Archive for Information Security

How the Bad Guys Get Your Password

How to make your passwords better

Passwords are essential to your safety, but like everyone else you probably have dozens of passwords to remember. So, you might take shortcuts – but taking advantage of this is one way bad guys access your passwords.

Incredibly, there are still people out there using “password” or “123456” in their access credentials. Also, some people don’t change the default passwords on their devices and this can be dangerous.

So how to make your passwords stronger?

Avoid the obvious passwords

When you have to create a password, make an effort. Steer clear of simple, easily guessed patterns – an ideal way of getting a good password but one that you will remember, is to think of a word (or combination of words) and change letters for numbers and special characters such as exclamation marks. For example, instead of “strongpassword“, make it “sTr0NgpassW0rd!”

Cybercriminals can also guess your password. With a little bit of research about you online, they can make some informed guesses. Common passwords include pet names, birthdays, and anniversaries. These are all easy to find via your social media accounts.

Be careful what you share on social media

Always remember that as well as updating your friends and relatives, you are potentially updating cyber criminals, giving them access to a goldmine of info for personalizing an attack on you.

If that doesn’t work, criminals may try brute force. They might script an automation bot to run thousands of password permutations until they get a hit. The software will try a long list of common passwords and run through dictionary words to gain access, which makes it more important to have a good password (see above).

Don’t duplicate passwords – Company data breaches

The criminal may also be working with info from a data breach. In early 2019, a security researcher found more than 2.7 billion email/password pairs available on the Dark Web. Criminals accessing that database could use the data as a starting point, as many people duplicate their passwords across accounts, so try not to duplicate!

Not only that, a major broadband company in the UK was hacked and millions of accounts compromised, so it can happen here too.

It can be overwhelming to remember all your passwords, and that’s also why you should use a password manager to keep track of it all for you – for more information see our previous Blog page about Passsword Managers.

‘Phishing’ – it’s not what it seems

Of course, there’s one more method of getting your password that we haven’t addressed yet. It’s the familiar ‘phishing attack’ – something pretending to be from a company but is in fact a fake. For instance, you get an email that looks like it was sent by your bank. Phishing typically has an urgent message and a link that directs you to what looks like a credible page.

Pay attention to who is sending the email and hover the mouse over the link to see where it actually ponts to. If you are concerned about your bank account, for example, open up a browser and type the URL manually rather than clicking the link. Many times, you will see that it is not the internet address that you would expect, such as instead of barclays. co.uk it is abcdef.barclays.co.uk.

The most important thing to remember is that if you are in any way not sure, pick up the phone to your bank (or other company involved) to verify that the email is from them. As a rule of thumb, try not to use links in emails as fake web pages can be very convincing.

These tips can help you to protect your valuable passwords. Still, setting up a password manager and amping up your internet security can help too. Need support getting ahead of the cybercriminals?

Contact us on 01455 209505.

Update iTunes and iCloud against Ransomware Vulnerability

Update iTunes - Ransomware Exploit

A vulnerability has been found in the Windows version of iTunes and iCloud, which may allow ransomware to be inserted into Windows computers, bypassing antivirus security programs.

Mac versions are not affected.

Bonjour software exploited

The Bonjour component that both iTunes and iCloud uses, is meant to allow communication between devices on your network and is often used to allow Windows to communicate with Apple devices.

A bug has been found (by security company Morphisec) in Bonjour, called a ‘zero day vulnerability’ which in geek-speak, is an ‘unquoted service path’ – essentially code which has been written incorrectly. As iTunes and iCloud are classed as trusted programs, the vulnerability can avoid antivirus security software and install ransomware software, which can potentially encrypt hard drives and prevent you accessing your data.

Get your iTunes and iCloud update patches

Apple has now patched the vulnerability in iTunes 12.10.1 and iCloud 7.14, so grab your updates if you haven’t already and ensure that automatic updates are enabled, to provide maximum benefit from security fixes in the future – especially as other vulnerabilies were found at the same time, which are yet to be resolved.

