Internet and E-mail Safety (and security)

In this blog, let’s look more closely at internet and e-mail scams and security.

Internet
Knowledge is power – and never truer than when surfing the net. The most common risks are viruses, key-stroke recordings, miscellaneous malware and Trojan horses.

Viruses do the same thing to your computer as they do to us – they make it sick; they can even kill it. Key-stroke recording software is installed by hackers and allows them to record all of your keystrokes with particular attention to usernames and passwords – they love banking, credit card and email access the most. Malware is also malicious as it can take many forms: from tracking your internet use patterns to copying files to a remote computer to erasing key pieces of software. Trojan horses get uploaded and then sit in wait – silently for a triggering date or event and then allow the hackers to take control of your computer and use it for attacking other computers.

The only 100% protection against these threats is don’t surf the net! Now let’s get into reality – hardware and/or software firewalls together with anti-virus and anti-malware software.

Hardware firewalls are called routers and they act as a first line of defence between the internet and your computer and are relatively inexpensive to acquire and are not very complicated to install. Software firewalls are generally a second layer of protection after the hardware firewall. Most reputable commercial ISPs (Internet Service Providers) provide this as part of their customer offering and may reside either on their servers or on your computer.

Anti-virus and anti-malware software is sold by several companies (Norton, AVG, Kasperski, F-secure and MalwareBytes to name but a few). Most suppliers offer free versions of their protection suites but remember if it is free, there is a reason! They are in business to make money and the free versions are teasers only. They do help of course, but don’t provide complete protection, so beware of freebies! Running “in the background” on your computer, they analyse every attempt at both inbound and outbound communication over the internet for suspicious software code and either block or delete access to outsiders. You can control all of these functions through a “control panel” that is installed with this software.

Be very selective on the websites that you visit. Some categories are higher risk for spreading these problems than others – dating sites, erotic picture and video sites together social media are the greatest sources of problems – avoid them!

E-mail
Rule No. 1 – if you don’t know the sender or you didn’t sign up for any e-mail notifications from stores or websites, DON’T OPEN IT! The “Nigeria” scams and grandchild scams are run constantly on e-mail as are Lottery scams of various types.
Rule No. 2 – see Rule No. 1.
Rule No. 3 – ensure you have a full-version of both anti-virus and anti-malware software installed on your computer that gets automatic signature updates – preferably daily – to stop evolving threats. If you follow these 3 rules, you are going to be safe 98% of the time.

The final 2% is chain-mail – the electronic version of old chain-letters – if you get one, regardless of the identity of the sender, do not forward it – even if it is from a close relative or friend – don’t!

General
A great reference book on scams is from the Competition Bureau of Canada – The Little Black Book of Scams – click here to get there immediately. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has a website that is all about various scams and identity theft. Click here – Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre Home Page.

Pay Now or Pay Later: protecting customer data has to be a priority

By Terry Cutler

It is understood in the world of business moving forward without the Internet is an effective way to move backwards, and fall behind the competition who have already taken advantage of the Internet to market and sell their products and services.

It’s a logical move, one that seems easy enough. Create your site, reach out to your customer base and provide a way to pay online. It is fast and easy. It’s a bright light for decision makers who are making the leap in significant ways hoping to cash in.

Billions of dollars can be made.

There is a dark side, one that often surfaces when it is too late and one that is often overlooked. Welcome the unexpected scrupulous hacker to your business, and this person isn’t after your product; he’s hunting for your customer information such as credit card and banking information.

Billions of dollars can be lost.

And the hacker, often called a “black hat” knows something you don’t. Your business is cheap, or in the least do not have the funds when it comes to protecting customer data, and he knows more about your security and can worm and wiggle his way through your security system in ways you could never imagine.

Just how much of a threat is a hacker to a business?

The Ponemon Institute, considered the leading research center dedicated to privacy, data protection and information security, in March of 2011 demonstrated that costs to business being hacked in 2010 reached $214 per compromised record and averaged $7.2 million per data breach event. The costs included customer communication and legal costs, but the real cost is the loss of customer trust and the end of business.

http://www.ponemon.org/about-ponemon

In April of 2011, hackers exposed 93,000 Sony Corp. user accounts. The clean up bill to Sony is estimated to be $2 billion. Sony is also fighting 55 class action lawsuits related to the April breach. Sony’s insurers, Zurich American, are refusing to cover those costs.

http://www.digital-digest.com/news-63085-Insurer-Sues-Sony-Over-PSN-Hack.html

Sony apologized to its users and launched an identity theft protection program that includes a $1 million insurance policy per user. Is it too late? http://www.techspot.com/news/43675-sony-ceo-apologizes-for-hack-offers-free-id-theft-insurance.html

So how do CEOs protect their companies? What every CEO should know, in my next blog.