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Online security should be a high priority for both individuals and businesses. Rather than being unconcerned, we should be proactive in reducing our risk. In 2015, cyber security threats are very real and could come in the way of ransomware, cyber espionage, cyber theft and password cracking.

In 2014, “advanced attackers targeted 5 out of 6 large companies”, and “60% of all targeted attacks struck small – medium sized organizations”. “Ransomware attacks grew 113 percent in 2014, driven by a more than 4,000 percent increase in crypto-ransomware attacks … The victim will be offered a key to decrypt their files, but only after paying a ransom that can range from US$300-$500 with no guarantee that their files will be freed”. (Source: Symantec Blog)

National Consumer Fraud Week 2015 was held recently here in Australia, and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Institute of Public Accountants hosted a free forum on small business scams and cybercrime. You can watch the replay below, it goes for a while so make yourself a cuppa before you sit down. It is interesting, and scary to learn about the risks we are dealing with each day.

“Are you leaving your personal data wide open for scammers to find and use for fraudulent purposes? Sadly, identity theft is now one of the most common crimes in Australia, and can lead to all sorts of associated illegal activities.

Scammers steal your personal details to commit fraudulent activities. They may make unauthorised purchases on your credit card, or use your identity to open accounts such as banking, telephone or energy services. They might take out loans or carry out other illegal business under your name. They may even sell your information to other scammers for further illegal use.”

SCAMwatch

Although it may be difficult to stop an attacker who decides to target you, there are some simple steps you can take to substantially reduce your risks of falling prey to scams:

Update your software and systems, stay on top of updates
Don’t click links in unsolicited email or messages
Use very strong and unique passwords for each login. Use unique login names and try two-factor authentication when available
Don’t tell people your passwords, don’t leave them written down in public display
Call the person to verify an unusual or unexpected email, or a change in banking details or invoicing methods, don’t respond to unexpected email requests
Be prepared for the worst – so make sure you can restore your systems. Apply the 3-2-1 backup system – 3 backups, on 2 different media and 1 offsite

Protecting against scams – was last modified: June 17th, 2015 by David Tiong
Protecting against scams –