Are You Safe From Hackers?

Are You Safe From Hackers?

If ever there was any doubt that hackers and internet fraudsters were on the increase, recent FBI statistics give us the answer right between the eyes, so to speak According to the bureau, IT security problems cost the American economy $62bn in 2006. A figure which, according to past trends, is likely to rise yet again in 2007. Losses from phishing scams in the USA were estimated at just over $650 million.

There can be little doubt that hacking and other internet scams are becoming extremely sophisticated. ‘Under-the-radar’ techniques and schemes aimed at tricking the user into visiting websites that exploit computer programme vulnerabilities are on the increase. This is a considerable deviation from using mass mailing worms which has always seemed to be the favoured route for the delivery of malware.

In the twilight world of hackers and internet fraudsters, malware programming is big business. Indeed, some security experts claim that there are around 6 million different types of malware present on the internet at any one time.

Just to kick the stool from under those who think they are well protected by ant-virus software and suchlike, Symantec has stated that attacks against un-patched security vulnerabilities remain a problem. For example, they state that from January to June 2006, it took 31 days to develop a patch. On the otherhand, it is estimated that it only takes about three days for an underground programmer to develop ‘exploit’ code. Therefore, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out that there is a 28 day window whereby you are totally unprotected against the malware to hit the net.

According to Symantec, they detected almost 900 ‘unique’ phishing scams – note the word ‘unique’. This is said by the company to be an increase of nearly 500 per day over the previous 6 month period. Other security sources report that highly targeted attacks by Trojans, designed to steal personal information and other intellectual property from businesses and organisations, increased from approximately 7 days to 1-2 days!

In a recent report, McAfee predicts that parasitic malware, or viruses that modify existing files on a disk, will rear their ugly head once again – albeit in a much more sophisticated form. As long as there is software there will be vulnerabilities, and McAfee reckons that because malware production has become more professional, criminal programmers are using automated testing packaging as part of the release cycle of malign code, as they call it!

Although there is no doubt that anti-virus and spyware detection software is a must for ALL computer users, it does not, indeed, cannot protect us from the sophisticated fraudsters permeating the internet today, if for no other reason than those designing ant-virus and anti spyware programmes seem to be continually playing catch-up.

By their inexperience, if nothing else, internet newbies are always at greater risk from internet fraud. However, experienced users are equally at risk nowadays. If you conduct an internet business, are a regular surfer or buy goods on the internet the risk of being scammed is greater than ever, if the experts are to be believed. Every year, those duped by internet fraudsters is rising at a truly breathtaking rate. Sadly, as a cpnsequence, many people are separated from their money and suffer dreadful consequences.

As I have said before, and repeat again, by learning as much as we can at every opportunity, we can help ourselves to be street-wise in a place where the criminal awaits to dupe us at the slightest opportunity. The internet is a wonderful asset but it can be a hazardous place as well. By being forewarned and forearmed we can help avoid many scams and other back-door attacks on our computer system. Although it won’t give us full protection, whatever it gives us is far better than nothing!

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