One thing I love about being a teacher is that I am always learning. Lately I have been exploring teaching students basic Cyber Security in secondary school with a touch of Cryptography – if you read my previous post. Yesterday I had a potential hacker try to get in my computer, but because of my simple training in cyber security now, I responded in a totally different and empowered way. I now feel like hey, I am on to your scam Mr Hacker – stay away from my personal information. I am keeping it safely locked away from you…..
As you know, I am a mathematics teacher of 18 years, and as you may not know. I have recently started to teach an Introduction to Cyber Security course to interested students after school. Yesterday, I had a day off work to look after my beautiful daughter as she was having stomach pain. While I sat at my computer catching up on school work at home, I had a call from a potential cyber threat on my home phone. This is the reason I am now writing this post, so I can warn you about the real threat posed to all users of the Internet by ‘hackers’ and also empower you to take simple steps to protect yourself from these criminals.
So what was my potential hackers plan, it was the ‘scam’ call, “I am from Windows, your computer has some viruses” and then he began to ask me to click on some computer commands that would allow him to access my computer and all of my personal details – banking passwords, children’s reports, education system files. You know my stuff…
In the past I would have hanged up, thinking “bloody scammer” and left it at that. But for some reason, because of the basics I have learned about cyber security I felt empowered. I listened to him, then as he started to try and access my computer I said, “You are trying to access my computer, this is criminal, I am calling the police” I think I took him by surprise and he hanged up. After this I rang my phone provider, and informed them of the attempted cyber security attack on my personal information. They were able to trace the number and block it from the Network.
I hope that somewhere in a country, most likely with a lower GDP than mine, there is man, contemplating his actions, considering the criminality of it. Thinking is theft by ‘hacking’ an ethical form of income. So while he contemplates the ethics of his actions, until the need for money drives him back to trying again on another victim, I want you to consider:
The Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Fraud Survey
indicated that over the 12 month period from 2010-11(8):
– An estimated 1.2 million Australians aged 15 years and
over were victim to at least one incident of personal fraud
– Australians lost $1.4 billion as a result of personal fraud
– An estimated 44,700 Australians were victims of identity theft
– Approximately 6.4 million Australians were exposed to a scam
Here are some simple steps below to protect yourself:
1. Passwords – I know its a pain but change them regularly, make them strong. Use a phrase you will remember rather than a word. Substitute numbers or symbols for letters. The number of symbols increases the possible combinations that need to be tested in a brute force attack.
2. Use two factor authentication where possible, you know those who was your favourite teacher questions
3. Social Media – careful what you post, it can potentially give hackers information about you they can then use to access your networks. i.e who was your favourite teacher
4. Be careful on what links you click – They may lead to scam pages or contain malware (malicious software)
5. Back up files to a cloud service i.e Dropbox, Google Drive.. to prevent ransom attacks
6. Be careful of wifi hotspots. Don’t sign into your bank using the local shopping centre’s wifi
7. Keep your home computer updated with firewalls on
And most of all be wary.. consider could this be a scam. Be careful for online shopping scams. Brand names at a cheap price and then you receive an inferior product
I hope the information I have written here is helpful and keeps all my family and friends a little a bit safer from criminal hackers in this digitally connected world.
I have made this post public so you can share with your own friends and family…..