Hacking - Don't get caught out

by Graham Hopkins
Hacking - Don't get caught out

Cybercrime is on the rise and shows no signs of slowing down. You may remember, back in May this year, the WannaCry ransomware attack that affected multiple companies around the globe. In the UK, it caused the NHS to revert back to pen and paper and turn away patients whilst their systems were affected.

Email is the top choice for distributing viruses and other malicious attacks. Seemingly harmless attachments, when opened, can infect the user’s computer and the network it’s on.

Another trick from hackers is phishing. It is a term that is used to identify an email that has intent of causing some form of harm, be it through a virus or stealing your login credentials.

For both of these attack to succeed, the hackers need to tempt you to open the email. Which means it’s one of the easiest types of attacks to defend against. By understanding what to look out for, these types of emails can be sent straight to your Deleted folder, rather than causing you or your IT department a headache.

Emails from unknown senders

When you receive an email from an unknown sender, you should be wary of clicking any links or opening any attached files. If the email is from your bank or Amazon etc., then go directly to their websites and login securely. A link in an email may take you to a site that looks genuine but could be a clone with the purpose of stealing your login details. Check that the web address starts with https and has a padlock to indicate it’s secure.

SPAM filters do a good job of filtering out the majority of emails that are either trying to sell you something or that contain malicious elements, however there will always be a few that slip through the net.

Not all emails from friends are friendly

Be careful as well that some of the emails may come from names that you know. That is useful Always look at the email address carefully. Often you will also notice that these emails are sent to or copied to a lot of different people with strange email addressed. This means it is probably generated by some algorithm trying to trick unaware users to open the email and get hacked.

Greed is always a hook

Everyone needs a hook to respond to an email. Often it is driven by greed. Examples we have seen include: cheap Rolexes, a tax refund from HMRC, enter a free lucky draw. Be very careful. Sometimes things are really too good to be true.

Use Google to help defending

Google can be a useful tool to help identify phishing emails. The chances are that you are not the first person to receive these emails and the internet may already have many warnings advising other potential victims to avoid and delete the email(s).

Use strong passwords

Hackers look for password. And they can easily guess if you use simple passwords like your date of birth. Always use strong passwords, i.e. a minimum of 10 characters, using a variety of alphanumeric and special characters. Software is available to help you. At a small nominal cost, you can have access to software that generates and stores strong passwords with multiple level of encryption to keep them safe.