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Tips from The Business Machine (TBM) in Newmarket, Suffolk: How to keep your computer safe from hackers and cybercriminals




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Imagine going into work one day only to discover that your business has been hacked?

Your files have been removed, bank accounts have been wiped clean and all your sensitive data is in the hands of the cybercriminals.

Staying safe online is paramount as cybercriminals target the internet to commit fraud and scams.
Staying safe online is paramount as cybercriminals target the internet to commit fraud and scams.

Or what about the nightmare scenario of firing up your laptop at home only to discover that it’s been hijacked and personal information is being held to ransom by a hacker?

In this modern age, this is unfortunately a grim reality for many. That’s why it’s so important to stay vigilant.

These great tips from The Business Machine (TBM) will help you stay as protected as possible!

1. Passwords: A good password should be at least 8 characters long and include both upper and lower case letters, numbers, symbols and should not include any words/names related to yourself.

For example your first/last name or year of birth etc. Random words that are easy to remember but wouldn’t normally appear together (for example “HorseBatteryStaple”) or even an abbreviated line of a song/limerick.

You can do almost anything online nowadays. But it can be just as easy for hackers to access your personal information – and with disastrous consequences if they do.
You can do almost anything online nowadays. But it can be just as easy for hackers to access your personal information – and with disastrous consequences if they do.

2. Updates: After Tuesday, January 14 2020, all Windows 7 machines will stop receiving updates from Windows. Meaning that any remaining security defects will not get patched. As Windows 7 is still one of the most popular operating systems, many people would become vulnerable.

3. Anti-Virus/Firewall: Using a full, paid antivirus solution will help protect against incoming attacks.

For example, some anti-virus programs can detect a discovery request, meaning that a hacker would not be able to see that device on a breached network. Free anti-virus typically doesn’t provide or provides very little active protection, so incoming attacks could still occur and not flag up, on the software.

4. Apps/Programs: Everyone loves a good app on their device, but installing them from untrusted sources (any source that isn’t a verified app store), can be a way for malicious code to get inside your PC.

This code can do anything from steal data, to destroy your device. And as it would present itself as something else, as soon as permission to install is given, malicious code can & will run, as you’ve effectively given it permission.

A computer virus is spread via email and can do all kinds of damage, like deleting data or locking your computer so you can no longer access it.
A computer virus is spread via email and can do all kinds of damage, like deleting data or locking your computer so you can no longer access it.

5. Vigilance: Companies like BT never contact customers first via telephone. Similarly, your bank, Paypal, Apple, etc, will never email you and not call you by name. Any emails starting with “Dear Customer” should be treated as suspicious. Especially if you are not expecting it.

Most banks will call you by name and include the last few digits of your account number as proof.

If you are suspicious of an email, do not click any links or download any images from the email, simply delete it. Sometimes, these are genuine, but it is best to have the company follow up, rather than a scammer steal your information.

For your information here is some industry jargon which is often used, but not often explained:

• Malware: Any program/app/email which contains code designed for malicious purposes, is called malware.

• Phishing: When scammers try to lull people into giving out personal information or to trick them into installing malware which will steal their data.

This is typically done through email. A typical phishing attempt will contain malicious links to take certain pieces of data (like your name, email address, IP address, ISP and anything else that can be exploited against you) when you click on it.

Normally, you would be taken to a login screen for whichever service the email is trying to imitate, and when you try to log in, it will display an error.

Are you doing enough to ensure that you're steering clear of hackers and cybercriminals?
Are you doing enough to ensure that you're steering clear of hackers and cybercriminals?

In fact, by signing in, you have submitted your details to the scammers. Scammers also can call you out of the blue, and say you need to pay some money to carry on receiving a service, like the internet.

They will often make up an excuse for you to let them log into your computer and will try and convince you to send them money.

A common way this is done is through a refund scam, failing this, scammers normally get frustrated and will delete your files or critical system files, resulting in your computer crashing/not turning on.

• Refund Scam: The most common way scammers try to steal money. The basic gist is: a scammer will say you are owed a refund and that you need to let them log in to your PC to do it. You will get instructed to log into your bank, and whilst you are logged in, they will distract you and change the numbers on the website to give the impression they have sent you a refund.

Criminals love the internet – it allows them to pry into the lives of the unwary, steal information, and even commit fraud and empty bank accounts.
Criminals love the internet – it allows them to pry into the lives of the unwary, steal information, and even commit fraud and empty bank accounts.

Normally, the refund is something like £200, but they will deliberately type in a much larger number like £500. They will appear flustered, saying they will lose their job unless you send them the remainder (in this case, £300). They will only accept payment through gift cards, so once purchased, you would need to read the code on the card out to them, from there, they have £300 to spend your money.

For more information, visit the official website by clicking here, call 01638 665240 or visit 2 Laureate Paddocks, Newmarket, CB8 0AP.


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