In those far-off times before the internet, how would you go about finding help with a household issue?  In all probability, you would have reached for the Yellow Pages directory which listed local tradespeople, giving prominence to those who invested their marketing budget for their entry.

Physical paper Yellow Pages are long gone, their usefulness outlived as they were only updated once a year, took up space on your shelf and were simply not as convenient as hunting down a service using a web search.

Looking up services on the internet has become so commonplace that “to google” has even entered the dictionary.  With smart speakers such as Alexa cropping up in many homes, you don’t even have to “let your fingers do the walking” (as the Yellow Pages advert said) but simply pose the question out loud.

But should you trust the search results?

Companies pay a premium to be ranked highly on Google, but unfortunately scammers do too.  For example, Money Saving Expert warns that travel health cards EHICs and GHICs should be free-of-charge but an online search could result in a recommendation of a paid service to acquire these documents.  Not exactly a scam in this case but definitely taking advantage of holidaymakers’ ignorance of the cost-free status available to you if you apply directly on the government website.

You are hopefully aware of scam phone calls where an “IT support/Microsoft” technician attempts to gain access to your computer to show you issues with your PC.  This has often featured in consumer fraud investigation programmes on the TV.

What would you do if you needed help with an IT issue?

Do you go with the solution proposed to you by Alexa?

If anything, you are less likely to investigate the business recommended by your smart speaker than if you have been in front of your computer screen, so would you give the first pick a call?

This is exactly what happened to one of our business customers who didn’t want to bother us about his home PC issue.  Like vampires, they waited to be invited in, which he duly did on Alexa’s recommendation.  Fortunately alarm bells started ringing in his mind when their behaviour mirrored the scam “IT support” call and he promptly ended the call and asked Computer Troubleshooters to check out his system for damage.

Cyber security is only as strong as its weakest link, which is typically the human interface.  You know you should be wary of opening suspicious emails and clicking on links, but how about giving access to your systems to someone who you discovered through Hey Google?

Keep yourself safe.  Don’t accept anything at face value, which unfortunately also means that you should do your research when Siri tells you who to use.  Hackers will use any trick in the book to breach your defences.

If you are worried that your team are not up to speed on the threat of cybercrime, ask Computer Troubleshooters about training opportunities.  Please don’t ask Alexa!

Computer Troubleshooters Tonbridge 01732 300064