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Tommy van der Steen 'Internet criminals and their tricks, how do you recognise them?'

Dr. Tommy van der Steen, Assistant Professor in Cyber Security Governance at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs, was interviewed by Mediaplanet about internet crime and the many ways we encounter this on a daily basis when using our computers and mobile phones.

The first category of internet crime is the online doorstep scam, in which people are send fake emails or fake WhatsApp and text messages. These have supposedly been send by the bank or the tax authorities. Everyone is a potential target, young and old, but it seems that elderly people are more likely to be the victims. This is because of the friendly messages that are used to conceal the doorstep scam. Users have to be aware of the fact that banks and the tax authorities would never use WhatsApp or text to communicate about important money related issues.

Van Steen advises to always contact the party involved by telephone first instead of responding to or complying with the message. It is also important to never just click on any link sent to you by email. Van Steen: 'Does the email address match with the official name? It's always better to be safe than sorry. Never click on a link in an email but go directly to the website of the agency, organisation or company to check if there are any outstanding invoices.'

Impulsive behaviour

Internet scammers sometimes use WhatsApp or text messages to pose as family members in need of financial assistance. They will ask for money to be transferred quickly in order to prevent any fallouts. The criminals are counting on you to behave impulsively. This is something we need to watch out for, according to Van Steen. He advises people to always perform an additional check and take the time to verify the strange messages or emails.

Technology and hacking

The second category of internet crimes are cyber criminals who make use of certain technologies that attack computers in order to locate technical security weaknesses. This can result in serious forms of internet crime, such as the installation of spyware or ransomware on your computer. Spyware gives outsiders access to your login information and passwords. Criminals use ransomware to 'kidnap' your computer and lock you out until a substantial amount has been paid in ransom.

Read the full article on the website van Mediaplanet. (Dutch)

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