How sure are you that your company’s computers aren’t being used against you for purposes of fraud and identity theft?
Recently, Bloomberg.com reported a case in which Microsoft and the antivirus company Symantec joined forces to take down a massive botnet group. Known as Bamital, this ill-intentioned family of bugs is believed to originate from somewhere in Eastern Europe, and operated by distributing malicious software to unsuspecting computers. Once the targets had been infected, the hackers on the other end could take control of Web browsers and drive them wherever they wanted, re-routing searches and addresses to dubious websites that could infect them further.
According to the article, at least a quarter of a million computers were hit in this most recent attack. Globally, Bamital’s victims are reckoned to number in the millions.
Microsoft and Symantec were not only successful in rooting out the bots: they also turned the tables by using Bamital’s own methods against them – redirecting users to special warning pages. They were given information about the virus and then guided through a clean-up process step-by-step. And Symantec says that they took care not to gain unauthorized access to their clients’ information by doing so.
Malware and spyware are frustrating foes and they’re among the trickier types of identity theft to fight. Like real-world viruses, they can lie dormant for long periods of time without you knowing you’ve got them until they strike. The nastier specimens could track your keystrokes and record your passwords and PINs, dangerously compromising your online privacy. So what can you do to make sure your information and network are secure?
Fraud prevention can be an intensive process – but sometimes the solutions are right under your nose. Some of the best bets against the internet’s more insidious threats are common sense and fraud awareness training.
Not all cyber security systems are created equal, so make sure yours is updated with the latest definitions and prepared to deal with serious problems. Don’t click on suspicious email links, and be wary of any site that asks for your private information. Most importantly, be sure to scan your entire hard drive and back up your data regularly.
John Sileo is an online privacy expert and keynote speaker on social media privacy, identity theft and fraud. His clients included the Department of Defense, Pfizer, and Homeland Security. See his recent work on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business.