As the world progress and technology takes over almost every aspect of our lives, important data about ourselves is now available online for faster transactions. If you have a bank account, you’d likely be doing online banking too. Those with credit cards also have online accounts and frequently visit online sites for online shopping (sounds kinda redundant, perhaps?).
But data is a far more valuable commodity that many of us have no idea about. It is why hackers will resort to all sorts of tricks to be able to get important data on their hands. Fake news and phishing have been all over social media. While we seem to enjoy scrolling through our newsfeed and reading interesting posts, we fail to realize that hackers are behind them with the goal of stealing our precious data through malwares or viruses you infect your computer with after clicking a dubious email.
The word of “fake news” has been spread around like wildfire lately, especially since the recent election. It might seem harmless, but frequently these fake news stories can go viral, spreading misinformation to millions of people. It is usually easy to spot fake news, if you look at the source, but there are so many people who don’t know how to identify credible sources, and they may believe most of what they read.
Email phishing is a similar online scam, and it can go hand in hand with fake news. At my corporate job, our IT department is almost always sending out alerts and information on how to spot phishing emails, yet someone always ends up clicking the dreaded links. More and more companies are putting their employees through Security Awareness Training, to try and avoid phishing scam issues in the future. Michael Levin from The Center for Information Security Awareness (CFISA) was kind enough to answer some questions on this training, and why it is smart to take this preventative measure.
The risk of losing data to hackers is even higher now despite the fact that news about fake news and phishing scams are spread everywhere. The reason – more people are going online. Those who did not frequent the web in the past are now avid users, gullible as they may be.
But the damage is greater if a phishing email is opened using a corporate email. From which, hackers can gain access to the organization’s system and realize their plans and more to gain.
In an interview with Computer Weekly, Samani said hackers, private detectives and criminals use sophisticated psychological techniques, designed to bypass the conscious mind, so that otherwise sensible people click on malware.
The malware is often hidden in an email targeted to a specific victim – a technique known as spear phishing.
In one notorious scam that still attracts multiple victims, hackers pose as the victim’s chief executive officer by sending a convincing email to a victim in the finance department, asking for an immediate transfer of cash to complete a business deal.
The scam works because of the urgency of the email, and the tendency of people to comply with requests from people in authority, coupled with the risk that an employee might damage their career if they don’t comply, said Samani.
Even the government are struggling on how to put a stop to these cyber scams and crimes.
A $10 billion-a-year effort to protect sensitive government data, from military secrets to Social Security identification numbers, is struggling to keep pace with an increasing number of cyberattacks and is unwittingly being undermined by federal employees and contractors.
Workers scattered across more than a dozen agencies, from the defense and education departments to the National Weather Service, are responsible for at least half of the federal cyberincidents reported each year since 2010, according to an Associated Press analysis of records.
They have clicked links in bogus phishing emails, opened malware-laden websites and been tricked by scammers into sharing information.
One was redirected to a hostile site after connecting to a video of tennis star Serena Williams. A few act intentionally, most famously former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who downloaded and leaked documents revealing the government’s collection of phone and email records.
Cybersecurity is proving to be a difficult feat for many, even the government. Due to the increasing frequency of cyber attacks and crimes committed by hackers, we remain vigilant and protect our data at all cost. It may mean using firewalls, logging out of websites after use (especially banks or other offices where you have an existing account such as credit card, social security etc.) installing antivirus software and many others or risk losing data to scrupulous hackers who have nothing to lose but everything to gain from their victim’s data.