December is a busy time of year for everyone, and for hackers it’s no different.
Large and small organisations alike need to take steps to protect themselves from cyber security threats, and so do individuals!
Here’s three tips to stay safe online over the holiday season
Tip 1: Get the Right Anti-Malware For your Needs
We all know about the dangers of malware. Short for ‘malicious software’ malware can affect any computer, anywhere. 2017 saw one of the largest malware attacks in history. But it was just one among many. Malware like the Andromeda botnet is responsible for millions of attacks across the globe, and political advertisements on social medial like Facebook were also shown to be harbouring malicious software. That makes up-to-date anti-virus and strong firewalls are a must for personal users and businesses of any size. Services like cloud anti-virus products, or a website malware scanner, can help protect companies and bloggers alike defend and recover from malware attacks to their websites. Computers in every environment should always have the latest protection in place to deal with threats that are constantly evolving.
Tip 2: Stay Alert for Impersonation Attacks
Cyber criminals are aware of our preoccupation with malware and the security challenges it poses. Many hackers are switching to impersonation attacks that let them bypass security systems. Impersonation attacks frequently come from social media and email, they rely on duping recipients into clicking a link and entering private and financial data. These attacks have been on the rise and are especially prevalent during the rush of the Christmas season.
In light of an Australia Post scam uncovered by security firm Mail Guard earlier this week, Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission issued a warning to businesses and consumers alike. Be wary of clicking email links during the holiday season.
Tip 3: Be Aware of DDoS Risks
DDoS attacks work by using multiple computers to flood a target IP address. Enough requests for access and data packets sent will overwhelm the target IP’s network. Attackers usually do this by using a botnet, a group of infected computers that allow attackers to control the infected device and initiate traffic on their network. Botnets have become so common, attackers can now literally rent one out to carry out a successful attack with hardly any specialized knowledge of technical ability required.
Generally, DDoS is a problem for business, government and corporate entities rather than the home user, but one of the notable exceptions to this is gamers.
Obviously if gaming servers are victims of DDoS attacks, the game becomes unavailable to gamers. In 2016, hackers took down video game developer Blizzard’s servers, including the servers hosting their popular shooter Overwatch.
But there are additional risks. Gamers can also have their machines hijacked for use in a DDoS attack, without them being any the wiser. Or they could even become victim of an attack themselves. Third-voice chat programs are one of the most notorious weak points for attackers searching for your IP address. When using voice chat, follow basic security practices. Keep your program updated with the latest patches and lockdown your settings so you only receive calls and requests from players on your friends list.
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