Uninstalled iTunes? You can still be vulnerable

Even if you have previously uninstalled iTunes, the Bonjour software is probably still present on your system, as it is a separate program and is not automatically uninstalled when iTunes is removed.

If Bonjour is still on your system it may be still have background services running but in a potentially unpatched state, so you would need to go to your Control Panel and remove it manually.

How to Get Your Devices to Play Nicely Together

Connect your Network Devices

Desktop computers. Laptops. Tablets. Network printers. Routers. Smartphones. Smart speakers. Media players. Gaming systems. Homes today have many, if not all of these. Each has all sorts of features, and they’d be even more useful if they connected to one another. If only it wasn’t so challenging to get all our devices to relay information between each other reliably.

Home networking can bring so many benefits. You might enjoy:
• accessing emails on all your devices, wherever you are;
• surfing the Web using your voice;
• being able to share files, photos, and other media with any other networked device;
• viewing a baby photo album from your computer on your Smart TV
• printing from your smartphone or other devices, even when not connected to the device via cable, using AirPrint or Google Cloud Print;
• backing up all computers in the house to a centralized location via the network;
• securing your activity on all devices at home with a protected Wi-Fi network.

Yes, all that sounds pretty good, but how do we get our devices to do all that?

What Your Home or Business Network Needs

First, take a moment to imagine connecting all the computers and smart devices in your home or office via cables. As if you want more cables snaking around! So, you’ll be looking into a wireless network to connect your devices to the internet and each other. That means setting up a router (we’re assuming you already have an internet service provider).

The router connects you to the internet with its built-in modem, but just as importantly it connects your devices to each other. The router communicates the wireless signal between your devices and gives each device its own address on your network.

If your home or office is spread out over several floors or square feet, or you have to deal with thick walls, you might have difficulties with Wi-Fi dead spots. Don’t worry! You could try a mesh network (where instead of making one device do all the signaling, a primary router and many smaller satellites or nodes relay the signals with equal power) or use a Powerline setup which uses your electrical wiring.

Securing Your Home or Business Network

When you get your devices connected, you’ll want to secure your network. Taking these simple steps helps protect your personal information and prevent cyberattacks.

First, change the default passwords on your router, and choose something more complex than “123456,” “password,” or anything else easily guessable. You may also want to set up a guest network if the router supports it. This allows visitors to access the Wi-Fi without you having to share access to your main network.

Also, rename your Wi-Fi network so that it isn’t obvious that it’s your premises or what broadband router type you have. For example, if you live at 920 Hassell Place, you wouldn’t name it 920Hassell. Or, if you’ve got, for example, a BT router, don’t leave it with the name it came with as it’s a starting point for anyone trying to get into your network – don’t make it easy for someone trying to target you to identify which network they are trying to hack.

For business networks, there are other considerations too, but the above is a good starting point.

You like using all your devices, but getting them all networked seems like a headache. Still, once you have a network set up, you’ll wonder why you waited so long.

We can help you get all your devices playing together nicely and securely. Contact us today on 01455 209505!

Do Macs Get Viruses?

Do Macs get viruses?

Many Apple owners believe their Macintosh computers are immune to viruses. Apple itself has run ad campaigns promising its computers “don’t get viruses” and those who have owned a Mac for years, decades even, are particularly prone to believing. Regrettably, Macs do get viruses, and the threat is growing.

For a long time the argument was that cybercriminals didn’t bother to develop Mac viruses. There weren’t enough users to justify the effort. Instead, they’d focus on the lower hanging fruit – PCs running Windows.

Yet Apple’s market share is on the rise, and it’s increasingly common to see Macs in the workplace, especially in creative industries. Plus, there’s a widespread assumption that Mac users are likely to be better off. So, while Macs remain harder to infect (installing most software requires a password), there’s often a greater payoff.

