Have You Been Hacked?

Being hacked is the single biggest fear for most computer users. Many people believe the first sign of strange behavior or errors on their PC is a sign of being hacked. But are hackers really inside your machine, roaming around madly and stealing your information? Or should we be on the lookout for other more subtle signs? What does being hacked really look like and what can I do to help prevent it happening?

There is an important distinction to make between being attacked by a hacker and being infected with a virus or malware. Virus software and malware are automated processes designed to damage your system and / or steal your data. There are of course ways that we can defeat these processes, but what if we are instead being hacked and what are some of the signs?

Passwords not working

One of the first steps a hacker might take is to change your computers login passwords. By doing so, not only do they ensure future access to the machine, they prevent you from accessing the system to stop them. For the hacker, this is a crucial step that keeps them in control. With this in mind, we always want to make sure to keep on top of our own login details and how often we change them.

Security notifications from online services

A lot of online services track which device and location you logged into your account from last. If your account is accessed from a new device or a different country it might trigger an automated email or SMS asking if this new login is from you.

If you have just logged into a service from a new computer, tablet, or phone; receiving an email that asks “hey, is this you?” need not be cause for alarm. If you haven’t, it may be time to investigate further. This feature is a very important part of information security and may be a key first step to identify someone else gaining access to your account.

Bank accounts missing money or strange transactions

The end goal for the majority of today’s hackers is typically to profit from their crimes by taking money from people online. As such, it pays to keep a regular eye on your financial transactions to make sure you know what money is coming and going from your account.

You may see a large sum missing where hackers have attempted to take as much as they can in a single transaction. On the other hand unknown or unusual small transactions may be attackers testing the login details they have, to confirm that they work.

Loss of mobile phone or land line connectivity

Phone interruption is a symptom that few people expect but can occur when hackers attack. Many banks and online services use a security feature known as two-factor or multi factor authentication (2FA or MFA). They do this by sending a code to your phone or app when you log in, you then have to enter this code to confirm who you are.

Hackers can try to work around this by calling your phone provider to report your phone as lost or stolen. During this call, they will request your phone number be transferred to a new sim card or redirected to another number that they control. When your bank sends its regular two-factor authentication code to the number registered, it goes instead to the hacker who then can log in. From your perspective the phone service will simply stop working, so if this happens contact your provider ASAP.

Social engineering

Another technique that may not even include a technical method is called social engineering. Social engineering is when hackers try to obtain confidential information by manipulating people to freely give them this information. This can be done in many different ways. Some examples are:

  • A strangers phones your office and may pretend to be a customer or supplier but asks for personal or confidential information.
  • A person claiming to be a supplier contacts you and asks you to change the bank account you send payments to.
  • Some one attends your premises for some reason but you have no prior knowledge of who they are or why they are they are requesting access.
  • Some one phones and claims to be from the technical department of your ISP or maybe even Microsoft and requests remote access to your computer.
  • You receive an email claiming to be from the boss or management asking you to do something which doesn’t seem right – like purchasing iTunes vouchers or asking to authorize payment to a new supplier.

Keeping vigilant and maintaining security

These are only some of the techniques that hackers can try to use to gain access to your systems and accounts. It pays to be extra vigilant and pay close attention to the signs and signals that indicate you may have been hacked. It may als

If you suspect that you might have been hacked, or would like help to prevent hackers in future and are located in South Australia, give us at 08 8326 4364 and we will improve your security.

Why Multi-Factor Authentication is Important

2FA and MFAYou hear about hacks all the time in the news. Major websites have had data leaks and lost their users personal information. Computers get infected and malware saves your login details for bank accounts and credit cards. In the worst cases, identity theft occurs because it is an easy crime to commit and has a high reward.

In the past, passwords could be used to keep the bad guys out of your accounts but a single form of authentication is not enough anymore. Cyber hackers have a variety of methods including phishing, pharming and keylogging to steal your password. Also togdays computers have the power to test billions of password combinations.

To make things worse the majority of people use the same password for several websites. That means anybody who has figured out that password has access to multiple accounts that you own. In a time when it is extremely easy to look up what a persons pet is called or their maiden name is, security questions aren’t much help.

Consider how a bank operates. They don’t simply keep their valuables locked away with one key. There are alarms ready to be triggered, motion detectors and even bars on the windows. Your data is valuable and you need more than one line of defense to protect it.

