Why has cyber crime got so bad?
The internet has become a great place to shop, socialize and do your banking. The rise in mobile devices and laptops has dramatically increased the online presence of people.
With more services moving online like the NHS it has become nearly impossible in today’s society to completely avoid the internet.
With this rise in popularity it has attracted criminal organizations and individuals who profit immensely from online cyber crimes. In fact currently as I am writing this (2016), cyber crime costs the UK economy over £27bn a year. The days of robbing a bank with a gun have long gone.
What data is at risk?
The kind of data criminals are after are, some obvious things like your bank details, your credit cards, personal identifiable information such as birth certificates, passports and driving licenses. All can be used for identity theft and fraudulent purchases.
Some people may be surprised to learn that it is not only financial information cyber criminals are after it can be your private data like photos, documents and videos. All can be used to exploit, threaten or blackmail another.
There is also a new type of attack called ransomware. Where a hacker gains access to the device and encrypts the data locking the user out.
It then displays a message to the owner that they must pay in Bitcoin a set amount of money before they will issue the unlock key.
In most cases no key is issued after payment and the data is lost forever. This is another good reason why having a good backup policy is essential.
How can I best protect my device’s and network?.
There are hardware and software solutions available. Having good online etiquette can also be very beneficial to online safety. Following some basic rules along side the correct software and hardware is the best combination to keep your data safe.
Here are a few examples of good online etiquette:
(please note not a complete list)
Never click on any links in any email. – Even if you know the source. It is always best to double check with the person sending it to make sure the source is legitimate.
Never open any attachments from an email. – Same explanation as above.
Never click on a external link in social media. – Unless you know the source address is legitimate.
Do not use torrent sites or download copyright material from such sites. – The content provider is anonymous and malware can bypass antivirus software with ease. If you must than streaming is safer.
Check the options carefully when installing software. – Software (mostly free but not inclusive) nowadays can be delivered by third party websites like download.com. They bundle in with the program installer other programs that may be unwanted or potentially breach security. Such software can highjack your internet browsers with bogus search pages. Redirect you to malware websites to further infect your machine. Or can use your machine as a Bitcoin miner or botnet.
Keep all your Software and drivers up to date. – This process can be complicated and overwhelming for the everyday user. Please use caution when attempting to update drivers there are many different versions and installing the wrong one can leave your device inoperable. It is vital for your computers security and health that both are kept up to date. We recommend a 6 monthly service to insure that this process is followed. Please contact us and we can perform a health check and update both for you.
Lastly insure you have all of the areas below secured correctly. – Click on the plus button to learn more:
It is important to have Anti Virus on your computer. I am sure pretty much every device user knows this. Some believe due to misinformation that some operating systems are exempt from this process. However even Apple and Linux devices are vulnerable to malware attacks, as well as browser hijacks. For this job we recommend using Free Avast.
It is also a good idea to have a secondary (Non real time scanning) antivirus. We recommend using the free version Malwarebytes. This can be useful to double check that your primary scanner is doing an efficient job. It also uses a different virus database which may find things that your primary scanner missed.
Microsoft Windows operating systems come pre-installed with a built in software firewall. Having a firewall is like putting a wall between your computer and the world wide web. Its a must have security measure for every network. Firewalls allow direct connections to your computer via ports that certain applications use. Port 80 is a common port which is allowed by default. Port 80 is a http port for website browsers (surfing the internet). A firewall can listen on this port and it can control what applications can connect to the Internet.
Some pro versions of antivirus can come with an added Firewall like Avast Internet Security. These can have advanced features that you can customize which you would not be able to do with Windows built in Firewall application. For basic computer use the Windows firewall should provide you with enough software protection.
When you have a network in your house where more than one machine shares the same Internet connection, you will find a router. A router is a great device for allowing a single connection to be split among many appliances. This allow for sharing content between the machines. Streaming movies, playing console games, sharing photos to name a few. Inside the majority of modern Routers you will find a firewall.
This is a application installed onto to the firmware to watch monitor and block network traffic. Firewalls are a great addition to security. However they are very difficult to configure. Some software and gaming machines require special ports opened and forwarded to them. This process is called Port Forwarding. It is a very complex process which if done incorrectly can leave your network vulnerable to outside port scans and attacks.
Wireless Internet and Wireless networks bring great advantages to home users and small businesses, however improper installation and configuration can leave you vulnerable to attacks from hackers, compromising your security and data.
We can help you configure your Firewall for security and connectivity:
Our service comprises of:
Wireless Site Survey – Obtain the best possible reception with less interference.
Wireless Lockdown – We ensure your network broadcasts are encrypted, safe from prying eyes.
What Are The Risks of An Unprotected Network:
Wireless networks broadcast over the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands currently, a public area of radio bandwidth reserved for wireless devices such as wireless networks, wireless phones, wireless mice and keyboards.
Leaving a wireless network open brings many risks, some of which include;
- Anyone being able to make use of your internet connection
- Anyone being able to view machines connected to your network
- Anyone being able to view or steal files from your computers or servers
- Anyone being able to monitor traffic being transmitted over your network such as passwords, bank details, pin codes and emails.
A hacker or 3rd party could use a stolen credit card to purchase goods and services, Over your internet connection. All this traces back to YOU!
A 3rd party could be illegally downloading films, music or looking at illicit images using your internet connection.
Any activity over your network is all logged against your name!