Cybercrime is a national issue that costs people and businesses £27bn each year and rising; whilst we live on the Isle of Wight, we are still affected on a daily basis with people today more likely to fall victim to fraud or cyber offences above any other crime.
Although technology such as spyware, firewalls, spam filters and increasingly Artificial Intelligence (AI) can provide some protection, ultimately it is us, as human beings, who are the target and seen as the weak link by criminals.
Sadly, at PC Consultants, we receive calls and computers into our workshops daily, from distressed people who allowed hackers into their systems. Losing money, their privacy and data, plus facing identify theft, and sometimes life-long consequences from what seemed to be an innocent call pretending to be from Microsoft, or an email, reportedly from a bank or charity, with a simple link to be clicked.
So what can you do besides rely on technology? Firstly, it’s important to understand that fraudsters use social engineering to exploit your trust. Manipulating and tricking you into doing something: such as revealing a password or clicking on a link, giving out accounts and personal details, making a payment or moving money into a supposedly safe account. They know that, irrespective of technology, you can ultimately override security and ignore warnings if you choose. For them, all it takes is an email, phone call, or text message disguised as coming from a colleague, a friend, your bank, the police or a company you trust – and the cyber-criminal has won.
So stay away from links and attachments if they are not from a trusted source, as the majority of successful cybercrimes begin when curiosity, or a sense of urgency, entices you to enter personal data or click on a link that then downloads malware.
Protecting yourself or business against this social engineering is difficult due to human unpredictability and the potential of being caught off-guard. So you need to remain alert at all times, as they said in the X-Files “Trust no one.” It’s ok to be sceptical and question the purpose of that call, text or email. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If it comes with an urgent call to do something, think “Why?” Remember banks will never contact you asking for your on-line banking password or for you to transfer money to a new account.
As Dr. Michael Cukler said: “Cybercrime is a human problem.”
PC Consultants Ltd
Enterprise Court, Nicholson Road, Ryde, PO33 1BD