On July 12, with the help of my content manager-webmaster (writer-PI Colleen Collins), I posted “Can a Hacker Take Over Your Computer? Short Answer: Yes.” The article covered the true story of a writer whose computer was taken over by hackers who, via an untraceable email, demanded a ransom if she wanted back the files on her hard drive. She thought it was a prank email at first…but when she could not open any of her files, including chapters of a novel-in-progress she was under contract to deliver to her publisher in 6 weeks, she realized the hackers’ threat was real.
The article link: “Can a Hacker Take Over Your Computer? Short Answer: Yes.”
Operation Shrouded Horizon: Feds Dismantle a Cybercrime Shop
On July 15, a few days after I posted the above blog, federal agents in an investigation called Operation Shrouded Horizon, took down an international cybercrime forum, Darkode, which operated as a kind of cybercrime market where cyber-criminals shopped for things like ransomware and exploit kits. U.S. Attorney Hickton said, “We have dismantled a cyber hornets’ nest of criminal hackers which was believed by many, including the hackers themselves, to be impenetrable.”
Full Department of Justice announcement: Major Computer Hacking Forum Dismantled
Piercing the Cyber-Criminal Shroud: Images from the Dark Side
In 2013, a cybersleuth named Krebs successfully penetrated Darkode and became one of its members. Unfortunately, they caught on to his presence and he got kicked out, but not before he learned a lot about the players in this cybercrime underworld.
He wrote in depth about the July 15 takedown of Darkode, including its hierarchy and key cybercrime players, in this piece: The Darkode Cybercrime Forum, Up Close
Five Tips to Protect Yourself from Cybercrime
Here’s a few general tips for protecting your computer from cyber-criminals:
- Maintain updated computer software & apps. Setting up automatic updates is ideal because if you or your webmaster is logging in to update software/apps, that means there were bugs present prior to the update, and bugs = vulnerabilities.
- Download from official sites only. There’s a lot of free stuff available for download on the Internet, but you can end up downloading a lot of problems along with that freebie app, program, whatever. Therefore, download from official sites only. It’s also a good idea to be conservative in the number of downloads, too.
- Create unique passwords with upper & lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. I know, you’ve probably heard this password warning a gazillion times, but making passwords easy to guess, or using the same password across multiple sites, invites a cyber-criminal to pay a visit. Some people say you shouldn’t use a password manager as some are fraudulent. I don’t use a password manager, nor do I have any idea which ones might be corrupted, so I’ll leave that topic for you to further research.
- Cover your computer camera. I just read about this security measure the other day. Seems hackers have taken over people’s computer cameras without their knowledge (with no light indicators alerting the users, either). I can see the reasoning behind this — for example, you’re speaking to someone on your phone about a confidential business manner while you’re at your computer, that dialogue could be captured by cyber-criminals. Even if the audio isn’t captured, the computer user is so close to the camera, lip-reading could be easy. Covering the camera with a piece of tape is easy to do. Then remove the tape when you want to use the camera.
- Use encryption software. This site ranks the top encryption software products and their prices: 10TopTenReviews: 2015 Best Encryption Software Review
Shaun Kaufman Law: 303-309-0430
Latest posts by K (see all)
- Feds Dismantle A Global Cybercrime Shop - July 17, 2015
- Can a Hacker Take Over Your Computer? Short Answer: Yes - July 12, 2015
- Fourth of July DUI Checkpoints: Enjoy Your Drinks, Just Don’t Drive Afterward - July 4, 2015
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