What the Tech? February 2018
5th February 2018
The days of Nigerian royalty struggling to access their funds seems to be over and a new and evolving crime has taken its place, so this month we ask: What the Tech is Cybercrime?
Cybercrime is the act of stealing personal and business information, usually via email attachment or USB device, from computers and networks, using one of the three main techniques:
Hacking: By installing malicious software onto a network, hackers can then gain access to the connected network and take administrative control. Once granted control, they gain access to sensitive personal and commercial data, business files, personal/ customer banking details and products. These can then be sold on.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks: These attacks are usually carried out by botnets - a network of computers that have been previously attacked and infected with specialist software, unknowingly under the control of the attacker. This group network is then used to bombard a system with overwhelming traffic, causing the system to be unable to grant access to legitimate users.
Ransomware: Once gaining access, attackers can encrypt digital files and ‘lock’ them from being accessed by the real user, thus holding them ransom until a payment is made. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are very popular means of payment for ransom, as it is much less traceable as a form of payment.
How can I prevent being attacked?
The first and simplest step towards preventing cybercrime is to educate yourself and your employees – simple things like installing firewalls/ web filtering software, allowing only pre-approved staff to install software and knowing the signs of a fraudulent email can often prevent an attack by itself. Staying alert and vigilant of suspicious emails make a big difference – no business is too small to be targeted.
For further action, employees can be sent on courses to train in cybersecurity, or specialist cybersecurity companies can be hired.
The government has also recently invested £20m to train young people in cybersecurity and encourage future careers in the area.
What do I do if I am attacked?
The best action is to act quickly - attacks can be reported to Action Fraud.
In the case of ransomware, the advice is not to pay - there is no guarantee that you will get the files back if you do. The No More Ransom webpage provides support and advice on how to recover files without paying.
For more tips and guidance on online safety, please visit the National Crime Agency website.
Author: James Potton, Accounts & Audit Assistant, Plus Accounting
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