The WannaCry ransomware really lives up to its name as many organizations are affected globally. As the international global cyber attack locks files and cripple systems, many were almost lost in tears. For example, hospitals in the UK and Indonesia, were forced to turn down patients as their systems were unable to process requests or even open databases. The May 2017 attack saw enterprises and organizations being brought down to their knees with the promise of recovering their operations if they pay the hackers in the form of Bitcoin cryptocurrency.
This might not affect us at all but I seriously think we all can learn a thing or two with this WannaCry attack that targeted computers with Microsoft Windows operating system. As computers are becoming more integrated into our lives, it is worth noting that we can take several security precautions while using any applications or online services daily.
Number One. If it is too good to be true, it mostly is.
Until now, I check my spam mailbox once in blue moon to just for the game of 'Who wants to give me money this month?' I believe we have all seen it, a relative of a rich family asking for our help and in return they will give us money. Every time I read these emails, I chuckle a little. Once, I replied to one of the emails, correcting its spelling and sentence structure. Almost straightaway, an email arrived to ask about my banking details. The conversation stopped there since I think, this was too good to be true. I mean there are billions of people in this world, why would this person pick me? There must be a plausible reason for this.
It was almost similar to a random stranger handing us money on the street. For me personally, I need to really understand why this person would want to give me money. Why would a stranger want to give us money without expecting anything in return? And we are not talking single digit but it can be up to six-figures, based on the email I received.
' This is too good to be true. A stranger, through cosmic powers, found my email and wants to give me money.' Imagine, there are about 30mn people in Malaysia, why would this person pick me?
The example above may look far fetch but these tactics have since been refined to take other forms. One of it is Internet love scam. Believe it or not, Singapore's Internet love scams were at a record high in 2016 with 636 cases, a significant increase compared to 2015's 385 cases. Victims lost MYR 75mn, nearly twice the RM 38mn lost in 2015.
So, next time someone approaches us on the Internet to give money, be curious, be vary. Actually, be scared. This will help us.
Number Two. Be vigilant.
Sometimes, we get into auto-pilot mode when using any online services without paying heed to the small traps ahead of us. These traps might be easy to miss like the looking for secured connections when carrying out banking services or any services that require authentication and verification.
For example, if we were to open our email, we would see this on our address bar:
Look out for the https and the green lock for our safety. HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, a communications protocol utilized for secure communication over a computer network with wide implementation on the Internet.
Never open attachments unless we are sure of the content or open links that direct us to another site. Again, be very curious. If we receive an email from our bank that ask for our credentials, go check the bank website or even call them. Be sceptic, especially if we receive an email using a lot of urgent words. Phishing attacks design a website to look almost similar to the original one to obtain our personal information such as password and also credit information.
Never be too trusting when it comes to receiving emails from our banks or even our email providers.
Number Three. Always use a secure connection.
An unsecured WiFi connection may seem convenient at a glance but it surely may lead to disaster. Connecting our mobile devices through an unsecured connection exposes us to network intrusion and data interception. Data exchanged over an unsecured connection is not encrypted since no security encryption is used. Hence, anyone can ‘listen’ to our communication such as the transfer of photo when we are chatting with our friends from the airports. Imagine what would happen to our pictures having fun in Bali if it fall into the hands of a cyber criminal.
A huge risk of utilizing such connection is third parties will be able to intercept data transmitted when we are using services, which need login information. For example, if we log in to our banking account over unsecured connection, a third party can easily obtain our username and password and siphoned off our money.
‘ Who would want to do that to my account?’ Honey, everybody is a target. It can always be us.
So, it is worth noting that we any connect to a secure network. Those money transfers can definitely wait.
These three tips may not be much but I really hope it can be of help when we want to carry out any transactions in the future. Since the topic can be quite vast, why not we settle with this for now and move on to more things next time?