How To Protect Your Computer From Cyber Attacks

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Whilst British investigators are working with the FBI to trace hackers behind ongoing attacks, computer users are urged to protect their machines from malware which allows hackers to steal data and hold files ransom. Our Head of Infrastructure & Technology, Aaron, gives us the lowdown on how you can keep your computer protected.

Unfortunately, as we move further into an online era, these type of cyber attacks are becoming more commonplace.

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This particular attack isn’t against a company, but on individuals and the National Crime Agency intelligence has suggested this has already infected more than 15,500 computers in the UK alone with much more at risk.

GOZeuS (also known as P2PZeuS) is known as Malware (a software which is specifically designed to disrupt or damage a computer system) and can install itself on the host’s computer without you knowing about it. It then will scan your computer silently, looking for any data it could sell on (such as addresses, payment details etc). If it doesn’t find anything, it will then lock certain folders (mainly documents or photos) and hold them to ransom, currently for 1 Bitcoin (an online currency to the value of £200-£300) to unlock the folders to allow you access again.

So how does this get onto your machine? Well, people are typically infected by clicking on links in e-mails or by downloading attachments, they will look like they are from people you know – reported emails have been received from what appears to be the HMRC! But actually, these are being sent by the malware on an already infected PC.

So how can you protect your PC? There are several ways:

      • Firstly, make sure you have regular backups of your files. This can be via USB sticks, external hard drives or via a cloud service like SugarSync or Dropbox. A lot of internet service providers also offer something similar, so it’s worth asking about.
      • Secondly, do NOT click on any URL links in e-mails. If the link looks genuine, copy and paste it into your browser manually, this way you know what you are visiting. By clicking on it, the text displayed doesn’t always match where the actual link is going to send you. Also, do not open any attachments unless you are expecting them from a contact. Even then, the third item on this list come into play…
      • Thirdly, install an anti-virus software! It’s imperative in this day and age to have an up to date anti-virus. It’s worth paying for to as free ones often miss out things or are too slow to update. Something like NOD32 from Eset can be low cost but protect your machine to the highest level. Also, keeping your computer operating system up to date and running regular scans with your anti-virus, can minimise risk to your machine.

Anyone that has fallen victim to this and sent money via Cyptolocker software should report it here: www.actionfraud.police.uk

For more information about what this malware does and for help in securing your computer, visit the helpful links below:
www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk
www.cyberstreetwise.com


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