Showing posts with label Security. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Security. Show all posts

As you're hunting around in search of bargains online, a number of scams, tricks, and general dangers lie in wait for the unwary shopper. Fear not, though, as we're here to explain how to stay safe. 

Tip 1: Use common sense

We all love to save money, but criminals know this all too well and use our frugality as a classic scam to part us from our cash. No doubt your inbox is overflowing with emails from companies offering deals and discounts for a variety of products. Many of these will be genuine, but the general rule of thumb online - as in life - is that if something seems too good to be true, the chances are that’s probably the case.

You might see sensational deals for cheap products advertised on Facebook or by email. People you know might have shared these offers with you. Just be sure to check out the website and satisfy yourself that it is a genuine company which won't just take your money and run. Recently we saw ads for electric bikes at unbelievable prices under £100.
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Sure enough, when we looked at the website, the bikes had no descriptions or specifications and we couldn't find a company address on the 'About us' page. All red flags which should alert you to a scam.

If the email is from a reputable site, simply navigate to the site yourself in a web browser and the deal should be available. Criminals sometimes set up sites that look exactly the same as the one you’re expecting (at least for a page or two anyway) and it can be an easy mistake to log in, then get a nasty surprise when you don't receive the goods or your bank account is emptied.

Tip 2: Use well-known websites and security software

For the reasons above, it's a good idea to stick to using websites for companies you know. Amazon, John Lewis, Argos: you get the idea. We'd even spend a few quid more on a product from a company with a no-quibble icy.

Even if you're using a well-known brand, we also recommend you install some antivirus software which includes a website checker that will give you the green light that tells you the site is secure and safe.

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And if you're using a smaller online retailer you've never heard of, Cath Goulding, Head of Information security at Nominet says, “…rather than shopping via a link to a website through receive, open a new window and visit the retailer through a reputable search engine instead. This could help you avoid falling victim to any emails scams by clicking on unscrupulous links to copycat pages.”

“Also, be wary of websites that have errors, odd domain names or a lack of contact details,” says Goulding.

It might seem harsh, especially for enterprising small businesses, but our advice is simply to shop on sites that you know to be reputable - or at least an ongoing concern - rather than take a chance on an obscure outlet that might be gone tomorrow.

Tip 3: Check before you checkout

Jon Callas, CTO of security solutions firm Entrust, warns users not to let their guard down when they hit the online checkout. According to Callas, you need to look out for several things before entering your credit or debit card details into a website.
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"If the site has an EV (extended validation) certificate the address bar will be green and the business name will be readily visible," he said. This means that the site has met a specific set of security guidelines which are independently verified, and that the site can be trusted.

Secure Sockets Layers (SSL) are used to ensure data is encrypted before being transmitted across the web and also indicate an organisation has been verified. Callas says potential purchasers should keep an eye out for https in the address bar rather than just the standard http, as this highlights a site uses SSL.

You should also look out for the padlock icon somewhere in or near the address bar, which is one of the main security features of basic SSL.

"Depending on what browser you use, it might be on the address bar or somewhere else like the title bar. But if you click on it, you will see security information about the site you're on," he said.

Furthermore, respectable organisations will display the site seal of their SSL certificate provider either on their home page or during the checkout process. He also recommends clicking on the site seal to ensure it's legitimate. You should also verify that the date and name of the organisation are consistent with the site you're visiting.

Those using public Wi-Fi, especially if it's unsecured, need to be extra careful as "you never know who could be listening", according to Callas.

"Double-check that there's SSL, and that the certification is good. Be extra, extra careful on a public computer; don't do anything financial or involving a password unless you must, as these are easily riddled with malware."

Tip 4: Check delivery times

One of the advantages of going to the high street is that you return with your presents under your arms. Online shopping saves the trip, but means you have to wait for delivery.

Of course, sites such as Amazon offer next day-delivery at a price (or as part of the Amazon Prime service) but you still have to be in to receive them, and delays can happen at Post Offices with the huge amount of mail that goes through the sorting offices, especially at Christmas time.

Always thoroughly check the availability of items before you click Buy, and remember that Amazon also lists products from other companies that might not be based in the UK, so make sure you check that you're buying from Amazon rather than a 'marketplace seller'. Or, make sure that the seller lists a suitable delivery time.

