In any society there are a few ‘bad eggs’ and the world wide web is no different. There are some people who dedicate themselves to stealing information and others that just take delight in causing other people problems – sometimes for no apparent reason!
Whether you run a company with dozens of workstations or just have a home computer or even only a smartphone you need to be aware of the threats that arrive on your computer without permission and proceed to cause you – often serious – problems.
Number 1: Malware
These are bits of code that are introduced to your computer without your knowledge – aimed at pinching your data or destroying files usually arriving on an email or software download.
Our advice: Don’t click on links within an email unless you are 100% certain you know where they’ll take you and don’t download anything without double-checking its validity. Install a good firewall and keep up-to-date with updates for your operating system and software to ensure you’re running the most robust version of the program.
Number 2: Password pinching
Some perpetrators have powerful programs that will run thousands of possible passwords to try and crack your online accounts.
Our advice: Don’t use passwords that are easy to guess. No names, birthdays, consecutive numbers (it’s amazing how many passwords are 1234 etc.) – use upper and lower case, numbers and symbols – and a minimum of 8 characters. It may be a pain to keep track of them all (and that’s another blog), but it’s worth it – and change them regularly.
Number 3: Phishing
If you get an email – often from someone you know – asking you to verify information it may not be the real deal and you’re giving away your information to someone with nefarious intentions.
Our advice: If you’re asked to verify information – for no reason you can see – call the email sender (if possible) to check – and not the number in the email; but the one in your own records. Alternatively, go to the website by typing in the address, rather than logging in from an email link. It’s worth the effort to save identity fraud – especially when it relates to your bank account.
Number 4: Drive-by-downloads
If a website you’re visiting has been infected with malware (see above) it may automatically download a small amount of code – that then lets the perpetrator into your computer to install something much worse and attack your operating systems.
Our advice: When your computer reminds you to carry out updates – do it! Don’t install plug ins you don’t need too.
Number 5: Rogue software
This is a nasty little piece of malware that mimics security software to keep you safe. It creates pop ups and alerts that look familiar. If you click these you’ve just invited ‘them’ in!
Our advice: Make sure you’ve got a good firewall that’s up-to-date and consider anti-virus/spyware software. Not sure what you should be installing? Ask your IT support (or call us on 01376 653115).
Number 6: Malvertising
You know all those tempting ads that are presented to you on various social media and gaming platforms? They could install something unsavoury on your computer when you click them. The most common sites that are likely to be the culprits are bingo, casino and porn sites – but it’s not unknown for it to happen on social media site ads too.
Our advice: Don’t click on ads that promise unlikely outcomes – if it seems beyond belief, it probably is. Educate your staff too – and, again, keep your operating system updated.
Number 7: Man-in-the-middle attack
If you’re using WiFi while out and about, don’t take risks and run your online banking while sitting in a hotel reception. It’s possible that the guy on the next table is picking up your transmission and presenting a fake bank website. As you complete your log in – they’re logging into your bank account – bye-bye savings and the money to pay this month’s bills.
Our advice: Avoid logging into your bank account in a public place. If you have to do so ensure you’re using an encrypted WiFi service, double check the website shows it’s an https connection or use a virtual private network (VPN).
Number 8: Denial of service
Denial of service (DoS) is when thousands of demands for access to a website are mounted simultaneously – resulting in the server being unable to cope with the overload and taking your website down.
Our advice: It’s probably not going to happen unless you’re a large organisation, but you may get caught in the domino effect if another site on your network is targeted. The right protection will help to avoid this damaging your business.
If you’re worried about this – please get in touch on 01376 653115 and we’ll help you set up the best security and strategies for your specific situation.