The research reflects the reality. In 2017, for instance, the iPhone OS and Mac OS X placed #3 and #6 in CVE Details’ top 50 ranked by total number of distinct vulnerabilities. Apple TV and Safari also made the list at #17 and #18, respectively.

In 2017, Malwarebytes also reported it “saw more Mac malware in 2017 than in any previous year”. By the end of 2017, the cybersecurity firm had counted 270% more unique threats on the Mac platform than in 2016.

Finding Apple’s Weak Spots

It’s obvious then that the bad guys are no longer steering clear. They are actively looking for ways to exploit Macs.

A common approach is to use Trojans. Named after a gift wooden horse that hid an army, Trojans look like something you would want to install. So, Mac users happily enter their passwords to download that application and open the gates to the cybercriminal.

In 2011, for instance, a Trojan called “Mac Defender” took advantage of people’s desire to protect their computers. The fake program appeared to be anti-virus software. Once the users installed it, they’d get an onslaught of pop-up ads encouraging them to buy more fake software.

Trojans get through the gates because you let your guard down. You are taken in by that supposed note from a long-lost friend. You think you want to see that pic of that famous celebrity. All it takes to stop this type of attack is suspicion of everything you might install or download.

Everyone, particularly businesses would want to educate its people about the importance of:

• clicking on emails with care;
• validating the source of any files they plan to open;
• checking a website’s URL (being especially wary of those with less common endings such as .cc or .co);
• questioning any promises of Ray-Ban sunglasses for 90% off or the latest iPhone for $129.99!

The Mac App Store threat

A new threat comes from within the Mac App Store, according to Thomas Reed, a Mac security researcher. When a user tries to install an app on a Mac, a Mac OS program called Gatekeeper checks the file’s code signature. The signature helps certify the app is valid.

However, Reed found that cybercriminals could buy a legitimate certificate from Apple, or steal one and trick users. Users would install masked malware that could infect legitimate programs and evade detection, so it is vital not to let your guard down.

Bear in Mind

Apple is always working to protect its users from malware. It has measures in place and user caution can make a big difference, too. Still, it’s not true that Macs are completely safe and you should not fall into a false sense of security.

Find out what you can do to protect your Macs and guard against threats. Call us today on 01455 209505.

Looking After Your External Hard Drive

Looking after External Hard Drives

Despite its many advantages, many people still do not use ‘Cloud’ storage as they prefer to use external hard drives that they keep in their home or office. External hard drives free up storage, offer portability, and provide a lifeline in case of computer disaster.

If you are still using external hard drives, it pays to take good care of these compact, convenient devices. Here are some helpful tips.

Don’t knock the drive.

Depending on the type of drive you have, impact could damage it. The hard drive’s mechanical drives work a little like a record player – a bit like spinning platter and a needle arm reading it.

Note, you don’t have to worry about this with a Solid State Drive (SSD) as there are no moving parts.

Don’t pull.

You can damage the drive port with a hard or sideways yank on its USB plug. Remove the device cable with a gentle pull on the plug itself (after ejecting it first).

Then, when you are reconnecting the external drive, inspect the connector before plugging the cable back in. Look for any damage, debris, or corrosion to help maximize the device’s lifespan.

Don’t skip steps.

You may be in a hurry, but always take the time to remove the hard drive from your desktop before physically unplugging it. On Windows, you’ll usually right click on the drive and press Eject. For Macs, you can drag the drive icon to the recycle bin (which changes to an eject button).

Never unplug the drive while moving data to or from the hard drive unless you want to risk data corruption.

Don’t suffocate the drive.

Ever put your hand on the hard drive after prolonged use? It’s hot. Don’t immediately store it away in a bag or tight space. Give it some time to cool off first.

When it’s out, and in use, keep the drive’s vents clear of other objects so that it has some airflow. Set it on a flat, level surface. Avoid placing it on paper, towels, or other cloth items that could add to its heat levels.

Condensation.

Condensation is an enemy to your hard drive. Hard drive failures can be caused by environmental factors such as temperature and air quality too.

