Be warned: Cybercrooks are getting better at what they do.
“Fifteen years ago, the biggest threat to users on the Internet were viruses or malicious software created by hackers with a chip on their shoulders,” says BendBroadband’s information security officer, Matt Shaffer. “Today, the biggest threat comes from organized crime stealing information from you.”
“There are couple of reasons why attacks are getting more sophisticated,” says Shaffer. “First off, the good guys are getting better at blocking attacks. The ugly emails that target unexpected end-users aren’t coming through anymore. Secondly, the attackers have started targeting individuals or smaller groups instead of using large spam email campaigns.”
Members of organized cybercrime maintain underground network on the Web. They design computers and browsers specifically to carry out criminal endeavors. Criminals can even purchase templates designed to conduct successful phishing campaigns.
“Within a couple of hours, they can concoct a phishing campaign that targets BendBroadband users,” Shaffer said.
No, we’re not talking about emails from a Nigerian king who needs your help to get money out of the country. Today’s spam emails are very professional-looking. Long gone are the telltale signs of an email phishing attack: bad grammar and misspellings.
The old warning about solicitation messages was, “If it looks to good to be true, it probably is.” Nowadays, cybercrooks are more likely to deceive you with emails that strike you as boring and familiar.
“The offers in a phishing campaign are made to look bland or legitimate enough to make you click on the link without even thinking,” says Shaffer.
“Once you click on the link, it may take you to an authentic-looking website with a BendBroadband logo and two fields: Username and Password. But when you enter the information, nothing happens — and suddenly you are locked out of your email.”
Insidious software wielded by cybercrooks isn’t limited to just phishing attacks. Ransomware installs itself on computers and locks down specific files. Suddenly photos of your kids are inaccessible. You may even be locked out of your data entirely. Soon you receive an email directing you to pay a ransom to retrieve your files.
Stay safe by following Shaffer’s recommendations:
- Don’t open attachments from people you don’t know, companies that you have never heard about or any company you don’t already have a relationship with.
- Back up your most important data on external hard drives, flash drives or DVDs — or even better, a combination of different external media. As a safeguard, disconnect your backup devices from your computer when a backup is not under way.
- If you suspect something is wrong with your computer, the support staff at BendBroadband is there to help. Our team can determine if your email has been hacked or your computer has been linked into a spam network.