The Haney Group Tips and Reviews: 20 ways to Keep Your Internet Identity Safe from Hackers
Posted May 15 2013 5:17am
Do you use the same password for all websites? Do you overshare on Facebook? If so, you're a target for cybercriminals – whose computer scams are costing Britain £27bn a year. We asked experts for their top tips to beat the fraudsters.
We're high up in the Gherkin in the City of London and Garry Sidaway, director of security strategy at Integralis, a firm which advises government agencies, pharmaceutical and financial services multinationals, is giving my computer a security MOT. "You don't have anti-virus software, I see," he says, a trace of mockery in his voice. "That's your first mistake."
According to Sidaway, while most of us are much more aware of the risks now ("My mum shreds her documents even if she doesn't know why," he says), we should all be raising the bar. He thinks we Britons are an overly trusting lot. Sitting ducks for an armada of hackers, who are every bit as focused on stealing our data as we are relaxed about storing it. "The criminal gangs know exactly which kind of data they want and where it is likely to be," he explains. "Conversely we're not sure what they're after."
So what are they after, I ask? "We are seeing a wide variety of attacks – everything from opportunists trying to extract passwords through phishing [emails which purport to be from legitimate sources and attempt to get us to click on an infected link] to highly organised crime units targeting businesses and government systems in an effort to steal intellectual property and information related to critical infrastructure."
The government estimates that the total cost of cybercrime in the UK is £27bn a year. The majority (£21bn) is committed against businesses, which face high levels of intellectual property theft and industrial espionage.
Enabled by the sharing culture on social media – and with ever more sophisticated malicious software known as malware at their disposal – cybercriminals have become far more adept at crafting attacks and targeting individuals and organisations. Phishing emails purporting to be from friends, often reflecting our interests – perhaps gleaned from social media sites – or from trusted organisations such as your bank or HM Revenue & Customs encourage us to click on infected links or attachments containing malware. (A recent example of the latter was malware disguised as a security warning from Microsoft's digital crimes unit.) "We have a level of trust in certain organisations and criminals exploit that trust," says Sidaway.