Don’t expect immortality or invincibility.

A hard drive isn’t going to last forever. They can also get lost or stolen. Don’t let one external hard drive be the only place you are backing up your data.

If you want to guarantee that your data is safe, have a backup on your computer, on the drive, and if possible, a copy in the Cloud.

If you need help deciding on the best hard drive for your needs, give us a call on 01455 209505.

What is the Best Way to Backup?

What is the best way to Backup?

“That will never happen to me”. We get through our lives telling ourselves the worst won’t happen to us, but we have seen the impact when customers call us in after losing their important data – such as photos and documents. So, what’s the best way to backup?

Approaches to Backup

There are several off-the-shelf backup options you can use. Let’s consider the pros and cons of the most popular ones.

USB Thumb Drives

Also known as “flash drives,” “pen drives,” or “memory sticks,” these thumb-sized devices are compact and portable. But, they have size limitations compared to hard drives. Also, the mobility makes them easy to lose (which can actually set the disaster scenario in motion).

Additionally, a USB thumb drive is robust when not plugged in, but more vulnerable when attached. If someone inadvertently snaps the drive or employs too much force, they can put the data on that backup at risk. Also, as with all electronic devices, they can sometimes fail.

The cheap ones also tend to be slow, which can make backing up sluggish.

USB Hard Drives

Portable hard drives increase the data storage available, often at a decent price. They are designed to be compact and mobile. You can prioritize durability, processing speed, storage volumes and more.

Hard drives are less likely to get damaged than a thumb drive. If knocked or jostled, the cables are flexible. Still, a hard drive can also be prone to physical failure. Selecting an external solid state drive (SSD) can help since it has no moving parts. Information is stored instead in microchips.

Cloud Storage

Backing up to the cloud stores data on an external, secure server. If thieves take your computers and USB backup, you can still access your data on the cloud. Cloud storage providers build in redundancy (multiple copies) to ensure your backup remains safe.

Most cloud storage services back up to secure centres with thousands of servers storing data. They’ll have their own server backups too, just in case they’re the ones hit by a disaster. The providers also encrypt data during transit to further ensure compliance and security.

Migrating to a third-party cloud storage service also cuts the clutter at your home or office. You can count on expert help to ensure security and compliance, plus, you can cut operational costs by offloading in-house storage or external hard drive expenses.

What’s the Best Answer?

Don’t think disaster won’t strike. Research has found data loss and downtime are most often caused by:

• Hardware failures (45% of total unplanned downtime)
• Loss of power (35%)
• Software failure (34%)
• Data corruption (24%)
• External security breaches (23%)
• Accidental user error (20%).

We recommend the 3-2-1 backup strategy. This means having 3 copies of your data. Two (2) of these would be located on different devices (e.g. on your computer and on a backup drive). The other remaining backup copy (1) would be secured offsite, in the cloud.

Want to secure your data for the worst? Give us a call on 01455 209505.

Protecting Your Customers and Your Business Too

Protecting your Customers Information

Security and privacy are at the very top of priorities when considering business IT. Major data leaks are in mainstream news on a near-daily basis and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of customers are impacted every time they happen. The goal should be to make sure our businesses are kept out of danger.

Major institutions, such as multi-national banks and credit card companies, are expected to handle your data well. Unfortunately, less secured businesses require access to our data too.

Even just booking into a hotel often requires you to leave personal details. These few pieces of information are often more than enough to steal your identity, start a line of credit, and access many of your vital services. You can often only hope your chosen hotel handles your information as well as your bank does.

Securing Your Business with Smarter Thinking

There is no way to change how your favourite hotel service operates, but you can affect your own business to improve its security for your customers.

You don’t need the manpower or funding of a major banking chain to handle data securely. With simple tweaks and powerful changes, you can minimize the chances of your business suffering a data breach big enough close your doors for good.

By stepping up IT security to meet modern threats, you can help to limit your liability, put customer’s minds at ease and give your firm a competitive advantage.

