The latest trends in wireless fitness trackers, smartwatches and Smart TV’s have opened up new ways for criminals to hack into your personal data and hold you at ransom, warn cyber security experts.
Think about all the everyday objects you have that are connected to the internet and hold your personal data, information about you, photos and contacts. Hackers are to those devices as bees are to honey – they’re attracted to your devices because even if the information held is not valuable to them, it’ll be valuable to you. This is where ransomware comes in.
Ransomware is a type of malware used by hackers to enable them to lock a victim’s device and demand a ransom in order to unlock it. The malware can covertly gain access to your device without you even knowing. Devices that hold photos, emails and fitness information could be most targeted, since these are probably most valuable to you.
The findings were published in a joint report from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the National Crime Agency (NCA), which highlights cybercrime is becoming more aggressive and confrontational, with an increase in extortion such as ransomware.
How serious is the issue? Analysts have forecasted that there will be almost 21 billion connected devices by 2020 around the world, so the threat is pretty big. The report states that while smart gadgets are still more difficult to attack than laptops and desktops, users may be vulnerable if downloading apps from third-party app stores.
Here are 5 tips on how you can keep your personal information and devices safe online:
- Keep your operating system and software up to date – The updates ensure your devices are protected against the latest viruses, malware and other online threats
- Back up everything – Ensure all your personal information, files and photos are backed up elsewhere other than just on the device holding them.
- Check the ‘from’ address on emails – Any emails asking you to update information on accounts you may hold (usually popular ones that a lot of people will likely have, such as Amazon or iTunes) should be treat with caution. Check the exact email address to see if it is legitimate; it may be a random address or have spelling mistakes and punctuation within it if it’s spam mail.
- Be wary of WiFi hotspots – Hot spotting on public WiFi can leave your device vulnerable, since the connection isn’t secure so hackers could gain access
The bottom line is that the more connected devices you have, the more vigilant you need to be to ensure you don’t fall victim to a ransomware attack.