It's similar with ebay. Don't assume the company you're buying from is in the UK, even if their contact page says they are. Many China-based companies put 'UK' or 'London' as their location in order not to put off buyers, but check the delivery estimate and also the seller's recent feedback to see if they can be trusted to deliver your stuff quickly.

Tip 5: Click & Collect

An alternative to delivery is click & collect. Many big-name sites offer this now. For example, you can collect many ebay products from your local Argos store. Amazon has lockers in quite a few places now, so you can collect your items at a suitable time to you, and you can specify where they're delivered to.

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Most supermarkets also let you order online and collect in store, but do watch out for any charges as it isn't always a free service.

Tip 6: Check returns policies

Sometimes you'll need to return an item that doesn’t fit, or find that there's a problem with a present purchased for someone else. So before you buy, check the return period

If you found this tip useful, don't forget to share with your friends and family with the share button on the bottom right of this page.

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Criminals set their sights high in 2017, leading to the theft of personal information for millions and serious financial losses. Here are the attacks that wreaked the most havoc.

Unfortunately, 2017 has been a major year for data breaches. In the US alone, personal information has been stolen for well over 100 million residents.

Here's a look at what are arguably the most damaging hacks and data breaches of 2017 so far. And while they happened in 2017, their effect will likely be felt well into 2018 and beyond.


On May 12, 2017, the WannaCry cryptoworm began propagating, demanding a ransom from victims in order to regain access to their files. The original version of WannaCry propagated for three days before a kill switch was found by security researcher Marcus Hutchins. In that time, thousands of organizations including FedEx, the UK's NHS, telecoms Telefónica and Megafon, and others were affected.

WannaCry and its variants utilize a pair of exploits called EternalBlue and DoublePulsar, which were released by an organization called "The Shadow Brokers" on April 14. The exploits were originally developed by the NSA Office of Tailored Access Operations and CIA Information Operations Center. An analysis by GCHQ's cybersecurity arm identified the authors of WannaCry as the North Korea-connected Lazarus Group, which was also responsible for the 2014 Sony Pictures hack.

Though the exploits leveraged by WannaCry have been patched by Microsoft, further variants without the aforementioned killswitch continue to propagate across the internet, targeting systems which haven't yet been patched.

petya (or NotPetya)

While the original Petya actually surfaced in 2016, the 2017 version identified as "NotPetya" by Kaspersky Lab was used to target organizations in Ukraine. The NotPetya variant was propagated through the software update mechanism of the accounting software MeDoc. Like WannaCry, NotPetya also uses the EternalBlue vulnerability to propagate through local networks. This software is used by about 400,000 firms in Ukraine, which is about 90% of Ukrainian domestic firms, according to the BBC. Among these, several Ukrainian banks, state-owned organizations, and transportation systems were affected.

In contrast to earlier ransomware attacks, NotPetya encrypts not just the MBR of a given disk, but also encrypts individual files, as well as overwrites files, making recovery impossible. Also, the comparatively cheap ransom which NotPetya demands, combined with the single Bitcoin wallet victims are instructed to use, suggests that the aim of NotPetya was to inflict damage, rather than purely generate a profit.

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Due to the nature of credit reporting agencies—in which companies create dossiers on individuals without their consent—these organizations are a large target for criminals looking for a one-stop shop to harvest personally identifying information (PII) on tens of millions of people at once. Equifax announced in September that their systems had been hacked, potentially impacting 145.5 million Americans. International divisions of Equifax were also affected, leaving 15.2 million residents of the UK vulnerable, as well as at least 19,000 Canadians, according to the company.

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Though it's still unclear, hackers appear to have exploited a vulnerability in Apache Struts on an Equifax server in May—a vulnerability that was patched in March. However, the damage made possible by this vulnerability was made worse by poor security practices, inadequate network segmentation, and a lack of encryption for personally sensitive information. Poor security practices are prevalent throughout the organization, as an admin account with the password "admin" was discovered in Equifax Argentina. As a result of the hack, the CEO, CIO, and CSO of Equifax were replaced in September.


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