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Staying safe on your computer

 
Created on 25/09/2016 @ 10:02
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Wilfred Van Schuppen is a cyber security expert running a company called The Security Movement. He moved from the Netherlands to Mid Wales with his wife and dog after being inspired by Britain’s Brexit vote.

Today he starts the first of a series of regular columns for MyWelshpool readers offering advice on how to stay safe on-line.

Staying Safe 0n-Line

In this first column I will be explaining why Cyber Criminals are so successful. Well, on Thursday the 22nd of September, Yahoo advices all its users to change their passwords as it announced that in 2014 the data from over 500 Million users was stolen. That is 2 YEARS ago. Only announced this week!

For those unfamiliar with Yahoo, it is a technology company providing a search engine, news, chat and mail services for the public.

We hear about hacking weekly, but choosing to hide big data thefts like Yahoo’s, that is making us believe for years we are safe, whilst we are not. The biggest problem with Cyber Crime and why you may become a victim is “trust.” For Yahoo to keep this hidden is in my opinion a crime in itself. Actually we can even call it Cyber Crime.

If Yahoo has to hide this, they might have a good reason to do so. Yahoo has now officially been accused for negligence over this data breach which reminds me of the case of VW and the emission scandal.

A software program aimed to determine the emission figures for their cars presented the figures a little too positively. After admitting cheating pollution emissions in public, we all could smell they were most likely not the only one in the industry fiddling with data.

Now here is the question: Is Yahoo the only one? How about Google and Bing (from Microsoft)? What if actually all our data has already been stolen in the last couple of years and the big corporations do not talk about it?

It is not a weird thought as after all most of these corporations have the aim to get our data for all kind of marketing purposes.

So, the issue here is definitely trust. But it is also us who “trust” others online too easily. We click on anything without thinking and even if we think for a moment and feel it may be wrong, we tend to ask ourselves the question: But what if I am wrong? Afraid of looking stupid or being wrong “again” we click away.

The first piece of advice I can give you is about emails, links and attachments in an email.

Don’t open an email on your computer but try to use online services. Services like Gmail, Hotmail, BTmail etc.

Keep the mails and the information in it away from your computer. With the newest viruses it is enough for malicious emails to just land in your computer to start doing harm without being opened.

NEVER click on links in emails. Really, ‘never’! It is not necessary and there are simple other ways to work around it. Especially emails from people you know telling you to check out this link or that link.

Cyber Criminals are aware you trust names of people you know and that information is available to them via hacks like with Yahoo. They analyze it and use it against you.

Most of the time the links in messages are about websites you are familiar with. You can also remember what website the link is about. Go online and manually type the site’s name in your browser. Once loaded search for the information referred to in the email.

Wilfred provides public computer training to small groups. The first course starts on October 11 in the Cowshacc Community Centre at Welshpool. To register for the four-week course which will run from 7-9pm call 07510 161261 or log in to www.thesecuritymovement.com.

 

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