Birthlight, PO Box 148, Cambridge, Cambs CB4 2GB United Kingdom * Tel 01223 362288 * www.birthlight.com
Phishing is still an effective method for hackers. And this includes our phones. The other day I received a text message purportedly from Barclays bank. I have an account there so it was possible but I was suspicious since the text message had a link in it that I was supposed to use to confirm a scheduled payout which was also possible. I called the bank and they said that it was not their text message and that they would never send a text message with a link asking to confirm a payout. So, always be on the safe side if you think something is a little suspicious - on ANY device. Also, phone apps lately have been the attack vector of some serious hacks. Let's stay vigilent.
Please beware of downloading free software. Although not all free-ware is spyware, a good portion of it is. Therefore, if you are downloading a free pdf to jpg converter please make sure you get it from a reputable download site like cnet.com (download.cnet.com) or if need be pay for it. Otherwise you will be downloading spyware, or an annoying toolbar that will insert itself into your browser or something worse. The tradeoff between saving a few quid and the time spent extracting the spyware or virus from your computer is not worth it.
To download free software you can try cnet.download.com who advertise virus-free, spyware-free downloads of free or free-to-try software. I have not had any problems with their software.
The UK was in the top 5 countries to be effected by ransomware. Over
90,000 devices are affected each week. And the average demand for
ransomware is £514. Here's how to protect yourself:
1. Make sure you have backups and your backup has not stopped running
2. don't click on links or attachments of emails when you don't know
3. install software updates as soon as they are available
4. Make sure that you have an anti-virus and that
your anti-virus has not stopped running
5. stay off disreputable websites - e.g. illegal movie streaming
6. don't pay extortion demands
I recently heard a story which reminded me of how we can all play a part in keeping our computer systems secure. You may have heard that the Democratic National Convention emails were leaked during the presidential campaign in America. It has since been revealed that Hilary Clinton's presidential campaign chairman used the password "password". This would be one of the first passwords checked by Script Kiddies and also true hackers who are trying to gain access. So, it's just a reminder to us all to keep using strong passwords and to continue to operate with a security mindset in our Birthlight and personal work. I can tell you from the logs on my own web servers that there are always a number of attempts each day to login to my servers by illicit individuals. That's just the world we live in. Best to use both capital and lowercase letter, special characters and numbers in your password and make sure that the password has a minimum of 12 characters in it (at least as of this date/writing).
Just a reminder that when sending an email to a large number of recipients it is best to use Mailchimp or Constant Contact or some similar marketing email software. The reason is that we have email limits set on our email server by our ISP's (Internet SErvice Providers). If we don't respect these limits our emails will not be received and we could get put on a blacklist (and recognized as spammers). Mailchimp and other email marketing software is setup to especially deal with these limits and also removes the errors which can be involved with sending such large and numerous emails with Outlook or any other email client running on your desktop. So, in so many words, please use mailchimp or the like when sending to large numbers of recipients
You may have heard of the recent worldwide ransomeware attack which is now affecting the NHS and various other worldwide organizations and demanding £300 payment in bitcoins immediately (which doubles after 3 days). The attack exploits a vulnerability which was patched by Microsoft in March and so our updated office computers should be fine. Our computers have always been set to automatically update any security patches. Please remember to keep your computers updated - both operating system and application software.
This is a little more broad ranging than my normal tips on preventing computer malware, etc but when I saw this I thought it would be worth running by you all as there is overlap. The other day in our neighbourhood the police were called because someone spotted a man following the postie - he was pulling post out of the letter flaps apparently in search of people's identity!!
The 5 points below seem pretty obvious but check out the video clip below them and it will make you think:
- Never disclose security details, such as your PIN or full banking password
- Don’t assume an email, text or phone call is authentic (** My note: esp. phone calls - I've refused giving info plenty of times)
- Don’t be rushed – a genuine organisation won’t mind waiting
- Listen to your instincts – you know if something doesn’t feel right (1 in 4 victims knew immediately they'd made a mistake)
- Stay in control – don’t panic and make a decision you’ll regret