Protect yourself from Hacks

Today we focus on the increasingly critical issue of email security.  Many will think that they can’t be impacted by this topic – not true, unless you don’t have an email address.  Many will think that all email services will have the same security – not true.  Many will think that their current email password is adequate – often not true, & many will think that they don’t have an email password – absolutely not true!

Emails as a form of communication has been around a good length of time (in the IT world) and is surely here to stay for a good while yet – but how safe is it?  Recent events that have happened to some of our customers and reading the latest global IT articles about email security indicate that many of us are exposing ourselves to potential trouble.

Just a few months ago we had a customer with over a quarter of a million dollars transferred from their main working account.  A few weeks ago, another lost nearly a hundred thousand & this week a third customer lost near thirty thousand.  In the first instance – the customer did not heed our warnings about their computer network security.  In the second instance, they switched to us after the fact and in the third instance, it was a new customer that we had not had proper influence on yet.

All three events involved emails and yet all three events were from different security breaches.  The first involved hackers gaining access to the business’ owners main work computer so that they could look through his emails after hours.  They were able to find emails sent to a travel agent containing passport and driver’s license details.

The hacker then sent emails to the owner’s bank requesting that a large transfer be made to a Western Union branch.  After emailing proof of identity and meeting all security checks his bank was happy to comply with the request!

In the second instance another business owner had a very weak email password, which allowed hackers access to his emails.  They could then intercept an invoice from one of his suppliers, change the banking details only on this document and then forward the email on to the business owner and wait for his transfer.

In the most recent event a hacker was again able to breach a weak password to gain access to a business owners’ emails.  They then sent an email to a large customer (posing as the hacked business) asking them to change the payment details to a different account for future payments.  Again, the hacker then only had to sit back and wait for the money to roll in until the breach was discovered.

Computer hackers as a group are largely highly intelligent and highly motivated, but due to being born in the wrong country or not having a mainstream personality, they have missed out on some of life’s opportunities somewhere along the way.

Hackers can make good money from their occupation and are not about to change jobs, so it is largely up to computer users as individuals, small businesses or corporations to protect themselves from these attacks.  Next week we will investigate which email setups are safer and what other measures can be employed. 

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

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