Spotting a scam has become increasingly more difficult when it is delivered to your inbox, as cybercriminals become better at spelling and grammar amongst other things. Indeed, on the Dark Web there is a whole economic ecosystem of people selling the tools to carry out an online scam so the buyer doesn’t even have to have the specialised knowledge once require.
There is a silver lining to this though, in that the templates that are sold are used the world over, and are therefore probably already in circulation and debunked.
If you get something asking you to transfer money, share documents etc that you are uncomfortable with, it can sometime just take a quick google search to find out it is a scam. There are also dedicated sites, such as https://www.snopes.com* that you can search using some of the text from the message for instance. It is also a generally fascinating site to browse to debunk any of those pesky conspiracy theories you might have read about on FaceBook too!
*teiss has no affiliation with Snopes.
Even when you practise caution with who you connect to and follow on social media, it can be difficult to spot the scammers and fakers. Obviously fake profiles that have little or no substance to them, obviously re-used photos, and even profile pictures of people badly photoshopped or cropped from a google search are all signs we can look for.
Head over to https://thispersondoesnotexist.com and click on refresh a few times; in case the URL doesn’t give it away, these images are all artificially generated every time you click on reload. They aren’t coming from a large database of photos, but rather are being created in milliseconds each time. They are extremely convincing, and so make your job all the more difficult to spot. There are certain things to look for in some of the images, for instance the backgrounds don’t always look convincing, and oddly fancy earrings are difficult (for the moment) to generate and look a bit, well, odd sometimes.
Given the unique nature of every image it creates, there is no way you can possible be expected to spot an artificially generated image every time, but at least now you know that it can be done. Sometimes, as shown below though, it can get it very wrong with disturbing results!
This is a tip that you may have heard before but is always worth repeating.
Passwords are difficult to remember, and so we naturally make them short and obvious. Sometime we think we are clever by adding “123!” at the end of it to make it more “secure”, but the painful reality is that most people’s passwords are easily guessed by any basic computer with the right tools.
So, instead of thinking of a password, think of a passphrase:
Now add the other elements of a password that you are required to use, namely special characters and numbers and you have this:
Better Passphrase: Butt3rIsMyFavourit3Spr3ad!
Another tip is to use the passphrase as a motivational message for the period of time you use it (often three months):