South African seniors are being targeted by
cyber-extortionists, online trolls and scammers.
What can we do about this?
Cyber-extortion, ransomware, email ransom – previously uncommon terminology in the world of us mere mortals. Generally associated and commonly thought of affecting large enterprises such as financial institutions, government departments such as the US National Security Agency and the UK’s National Health Service as well as huge conglomerates.
The Internet is probably the most amazing thing ever invented, but in spite of the countless benefits it offers, it seems to bring out the very worst in people. And now, South African seniors are being targeted by extortionists, online trolls and scammers. A relatively new online trend which appears to be gaining traction is cyber-extortion and the last year has brought about a marked rise in sophistication and the proliferation of cyber-extortion tools. The cyber threat landscape is murkier than ever.
Simply put, cyber-extortion is when someone online threatens you unless you meet their demands. The demand is commonly for money, and often in the form of bitcoins, but extortionists have been known to demand just about anything.
You’ve Earned It received this mail from a YEI member, Peter Horsfield, from Durbanville:
My computer system has been hacked by someone claiming to be a member of an “international hacking organisation”. He demands that I pay US$700 (using bitcoins) within 24 hours failing which he will send “compromising, salacious, pornographic” images to everyone listed in my Address Book / Contact List. Clearly, I am not going to submit to his attempt at extortion. I hope with non-payment the matter will die a natural death. If he indeed carries out his threat, and you receive obscene mails, please accept my humble apologies for being drawn into this unsavoury matter simply by virtue of your name being in my Address Book.
YEI asked a computer specialist and SAPs to respond, and come up with advice for South African seniors. And respond they did, very rapidly.
Chris Venter, Managing Member of Superior Support had this to say:
Antivirus is NOT good enough anymore
- Antivirus only protects against viruses, not spyware, malware or ransomware.
- You need to use a PAID version of Internet Security or End Point Protection because they have the added components to protect the user from these new threats. We recommend ESET EndPoint Protection.
- A Free product will NEVER stand up against a paid product because the manufacturer removes components to make it free….
Scams are the new norm
- There are so many scams out there, it’s almost impossible to tell you about them.
- Speak to your IT support specialist when you get an email that’s not right or suspicious. Check before you act.
- NEVER respond to a threat.
Updates are non-negotiable
- Make sure your system has all the required Microsoft Updates installed. These updates are there to fix issues that have been identified and close the loopholes that have been exposed.
- Make sure your system is not outdated, Microsoft only provides updates for Windows 7 onwards, and office 2010 onwards.
- Make sure your system has all the latest security updates installed (referring to the Antivirus / Internet Security / EndPoint protection application), you need the latest updates to protect against the latest threats…..
Have your system checked
- Have your IT specialist check your system every 6 months to make sure you are still protected. When you need financial help, you speak to people in that game.
- Either school yourself in IT security, or develop a relationship with someone who is a specialist.
- Remember that the IT industry changes faster than any other industry ever has.
Chris explains online security like this:
- Imagine your house.
- End Point Protection compares to the burglar bars over the windows.
- Microsoft Windows Updates secures the back door.
- And the user is protecting the front door.
- End Point Protection without Microsoft Windows Updates is useless, why would the burglar break in at the windows if the back door is open????
- End Point Protection with Microsoft Windows Updates is useless if the user does the wrong thing
- Speak to your IT person about funnies and suspicious things.
- At the end of the day, have a relationship with an IT specialist, and speak to that person when you have queries / issues.
SAPS had this to say:
Cybercrime is a fast-growing area of crime. More and more criminals are exploiting the speed, convenience and anonymity of the Internet to commit a diverse range of criminal activities that know no borders, either physical or virtual.
These crimes can be divided into the following three broad areas:
- Attacks against computer hardware and software, for example, botnets, malware and network intrusion
- Financial crimes and corruption, such as online fraud, penetration of online financial services and phishing
- Abuse in the form of grooming or ‘sexploitation’, especially crimes against children
Click here to read the SAPS top 10 cybercrime prevention tips
Chris Venter, IT Solutions/Superior Support
SAPS Marketing Department
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