Limit Your Data Collection

The single most important thing to consider when securing your business is how much data do you really need to hold anyway? Carefully consider the value of every piece of personal information you collect in any given transaction. Do you have a use for everything you ask for?

Emails, addresses, and contact numbers are useful for receipts and marketing, but additional data many firms collect is often useless and wasteful. Each piece of unnecessary data you hold represents additional value to hackers and thieves. While you may be unable to use your own stored data, hackers will find great value in gathering more personal information. This increases your liability without adding any extra value.

Clearly, the recent GDPR regulations also apply, so it isn’t just good practice to run through the details that you keep.

Consider Your Access Requirements

Think carefully about who has access to information within your business and precisely why they need to access it. Often security problems begin when employees have blanket privileges to access everything within the firm.

Access restrictions should be specific to the company structure. Employees should be limited to only what is strictly required for their role. Managers, for example, are likely to need systems that their junior staff cannot access.

Physical access restrictions are critical too. Unattended computers and mobile devices should require a password or identity verification to log on – preferably without other people knowing the password or leaving the password on a post-it note!

Treating Data with Care

The way you treat your data in day-to-day business reflects the impact hackers or IT disaster will have on your business when it is lost. Do you know where your backups are, and when they were last tested?

Firms often first know they are in trouble when they realize all their data is stored on a business laptop or device that could be easily lost or stolen. Some firms maintain backups on USB drives or shuttle a portable hard drive between home and work.

Protecting your customers and your business is all about the smart application of IT knowledge in a cost-effective and efficient way.

We can help you to protect the most valuable assets your business owns – data. Call us on 01455 209505.

OK Google, How Safe Are You Really?

OK Google, How Safe Are You Really?

Are you prompting Siri, Google, or Alexa? When you talk a home assistant, you join a growing number of smart homes.

Smart home assistants search online, start phone calls, order groceries, play music, turn lights on. All with a single spoken command.

Research into how people use Google or Alexa demonstrates the core features. Listening to music ranked first. Checking weather and asking for general information rounded out the top three. Setting timers and reminders, asking for the news or jokes (perhaps to make up for the news?) are also common.

Yet, the question remains, just how safe are these virtual assistants? After all, having a smart speaker in your home means there is always an open microphone in your house.

Smart Speaker and Home Assistant Safety Concerns

The convenience of the speaker demands that it always be on, ready and waiting for you to say “Hey Siri” or “OK Google.” Once triggered the device records the command, sends the data to servers for processing, and figures out its response.

Smart speaker users can log in to view the history of queries on their accounts. This prompts some concerns that these mega-companies will use the information for financial gain. For example, those talking about an overseas holiday might start seeing related ads on their computers.

Someone hacking into the home assistant to gain access to your personal information is another concern. Those who set smart speakers as a hub for many devices also create more points of vulnerability.

It’s difficult to anticipate all the ways the assistant could prove to be too good a listener. In one case, a voice assistant recorded a private conversation and sent it to the couple’s contacts list.

Steps to Stay Secure with a Smart Speaker

That candid conversation aside, few big privacy issues or personal data breaches have been reported – so far. Nevertheless, if taking advantage of Alexa, Siri, or Google helper, keep these strategies in mind.

1. Clear your history. Don’t leave everything you’ve ever asked it stored on the company server. The assistant will relearn your commands quickly.
2. Connect with caution. It’s great to be able to turn on the TV and dim the lights without leaving the comfort of your sofa. Be wary of connecting security or surveillance devices to your home assistant.
3. Mute the microphone. Yes, it undermines your ability to call from the closet “OK, Google, what’s the weather like today?” But, turning off the mic when it’s not in use stops recording without you knowing about it. Yes, the microphone may still be powered up, but you can expressly mute it.
4. Secure your network. Home assistants do their work by connecting to the Internet using your network. Ensure they are accessing a password protected network. They should use devices (e.g. routers) changed from default password settings – unfortunately, most people just use that default setting and it leaves your network open to outsiders with the knowledge to be able to get into it.
With a little effort you can gain convenience without worry.