In the computer world, your second line of defense (after your username and password combination) is called “2-factor authentication” (2FA). Sometimes it is referred to as multiple-step or multi-factor verification (MFA). 2-factor authentication is a way to double check a person’s identity. This can be enabled every time a person logs in or just under certain circumstances. For example, signing in from a new device or different country might trigger 2-factor authentication.

Many of the services you may already use, such as Facebook, Gmail, Office365, Xero Accounting, and more, have 2-factor authentication options. If your bank has ever sent you a special code through text or email to enter before logging in, you have already used a type of 2-factor authentication. They can also be in the form of a app on your phone or a small electronic dongle.

MFA is absolutely crucial for online banking, email, and online shopping such as Amazon or PayPal. It’s also a must-have for cloud storage accounts (like Dropbox or Sync), password managers, communications apps, and productivity apps. This is especially true if you frequently use the same passwords for different websites and apps.

Some may consider MFA unnecessary for social networks accounts, but these are actually very important to keep safe. For ease, a lot of websites and apps allow you to sign up through your Facebook or Twitter account. You need to keep these networks safe so that somebody with your password can not suddenly get into every account you have linked.

The point of using MFA is to make hackers’ lives harder and prevent them from easily getting into your accounts. If they have captured your login username and password, they still need a second method to get in, especially when the computer or phone they are using has never logged into your account before. This makes it much harder for anybody to breach your account.

Plus, if you receive a notification with a special code to enter for logging in (and you weren’t trying to log into that account), you have a good signal that somebody else was trying to get in. That means it’s time to change that password and be grateful you had MFA configured.

It is unfortunate that there is currently an abundance of skilled hackers ready to take advantage of those unprepared. Luckily, you can still stop them – even if they have your login information at hand. MFA is one of the easiest methods to keep your accounts safe.

Give us a call at (08) 8326 4364 or via email on support@dpcomputing.com.au to help secure your business and accounts.

The True and Unexpected Costs of Being Hacked

Security BreechThere are the normal costs everyone associates with a computer breach, like employee downtime and the costs associated with getting your network and computers fixed. But really, most businesses that haven’t been hit with a security incident view it as more of an inconvenience than a bottom-line cost. For those businesses who have come out the other side though, it’s a very different story. They know from firsthand experience that the hidden and ongoing costs of a data breach can be crippling and that IT security exists to protect your business on multiple levels. All those surprise costs that spiral out of control are why most businesses close down after a cyber-attack. Here are a few of the hard, but common cold hard realities of life after a hack.

Raiding the budget to reduce downtime

From the moment a cyber-attack compromises your system, things can get expensive, and the longer the attack goes, the more it costs. Latest statistics reveal most breaches aren’t identified for around 191 days and then it can take on average another 66 days to fix and contain the damage – during this time you are cleaning PCs, mobile devices, laptops, servers and even entire networks. Add to this the fees for IT professionals to fix everything up, the costs for new hardware and software to help prevent future incidents  and all the hours/days/weeks when your business is struggling with downtime, businesses will quickly exhaust any emergency funds they have.

The long arm of the law

Depending on what data was stolen and how you handled the situation, you could be liable for fines into the millions. If medical data or legal files are leaked a particularly messy scenario may occur with fines coming from multiple sources.

New privacy laws also mean businesses are liable for large fines if they don’t disclose a data breach. Where this gets trickier is that the burden is on your business to know exactly what data has been stolen or illegally accessed, so that you can report it before the fines stack up. This means that even if you were able to fix up the systems yourself, you will still need to hire an expert who can identify exactly data what the hackers took or accessed.

Customer retention measures

In a double crush to your bottom line, not only does your business bear the cost of fixing the hack and your future income takes a hit as customers lose trust and leave. To offset this, many businesses need to spend more on advertising and public relations just to ensure they survive to fight another day.

The data breach disclosure may still come up in search results for many years to come. The more negative publicity your breach attracts, the more you’ll need to spend on customer retention.

All your secrets exposed

While you may not have high level secrets to protect, your business does have data that you would like to keep to yourself. Hackers love going after those juicy tidbits, and the more closely you guard them, the more attractive they are. While large corporations would be big enough to keep their competitive edge after the breach, your business success relies on at least some information staying secret (databases, client info, financial records etc).

