Cyber theft – Are you vulnerable?

22 June 2015

Amethyst's Ross Thomson offers some valuable tips on how to reduce the risk

The risk of becoming a victim of cyber theft is increasing but there are ways to stay safe.  Cyber criminality has been increasing for the reason that it is a low-risk, high-reward activity. It can be conducted remotely and is even regarded by some as a victimless crime, as the banks and other financial institutions have to date usually recompensed the customer if they have suffered a loss. It has been made easier for the criminals because the general population is not particularly security aware, or if they are, they have been reluctant to change their behaviour.

Cyber criminals will target logon and authentication information including payment transactions on an industrial scale.  Malware such as the Zeus and Spyeye banking Trojans, if they can infect your device (computer or phone), are used to find and record the information they are targeting and then send it back to the criminals to be exploited at a later date.  Once they have it, they will sell it on to other criminals, use it to access your bank accounts and transfer money or buy goods on your credit/debit card that can be easily laundered.  Anyone can be infected and the usual method is to use a scatter gun approach, although high net worth individuals or companies could also be specifically targeted. Sources of infection include hiding the malware in phishing emails, dodgy downloads and infected websites where even clicking on an ‘X’ to close an advertisement may trigger the download and installation of the malware.

So what can you do about it?  The following is some general advice on how to reduce the risk and react if you do become a victim.

  • Monitor your bankingand credit card statement for fraudulent activity

  • Do not respond to suspicious emails and do not click on attachments or website links that you do not believe are genuine

  • Keep your operating system, antivirus and other applications fully patched and up-to-date. Applications such as CCleaner or Secunia PSI can help in this regard

  • Use the latest versions of software as they will usually be more secure

  • Ensure that the operating system asks your permission before installing any software and take the time to check it

  • Use different passwords for your online banking and shopping websites, e.g. on any site that involves a financial transaction. Password vault tools can be used to manage the multitude of passwords you may have to keep track of

  • Report any suspicious activity to your bank or credit card company as soon as possible after detection. Failure to do so may result in the bank challenging your claim to be recompensed

  • Report any fraudulent activity to the police at http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/

For more information on how to say safe online and the methods the cyber criminals operate see the websites below:

 

1. https://www.getsafeonline.org/

2. https://cyberstreetwise.com

 

 

 

 

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