations helping to combat fraud, please visit https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud.

If you have been a victim or know someone who has been a victim of cybercrime, please call 101, report it online by visiting https://www.essex.police.uk/do-it-online/ or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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