“We’re all doomed, doomed I tell ye”

Some of the recent media reporting of an imminent cyber attack on Blighty could have come straight from the mouth of Dad’s Army character Private Frazer, complete with rolling eyes.

So what is all the excitement about?  Well, call me an old sceptic <pause>, but this could just be a case of sensational journalism or, at the very least, an attempt to put a bad spin on some half decent news.  The half decent news underpinning the story is the fact that a network of criminally operated computers has been shut down.

That warrants repeating – A network of criminally operated computers has been shut down.

So how do we go from that to headlines telling us we have two weeks to protect ourselves?  The likelihood is that the disrupted criminal community will need around two weeks to pick themselves up, dust themselves down and reappear somewhere else.  I guess from a media point of view the headline “In two weeks time things will be much the same as they were a short while ago” doesn’t sell so well.

What are the criminals up to?  The (very) short answer is attempting to steal sensitive information and details, particularly financial, which can then be used in a number of nefarious ways.  This is certainly nothing new although the particular software “GameoverZeuS” fuelling the news story does have an ability to download other malicious code, notably Cryptolocker, which can encrypt your data and demand a ransom payment for the encryption keys.

What should we do?  The steps we can all take to avoid such threats hasn’t changed – current good practice is the same now as it was last month and won’t be any different in two weeks time;
–         Check that your antivirus software is up to date
–         Resist the temptation to click on adverts on web sites (even sites you think you know)
–         If you are searching the internet, pay close attention to the link to which you are being taken rather than simply clicking the top result
–         Don’t automatically click links within emails – follow the maxim “If in doubt, type it out”, i.e. type the address you wish to visit in the address bar of the browser rather than simply using the link in the email
–         Resist the temptation to use the work PC for non-work activities (e.g. social media, private email, media streaming, etc.) all of which have elements of risk over and above normal work activities

As ever, the BBC provide a good summary of the situation which can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-27681236

So, to return to Dad’s Army one more time, it’s less Private Frazer and more Corporal Jones.  “Don’t Panic!”

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