By Bryn Hawkins, pre-sales technical specialist at Highlander Computing Solutions
As technology increases pace it’s harder for cybercriminals to hack systems, so they target something much easier – you. Bryn Hawkins, pre-sales technical specialist at Highlander Computing Solutions, says the weakest security link is now humans. Here he explores some great take home tips to share with others.
What’s the easiest way to hack you?
One word – e-mail. More than 90 per cent of all cyber attacks start that way – but why?
We get hundreds of e-mails per day, from lots of sources. There’s a big opportunity for hackers to impersonate to get you to hand over our valuable information or money.
Like a magician using deception to entertain, a hacker will try and distract you by exploiting your emotions. Fear of an unpaid bill, excitement at a prize – or panic over your browser history being revealed! All designed to drop your guard and allow access to valuable information. They rely on embarrassment and fear to keep hidden – we report just three per cent of e-mail attacks. We don’t talk enough about this and this culture needs to change, so I’ll start.
I advise companies about cyber security – and this year I fell for two e-mail scams.
The first happened while I was doing DIY and ‘my MD, Steve’ e-mailed asking for my mobile number. Without checking, I replied. Moments later I realised he had my number – and now so did a hacker. They wanted me to buy Apple vouchers, the answer was no! The e-mail had several red flags. I didn’t check. I should have.
The second happened with a delivery e-mail stating I needed to pay a small fee for redelivery. Swearing under my breath, I opened up the link and got halfway to typing in my payment details before I realised it might be a scam. I googled and sure enough, it was.
We can all fall for these scams and shouldn’t be embarrassed if we do. Hopefully, with some basic tips, we can make it harder for cybercriminals.
Here’s a guide to keep you safe at work and some for our daily life, too. Let’s look after each other in our increasingly digital world.
Top e-mail tips
- Check the e-mail address – is it masked or have spelling errors?
- Don’t click that link – hover over it with your mouse to see if it will take you to a legitimate site.
- Don’t open any attached files unless you are 100 per cent sure you know who sent them.
- Verify the e-mail via trusted methods – don’t call the number on the e-mail!
- Invest in tech and software – even free antivirus or firewalls can be better than none.
Broader tips for daily life
- Slow down – hackers use urgency to make you panic.
- Often attacks are impersonated badly – if it doesn’t feel right, don’t trust it.
- Google – most attacks will be documented.
If in doubt, check.
- Talk to someone, get them to check it with you.
- Never give away sensitive information over e-mails/text/social media such as credit card details, passwords or PINs.
- Don’t fill in online quizzes to find out what celebrity you are most like!
- Remember – once you share an image or data online it is as good as public information.
- Don’t pay bills on inbound calls. If someone rings you demanding payment, politely decline, find the correct number and call the following day or from a separate number.