Universal Computer Solutions are leaders in their field and it’s no wonder that we trust them when it comes to all areas of Cyber Awareness.  Managing Director, and friend of our business has put together this article about Cyber Awareness to ensure that nobody is taken for a ride.  Introducing, Cyber Awareness To Stay Safe – Accountants Geelong l Canny Group.

As we increase our reliance on technology in both business and our private lives, it seems that more and more often we are hearing of systems being “hacked” or businesses and individuals defrauded of their funds and life savings.  And over the COVID-19 Pandemic, cyber criminals have only ramped up their activities.

In recent months we have seen a major security breach at RMIT University in Melbourne, a suspected cyber-attack has forced hospitals in Melbourne’s east to take their IT systems offline and delay non-critical surgeries, and it was not too long ago that the whole Barwon Health system across Geelong was crippled by a virus that destroyed critical data and records.

Unfortunately, as IT systems become more and more difficult to break into from a technical perspective, cyber criminals are searching for the weakest link in the equation: the unsuspecting end user.  According to Cyber Security statistics last year, over 95% of security breaches were the result of human error (namely, criminals fooling people into divulging their details, or allowing access to their systems).

People, unlike computers, can be fooled and manipulated much easier than trying to crack into a highly secured modern system, so the most used vector for all of the above examples is by trying to fool the end user either by email, phone call, or text message into divulging passwords, allowing access to their computer or mobile phone, even handing over their online banking details, but pretending to the a “trusted” source, and subsequently defrauding or taking advantage of the situation.

There are many motives for such attacks, but by far, the most common these days is simply financial, and once again, it is estimated that the worldwide information security market is forecast to reach $170.4 billion in 2022 (according to the Gartner Group).

So, it is no wonder that it is an ever-growing magnet for the criminal underworld.  Fortunately for us, it’s also a no-brainer to avoid such exploits and stop the criminals in their tracks purely by using some common sense measures:

  • Do not provide sensitive personal information (like usernames and passwords) over email
  • Watch for email senders that use suspicious or misleading names
  • Inspect URLs carefully to make sure they’re legitimate and not imposter sites
  • Do not try to open any shared document that you’re not expecting to receive
  • If you can’t tell if an email is legitimate or not, please contact your Information Technology help desk
  • Be especially cautions when opening attachments or clicking links if you receive an email containing a warning banner indicating that it originated from an external source

DO NOT //

  • Open any email attachments that end with; .exe .scr .bat .com, or other executable files you do not recognise
  • “Unsubscribe” it is easier to delete the e-mail than to deal with the security risks
  • Ever click embedded links in messages without hovering your mouse over them first to check the URL
  • Respond or reply to spam in any way.  Use the delete button

ALWAYS //

  • Check the email “from” fields to validate the sending.  This “from” address may be spoofed
  • Check for so-called “double-extended” scam attachments.  A text file named “safe.txt” is safe but a file called “safe.txt.exe” is not
  • Report all suspicious emails to your Information Technology help desk
  • Note that www.microsoft.com. and www.support.microsoft.software.com are two different domains

It’s important to remember, that big companies will *NOT*

  • Call you on your phone OR text you asking for your username or password (or any other personal details)
  • You will *NEVER* get an email from you bank, telco, internet provider (or any other business) requesting you to “click here to verify your details” (or any such nonsense)
  • And you will *DEFINITELY* never get a call from “Microsoft” telling you that your computer is infected with a virus!  (you might get called from your IT Provider who you know on a first name basis, but not Microsoft, Apple or your mobile phone provider!)
  • Or from the Australian Tax Office telling you that you are going to be arrested if you don’t pay a bogus fine

So always be *super* suspicious (err on the side of caution).  If you get an email, or text, or phone call, *SEEK ADVICE* from your IT Support provider if you think that it might be legitimate, and they will help you out and clarify if/when action needs to be taken.

You can also go to the Australian Competition & Consumer’s Commission’s website specifically set up to advise the public to see if a particular scam describes the symptoms of what you are experiencing – save this link to your favourites tab and use it any time you get a text, email or phone call which doesn’t sound right!

So, don’t become the next person to be fooled and taken advantage of.  It could cost you, your employer (and your contacts and people who you frequently correspond with) dearly.  Just like the measures we used during the COVID-19 lockdown, an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure.  Be ultra cautious, stay safe, and don’t get taken for a ride!

If you would like to know more from Universal Computer Solutions, get in touch and we can help to put your mind at ease!

 

Nenad Saffin – Managing Director

Universal Computer Solutions