How Phishing and Malware Affects Us
On Tuesday the world experienced the amount of havoc a hacked account can cause. A pro-Assad Syrian group took credit for hacking the Associated Press Twitter account and sending a Tweet that there was an explosion at the White House. Within minutes the Dow plunged about 145 points, erasing almost $200B from the stock market. How did it happen? The AP’s employees broke a cardinal rule that led to the hack: They clicked on a link in an email and tried to log into an account. It seems the hackers sent a phishing email that looked like it was from Twitter prompting the recipients to log into the account to resolve an issue. At least one recipient clicked the link in the email, was taken to a website that was made to look like Twitter and tried to login. Of course as soon as they did that the hackers captured the user name and password to the account. They promptly logged in and posted the fake Tweet.
Lesson learned: Never, ever, ever click on a link in an email in order to go to a website and login! If you get an email that says “click here to login”, simply open your web browser, go to that website directly, and THEN login.
But even with that safe practice in mind, if you have spyware on your computer hackers can still get login information to your accounts. That’s why it is crucial to have trusted virus and malware protection on your computer. I can’t tell you how often I hear people say they don’t have any anti-virus software on their computer. And the reason I most often hear: “It costs money.” Really? Paying between $45 – $75 a year for virus and malware protection (which usually can be installed on more than one computer) is too much to protect your identity, bank accounts, retirement accounts, credit card accounts, and all of your other personal information? Did you also know if your computer is infected with malware it can be used to proliferate spam across the internet? With all that in mind, that’s too much money to pay? Sorry if I look at you like you have a 3rd arm growing out of the side of your head.
And if you’re a business owner who allows your employees to bring their own devices to the office and connect them to your network: think about all the potential risk you’re exposing your company to each and every day.
If any of this makes sense to you, go find trustworthy virus and malware protection for your computer posthaste. Finally, don’t forget if you use “free” anti-virus , you will definitely get what you pay for.