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What is Cybersecurity and How Can I Protect Myself?

Being safe online can be tough. Every day, thousands of people of all ages are tricked into thinking the email or website they are clicking on is legitimate, but in fact their information is being stolen and used for nefarious goals. You might think you don't need to be on alert because you're not of a certain age, but the truth is anyone can be tricked into clicking on a link and downloading malware or into giving away their personal credentials, unintentionally giving access to bank accounts and more.

Woman having problems with her laptop with a confused and frustrated look

What Cybersecurity Is

Defined as being protected against criminal or unauthorized use of electronic data, cybersecurity also includes the measures that must be taken to protect your data.

When it comes to personal cybersecurity, it's easier to break it down into different categories—your network, personal cloud, and the apps and websites you use or visit.

The New Scam

Before you read on, know that scams are constantly changing. As the technology we use becomes more sophisticated, criminals get more and more creative.

When searching for something on Google, Bing or other search engines, you enter what are known as keywords. These common search terms are used against you, and criminals create fake ads that direct you to their scam site. You think you've found your bank's website and are logging into your accounts, but in fact, you're handing over your username and password!

These fake sites are known as phishing sites, and they're becoming more and more common. Always double check the link you're clicking on, and watch for similar spellings (see the list below). At first glance, you might think it's right, but it's definitely not a site you want to be on. They'll take your login credentials and use them on the real site to send themselves money using a wire or similar transaction.

Sometimes, they'll take it a few steps further. When you enter your information on a phishing site like this, the criminals will actually call you with a spoofed phone number to make it look like it's coming from your bank. They'll claim to be technical support and will do everything they can to talk you into giving them more information. They'll use the information they get to call your bank and impersonate you to get as much money as they can.

How to spot a scam

The best thing you can do is STOP before doing anything and think about what's happening (whether you're on the phone, listening to a voicemail or reading an email).

  • If you're being pressured to act right now, that's the first warning sign of a scam.
  • When searching for your bank's website, keep an eye out for unknown or affiliated ads, which will bring you to a phishing site.
  • Any URL that is a variation of the legitimate website you're looking for, such as "" or "" instead of the correct "".
  • Watch for emails from your bank about suspicious activity or login attempts. This could be criminals trying to access your account from a new IP address, which could be from foreign internet service providers or be routed via a virtual private network (VPN) or proxy service.
  • Speaking of, keep a close eye on your email inbox. If you start getting more emails than you normally do (think hundreds in a day) visit your branch or call your bank directly to check on your accounts.
  • If you have a business account, look for account changes to users who shouldn't have permission to initiate or authorize ACH or wire transfers.
  • Make sure you have multi-factor authentication enabled, and never give out the codes you're sent to anyone. It might be annoying sometimes, but your security is worth the extra step. Your financial institution will never ask for any code you're sent, and if they do call and ask you for it, hang up and call the phone number listed on your financial institution's site (don't trust the search engine) to talk to someone else and explain what happened. If it's legitimate, they will verify that.

WaFd Bank is Here to Help

No question is too small for our friendly bankers, and if you're ever unsure about a situation or a call, text, or email you received, WaFd is here to help! We also offer a password strength tool and a scam checker to see if what's happening is likely a scam. It even has scenarios you might come across to help you stay ahead of the fraudsters. From checking accounts to savings accounts, home loans and everything in between, WaFd has your back. Visit your local branch or give us a call at 800-324-9375 to learn more.