Bay of Plenty residents are being warned that the way malicious content and scams approach users online is changing rapidly, and Safe Surfer CEO Rory Birkbeck is urging Kiwis to be vigilant.
Phishing sites, or copycat sites, are becoming more and more compelling, according to Rory.
These websites often look identical to a real website and prompt the user to insert information such as credit card details or passwords.
To tackle this growing problem, Rory and his team have developed an app that can run on computers, tablets and phones.
The app is called Safe Surfer – after the name of their non-profit social enterprise Safe Surfer – and it blocks most malicious content online by running websites through a filter and preventing access. to those considered harmful.
Local non-profit social enterprise Safe Surfer was started in 2016 by computer experts and friends of Tauranga Aaron Sinclair and Rory, who wanted to prevent their own young families from accidentally viewing pornographic images while using the internet.
Safe Surfer is now a growing movement and is used by over 300,000 individuals, families and businesses worldwide.
As a preventive measure, Safe Surfer has decided to block all Russian URLs as a method of stopping scams. “Russian domains are often not regulated to the same standards as those in the West,” says Rory.
“They are known to host a lot of malicious content, so we thought we would be proactive rather than reactive,” Rory explains.
“According to Cert NZ, in the last quarter $6.6 million was lost to online scams.”
Rory says about $2.2 million of those losses are due to phishing scams. “The idea is that scammers replicate the appearance of certain websites. Places like the Red Cross have issued statements warning that scammers have duplicated their websites in order to scam people.
That’s why Rory is urging people more than ever to keep an eye out for entering valuable details online, as average users suffer from these attacks – as do businesses that are being imitated.
Rory says Safe Surfer’s argument is that there are commonly abused domains that are prone to attack, and it’s hard for people to know if their next click will be malicious.
That’s why Safe Surfer has taken the initiative to filter out these harmful domains, so that users can feel safe while browsing the web.
Rory says the best course of action is keeping people informed about the evolving nature of online threats, implementing a filtering tool like Safe Surfer, making sure the website you’re using is safe and secure before posting important information, and do not use compromised passwords.
Rory also suggests implementing multi-factor authentication to prevent people from accessing accounts that have been compromised.
He recommends when in doubt that a user check with someone else to make sure the site they are using is legitimate.
“Scams also usually create some kind of urgency and will approach the user with something that seems too good to be true.”
For more information on Safe Surfer and how to be protected while browsing the web, visit: https://safesurfer.io.