/ Technology

Are you worried about cybercrime?

Have you ever been a victim of cybercrime? Would you even know whether your computer was infected? According to Symantec, 55% of people don’t know if their computer’s clean of viruses.

Yesterday I went along to Symantac’s (the people who make Norton anti-virus software) launch of its annual report on cybercrime. There are some pretty hard-hitting figures – for example there are 12.5 million victims of cybercrime in the UK, costing the economy £1.8bn.

Symantec reveals that mobile internet and social sites are a growing source of cybercrime. Of course, this is in part down to ever increasing numbers of people using social sites and mobile technology to access the internet. However, this in turn encourages criminals to target mobile and social users as their target is ever expanding.

It’s worth noting that the threat of falling victim via mobile is still low in comparison to becoming a victim of PC cybercrime, we’re talking tens of cases each week not thousands, but it’s worth being aware of the risks whenever you’re online.

Falling into a tempting trap

Every now and then viruses pop up on social networking sites tempting you with the phrase ‘look what someone’s saying about you!’ They hook you in with intriguing lines or good offers, then in turn spam all of your friends when you fall for the trap.

You might think it’s a silly mistake to make, but these links usually come from a trusted source – one of your close friends who has fallen for the scam before you. In the case of Facebook, these scams will usually repost themselves on your wall, and on Twitter they’ll often redirect you to a fake Twitter login page. You input your details and – voila! The hackers can get into your account and spam your friends – and so the chain goes on.

It can be the case that no real harm is done, the virus just sends the same nuisance message on. However, it just proves how easily you can be tricked out of your password and be made to feel vulnerable online.

How to protect yourself from cybercrime

So, you might now be wondering what you do to protect yourself from cybercrime. Our guide to avoiding scams online can help, but it’s also definitely worth using anti-virus, anti-spyware, a firewall and malware protection. All of which are available for free individually or part of a paid-for security suite.

Also make sure you use a strong password (one which contains a variety of characters, including numbers and upper- and lower-case letters) and change it regularly. And of course, don’t fall into the trap my friend fell into; never follow links from an unknown or suspicious looking source.

Are you concerned about cyber attacks? Have you been a victim of one, or you well-versed with how to protect yourself?


Surely everybody should use anti-virus software at least ? It is something I stress to my OAP computer classes – I used to use Norton but found it clumsy and slow – Now use AVG – this does a full hard disk scan and is updated regularly. So far using a personal computer since 1980 have not had a virus get through the .anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewall or malware protection screens – but one or two have been detected and blocked..

Only had two good online scams (that looked genuine – rather than the usual “I’m a Nigerian Businessman type) – but directly they asked for personal details I smelt a rat – forwarded the scams to the supposed senders (one my bank) for verification and they were scams.

The rule of thumb is “never ever reply to unsolicited emails that ask for details or have a hot link”

I don’t want to sound smug, but I am not concerned with cybercrime. As a matter of principle I do not get involved with unsolicited email (or phone calls or people who call at the door. I have never seen any convincing phishing email, but if I did I would look at the headers for evidence of spoofed email addresses. On the rare occasions that I have contacted an organisation as a result of an email, I have looked up their phone number and made a call.

I am Mac user so I hope I’m not going to have a problem with malware. In the past 20 years I have had only one virus and that was a Microsoft Word macro virus, Melissa. I know that Mac malware does exist and I have anti-virus software on my computers and have reasonable knowledge of how to set up my computer to maximise OS and browser security.

Although I avoided using wireless Internet access for years, I now risk using my own wireless router for convenience. It is protected with a strong password, and I remain to be convinced that I am really at risk from someone monitoring my keystrokes while parked outside my house.

The nearest I got to inviting problems was registering with Facebook. Thanks to Which? Conversation I learned the error of my ways. I thought I had deleted my account a year ago, but an email I received today suggests otherwise.

In the bad old days on a different operaing system, installing all manner of security software was a matter of top priority…. AVG, for example, automatically updated every single day… of course do not do the silly things that some people are prone to do that add vulnerabilities… they’re better more worthwhile things to do in life than being obsessed with the PC.

Sensibly, if anything, I err on the side of caution.

As per the discussions about internet security packages – I don’t think anybody can be blasé about cybercrime as it’s a growing problem in terms of scope and complexity both for private users and companies (including the big financial institutions which most likely hold peoples cash). For the private user the guidance is well defined – internet security packages (although MAC and Linux users will probably disagree), secure passwords (and secure retention) and more importantly a questioning mind about emails (not slavishly following links – even if the email looks genuine) and general pointers about on-line behaviour.

Recently (for example) I’ve been getting spoof emails pretending to be from paypal, but what struck me was that they seemed to refer to a payment to a genuine company I’ve paid via paypal in the past. The email was confirmed to be a spoof/phishing email, but that it relates to information relating to previous on-line transactions (unless it’s a lucky guess) perhaps shows that something more than simply my email address details have been compromised somewhere. It’s this extra information which can easily trick people and criminals are getting better at extracting information from both users and companies as Bitcoin found to their cost.

I take it as a matter of life now. In less than ten years ive had my credit card used three times. The last time only a couple of months ago. I’m always careful online, i have good anti virus, good firewall, all passwords are very secure, i don’t keep cookies and all my software and games are legit. I have come to the conclusion that one can only be so safe. Maybe ive just been unlucky. My wife has passwords of 5 letters, is extremely sloppy security-wise and has never been had.