Terry Cutler – The Ethical Hacker
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Hackers are targeting more victims than ever before

Scammers continue to employ unscrupulous practices to strip you of your money. A 76-year-old retired grandfather in Australia surrendered $26,000 last week after paying an invoice through email to his bank—or what he thought to be his bank. But hackers hijacked the email and then replied using fake bank information. Considering nothing out of the every day, he sent the payment.  

A discrepancy between the name on the account and the account number where the money ended up appeared later when his bank—his actual bank—called.

What is significant about this cyber hack is that it comes behind the September 22 hack of the second largest Australian telecom company Optus. The hack is being called the largest one in history, and it is a sign that hackers are targeting larger-scale businesses at an increasing rate.

Who is responsible?

As one example, almost 10 million Australians—tantamount to 40% of Australia’s population—had their personal information exposed—including names, dates of birth, phone numbers, email addresses, and home addresses. Further, the criminals lifted license numbers, Medicare, and passport numbers. 

The Australian government says the breach resulted from Optus’s error, so it was up to Optus to pay for the consequences. While there is not yet a connection to the latest hack I mentioned above, officials expect to see more phishing emails, vishing phone calls, and social media postings. 

Protecting yourself is the key

I recommend that, as consumers, we remain vigilant. Here are three ways to be vigilant in protecting your personal information.

1. Keep your banking information secure: Use a different, strong password for each account to keep your banking information private. Use a secure password generator or make long passwords using a variety of easy-to-remember phrases. 

2. Avoid using public Wi-Fi: In my blog last week, Canadians still in fear of future attacks, I wrote it would be a good idea to avoid online transactions while connected to a public network. Someone may be peering. In the above case of the retired grandfather, it is unknown how his hackers got into his network. It could be through public Wi-Fi? Be vigilant.

3. Watch out for phone, social media messages and email messages: We must always be on our guard. As consumers, we are our best front-line defence. Ensure that each account has a different, secure password. Use a secure password generator or make long passwords using a variety of easy-to-remember phrases. Be suspicious.

Let’s work together

I’ve created an interactive fraud alert mobile app, FRAUDSTER, available on Apple and Android. You will receive all my blogs and alerts of the latest attempts to steal your money. You can learn more at www.FraudsterApp.com.

If you’ve already downloaded the FraudsterApp, click the training icon on the home screen to learn to protect yourself. 

Did you know I have a comprehensive Internet Safety Program? The program is a complete and effective online learning program to keep up with the rapidly changing digital landscape. Visit the program and see how you can protect yourself.

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