Hacking and Cybercrime – 5 Really Easy Ways to Stop It Cold
I know hacking and cybercrime is a tired old subject but as an IT support company, our Help Desk people continue to field calls from folks who have managed to find themselves smacked down by the latest Trojan, malware, virus or <insert favourite web threat here>. And it isn’t always novice computer users who click on the wrong link or download the wrong “killer app” – sometimes its users who really ought to know better.
Part of the problem with hacking and cybercrime is the fact that we are locked eternally in a battle between good and evil that is more representative of a game of cops and robbers. The robbers figure out a new way to commit their crimes and the cops lock it down. The robbers come up with yet another way and the cops lock that down too. And on and on and on… Fortunately there are some common sense ways to combat hacking and cybercrime and it doesn’t cost much when compared to the cost of doing nothing.
Pretty obvious or so you’d think. Can’t count the number of machines we see without proper protection. An antivirus strategy is not “set and forget”. You need to make sure it is updated and is actually running on all your PCs (and servers). A common viral technique includes disabling your antivirus so knowing it is running is key. Lesson: buy a good antivirus suite and monitor it to make sure it is doing what you paid for.
Another no brainer when protecting against hacking and cybercrime. But what often gets erroneously discounted is just exactly what kind of firewall you are using. The $59.99 version from London Drugs ain’t going to cut it. Corporate data needs to be protected by a commercial grade firewall because you aren’t just protecting downloads of Justin Bieber and pictures of Aunt Mabel’s 80 birthday party anymore. Lesson: buy a commercial grade firewall and look for one that can offer antivirus and anti-malware services directly on the device – it can stop the bad stuff before it even gets on the corporate network.
Over 96% of all email sent is spam and 75% of malware infections are email borne so the threat of spam goes well beyond the nuisance factor. Always use a multi-pronged approach to combating spam: filter offsite first (which knocks off over 90% of the crap) and then filter it onsite as well which takes care of the last of it. At Syncronet, we get over 10,000 pieces of spam a day and less than 100 actually make it to a mailbox. What do we do with the rest of it? That’s where the most important piece comes in – common sense. Lesson: Consider spam as the very real threat to your data that it is and spend some effort in crafting your antispam strategy.
This is really the crux of the matter. Just so you know… you did not win a lottery you can’t recall entering, an African prince is not going to hand over 20 million dollars for helping him get the other 20 million out of the country and the best price for meds is only available at your local pharmacy (unlike commercial grade firewalls). The message is, if you quit buying from spammers, they’ll quit selling to us. And if you quit handing over your credit card numbers to the friendly banking representative who was kind enough to email you and let you know your account has been blocked, they’ll stop stealing your money from under your nose. Lesson: Just like walking, if you keep your head up and eyes open, you’ll be less likely to step in something nasty. Think before you click.
This is an overlap to common sense. Engage your users in regular reminders about the dangers of the web and how to use that common sense to combat it. Tell them not to click on suspicious links, open attachments that you weren’t expecting, and to resist the urge to click on an invite to “a crazy video I just saw of you” when you know damn well there isn’t one. Get them to ask if they are uncertain and my favourite axiom – When in doubt, parachute out! Lesson: Protect users from themselves by showing them how not to get themselves into trouble.
At Syncronet, we are experts in network support and security for all types of hacking and cybercrime. We’d be happy to look over your security systems and policies to help you shore up against the seamy underbelly of the web. Give us a call or drop us a line at more.info(at)syncronet.net. Stay safe out there!