While the majority of the Web Safety Guru training focuses on prevention, there are situations where you need to know
how to react after a problem has arisen. In this article I will focus on two pieces of advice. Firstly, panicking
only makes things worse, this is why cybercriminals use panic as one of the tools of their trade. Secondly, you
should already have a plan in place for what to do if the worst ever happens. You should know what to do, and what not to
do, if you are hacked or infected. Indeed, constructing this plan may well lead you to making vital security improvements
such as organising your passwords better or implementing a more regular virus checking schedule. And when you have a
plan to cope with a particular disaster this can reduce the feeling of panic when one comes.
What to do once you've been hacked
It was the great philosopher Homer Simpson who said
"It takes two to lie. One to lie, and one to listen".
In the same vein, computer crime requires both a miscreant and a victim.
The chances are that if you have fallen foul of some computer skullduggery in the past,
that the miscreant didn't manage this without your help.
Web Safety Guru computer training cannot prevent criminals from trying to attack you
but it can help you reduce the chances of an attack succeeding and it can help limit the damage
if you do get unlucky.
The tuition I provide will help protect you in many ways. You'll learn about
stronger passwords, spotting scam emails, viruses and malware, cookies and privacy, safety on social media
In this article I'll discuss the approach you should take if you are unlucky and fall victim
to some form of computer crime.
Let's start with two pieces of advice which are useful in most situations in life:
1. Don't Panic. 2. Have a plan.
Scam emails often try to induce panic in their intended victims. They may
threaten severe consequences: your bank account may be frozen, your insurance may expire,
you may be prosecuted. This will be combined with a really tight deadline which is
designed to reduce your time to think. A classic of the genre is the blackmail email
which threatens to send out a compromising video of you to all of your contacts unless you
pay a ransom in bitcoin within 48 hours.
On almost every occasion you can rationally deduce that the email is not genuine,
so long as you have time to do so, and are not panicking.
Panicking rarely solves anything
Always have a plan
In my web safety training, I'll be conveying the idea that you should work to a plan
for each type of threat you face.
For example. You have discovered that one of your passwords has been compromised.
What do you do first?
Many people would immediately say "change the password"
however the answer really depends on how the password came to be compromised.
For example, if your password was stolen because your device was infected with a keylogger,
changing the password would achieve very little because the keylogger would then have access to your new password as well.
So the first step should be working out how the password came to be stolen.
There are many possibilities: somebody guessed your password because it was too weak;
you fell victim to a phishing attack;
your computer was infected with malware; you gave away relevant information on social media;
you were intercepted while logging in on a public network;
the password was stolen not from you but from the server you logged into.
Until you know otherwise you should make the assumption one or more of your devices is infected.
Kick off a virus scan on all your relevant devices. If you wish to change your password
ASAP, fine but change it to something temporary and be prepared to change it again once you have completed your
investigations. Make sure this new password is not used by any other account you own.
If it turns out you do have a keylogger, you must remove this before setting your long-term password.
You may need to review your anti-virus strategy. You should also attempt to discover how you got infected with
the keylogger so you can avoid the situation repeating itself.
Your plan should also include points like not logging onto any other sites until you've established that your
computer is uninfected (otherwise you are risking more of your passwords falling into enemy hands).
It's vital to know which of your other accounts are at risk (i.e. that have the same password as the one that's been stolen)
and make preparations to update those also. You may need to inform contacts that you have been hacked, for example
if it was your Facebook account you will want your friends to be on the lookout for suspicious activity
coming from 'you'. You won't want your friends suffering the same fate as you.
I used this example as it demonstrates that everything I cover in the Web Safety Guru security tuition is linked.
There's more than one way of getting hacked and there's more than one way of getting a virus.
The key to minimising the damaging effects of a security breach is in keeping a cool head and being methodical in
sticking to a plan for each situation.