Tech Talk  

Cybercriminals are after you

In 2016, U.S. intelligence agencies indicated that Russian hackers may have targeted the voting systems in many American states in an effort to interfere with the presidential election.

And In 2017 unknown computer hackers gained access to the Equifax credit reporting agency, stealing social security numbers, birth dates and other data on almost half the U.S. population.

A recent hack of a Tokyo-based cypto-currency exchange called Coincheck resulted in the theft of over 58 billion yen. The Asia Pacific region by itself has lost $171 billion to cybercrime this year.

It's been estimated by experts that the global cost of cybercrime has now reached almost $600 billion, which is about 0.8 per cent of global GDP. According to McAfee, the cost of cybercrime in relation to the global internet economy of $4.2 trillion in2016 would equate to about a 14 per cent tax on growth.

And if your tempted to think that cybercrime isn't as active in our neck of the internet, think again. A recent survey suggests that more than one-third (36 per cent) of Canadians have been a victim of cybercrime in the last several years.

That same survey also found that less than half of Canadians know how to deal with cybersecurity threats and protect themselves.

From espionage to financial fraud, the potential impact and costs of cybercrime are truly staggering. Cybercrime has no boundaries, and while the majority of it is obviously focused on much larger targets, it doesn't make individuals impervious to it.

In fact, cybercrimes targeting individuals are actually on the rise.

I spoke with a man last week who had received an alleged call from Microsoft claiming that that his computer had been infected with a virus and required an immediate update to remove the threat.

The purported Microsoft representative assured him that the process was very simple and would only require a few minutes of his time. Somewhat reluctantly, the man agreed, and was directed to a website to install some remote software.

Shortly after, the user gained remote access to the man's system and informed him that completing the process would involve a one-time fee of $600.

At this point, the man attempted to close the remote software only to discover that his mouse and keyboard was unresponsive. Feeling frustrated, desperate and overwhelmed, he got out his credit card and made the payment.

Unfortunately, this man's story isn't as rare and uncommon as I would like. And I continue to get calls on a regular basis regarding similar circumstances. That being said, there are some things you should know and do to avoid becoming a

Microsoft And Apple state on their website that they will never send unsolicited email messages or make unsolicited phone calls to request personal information or financial information, or to fix your computer.

Your bank, credit card company or any other legitimate financial institution will also have a similar policy.

Always keep your operating system and hardware drivers up-to-date as well as any anti-virus software. And don't be afraid to listen to your gut instinct,

if something doesn't seem legit, there's a good chance it's not, and in my experience, it's better to err on the side of caution.

If you or someone you know may have been a victim of cybercrime, I encourage you to report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.


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About the Author

Trevor Sharp is a computer-support specialist, and has been helping people with computing issues for more than 25 years.

Trevor lives in Kelowna with his wife and five kids, and owns and operates a mobile computer business providing on-site tech support for home and business customers.

Trevor is here to help your home or business with any computing issue,

Contact Info:

email: [email protected]

website: www.okanagancomputerservices.com

blog: www.okanagancomputerservices.com/blog

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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