Overview

Beware the trap

Fear is a bad adviser. But with regards to cyber crime, a healthy dose of distrust is definitely an advantage. Because evil never sleeps!

C omputer sabotage, extortion, theft of login data – the rates of Internet crime just keep growing. And although cyberspace is a virtual space, the damages caused by cybercrime are often all too real. Ignorance and carelessness are the most common reasons why users fall victim to cybercrime. So many of us walk right into dangerous digital traps without suspecting a thing. The following example illustrates what can happen...

Free WiFi can get expensive

When does free become costly? For example, when clever hackers launch “man in the middle” attacks, with the attacker’s laptop serving as a free WiFi hotspot. That hotspot might just be using the name of the very café you’re sitting in. When many users log into such a hotspot, they surf normally, without realizing that all of their Internet communications are being intercepted. While a victim is blissfully posting to Facebook, the attacker, the "hotspot" provider, is stealing login data, distributing malware and carrying out other criminal acts. To make matters even worse, cafés’ own WiFi systems can have security flaws that greatly facilitate data theft. So remember: you surf most safely when you surf on your own Internet plan.

Theft via USB

Quickly copy a file from someone else’s USB flash drive to your own computer – is there any reason why that should be a problem? It turns out that USB flashdrives (“sticks”) are second only to websites in terms of how often they serve as channels for malware transfers. “Keyloggers” are one type of malware that attackers transfer via USB flash drives. Keyloggers are programs that generate records of keystrokes, i.e. including key sequences. When a user uses an infected computer to log onto an online-banking service, they can thus obtain a full record of his login data. Another type of USB-transferable malware was recently discovered by a group of security researchers based in Berlin.

Specially manipulated USB flash drives can exploit system weaknesses to masquerade as network cards. A so-attacked computer then “feels” prompted to send all of its data to the trick flash drive of the cybercriminals.

Important Updates Install Later

Hello!

I’ve just hacked your cell phone.
I’ve blocked all your photos and
apps. Pay me 1000 euros, and I’ll
unblock your data.

Your friendly neighborhood hacker

When forgetting gets expensive

Forgetting just one security update can fling open the door for hacker attacks. And the consequences? One can fall victim to a “ransomware” attack for example, something that Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) says has been happening to more and more Internet users. This refers to extortion via the Internet. In such an attack, the attacker exploits a security weakness to install malware that blocks files on the victim’s computer. The victim is then suddenly unable to access his or her own photo collection and important documents.

The extortionist then demands a ransom for unblocking the data. In most cases, the ransom has to be paid via bank transfer to a foreign account. In 2013, the BKA reported 6,754 such cases, but it is estimated that a much higher number of cases go unreported. Pursuant to the Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (BITKOM), one out of every ten Internet users incurred some sort of financial damage via cybercrime in 2014. Users who keep their stationary and mobile devices fully up to date, by ensuring that all software updates are promptly carried out, make life much harder for would-be attackers.

Important Updates Install Later

When forgetting gets expensive

Forgetting just one security update can fling open the door for hacker attacks. And the consequences? One can fall victim to a “ransomware” attack for example, something that Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) says has been happening to more and more Internet users. This refers to extortion via the Internet. In such an attack, the attacker exploits a security weakness to install malware that blocks files on the victim’s computer. The victim is then suddenly unable to access his or her own photo collection and important documents.

The extortionist then demands a ransom for unblocking the data. In most cases, the ransom has to be paid via bank transfer to a foreign account. In 2013, the BKA reported 6,754 such cases, but it is estimated that a much higher number of cases go unreported. Pursuant to the Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (BITKOM), one out of every ten Internet users incurred some sort of financial damage via cybercrime in 2014. Users who keep their stationary and mobile devices fully up to date, by ensuring that all software updates are promptly carried out, make life much harder for would-be attackers.