Want more questions answered about setting up a smart speaker to be safe and reliable? We’re here to help. Give us a call on 01455 209505.

Is There A Safe Way to Use the Cloud?

Is There A Safe Way to Use the Cloud

Cloud technology has grown to new heights in recent years. Ten years ago ‘the cloud’ was jargon almost nobody was aware of, today it is a phrase used almost daily – after all its available even on your smartphone. More and more homes and businesses today are taking advantage of the huge benefits cloud services have to offer.

The sudden and widespread adoption of this new technology has raised questions too. Some want to fully understand what the cloud is before committing their vital data to it. Most want to find out what the cloud can do for them. Everyone wants to know, is it safe?

What Is The Cloud?

The Cloud is an abstract name for an engineering principle that allows you to store, retrieve, and work on your data without worrying about the specifics of having and maintaining it on your premises. Storing your data on the cloud essentially means saving it on a secure server without worrying about the fine details or costs.

Your data may be stored on a single computer, or distributed across multiple servers held at secure data centres all around the world. Most often it’s stored across one or more data centres as close as possible to your physical location.

From the perspective of the end user, the big idea behind the cloud is that where data is stored ultimately doesn’t matter to you. Your cloud server takes care of retrieving your data as quickly and efficiently as possible, whilst keeping it safe and secure.

With cloud technology, you are free to forget about the specifics and worry only about the bigger picture.

Security In The Cloud

Many people are concerned by the idea of their confidential data being distributed somewhere else. Often, people imagine small unguarded computers being responsible for vital company information. In a cloud setting, almost nothing could be further from the truth.

A modern data centre is many times more secure than an office server in your own building. The difference could be compared to storing your cash in a highly secured bank vault versus a locked box on your desk.

The reality is more like many hundreds, or thousands, of computers are stacked up multiple stories in height. Data centres make storing and securing data their entire business, meaning they employ high-level cybersecurity and back it up with top of the line physical security too, including Bio-Security measures.

Today, digital assets are treated with security previously used only for cash, or precious metals such as silver and gold. Walled compounds, security gates, guards, and CCTV protect physical servers from unwanted access. Redundant power supplies even protect services against unplanned power outages.

State of the art digital security encrypts data, secures transmission, and monitors services for intrusion too.

Cloud Convenience

Storing data in the cloud means having easy access and very regular backups. People can work on documents at the same time, save files, and transfer documents without worrying about redundant copies and saving over previous versions.

The cloud acts as the ultimate productivity and security tool. Many firms haven’t known they needed it until they started using it.

User Security

The most significant threat to your cloud security comes from the users. Creating a weak password or reusing an old one to access your cloud services, opens up your data to easy access by hackers.

Falling for a phishing scam, or accidentally installing malicious software on your computer gives attackers the single opportunity they need to strike.

And of course, keeping your password on a post-it note is unfortunately an all too common thing.

Attacking a fortified, secure data centre is almost impossible. Targetting a user with common attacks and weak passwords is comparatively simple. These issues can be guarded against and prevented with training, awareness, and simple security tools. A simple password manager can guard against a large number of the biggest threats to your data.

Protection from Ransomware

Some cloud providers give added protection by having multiple backups of your data. Not only does this make sure that your data is always available, it also allows some providers to simply delete any ransomware-infected data and replace it with clean data – so you don’t have to pay hundreds of pounds to get your data unencrypted.

In today’s modern tech environment, the cloud is not only safe, it’s very likely the safest, most reliable, and most secure way to store your critical data.

We offer a variety of cloud services to help you, whether at home or a business. Give us a call on 01455 209505.

Has Your Email Been Hijacked?

Has Your Email been Hijacked?

A common problem found by some customers in recent months has been spam emails appearing to come from their own accounts.  Despite not knowing why, there are reports of friends, family, and contacts receiving spam email that appears to come from them and this has understandably worried many people.

