A Cybersecurity Nightmare at Work May Start at Home

11/03/15

Watching a cyber nightmare come to life in the privacy of one's own home can be quite unsettling.  But just think about what can happen when cyber intruders lay low and don't reveal themselves after having gained a foothold on a home network.

A family in Dayton, Ohio, recently found themselves able to do little but sit back helplessly as a hacker took control over their digital world. The hacker accessed not just the family’s computers but their built-in cameras as well — making him able to watch what was going on inside the family's house as he typed away.

The ordeal, which lasted a day or more, included a takeover of computers, TVs, iPods, cell phones, and even the children's electronic devices.  The attacker was able to control everything that was connected to the Wi-Fi network. The hacker stole a small amount of money from a bank account as he continued to harass the family, and he made creepy comments about their daughter.

Sign of the times

Experts say the case, which remains under investigation, underscores how digitally connected our world is today—as well as the blurred lines between work and home computing, and thus the need for data security on both fronts.

Many businesses now let employees use their own laptops, tablets, and phones to conduct business.  This Bring Your Own Device movement, while convenient, adds a massive challenge to company security efforts.  Typically, consumers aren’t nearly as careful about their home passwords and security practices as they ought to be.

Remember, security is part of everybody’s job.  If your home network can be easily compromised, our network is vulnerable too.

SCAM WATCH

Con artists and hackers never take a month off, so neither do we!  Here are some scams to keep an eye out for:

E-Z Fail.  Cybercriminals have gone phishing again, and they’re using E-Z Pass as a lure.  The scam uses bogus emails telling consumers who use the automated toll system they owe unpaid debts.  Agencies in the 15 states that use E-Z Pass are warning users about the scam, saying the fake emails are an effort to get personal information. 

Doggone it.  You have to be pretty low to use cute puppies as a ripoff lure, but a scam that does just that is growing in popularity.  The con men post adorable pictures of pups, claiming that they’ve moved and must find new homes for their pets.  Victims are asked to pay up front for such necessities as immunization—but when they do, the scammers vanish, along with the pups (which never existed).

Disrepair man.  As the weather begins to turn, consumers in warm-weather states such as Florida and Arizona will want to watch out for this ripoff.  A friendly, uniformed repairman knocks on your front door and announces that the condo association sent him.  After allegedly doing some unspecified work, he presents a bill to the condo owner.  Beware!  Double-check with your association before letting anyone in your home.

Nervous service.  The FBI is warning that businesses, including small ones run out of households, are increasingly being blackmailed by scammers threatening denial-of-service attacks.  The bad guys claim that unless the business owner pays a ransom, typically in Bitcoins, his or her website will be flooded with requests that will render it all but useless.

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