PNP: Be careful online; beware of cybercrime, bank fraud
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) is reminding the public anew to be extra vigilant and careful with their online and social media activities amid recent reports and claims of online bank fraud.
In a statement, PNP’s Public Information Office (PNP-PIO) said that people should scrutinize the transactions they engage with — whether it be connecting with strangers on social media or clicking links from emails meant to appear like legitimate messages from banks.
“When using social media, be careful not to accept random friend requests. Cybercriminals often create fake accounts to befriend you. Trust no online friends unless you know them personally,” the PNP-PIO said on Tuesday, based on reminders given by the PNP’s Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG).
“A common method of cybercriminals is to hack into personal computers or gadgets to send them e-mails with infected attachments. It is important to note not to respond to these dubious e-mails with embedded links. Don’t open links and attachments when in doubt. Such communication may be classified as phishing e-mails,” it added.
The PNP-ACG also noted that confidential details, like contact numbers, addresses, and bank details must not easily divulged.
If a bank client is in doubt, it would be best, PNP-ACG said, to contact the bank directly and immediately.
“If unsure, you may contact the company or organization claimed by the email source to verify if the communication is legitimate or fraudulent. Don’t just give away vital information especially your contact and bank details. If possible, constantly change and remember your password. Be discreet with your password by not divulging it to anyone,” the unit explained.
“When using mobile devices, limit the use of your contact numbers online as attackers may collect these digits. Avoid unsecured wi-fi hotspots; set your device so that it doesn’t automatically connect to external sources. Disable Bluetooth when not in use so you can veer away from attackers exploiting open connections,” it added.
The reminders from PNP came after hundreds of customers of BDO were victimized by online fraud, which saw their money deposited to another bank under the account name Mark Nagoyo.
Nagoyo is a Filipino slang for “tricked”.
According to BDO, 700 clients have already been assured of reimbursement.
Beware: Drive-by download!
Aside from phishing, PNP-ACG said that there is also a threat of people being victimized by applications and programs installed on smartphones and computers, called a “drive-by download”, which allow hackers to peek into a user’s data and transactions without consent.
“This also includes unintentional downloads of any files or bundled software onto a computer device. It is masked in all corners of the web, these attacks cause even perfectly legitimate sites to spread this threat,” PNP-ACG said.
“A drive-by download will usually take advantage of the exploited browser, app, or operating system that is out of date and has a security flaw. This initial code that is downloaded is often very small since its job is often simply to contact another computer where it can pull down the rest of the code onto the smartphone, tablet, or computer,” it added.
According to PNP chief Gen. Dionardo Carlos, people can avoid being targeted by cyberattacks by being more discerning about providing information online.
He said that the PNP would gladly assist victims of cybercrime, by contacting PNP-ACG through an e-mail address [email protected] or telephone number (632) 723 0401 local 7483.
“The best way to avoid a cyber attack is to be more discerning whenever your information is asked online and to immediately report to the authorities when suspicion arises,” Carlos said.
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