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How not to get hacked in 2019

A guide to all the latest cyber criminal tricks, and how to beat them

Phishing trips

Despite being around for a number of years, phishing is still proving to be a big threat with hackers using more and more innovative methods to intercept. It is believed that businesses both in the UK and wider Europe could see a sharp spike in phishing attacks once the political uncertainty around Brexit is resolved, with analysts already spotting a rise in malicious activity.

The outcome of negotiations should be known by March 2019, by which point organisations will face an increase in Brexit-themed spearphishing campaigns and political disinformation that could transition into infiltration, according to threat intelligence firm EclecticIQ.

"Cybercriminals could easily exploit Brexit in large-scale phishing campaigns," the researchers said.

"A campaign targeting businesses could see cybercriminals sending out documents that are made to look like government advice on dealing with Brexit which in fact download malware."

The fix: Don't trust anything

Sadly, these latest scams simply highlight the need to be hyper-vigilant when it comes to spotting fakes, whether they appear online, in an email or on your phone. You should never assume any unexpected communication is genuine until you've been able to verify it independently. Call your bank if you receive a text message, for example.

Never click links in emails, never disclose any personal details and don't reply to any suspicious texts you receive. Also, remember that unencrypted text messages can be intercepted by just about anyone. It's much safer to use messaging tools that employ end-to-end encryption, such as WhatsApp. Just make sure you install the real WhatsApp, not the recent fake one -- cleverly named 'Update WhatsApp Messenger' on Google Play -- which tricked more than a million people into downloading it, then bombarded them with ads.

Yes, this is another type of scam to watch out for, and worrying proof that not all Google Play apps are safe.

Online identity theft is a scary prospect, but keep reading to discover how to keep yourself safe...

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