Hardly anyone has been spared from the nefarious activities of Internet scammers.
Like it or not, concerns about Internet security are here to stay. Only last weekend, Yahoo announced that over 500 million of its email accounts were hacked in 2014! As a result, names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth and encrypted passwords were stolen. Many other attacks go on across the world on a daily basis without receiving similar media coverage.
According to Dr Oben Moses Tataw, a Cameroonian Internet security expert with the University of California, Riverside, USA, the challenges of cyber security are enormous. He attributes this to fast-evolving technology and the fact that Internet criminals are spread all over the world. “There is much use of unsafe email today by senior company and government officials. Such accounts are vulnerable to phishing mail attacks by hackers. In the case of a university, hackers can gain access to academic records and begin to issue fake transcripts that look quite genuine,” Dr Moses Tataw warns.
He therefore counsels that people should pay greater attention to the mail they receive before opening. “Most people don’t check out the headers of their mail before opening. A header is the portion at the top of the page that mentions the sender of the mail and their address. Most often, Internet users only glance at the subject and name of sender; whereas hackers often pose as familiar people, but conceal their email addresses. Always crosscheck the address of the sender before opening a mail in case it came from a hacker,” the Internet expert advises.
Dr Oben Moses Tataw notes that even firms with top grade cyber security systems still suffer attacks from hackers who send fishing mail. “If responded to, the hacker could get your password, enter your online bank account and even secure a loan! The victim might only realise much later when they are unable to carry out certain transactions with their bank because of the “loan” they owe,” he pointed out.
“Hackers use magnetic devices from a distance to electronically copy banking information when you insert your card into an ATM machine. With this, they can reproduce your credit card and withdraw your savings. Scammers also place similar devices adjacent ATM machines to electronically copy personal details of customers, eventually gaining access to these bank accounts,” Dr Moses Tataw explains. He therefore advocates stricter regulation of the use of credit cards and greater collaboration with cyber security experts.