But simply avoiding a breach doesn’t cost much at all…

The thing is, it’s not expensive to stay on top of it all and keep your business protected. For a low monthly fee, we can reverse the entire scenario and secure your systems against the unknown. That means no need to raid other department budgets in a panic, pay crippling fines and make embarrassing public announcements.

DP Computing can help with making sure your systems have the latest security patches and your anti-virus knows the latest tricks to watch for. Our technicians implemented a firewall or UTM device to build a virtual fortress around your business that keeps the bad guys out while letting you thrive. Whatever your needs are, both now and moving ahead, we’re here to help keep you safe.

Ready to secure your business against breaches? Give us a call on 08 8326 4364 or via email at support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Fake Invoice Attacks Are on the Rise – Here’s How to Spot Them

False Invoice Scam

Businesses around the world are being targeted with a cyber-attack that sends victims a fake invoice that looks real enough to fool to most people. It is based on an old scam that used to see invoices faxed or mailed to the victims and now it has made its way into the digital world and instances are on the rise.

You may have already seen some of the less effective attempts – an email advising your domain is expiring (except it’s not from your host and your domain is nowhere near expiration) or others that describe a product or service you would never have purchased.

The new attacks though are much more advanced as they look completely legitimate and are often from contractors and suppliers you actually use. The logos are correct, spelling and grammar are spot on and they might even refer to actual work or products you regularly use. The senders name may also be the normal contact you deal with at that business as cyber criminals are able to ‘spoof’ real accounts and real people. While it is worrying that they know enough about your business to wear that disguise so well, a successful attack relies on you not knowing what to look for.

Here are two types of invoice attacks you may receive:

1) The Payment Redirect

This style of fake invoice either explicitly states that the payment should be made to a certain account (perhaps with a friendly note listing the new details) or includes a payment link direct to a new account. Your accounts payable person believes they are doing the right thing by resolving the invoice without bothering you and unwittingly sends money to a third party. The problem may not be discovered until an invoice from the real supplier comes in or the transaction is flagged in an audit. Due to the nature of international cyber crime, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to recover the funds even if you catch it quickly.

2) The Malware Link

Rather than an immediate cash grab, this style of attack asks your employee to click a link to download the invoice. The email may even look exactly like the ones normally generated by popular accounting tools like Quickbooks, Xero or MYOB. Once your employee has clicked the link, malware is downloaded to your systems that can trigger ransomware or data breaches. While an up-to-date anti-virus should block the attack at that stage, it’s not always guaranteed (especially with new and undiscovered malware). If it does get through, the malware quickly embeds itself deep into your systems and often remains silent until detected or activated.

How to Stay Safe

Awareness is key to ensuring these types of attacks have no impact on your business. As always, keep your anti-virus, firewalls and spam filters up to date to minimize the risk of the emails getting through in the first place.

Secondly, consider implementing a simple set of procedures regarding payments. These could include verifying account changes with a phone call (to the number you have on record, not the one in the email), double checking the invoices against purchase orders, appointing a single administrator to restrict access to accounts or even two-factor authorization for payments. Simple preemptive checks like hovering the mouse over any links before clicking and quickly making sure it looks correct can also help. If anything looks off, hold back on payment / clicking until it has been reviewed. Fake invoices attacks may be increasing, but that doesn’t mean your business will become a statistic, especially now that you know what’s going on and how you can stop them.

We can help increase your security, talk to us today. Call us at 08 8326 4364 or on support@dpcomputing.com.au

Office 365 & Email Security

Spam email

As an IT Expert, I get client calls and emails asking me about various emails they receive and whether that particular email is fake or real – almost all time the emails are fake.

To help my clients and others in a similar situation I’ve put together a video that goes through some security tips on how to protect your self from hackers and phishing attempts. The video goes through:

  • First alerts of being attacked.
  • How scammers and hackers try to fool you.
  • How to tell if an email is fake or not.
  • The Do’s and Don’ts.
  • How to tell if you’ve been hacked.
  • What to look for after you have been hacked.
  • How to prevent and protect from hackers.
  • What is 2-step and MFA?
  • What to do after you’ve been hacked.
  • Screenshot examples of phishing emails.

Check out the video below and leave any comments in the fields below.