Some have had their accounts suspended or shut down by their service providers as a result.  For many, this experience can be highly disruptive as well as worrying. It’s a problem that can cause many issues in both your professional and personal life.

The key to defence is learning how these attacks happen, and figuring out what you can do to protect yourself and your contacts against them.

Hackers Using Your Email Against You

Scammers that send out spam messages are continually looking for ways to make the process faster, cheaper, and more efficient. It’s the best way in which they can make more money every day by scamming unsuspecting victims for even more cash.

One of the most efficient ways they do this is by hijacking ready-made, trusted email accounts like your own. Hackers have several tools at their disposal to attempt to hijack your accounts.

Unfortunately some of the things which make emailing fast and easy to use, means that details such as those in the ‘From’ field, are easy to fake. A hacker might change the ‘From’ information to make it appear as if the email comes from anyone, simply by creating an account in that name in an email program – the details of the real sender are usually hidden away in something called an email header.

Defending yourself against this kind of misuse is difficult but you can help yourself by being cautious and if you believe something to be out of place, such as a strange ‘Subject’ title or attachment, you can try to verify that an email, even one you expect to receive, does come from the person that you believe it to be from. If you have any doubt, give them a quick call to verify – if their emails have been hacked, then they will appreciate the warning.

If your email provider flags up an incoming email as ‘suspicious’, or ‘untrustworthy’, it may well be.

Stolen Credentials

Hackers often buy large bundles of email addresses and passwords from the dark web. Leaked emails are often put up for sale following hacks of major companies and service providers (for example see previous Blog post here).

The value of these details comes from the fact that most passwords are unlikely to have been changed, the details attached to them are trusted, and often get hackers access to additional services too.

It is unlikely that you will know about every single hack incident that happens to a company that you use, so change passwords regularly.

How To Detect an Email Intrusion

It can take a long time before you’re aware that malicious hackers are using your details. You might even be the last person in your contacts to know.

The first sign to look out for is a large number of unexpected emails in your Inbox. These are likely to be replies to emails you never sent in the first place. Out of office, automatic responses, people complaining about spam, and people responding to the email as if it were genuine may all come to you first.

Keep a close eye on unexpected emails appearing suddenly in your Outbox. A hacker may be ‘spear-phishing’ (pretending to be from a trusted source) to someone that you do business with or trust. By acting as you, using your address and details, they may be able to divert payments or confidential information to their accounts instead.

A typical example is a business that receives an email from another business, stating that their bank details have changed and to make payments using the new bank details. Whenever you get an email like this, then always verify with the sender.

Do bear in mind that extra emails in your Inbox or Outbox do not happen every time, so the absence of these emails does not mean that you can relax your cautious approach.

Protecting Yourself Against Hackers, Attackers, And Hijackers

Sometimes your computer might have been compromised to give hackers access to your services, or malicious software may have infected your machine to steal data and infect your contacts. So in the first instance, use a good (and preferably not just a free version) of an Internet Security program.

Take extra care to change your passwords if you believe your email has or may have been accessed by hacker. Use a different, more secure password for your email than you do for every other service, such as using a mixture of capitals, numbers and special characters. Your email account is often the key to accessing many of the services you use most, so you need to protect it as much as you can.

Run a virus scan and maintain security updates. If you think your computer could have been infected, have your machine and services looked at by a professional if you believe there is a risk that your data is being used.

Business Email Users can Authenticate their own Email

If you have your own email service, you can enable various email authentication methods such as SPF, DKIM and DMARC which are ways that your genuine emails can verify that they are genuine – helping to make it more difficult for someone to pretend that they are you. It also has the added benefit that it helps you pass through spam filtering.

Unfortunately, some email services (especially at the cheaper end of the market) don’t check for these authentications, so you do need to be a little bit choosy about which email service you use.

If you think your email could have been hijacked, or your details used elsewhere, give us a call on 01455 209505.