Piracy, Email Spamming and Phishing
According to The Office for National Statistics, ‘over recent decades, we’ve seen a fall in overall levels of crime’. In fact, the BBC have highlighted a consecutive decrease in crime since March 2003.
But, despite these statistics, one form of crime is at an all-time high. Silent and often only evident when it is too late. This of course, is cyber-crime.
For the scarce few who do not use laptops, mobile phones, the internet, or other technological devices, cyber-crime will be the least of your worries. But for 58% of the world’s population (and growing), and the 4.4 billion of us who use the internet on a daily basis, cyber-crime is a very real threat.
‘Around a third (32%) of businesses and two in ten charities
(22%) report having cyber security breaches or attacks in the
last 12 months. As in previous years, this is much higher
specifically among medium businesses.' (Cyber Security Breaches
- CSO’s Security Business Report (2018) argues that ‘cyber-crime damage costs to hit $6 trillion annually by 2021’.
- Ginni Rometty, CEO to IBM, declared that as the world goes digital, ‘cybercrime is the greatest threat to every company in the world’.
- ‘Cyber Attacks Push Corporate Fraud to All-time High’ (Financial Times)
There are many forms of cyber-crime, used for different means and ends. So, what are they and how do you protect yourself and your business against them?
Piracy of Software
Software piracy is when legally protected software is stolen. If this stolen software is either sold, copied, altered or distributed for either business or personal use, this constitutes a breach of law. Direct copyright infringement occurs when copyright holders are not compensated appropriately by those who have violated their assets.
The effects of software piracy can be detrimental. Creators of the material lose money. Often, they have to lower their prices in order to compete with fraudulent versions of their work. Not only are they out of pocket but have less money to invest in updates or new products. This puts businesses and innovation at risk.
Using pirated software also puts the user at risk.
- The quality of the illicit version will be poorer.
- It will not have a warranty.
- It will not have additions, such as updates.
- The user is at risk of large fines.
A major case of software piracy was identified in 2015. The Department of Justice tracked $100 million in sales across six defendants, including an estimated $30 million in profits. Investigators seized $20 million in assets, including 10 luxury automobiles and 27 pieces of real estate. The group sold over 170,000 copies of programs including Microsoft, Adobe, Windows and Photoshop. Each programme came with a falsified registration code and authenticity certificate.
If you have an email account you will, at some point, experience a spam email. Email Spamming is when uninvited/unknown messages are sent (often in bulk) via email to an individual or organisation. These messages are not only annoying, but often their aim is to access your personal information.
One of the most dangerous features of spamming is that these emails often contain hidden links. These links can take you to phishing websites that hold dangerous malware (malicious software with viruses, spyware or worms attached). Once there, you could lose control of your computer, be tracked or have credentials stolen.
Be safe with your emails and check every element, including…
Look for minute differences in the sender name. For instance, Eleanor.578@Pansensic is very different to Eleanor.578@Panssensic . Equally, if the email is claiming to be from an organisation, a public Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo account should not be present.
If the email states that it is from NatWest, make sure that the URL is the same as the NatWest site.
Genuine accounts will use your full name. If the email begins with titles like ‘Madame’ or ‘Dear Customer’, or anything other than your name, be wary.
If you are taken to a site that requests your login details and you provide false ones that get accepted, then this is a false account.
Scrutinise the tone of voice. If the language doesn’t sound official, or if there are typos, grammatical mistakes or jargon, its unlikely to be an official document.
Is the logo off centre, is the image blurry? Poor graphics are another sign.
Requests out of the blue
Very few companies ask for personal details via email. Your bank certainly won’t. Make sure to verify with the organisation in question that an email is real or false before taking any action.
Phishing is when a person/organisation/machine grasps for sensitive information (including passwords, bank details, usernames) by disguising itself as trusted software or a known contact within your tech. These not only present themselves within emails, but conceal themselves in popups and updates of software.
There are varying forms of Phishing. But the best ways to avoid all these issues is to install anti phishing/antivirus software. Think before you click. Keep your browser updated. Don’t click on pop ups. Keep a close eye on all of your accounts.
In our next article we tackle the greatest threat to our accounts- PAS5W0rd5 theft!