Microsoft issues warning to billions of people about online scams and attacks

The tech giant Microsoft has warned billions of its users that online scams and hack attacks are on the rise, and issued a safety guide for how people can protect themselves.

Last year, online fraud saw an increase of around 60%, costing British companies an average of £223,000 as people increasingly worked from home.

In a blog post, the company shares some key tips on protecting yourself from these cyber attacks, which include phishing, viruses, and tech support scams.

These methods are being used to swindle innocent Brits out of thousands of pounds in cash, but luckily, there are ways to stay safe.

One of the major cyberattack threats facing people today is still viruses and malware.

Although antivirus software has got much better at protecting people, if you frequently download or open files from unsafe websites, you could be putting your private information and banking details at risk.

In particular, Microsoft warn people about 'ransomware'. It explains: "This is a particular kind of malware that encrypts your files then demands you pay the attackers to unlock the files so that you can access them.

"Increasingly ransomware also tries to steal your data so that the attackers can also threaten to release your files publicly if you don't pay the ransom."

The best way to avoid being infected with malware is to not open attachments or links you weren't expecting. It's also vital to install the latest antiviruses. While Windows PC comes with its own antivirus, Microsoft Defender, it might also be worth installing Avast Antivirus or Malwarebytes and performing regular scans.

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Microsoft have also urged caution whenever someone contacts you claiming to be from 'tech support'.

"In this attack the scammer contacts you and tries to convince you that there is something wrong with your computer and that you should let them 'fix it for you'," the company said.

This can lead to a slippery slope where you're pressured into handing over your login details, personal information, and even charge you money.

Microsoft said it will never contact you out of the blue with this kind of query. They added: "Microsoft and other legitimate tech companies will never cold call you to tell you that there's a problem with your device. Unless you contact us first, we won't call you to offer tech support."

If you do encounter any scams, Microsoft operates its own reporting service where you can inform the company about it.

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