You've been hacked

19 Jun 2018

Kevin Hogan

Private Banking, national risk

When we hear the word “hacked”, images of a nerdy guy glued to his PC come to mind, or perhaps a secret agent who uses technology to spy on you. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Hacking really has nothing to do with a computer or any technology. 
 
Hacking is the art of manipulating a human being into inadvertently performing certain tasks on a device that will ultimately give a fraudster access to their device, network or various sites that they use on a daily basis.
 
Hacking is more accurately described in technical terms as “social engineering”. More than 90% of so-called computer or network hacks can be traced back to an email, or more specifically a phishing email.
 
A phishing email is when a fraudster designs an email in such a way that it will be used to do very specific things. Firstly, there will more often than not be a link in the email. Statistics show that if you click on this link there is a 69% chance you will download a virus onto your device. Secondly, the link will redirect you to a new page that will ask you to input your log-in credentials for things like your email account or bank account. Many of these URL redirections found in phishing emails will send you to fake login screens that look exactly like the real one, and so you’re tricked into giving away your credentials. This is hacking in all its glory.
 
Technology is evolving at a rapid pace and our daily lives and technology are becoming increasingly interwoven. Unfortunately, humans are not evolving as quickly as technology, and this is leading to what one may call the “Cyber Crime Revolution”. 

Definitions

Social engineering

 

The use of deception to manipulate individuals into divulging confidential or personal information that may then be used for fraudulent purposes.

Phishing

 

The fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from a reputable company or institution in order to induce the recipient to reveal personal information, such as passwords or credit card numbers.

Second-factor authentication

 

Also known as two-factor or multi-factor authentication, this is an extra layer of security that requires not only a password and username but also a piece of information only that user knows or has on hand (e.g. a physical token).

Technology is being used as a tool to steal millions from people and organisations on a daily basis. Hackers refine their social engineering techniques to manipulate us to their will. They use technology to mislead us into thinking that what we are seeing on the screen is genuine and we have nothing to fear – after all, I am behind my computer, not in a dangerous war zone. I feel safe because no one can get to me behind my computer.
 
Unfortunately, humans are not evolving as quickly as technology, and this is leading to what one may call the “Cyber Crime Revolution”.
Hackers are continually researching and inventing ways to steal from us, and they continually refine their techniques to make sure they achieve a greater level of success.
 
But humans don’t change with each new technology that becomes available; we like to continue as we always have. The only thing that changes for us is the mechanism we use to complete our daily tasks. We think that because we know how to send emails, edit photos and download new applications that make our lives more convenient, we know how to use our devices safely.
 
Nothing could be further from the truth. While we blissfully use our devices for everyday tasks, hackers are designing new scams and techniques to steal our information and money.
 
As human beings, we’ll need to evolve once again – this time into the digital age. We need to understand that the World Wide Web is a world we don’t truly understand and there are some really bad people out there who want to steal from us.
 
All is not lost, however. You can arm yourself with the knowledge and techniques you will need to live in this brave new world– and it doesn’t require the IT skills of a modern-day James Bond hacker.

To get you started on this journey, here are a few tips:

  • Update

    Ensure your device is updated and running on the latest version of software.

  • Privacy

    Only use devices that you own and control to log into email and bank accounts.

  • Confirmation

    Never click on links or attachments in emails when you are not 100% sure of who it comes from and what will happen when you click on the link.

  • Cyber security

    Make sure you have a reputable anti-malware service installed on your devices, preferably a paid version – free versions offer limited functionality.

  • Public connections

    Avoid free public wi-fi. You won’t know if you are logging onto the real wi-fi or a hacker’s network.

  • Authentication

    Enable second-factor authentication on as many apps as you can such as online banking, Facebook, Gmail, Twitter etc

  • Passwords

    Use a unique username and password for each of your accounts, and change them at least every six months.

  • External links

    Don’t use links or shortcuts – type in the full URL every single time.

  • Online security

    Take responsibility for your own online security: don’t assume companies and app providers are taking care of this for you.

  • Online payments

    Before you pay anyone, always confirm the bank details sent to you via email or on invoices by phoning the third party directly.

  • Personal information

    Never give any sensitive or personal information away over the phone. If someone claims to be from your bank, call them back.

Remember that devices only do what you tell them to do.  Do not get tricked into giving hackers access to your devices.

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