Anyone can be a cybercrime target, so always be on guard. Here are some warning signs from an expert that an online transaction might be a scam.

“If they want you to install unfamiliar software, or a known software but in an unfamiliar download site,” that should give you pause, according to Alexis A. Lingad, a white hat hacker and creator of the mobile app Hackuna Anti-Hack.  

Other suspicious signs include being prompted to visit unfamiliar or shortened links (e.g., bitly and tinyurl), as well as being asked to provide personal information, such as birth dates, banking details, and identification card numbers, immediately.

Mr. Lingad shared the following tips for consumers wishing to protect themselves from cyberattacks:

1. For software, visit the download site using any.run, input the link, and use the provided test computer to download the software. “They can see if the software is running malicious processes or connecting to malicious servers,” he said.

2. For links, input the uniform resource locator or URL in VirusTotal.com to see if it was used maliciously in the past. The malware hunting service any.run can likewise be used to check links for malicious behavior. 

3. For info, be careful not to directly and indirectly give information, especially “if you really do not know the person personally.” 

“We all have something that cyber attackers want,” said Angel T. Redoble, referring to personal data. 

Mr. Redoble, the founder and chairman of the Philippine Institute of Cybersecurity Professionals, also said in a Facebook video posted on Jan. 31 that increasing cybersecurity awareness can aid in the fight against cybercrime.

“Though Filipinos are slowly becoming aware of how to set up and make use of digital banking and e-wallet accounts, not many give value to cyber protection,” said Sharon S. Navarro, chief underwriting officer of FPG Insurance, a non-life insurer. 

Most people do not know how to protect themselves from online scams, she added.

FPG, which launched a cyber insurance protection product in October last year, said Filipino users are receptive to personal cyber insurance.  

“Parents nowadays prioritize protecting their children against scams, frauds, hackers, and even bullying. They see the new Cyber Protection Product as a solution not only to prevent but also to keep themselves and their family members protected from these risks,” Ms. Navarro told BusinessWorld. 

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas kicked off 2023 with a “Check-Protect-Report” information drive to educate and protect financial consumers. Laws like Republic Act 10173 (the Data Privacy Act) and Republic Act 11934 (the SIM Card Registration Act) have also been implemented to deter cybercrime in the Philippines.   

The country is listed by the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation as one of the top 20 countries with the most cybercrime victims, or individual complaints, submitted to its Internet Crime Complaint Center in 2021. — Patricia B. Mirasol