Over the past few years we have heard more and more about cyber-crime and the threats it poses in the 21st Century. However, to the majority of people and certainly those of us working outside of IT departments, little is known about this ‘global threat’.
According to the dictionary ‘cyber’ is defined as relating to information technology, the internet and virtual reality. Meanwhile ‘Cyberspace’ refers to the virtual computer world, and more specifically, is an electronic medium used to form a global computer network to facilitate online communication. It is a large computer network made up of many worldwide computer networks in communication and data exchange activities.
This threat was recognised in the UK when, in 2010, the National Security Council announced that hostile attacks upon UK cyberspace would be considered a Tier 1 threat to national security, along with International Terrorism, natural disasters and International Military crisis. Further information regarding the UK Security Cyber Strategy can be found at:
Every time we use a smart phone, home computer, lap-top, email or social networking sites we are entering cyberspace and as such opening ourselves to threats from crime. Some of the techniques utilised in cyber attacks are:
• ‘Social Engineering’ – whereby hackers
trick us into offering them access to
information and data. Terms such as
‘Phishing’, ‘Whaling’ and ‘Smishing’ cover these. Examples are fraudulent emails asking for passwords, or credit card information, or instructions to download a certain program (normally to answer a false invoice you were sent previously), which then gives the
criminals access to your phone/ computer.
• ‘Malware’ – whereby hackers disrupt
communication systems through attacks
using malicious software such as ‘viruses’
and ‘worms’, etc.
• ‘Local/Physical Access’ – whereby hackers breach our security by stealing passwords written down/stored in wallets or diaries etc. Mobile Phones and Lap Tops stolen with important data and insufficient security credentials such as a strong password.
• ‘Network Attack’ – whereby hackers will try and gather passwords and other
sensitive information by setting up
malicious websites, breaking into Wi-Fi
networks or disguising malicious software which we then download in good faith.
How can we increase our protection against these threats?
• Ensure credentials such as username,
passwords etc. are not stored with a device, such a lap top or mobile phone, as they are open to theft or tampering
• When using a device in open spaces
beware of being overlooked i.e. tailgating
• Minimise the amount of information
stored on a device
• Change passwords on a regular basis
and do not use the same password for all
• Take care before opening an email
where you do not recognise the sender or the email starts with Dear Sir/ Madam rather than your name
• Beware of emails/calls asking you to
give information such as account numbers, passwords, etc.
• Follow the router manufacturer
instructions for securing your home based Wi-Fi networks
• Turn off your router when you are away
to deter possible hacking attempts
There are various websites to guide us on protection including:
CRIME IN PROGRESS: RING 999
NON-URGENT ISSUES: RING 101
(if you observe suspicious activity)
CRIMESTOPPERS: 0800 555 111