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Staying Secure Online

Published on 26 October 2016 | Modified on 26 October 2016

Written by Stacey Bennett

More and more of us become reliant on the internet for all aspects of our day to day life, from shopping and banking to social networking and streaming the latest TV series. However, such convenience and availability comes at a cost and it is increasingly important that we become cyber security ‘savvy’ in order to avoid becoming targets for cyber criminals.

Who commits Cyber Crime?

While it is tempting to dismiss cyber criminals as simply being bored teenagers sat in their bedrooms, the unfortunate truth is that the threat that we all face is increasingly well organised and resourced (in some cases even state sponsored). In the vast majority of cases the cyber criminal is stealing for personal gain. Although technology is used to aid the cyber criminal, most attacks rely on exploiting or tricking the victim in order to gain access to their personal details or bank accounts. Believe it or not, many of the attacks are made by sophisticated cons or frauds, which just happen to use technology. It is therefore important to remain extra vigilant when online and to take note of the following common methods of attack:


“Phishing” is a catch all term for any method used to con individuals into downloading malware (see below) or providing personal details online. Phishing often takes the form of counterfeit websites or emails purporting to be from a legitimate source, which either attach malicious software or direct the victim to a counterfeit website. Phishing emails and websites are often very convincing and will commonly use the logos and style of the actual company in order to mimic their look and feel. The following are tell-tale signs that you are looking at a phishing email or website:

  • Requests for PIN numbers. No bank will ever ask you to provide this information.
  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes
  • Email attachments, especially (but not limited to) attachments ending in .htm and .exe
  • Sender email addresses which appear nonsensical e.g. “ytfytc£”
  • Warnings or threats suggesting the email is urgent in nature or that the attachment needs to be opened and dealt with immediately


Malware is a term which refers to malicious software which carries out hidden functions on a computer system. Once malware has found its way onto your system, it is likely that it will continue to carry out these functions on your system without you even knowing. These functions can range from transmitting personal data to a third party, to allowing your computer to be remotely controlled by a third party. Up to date antivirus software will usually clear your computer of the most common types of malware, however prevention is better than cure and it is therefore advisable to ensure that programs which you run or download are only coming from sources that you trust.

Social Media Exploitation

One of the easiest ways for a cyber criminal to gain access to your personal data is if you willingly post it on social media! Websites such as Facebook and Twitter allow anyone and everyone to collect vast amounts of personal information with minimal effort. Many people post information such as children names and ages, pet details, holiday destinations and anniversary dates etc. Many of which can be used to answer security questions which are used by websites to verify users details. At the very least, knowledge of you and your personal details can be used to give a potential criminal the edge in their attempts to deceive you.

At Poole Alcock Solicitors we are constantly monitoring and evolving our cyber security policies in order to safeguard our clients, their data and their money. Should you have any concerns in relation to securely transacting your case, whether a residential conveyance or the administration of an estate, then please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to discuss this with you further.

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