For as long as there have been computers there have been hackers trying to get into them, and government departments and large organisations were most often the victims.
These days, however, hacker intrusions are a growing concern for us all, from government departments and large corporations to smaller businesses and individuals. South African’s often consider themselves immune to these kinds of threats but in reality they too should be concerned. An increasing number of South Africans and South African businesses have been targeted over the past couple of years and have lost large sums of money in the process.
The most recent tool hackers are using to get into your system is Ransomware, named because hackers use malware to get into the users system, get hold of their data and block them from accessing it. Hackers then demand a ransom be paid to them for the safe return of the user’s data. Malware is downloaded onto your system in a number of ways, such as from an unsecured website download or the download of an email attachment. Hackers will use current trends to entice users into downloading malware, such as the popular new Star Wars film. Once the malware has been downloaded it will being encrypting the data so that when the user tries to gain access they will be blocked and a message from the hacker will appear on screen. Many times, particularly in the case of organisations or influential individuals hackers threaten to expose confidential information.
South African’s need to be aware of and take these threats more seriously, according to research done by Rick Couch & Associates, 70% of South Africans have fallen victim to cybercrime, as well as 47% of South African smartphone users. These statistics are concerning, particularly as cyber criminals are constantly working to find the most profitable opportunities. It is not enough to just have a standard AV solution installed on your system, users need take more aggressive action to prevent Ransomware attacks.
It is important to realise that it is not only large organisations that are being targeted, individuals have also been targeted in their personal capacity. Studies show that many individuals use Gmail for their personal affairs, often revealing personal details in mail to friends and family. What’s concerning is that people often make their Gmail passwords something easy to remember and consider it unnecessary to make the password highly secure. This is a dangerous misconception, as it makes hacking into such email accounts incredibly easy for cybercriminals, once in they will then be able to intercept conversations and entice users to reveal addresses, passwords, banking details and other personal information.
South African’s need to take these threats seriously and become more proactive in protecting themselves against cyber attacks.