DON’T be scammed this Christmas!

There are so many scams around, most ending with money lost, identities stolen, emails hacked, broken hearts and more.
Recently my work email was hacked, with what looked like a legitimate email from me, sent out to almost everyone, with an attachment about an invoice. It was a horrible feeling, and was an inconvenience and worry for everyone concerned.
To provide us all with some tips to be safe from ‘hackers’, Balaklava’s Ken Hausner, who taught IT for 20 years at the high school, has some tips.
“When I retired, I found myself spending more time keeping my computer secure than actually using it,” he said.
“We can never be ahead of the bad guys. It is, at best, a constant game of catch up, and it is no wonder many competent computer users just give up and don’t bother.”
He finally set up some safe practices that, while they still need some updating, are far less time consuming, and has some tips to share with you:
• Firstly, keep your operating systems (usually Windows or iOS for Apple) up to date. Security flaws are constantly being found and corrected. A quick internet search will give you a way to have updates installed automatically for your operating system.
• Passwords are the perfect example of having to decide whether security is worth the time it takes.
A highly regarded (and free!) password manager is LastPass. It stores all of your passwords securely, and once signed in, allows you to log on to your other accounts with a couple of clicks. This also allows you to use a different password for each account and to create secure passwords (both of these tips are highly recommended!). However you must remember the password to get into LastPass. If you lose it, there is no way to get back in.
While making a list can be long, it wouldn’t take as long as it would to sort out your banking mess if you are scammed!
• Malware and viruses are technically different, but both ‘take over’ your computer and can access all of your files, passwords, and account details, and can even lock you out of your computer (ransomware).
Malwarebytes is a very good (and free) program that is quite efficient.
If you use any virus detector, it is vital that you keep it up to date – just like a flu or tetanus booster!
• A trusted web site https://haveibeenpwned.com/ can help show if your email address has been compromised.
Another federal government website that is very good, and offers to notify subscribers if there is a new security threat is https://www.staysmartonline.gov.au/. 
• If you receive an unexpected email, even from a trusted source (like my episode), check before clicking the link. Visit the official website by typing in the address to verify the email is legitimate. A phone number may be included in the email; check online or in the directory to ensure the number is legitimate.
Never include any banking information or anything you don’t want the rest of the world to know.
• Of upmost importance is to backup your computer and smart phones regularly. Should you computer or phone be hacked or infected, you will be able to restore it from your most recent backup. 
SA Police also often see an increase in scam activity, particularly romance and dating scams targeting those who are looking for love or companionship.
If you agree to meet a romantic prospect in person, always tell your family and friends when and where you are going especially if you intend to travel overseas – check with the police and register with www.smartraveller.gov.au
For further information or to report online scams, visit the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch website – www.scamwatch.gov.au or the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network – ACORN website at ReportCyber at www.cyber.gov.au/report or contact your local police.