Christmas Security Issues + Tips
December 21, 2017
Christmas is upon us and with that it is also prime time for hackers. This is a quick bulletin to let you know what attacks are circulating and what you can do about them.
Two weeks ago IBM’s computer security team warned of hacker attacks on Canadian businesses. The attackers are looking for bank accounts used between businesses. A variety of tactics are in use from faking a change in banking information from a service provider to false invoices (from a non-existent supplier). Accounting staf need to be aware of both tactics. Make no banking changes and pay no ‘new’ invoices until they can be con rmed.
Ransomware continues to be a major problem. There are numerous ransomware campaigns running, some running against businesses who others are targeting personal computers. A new variation in these attacks is that they are becoming more re ned, targeting speci c businesses or speci c groups of people. Be very careful with your email and the links you click on. A extra few seconds looking at links can safe you a lot of pain.
I am encountering instances of two computer scams. The most common are the technical support calls from ‘Microsoft’ saying there is a problem with your computer. Sometimes the call is supposed to be from your service provider and Microsoft. In either case they don’t make those types of pro-active noti cations. Tell people, especially Grandparents and your non-technical friends to hang-up.
The other attack I am encountering is a pop-up screen that people can’t get out of. Typically they would be browsing web sites and a pop-up screen would appear to lock up their computer. A notice in the pop-up would say ‘this computer has been locked up call 1-877 … for support’. Nonsense. It is most probably a script running in your browser. Rebooting the computer bypasses the script and everything should work ne.
For many organizations Christmas means a few days when no one is in the o ce. Instead of a weekend, it is four or more days ‘unsupervised’. The goal of many hackers is to mine your network for data. All sorts of data. The best protection for your network over Christmas is to turn as much as possible of and if possible turn of servers as well. A computer that is turned of can’t be remotely hacked. If you have to leave a system up, run security and anti-virus scans. It may slow down your computer(s) but it should help keep malware out of your system.
My last piece of advice is to complete system updates before you leave the o ce. December has seen a lot of vulnerabilities published with even more patches released. Update your computers – especially any being left on, to ensure you have the best defences possible.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and stay safe.