Don’t Become a Victim of Social Engineering

Social EngineeringYou can have the best in computer and network security but if you or one of your staff members inadvertently give out some information all the security can come to nought.

Social engineering is the art of manipulating other people to take certain actions or divulge private information. Some hackers use social engineers techniques and skip the hassle of writing code and go straight for the weakest link in your security defenses – you and your employees. A seemingly innocent phone call or email may be all it takes to gain access to your computer systems, despite having solid software and hardware protections in place.

Here are a few ways on how social engineers work:

Email: Pretending to be a co-worker, supplier or customer who needs a simple piece of information. It could be a money transfer, contact person or some sort of personal details that they pretend they already know, but simply don’t have in front of them. The hacker may also create a sense of urgency or indicate fear that they’ll get in trouble without this information. Your employee is naturally inclined to help and quickly responds with a reply.

Phone: Posing as IT support, government official or even a customer, the hacker can manipulate your employee into changing a password or giving out information. These attacks are hard to identify and the hacker can be very persuasive, even using background sound effects like a crying baby or call-center noise to trigger empathy or trust.

In person: A person in uniform or a repairman can easily get past most people without question. The social engineer can then quickly move into sensitive areas of your business. Once inside, they become invisible and are free to install network listening devices, read a Post-it note listing passwords or gain information and tamper with your business in other ways.

It’s impossible to predict when and where (or how) a social engineer will strike. The above attacks aren’t particularly sophisticated but can be extremely effective. Your staff have been trained to be helpful, but this can also be a weakness.

So what can you do to protect your business? First, recognize that not all of your employees have the same level of interaction with people, the front desk person taking calls and welcoming visitors is at higher risk than the back office or factory worker. We recommend cyber-security training for each level of risk identified and focus on responding to the types of scenarios like those listed above. Social engineering is too dangerous to take lightly.

Talk to us about your cyber security options today. Call us at 08 8326 4364 or at support@dpcomputing.com.au

How To Stay Cyber Safe When Travelling

Mobile Cyber SecurityWith cloud computing people are embracing the flexibility of working away from the office (whether at home or travelling) and working by simply accessing the relevant data or applications via the internet..

When in the office, you are protected by professionally designed firewalls, security infrastructure, and robust software. As soon as you step away from that network those protections disappear and leave your device and the data inside at greater risk.

Cyber attackers love to collect any data they can obtain – business or personal doesn’t matter to them as it can all be sold. These days the information stored on your device can be worth much more than the actual device.

Here are 3 ways a hacker may attack:

Random Opportunity: If you have left your laptop at a café or a thief has stolen the phone from your pocket, the outcome is the same – that device is gone. Hackers take any opportunity they can to gain access to a device: including taking them from hotel rooms and even asking to ‘borrow’ them for a few minutes – if they don’t steal it the device is handed back laden with spyware.

Creating a fake Wi-Fi Hotspot: We’ve all come to expect free Wi-Fi networks wherever we go. Hackers though will take advantage of this to create their own free, unsecure network just waiting for someone to connect. Once a user is connected a hacker can  grab any unsecured passwords sent across the network.

Intercepting an Unsecure Network: Hackers don’t even need to own the Wi-Fi network to steal content from it. Data traveling across an unsecure network is visible and available to anyone with the right software.

Don’t let these issues stop you using the Internet when out side the office. Just take the following precautions to increase your cyber safety and help protect your valuable data:

  1. Regularly make backups: In the event your device is lost or damaged, you’ll be able to replace the device with a new one and quickly restore all the data from a backup, all with minimal downtime.
  2. Be careful when using public Wi-Fi: Don’t use passwords or email when on a public network. Use a VPN or a 4G connection (ie tether your computer to your phones data connection) when you are accessing sensitive data or logging in to secure sites.
  3. Use passwords and encryption: At a minimum, make sure your device is password protected and has full drive encryption. With a password and drive encryption even if your storage drive is removed from the device the contents are inaccessible.
  4. Act fast after loss: If your device is lost or stolen, immediately notify the appropriate companies and people. This might include your IT provider so they can change passwords, your bank and any other financial institutions so they can lock down accounts, and any staff who need to be aware of the breach so they aren’t tricked into allowing further breaches.

If you need further help with mobile cyber security contact us on (08) 8326 4364 or on support@dpcomputing.com.au.